THE INDUSTRIAL ENVIRONMENT
Ever hear of anyone calling it this? Most terms we hear are "industrial revolution", industrial society" and so-on. Well, let me assure you that nothing has had a more profound effect on the earth than this movement in thousands of years. Resource depletion, pollution, extinctions and global warming just to name a few. Maybe in that order?
Back over at BNB (Bullnotbull.com), there was some discussion on how our economy has evolved here in the U.S.. I can remember offering my version of it in order, hunter/gather, agricultural, industrial, service, finance and finally leading to now, the "knowledge economy". That each economy actually evolved from the one preceding it and would contribute to the development of the proceeding one, following it. An example of this might be: From the agricultural economy grew the labor needed to develop the industrial economy. From the industrial economy grew the products that would later grow the service economy to maintain the products and the lifestyle that economy afforded. Which in turn grew the financial economy as an attempt to continue the lifestyle afforded by the previous economy. At last, we're in the knowledge economy in an attempt to maintain the financial one. Notice, how we're actually going backwards to maintain the lifestyle the industrial/service economy afforded? This is another concept that is very hard to follow and or accept. If I were to speculate in the future, I would dare say we'll likely go full circle and evolve to another agricultural economy of some kind.
When did the industrial environment, or movement really begin in earnest when it started to have this profound effect on the land? I would dare say some where in the early 1900's, especially when machinery transformed the previous agricultural movement by replacing the energy that up to then was produced by men and livestock.
Back at the old school house, the instructors thought there were only two men who actually changed the world, benefiting mankind. They are often called the "fathers of the industrial society" and were the best of friends. They are Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, together these two men actually transformed the world, more than anyone else, in the history of mankind.
Henry Ford, often thought of the father of the automobile was much more than that. Actually, he is the father of modern assembly lines used in the mass production of uniform parts. Thomas Edison, often thought of the father of electricity, was actually one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production to the process of invention. Through electrical generation, this would provide the power needed to produce parts and products in mass quantity. Ford held a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. It was Ford, who thought that by coupling innovation and a higher wage for workers, would enable those workers to buy the products being made.
Together these men actually created the modern industrial society, and Michigan actually being the heart of it. It was here for decades, that through innovation, the lifestyle of the people living in the Mid-West was and continues to be, the envy of the world. However, that is just now beginning to change. As our economy has changed ever more to a global one, that industry is now being lost or imported to countries that have a cheaper work force. Since Michigan was the first to go on line in this industrial environment, it only stands to reason it would be the first to decline without it. That is where we are now. I have contended for years that Michigan still leads the economy, it's only the rest of the country that will eventually "catch up". That is, what we have experienced here in Michigan, the whole country will soon experience.
Even though Ford's dream was a noble one, it was doomed to fail from the start. Probably unknown to him or Edison, was that the earth's resources are limited, making consumerism unsustainable. It's very likely both men held a linear view of the future, that through new innovation the human race would ever progress. Also, I can't imagine that both men could foresee the "elephant in room", that was created during this movement.