Friday, October 16, 2009


Seen in the Brainerd Dispatch 10/16/2009:

When a friend loses a job I cannot help but feel the pain.

There was a time when my future looked bright. I wore sun glasses with a crew cut and an aviator's confidence. With advanced degrees and strong references, there wasn't much that my shipmates and co-workers couldn't attempt.

Back then our nation was promised Better living through chemistry. Salaries of young scientists and engineers were rising. What a shock, on my first research job, when the team I had joined two years earlier was eliminated. Corporate budgets were cut; high-priced talent was fired. We scrambled to find work - moving to different states. We changed direction - heading for tobacco companies, software start-ups, and college faculties. Our skills in mineral processing were scattered from the laboratory we had founded in northern Illinois.

The recession of 2007-2010 will turn thousands of promising careers around and will influence those preparing for their dreams. From a worker's perspective of 50 years I have read the local newspapers filled with foreclosures on failed mortgages. Many commercial buildings are listed for sale or auction. Highway billboards are blank. For the rich there are bargains to be snapped up. For the rest of us there is spreading sorrow.

This week in the Aitkin paper I read about nearly $8 million in federal stimulus money coming to Aitkin County. By far the largest share of these new funds is going to transportation projects that were shovel ready. County Engineer John Welle deserves great credit for guiding these paving and bridge-building contracts to local workers.

For individuals on edge at their workplaces and classrooms, there can't be too much preparation. A new skill, a new language, a network. Practice, study, hard work, and hope. Recovery is possible. More government stimulus certainly will help us all.

Gordon Prickett, P.E.

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