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The rewards of growing up in difficult times

The survival of manufacturing depends on technology. More and more, we are realizing that we can't compete in a global marketplace with antiquated machinery - machines that are 15+ years old. The risk-takers, problemsolvers, and inventors involved with technology developments are worth their weight in gold and need to be regarded in high esteem for their foresight and dedication.

While current data suggests that these individuals were born prior to the mid 1970s, the thing I find most interesting - and even humorous is that by holding to the standards of today's regulators and bureaucrats, these people shouldn't have survived their childhood.

For example, many of these forward-thinking individuals slept in baby cribs that were covered with lead-based paint and had slats that were not spaced close enough to keep them from trying to squeeze through. There were no childproof lids or locks on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets. And when these youngsters rode their bikes, helmets were not a necessity.

As children, they would ride in cars without seatbelts or air bags. Riding in the back of a station wagon or in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was a special treat. They didn't drink bottled water but, rather, drank from a garden hose. Worst of all, they shared one soft drink, from one bottle, with their friends. And surprisingly, they're still alive to talk about it.

That's not to say that protecting children from harm isn't a good thing. But it's also important to let them take some risks, deal with disappointments, and learn responsibility. For instance, many young inventors spent hours building go-carts out of scraps and raced them downhills. After a few collisions, they would figure out that they forgot the brakes and quickly discover a means to overcome the problem.

These kids didn't have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, or any other type of video games. Personal cell phones, personal computers, Internet chat rooms, DVDs, and 99 channels on cable television didn't exist. Instead, these brilliant young people went outside to make friends and use their imaginations to play games. As a consequence, they fell out of trees, got cut, even broke some bones. Occasionally, a fight would break out and, besides some black and blue marks, the only injuries were to someone's pride.

Back then, Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't quickly learned to deal with disappointment. It was also well known that some students weren't as quick to catch on as others. And since tests were not adjusted for any reason, some children actually failed and were held back to repeat the same grade.

The idea of parents bailing out those who got in trouble in school or broke the law was incomprehensible. Parents actually sided with the school or the law. In most cases, it didn't take long to figure out that the real "Board of Education" carried a more stinging effect than a group of elected people.

Throughout their early childhood years and into their teenage years, this generation learned that their actions belonged to them and them alone and for every action there would be a reaction. In some situations, it could be viewed as a consequence.

This speaks volumes as to why this particular generation is considered to be among the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors of our times.

I can only hope that their actions rub off on the young up-and-comers in manufacturing.