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All of Us Lose When Industry Moves Out

September 02, 1990

A recent news story in Orange County reveals a much greater threat to "our way of life" than Saddam Hussein.

The story was about the loss of 400 jobs in Santa Ana at A&E Systems and the company's move to Indiana, "A&E Systems Plant Will Be Shut Down," (Aug. 24) by Leslie Berkman. The decision was motivated by local environmental-protection requirements on spray-painting and metal-coating, as well as the fact that Indiana is a lower-cost area.

Where is the money going to come from, if not from industrial employment? Where will the opportunity for jobs lie, for both white- and blue-collar young men and women in the coming years? Are we going to have to move to make a living, leaving Southern California to be enjoyed by a fortunate well-to-do few and a service-economy peasantry who serve them?

The growing number of such stories as A&E Systems must be encouraging to those who would like to see the area return to its pastoral character of 50 years ago, with fields of oranges and tomatoes. But to those who have growing families, a need for income, a desire for prosperity and stability, it is a fearful prospect.

Even the service-economy people need customers, and clients, who in turn provide goods and services. And when business starts to leave an area, everybody loses.

The influx of hundreds of thousands of impoverished refugees from around the world to join the "service economy" is of no benefit to most job-seekers who cannot live on the minimum wage. Welfare and poverty seem to be on the upswing as industrial employment declines.

Plastics are out. Real estate is down. The aerospace industry is going, going, gone. The "Peace Dividend" is being spent in a new way in the Middle East, so what to do?

PATRICK F. FLYNN

Yorba Linda

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