We’re not building industries anymore. We’re shutting them down and auctioning them off. We sell the pieces to the highest bidder, and sometimes a manufacturer someplace else in the world decides that a 50 or 60 year old stamping press that weighs in at 1,000,000 lbs, give or take, still has life in it.
Here’s a book excerpt, from Punching Out: One Year in a Closing Auto Plant. It tells the story of the riggers that come in and pick apart the factories to ship them overseas. When these men are gone, there won’t be anyone that knows how to even take the things apart and the last factories to close will sit like mausoleums until they finally just rust away.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
–Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias”