Unions hinder competitiveness
I second Scott Stearns' letter about unions. (MSD, September 2010.) While working in the Midwest for one of the Big Three, I saw employees let parts go by untested, with no consequences. I heard of employees caught sabotaging machines to ensure weekend overtime hours, with no consequences. A salaried friend of mine, assigned to be a shift supervisor, was threatened by a union committeeman in front of multiple witnesses, with no consequences. Machines, optimized to increase productivity after hours of careful work, were reset back to the older, slower settings, with no consequences, because the person packing parts did not want to work that fast. One person was fired after he was found embezzling money; the union fought to get his job back.
Job classifications hampered the needed flexibility in this new era, and the union fought tooth-and-nail to prevent our ability to adapt to changing times and global competition. Don't get me wrong; there were many good union people who just wanted an honest job. But there were always troublemakers. Entrenched union-boss interests cost American jobs in the long run. If a company cannot make a profit with American workers because of the union, the jobs will go away — one way or another.
In with the new, again
The article you wrote on Loran (MSD, September 2010) was really interesting. When I was employed part-time to pay for university in the early 1980s, I worked for a communications shop. We probably installed over 100 Loran C receivers in fishing boats on Lake Erie. I cut many holes in boats during that time, and sailboat skippers were much more fussy than fishing tug captains. Before Loran C, there were Loran A and B as well. Some of the boats even had the old Omega system installed, and the captains wanted to keep those units as backup. It's interesting how history repeats itself.
Anthony Cimarosti, P.E.
Carp are survivors
People are worried about carp and mussels and the Oriental beetle today, but I remember when honest government workers inspected all cargo. I also remember when we had plenty of praying mantises and no bedbug problem, like we do now. The Asian carp will survive regardless of what the Corps of Engineers does, and we will end up eating them. Someone may also soon say that DDT is no longer harmful to birds and is available to use on bedbugs.
Politicians of no help
Politicians have their heads in the sand. They need to protect the Great Lakes; the Asian carp invasion is just another disaster waiting to happen. We'd better get used to deep-fried carp, because we can't count on our government to do the job. Politicians fight back and forth, only thinking of reelection — with no real concern for the American public.
Carp need attention
On April 25, 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened. Shortly thereafter, sea lampreys hitched a ride on ocean freighters bound for the Great Lakes: These predatory parasites devastated the fisheries. Prior to the sea lamprey, 15 million pounds of lake trout were harvested annually from Lakes Huron and Superior alone. By the early 1960s, the catch dropped to 300,000 pounds. Methods were discovered to control the lamprey, but the damage was done. Since then, other species such as the zebra mussel have invaded. If the carp find their way out of Lake Calumet into Lake Michigan, the Great Lakes fisheries may never recover. Thank you for being a voice to raise awareness.
Fishing for money
We must realize there's a limit to what mankind can or should do. Five states suing the U.S. Corps of Engineers wastes resources that could be better spent fighting the carp. I doubt the states could run the locks any better. If the fishing industry is worth $7 billion a year, one option is to close the locks, let the lakes return to their original drainage, and create more permanent fish barriers: A fleet of shuttle cargo ships could off-load freight to another ship in the next lake via conveyor belts until one reached the ocean-going ships in the St. Lawrence. A dedicated rail line also could be used to augment the shuttle system. Far-fetched? Perhaps, but considering the costs, perhaps not as crazy as it sounds.