Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Maintenance Crisis

Take what you like and leave the rest… is a good way to develop any system using historical knowledge to base the development of belief structure, family structure, community structure, cultural structure. Not only does the phrase, “take what you like and leave the rest” bring with it the power of choice but also the power of second chances.

There may be a time when perhaps we chose a direction or a philosophy that doesn’t work or that works for time, then ceases to work. Return to the study of solutions to find what may work better, then, take what you like and leave the rest.

It is in this way we learn not only from our own experience but gain the experience of untold previous generations. Some lessons need learning on a personal level. However, if one is properly trained much of the steepest part of a learning curve is transmuted to logical steps in the explanation of the current process.

For example: the learning structure of artisans, craftsmen, tradesmen for centuries has included the process of Apprentice to Journeyman to Master.

The Master assured the work by the employer or Monarch (as the period would call the powerfully rich). The Master employs journeymen and apprentices. Journeymen could be trusted to their level of expertise dependant often on the time and dedication exhibited to a particular skill. Apprentices were those often considered neophytes within the trades until the fifth year of their training.

Masters were entrusted with the project as well as the training of the next generation because it was to the Masters benefit to train his workers to serve the employer/monarch to the best of their ability. Tradesmen were respected as seen when the Master Craftsman would be invited to the Monarch’s table. Russian Monarch, Peter the Great spent a number of years as an Apprentice Wood Craftsman because he so respected the Trades.

Monarchs understood that the infrastructure of the city/state were dependant on the long-standing tradition of the Master-Journeyman-Apprentice Craft/Trade structure and supported it by paying appropriate sums, as in the “you get what you pay for” truth of economic philosophy, with regard to maintenance and building projects. When grand projects developed or catastrophe required major renovations to the city infrastructure, Crafts/Tradesmen were ready, and able to complete the projects within the stated budget, on schedule, as a sign of their expertise.

Analysis of 21st Century infrastructure problems as well as public and private building decay can be directly traced to the 1980 recession when the economic decision was made to restrict training practices of the building industry (via the national policies of deregulation and legislative restrictions on Unions and Trade Associations) which in effect stopped apprentice training in the early 1980s.

Since that time, the process of pulling maximum profits off the top of building projects or restricting bids to lowest bidder obtaining the project contract, has served to employ the unskilled laborer to render construction projects with inferior materials while producing increased waste due directly to lack of training/knowledge. Comparison of architectural plans to the balance sheet and the current condition of buildings and infrastructure proves this line of thought was monumentally wrong.

The Masters of the 1980s are likely very old or dead. Time-Vested Journeymen of that period are retired. The few Apprentice/Journeyman of the late 1970s or early 1980s are the only hope to rebuild the Crafts/Trades so badly needed in every city/state across the country.

Society needs to recognize that these men (and some women) have been treated with forceful, concentrated, and extreme disrespect for many years. To call them into service, if they are willing, will first require the mindset of society to change. Respect the Trades, pay them extremely well and the benefits to society as a whole will far outweigh the bill.

Because if you take what you like and leave the rest… history shows that infrastructure is better, public and private buildings are safe and better built when the trades are respected and paid well.


Karen Cantwell said...

And the lack of respect for the tradesmen has turned around and caused the tradesmen not to care for the quality of their own work. Everything you say is true.

Kate OMara said...

Thanks Karen, You are very wise... :)