Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

June 22, 2014

ED VASICEK: Adjusting to the challenges of our changing world

Employers like Starbucks are paying for workers' college

The other day, I was watching a Ricky Nelson clip on YouTube (“Hello Mary Lou”) taken from the TV Show “Ozzie and Harriet.” I began thinking about how different America is today in contrast to 50 years ago.

America has been a culturally European nation. We speak the English language, borrowed from the Brits. Most Americans have identified with either Christianity or Judaism, faiths predominant in Europe. For the most part (with many exceptions), our earlier waves of immigrants hailed from northern or central Europe, our latter immigrants from eastern or southern Europe. Dads who worked in factories saved up so their kids could go to college or trade school and prosper.

As times change and more folks immigrate from Asia or Africa — and as the world economy shifts eastward — we are forced to adjust. The Ricky Nelson era is but a memory. These changes provoke crucial questions: When do we fight to maintain what has been? When do we acquiesce to the inevitable? When do we moderate differences or find middle ground? When do we do nothing?

Let’s peruse evidence of the challenges; in some instances, we will note how the challenge is being addressed. A UPI article from last fall presents one controversy, partnering with the Chinese:

“The recent acquisition of Smithfield Foods, Inc., by Chinese food producer Shuanghui International has left many Americans feeling concerned about the future of food safety.

“These feelings are heightened with the news that tainted dog treats from China have been linked to hundreds of animals dying from a mystery illness.

“... In 2011, a Shuanghui subsidiary was caught putting a banned chemical into pig feed to make the animals leaner. It is this type of blatant sabotage of products and willingness of Chinese companies to cut corners that has U.S. consumers worried that will become the new order of business at Smithfield.

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