Monday, May 22, 2006

Freight Train Blues

Driving home from work on the back roads has its virtues, but one drawback. The railroad crossing. I wasn't in a rush that day last week; the trains are fun to look at, in sort of a geeky train-spotting way. (That last sentence speaks volumes about the ease of keeping me entertained!) The rail cars, often in colorful decorations by illegal artists, roll by in a steady stream, their contents a catalog of the economy. Many of the cars, the older shabby coal cars, had been filled with scrap metal. Headed to Pittsburgh for recycling into new ingots? No, these were going west, to China. I had an uneasy feeling about that. The nations' wealth being outsourced to a foreign country, to be processed and sold back to us? This makes a much sense as the 1.6¢ penny. But as least there is some activity. I have a nagging doubt that once this boom ends, we will be stuck without a viable industrial base, and our paper wealth of stocks and futures will vanish, along with my retirement. Let's hope I'm wrong.

By Professor Batty


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