Airing of the grievances

December 14, 2007

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Dec. 23 is fast approaching. That means Festivus is upon us.



Of course, this is the unholiday. It is derived from a 1997 Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza"s dad, Frank, introduces the holiday he invented as a sort of protest against the commercialization of Christmas. The symbol of the holiday is an unadorned and lusterless aluminum pole, currently available from Milwaukee fabricator The Wagner Companies.

The two major traditions associated with this day are the feats of strength and the airing of grievances.


The feats of strength tradition requires wrestling with the head of the household on Dec. 23, something that seems like a good idea only on a sit-com. The airing of grievances, on the other hand, definitely rings true with me.



Getting a jump on the Dec. 23 official date, here are some of my grievances for the world to take in:
  • I realize international trade is a key to a healthy U.S. economy. However, I find comical the importance put on
    individual trade agreements with smaller nations in light of the transition that the U.S. manufacturing base is going through. When I read about the great need for Congress to pass the U.S.-Peru bilateral trade
    agreement
    , and I chuckled. We"ve gone more than 200 years without one, and things are OK. If elected
    representatives want to take a break from the fast-track process of green-lighting free-trade agreements, their
    collective decision shouldn"t be that big of a deal. Speaking of big deals, why not just hammer out a Free Trade
    Agreement for the Americasall 34 countries in Central, North, and South America. That way I don"t have to read
    about the importance of the impending U.S.-French Guiana trade agreement.

  • Why can"t the U.S. government help out metal fabricators just this once? In October the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in favor of keeping antidumping and countervailing duties on hot-rolled steel from China, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Ukraine. These duties will remain in place until the next review in 2012. The price of steel makes it hard for any metal fabricator to maximize profits and roll that back into the company. Imports, if they were made available to the U.S., could help bring down costs somewhat. Quality may be an issue, but at least metal
    fabricators would have more of a choice when it came to material. For many, that choice really doesn"t exist.

  • On Dec. 10 a Cleveland jury awarded $17 million to a welder who claimed welding fumes inhaled during his working years led to Parkinson"s disease-like symptoms. Until this case, welding companies had defended themselves successfully 16 out of 17 times against similar accusations. It is believed that this case"s defendantsLincoln Electric Holdings Inc., Hobart Bros. Co., TDY Industries Inc., ESAB Group Inc., and BOC Group PLCplan to appeal. That"s a huge chunk of change. Then again, the plaintiff obviously is living with some handicaps. Whatever the case may be, welding shops need to realize they need the best ventilation systems available to avoid potential liability down the road.

  • I"m one of the few who doesn"t see the need for a playoff system in college football. I guess I like the ongoing debate. It"s passionate, fun, and meaningless. After talking about
    international trade, steel tariffs, and lawsuits, that"s just the sort of debate that I don"t mind participating
    in.


It feels good to get all of that off my chest. I now look forward to the feats of strength against my wife on Dec. 23. Jerry Stiller would be proud.



FMA Communications Inc.

Dan Davis

Editor in Chief
FMA Communications Inc.
833 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107
Phone: 815-227-8281
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