By Mike Drummond
Full story appears in Inventors Digest, June 2011 print edition.
The former Cheers star and veteran voice of Pixar films is on a mission to revitalize U.S. manufacturing.
“The reason the world is free is because of American strength,” he says. “And America’s strength is based on manufacturing. And manufacturing is based on invention.
“Every single industry, and there’s no exception to this rule, started with one person inventing one thing. And every single one of those people started off as a child tinkering.”
In his estimation, there’s not nearly enough tinkering going on these days, which he fears will have dire long-term consequences.
America, he says, has lost its manufacturing mojo. There aren’t enough students entering vocational schools or the industrial trades, he says. With a dearth of wrench-savvy workers, there aren’t enough people to repair the nation’s crumbling bridges, buildings and water systems, let alone operate the gears of America’s mighty military machinery.
The 64-year-old Ratzenberger, who once was a carpenter and is the son of a factory worker and truck driver, says the nation is facing an economic “tragedy of epic proportion” stemming from a decline in U.S. manufacturing and the men and women who know how to run, make and fix things.
“We may never recover if we lose our manufacturing edge to other countries,” he says. “The pervasive impact of this crisis has the potential to turn America into a second-rate economy.”
The work owes its origins to the John Ratzenberger’s Made in America, which aired on the Travel Channel between 2004 and 2008 and honored American inventors, factory workers and the like.
That show also inspired the book he co-authored, We’ve Got it Made in America, A Common Man’s Salute to an Uncommon Country, as well as the genre of blue-collar reality shows, including Dirty Jobs, Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, among others.
There’s little reason to doubt Ratzenberger’s latest media project won’t succeed.
“You know there are 137 cities in the United States with water systems that are failing, where the water pipes are over 100 years old,” he says. “There are 250,000 bridges in disrepair and not enough people to fix them.
“The reason Third World countries are Third World,” he says, “is because nothing works. Basically, that’s where we’re headed.”
Full story can be found at http://www.inventorsdigest.com/archives/6646