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We just don’t read the signs

By Walter Geiger In Columbus, Georgia – as everywhere else in this country – textiles are dead. The American textile industry now consists almost solely of distribution centers where goods made overseas are sorted and shipped. Textile mill payrolls, which once stabilized countless local American economies, now stabilize economies elsewhere. This is partly due to corporate greed but most of the blame lies with unions and the vast amount of government regulation piled upon American industrial concerns. Those same constraints have vastly diminished our iron and steel mills, oil and gas exploration and drilling, auto industry and thousands of other endeavors that once made this country great. The fact is this: it is easier and cheaper to do business elsewhere and, whether the Occupy crowd likes it or not, business is about profit. But, I digress. In Columbus, the Chattahoochee River was home to the Eagle and Phenix dam. It diverted water to power a giant textile operation. With the dead mill buildings now gentrified and serving as condos and apartments, the dam was recently blown up and engineers are busy sculpting a whitewater course along the river that will be one of the best in the country. Textiles are giving way to tourism. When the dam was blown, the pool above it was drained revealing all sorts of archaeological treasures, including several wooden dams that pre-dated the blown stone one, wooden buckets and kegs, three guns, numerous bottles, a partial trumpet and a pipe wrench dating back to 1882 that still functions. Also among the detritus was a welder’s rusted out acetylene tank. Once the receding waters left the tank visible, passersby began calling in by the hundreds to tell officials there was a cannon in the river. The call volume was so great that a sign was placed on the tank that reads ‘˜THIS IS NOT A CANNON’. Despite the sign, the calls about the cannon in the mud continue. We do not read the signs when they are, as grandma used to say, as plain as the nose on our faces. Violent crime rates grow, innocent people die yet we gloss over the problem and steadfastly refuse to punish criminals. Foreclosures skyrocket but the government still pushes programs to make homeowners out of those who do not have the wherewithal to move past being a renter. Our college enrollments are filled with kids who would be better served if we encouraged them to be barbers or welders but we continue to view a college education as an entitlement not something to be earned. More and more able bodied people refuse to work and spit out kids who will follow in the laggard footsteps that will never lead them further than the front porch but we continue to coddle and baby them with programs that rob from those who work to provide for those who refuse to. Businesses, small and large, are hurting yet we continue to pile regulations, taxes and other hindrances upon them in the apparent hope they will go the way of Columbus’ textile industry. The signs are there by the hundreds. To our collective detriment, we refuse to read them!

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