The May 7 Post and Courier led with the front-page story, “SC workers: Boeing process causing mistakes.” At the story’s core is the questioning of a decades-long, continuously improving manufacturing philosophy with its roots in Henry Ford’s assembly line model.
Fast forward to post-WWII. Japan was challenged to dedicate its minimal resources to resurrecting peacetime manufacturing. Out of this challenge came the “Toyota Way,” a process that morphed into a philosophy labeled “lean manufacturing” and applied in aircraft manufacturing.
Lean manufacturing is all about reducing waste and creating buy-in by workers through team building. To the greatest extent possible, teams are given “ownership” of the processes while collaborating on production goals and timelines. Nowhere in its protocols will you find a quantity-over-quality bias.
The article relied on numerous unnamed employee sources that wave a safety flag but support it with labor-based planks that all come back to jobs. Katy Cameron, whose lawsuit against New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) management was dismissed, was allowed to opine on the subject.
That factory, owned by General Motors and Toyota, was closed amid a recall of the Pontiac Vibe, which had an improperly manufactured engine control module, not a problem caused by an assembly line issue.
Lean manufacturing concepts depend on worker teams taking ownership of the processes and the workplace environment. It identifies areas inherently connected to consumer safety for enhanced inspections.
The success of this process is legendary in manufacturing circles. Questioning that success, or Boeing’s use of it, deserves much more than a dismissed lawsuit and unnamed sources.
A loving mother
The cookie-cutter Mother’s Day celebrations of today take me back to a fascinating and culturally different experience with my mother.
The first shocker is that my mother never said “I love you” to me in all her life. She quickly adapted to her “American” grandchildren and generously exchanged “I love you” with them, but I was without luck.
One of the pleasures of childhood was to fall sick and legitimately miss school. My mother managed to spoil that as well. Every time I fell sick, she knew exactly why, and it was always my fault.
One time I fell ill but it did not seem to go away. As usual, mom tracked it down to some fruit I should not have eaten. The fever got worse, our family physician started showing up multiple times a day and he even got a specialist to see me. It was typhoid fever. I knew that something was wrong when my mom stopped blaming me.
She was always there, day and night. Through the delirium of high fever, I could hear my dad pacing outside the room and felt my mom sitting beside me with her hand on my head, surrounded by medicine bottles, thermometer, jugs of water, an ice bucket and juice.
Even today I remember her reassuring presence, the feeling of a secure no-nonsense love. It was a worry-free shelter against all the odds in the world. This has stuck with me, even when she is no longer with me.
Happy Mother’s Day.
I recently attended the community event for the “Dutch Dialogues," a place-based approach to navigating the impacts of rising sea level on our beautiful, historic city.
A panel made clear that we are in a deep, interdependent relationship with our salt marshes. A salt marsh is an area of coastal grassland regularly flooded by seawater.
It stores and transforms water and carbon, and sustains and safeguards the life in and near it.
The panelists said, “Water is not to be viewed as the enemy, but as a resource. There are opportunities to improve the ecology so that all can enjoy it more. The way we choose to look at the problem determines what we do. If you continue to do dumb things, you’ll be punished.”
All over Charleston, developments that were built on top of salt marshes are now flooding. This story of degradation has reached a tipping point on the west side of Charleston, on the banks of what is left of the Gadsden Creek salt marsh.
Ever resilient, Gadsden Creek’s waters and grasses are pushing up through the asphalt teaching us that water will go where it always has.
Developers now seek to bury this natural asset again through USACE Permit Request P/N SAC-2015-00188. Please use your voices and your pens.
A quote in a letter to the editor published on page A12 in the May 11 Post and Courier needs clarification. Multiple panelists from the recent Dutch Dialogues event stated: “Water is not to be viewed as the enemy, but as a resource. There are opportunities to improve the ecology so that all can enjoy it more. The way we choose to look at the problem determines what we do. If you continue to do dumb things, you’ll be punished.”
After watching as much March Madness basketball as possible and growing increasingly frustrated by the referees’ calls and/or lack thereof, I understand why many of my 50-year-old and up friends have given up on basketball.
To my knowledge, the rules haven’t changed as much as the game. Palming or carrying the ball is no longer called.
Three seconds is rarely, if ever, called. Walking is rarely called unless there are four or more steps taken without dribbling. Changing and/or sliding pivot feet is no longer called. Hand checking is called or not called based on the officiating.
The most puzzling to me is not calling charging when the offensive player is clearly running into a stationary defensive player.
The other call that is absolutely ridiculous is when the shooter jumps into the defender to draw a shooting foul.
If the rules haven’t changed that much over the last 50 years, why has the game? The officiating needs to be more uniform. Either enforce the existing rules or change them.
North Edgewater Drive
Oh, how sweet justice is. Thank you, S.C. Supreme Court, for finding the ballot question in Dorchester County illegal. This thank-you comes from the silent majority of county taxpayers. We also thank Mike Rose, the Taxpayers Association and Andy Gowder for their tireless hard work in righting this illegal act
To make this unlawful referendum worthwhile, why not redirect this $43 million to teachers who recently marched for better working conditions and better pay?
Education reform is now. This walkout proved to me that public education is broken and we need to have a real conversation about improving it. Before we go playing around on playgrounds and building more libraries, let’s get our priorities in order: our children and teachers.
Country Club Boulevard
My wife and I vacationed in Charleston in March (my first visit), and each day I was in town I sought out The Post and Courier.
As a former newspaper reporter and now a journalism professor, it was such a delight to see a multisection newspaper again filled with local, state and national news.
Charleston is a charming and wonderful town, and the same can be said of your paper. From the front page to the features to the comics, I was reminded of how local papers used to be before many were gutted by corporate owners, leaving them with scant resources. From what I see, The Post and Courier fills the watchdog role and serves the community well.
I remember your Public Service Pulitzer in 2015. I hope city residents realize the prize they have in their vibrant daily paper.
Professor of Communications, Elon University
Durham, North Carolina
ClarificationA quote in a letter to the editor published on page A12 in the May 11 Post and Courier needs clarification. Multiple panelists from the recent Dutch Dialogues event stated: “Water is not to be viewed as the enemy, but as a resource. There are opportunities to improve the ecology so that all can enjoy it more. The way we choose to look at the problem determines what we do. If you continue to do dumb things, you’ll be punished.”