Letter To The Editor: Response To Ganmapathy Subramanian Gopnathan About ‘You Are What You Eat’

Los Alamos

Reference 1: What are the Biggest Industries in New Mexico – WorldAtlas https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-are-the

Reference 2: Colorado Fuel and Iron. Wikipedia.

In his response to my letter, Mr. Gopnathan referred to the term, India’s swadeshi (or “national self-sufficiency”). That term might be expanded to include individual people, industry, and all levels of Municipal, State, and Federal government.

The following is from the Reference 1:

A Brief Overview of the Economy of New Mexico

Although the mining sector has scaled down on employees, the gas and oil industry of New Mexico contribute over $2 billion in revenues and taxes annually. New Mexico produces the most potash in the United States and holds significant deposits of uranium. The state is on a path to recovery since the economic recession of 2007. In the decade between 2007 and 2017, the GDP rose by about 20%. As of 2019, government and related services was the largest industry, accounting for about 23% of the GDP, which was 1.7% lower compared to the decade before. Finance, insurance, real estate, leasing, and rental jointly account for about 17%. Mining, gas and oil extraction, and quarrying are the largest contributors to the growth of real GDP in New Mexico. The federal government employs about 29,500 people, while the private sector employs about 650,000.

When I was student in the 1970’s, New Mexico had Kennecott Copper in Silver City (copper), Molycorp in Questa (molybdenum disulfide for steelmaking), Singer-Frieden in Albuquerque (calculators). Prior to that time there were mines in Grants (uranium).

Our neighbor to the north, Colorado, used to have the Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I) steel mill in Pueblo, Colorado.

The following is from Reference 2: The facility operated a number of blast furnaces until 1982. The main blast furnace structures were torn down in 1989, but due to asbestos content many of the adjacent stoves and support buildings still remain. The stoves and foundations for some of the furnaces can be easily seen from Interstate 25, which runs parallel to the plant’s west boundary.

I believe that the only operation left at CF&I (Rocky Mountain Steel / EVRAZ Group, a Russian steel company) is the rolling mill for making railroad rail.

I wanted to be part of industry, so I became a chemical engineer. I have always “always” been in awe of what industry can do – the scale of the plants, the technology utilized, the quantity of products produced, the interfacing transportation systems (that is, barges, railroads, trucks, etc.), and the people.

Now what do we have? We have lots of “tidy” residential neighborhoods and people struggling to make ends meet because they work in low-paying service industry jobs (80% of the workforce now and only 20% in manufacturing).

We no longer have smokestack America (for example, the Strathmore Paper Company in Russel, Massachusetts). Vandals started five fires at different times in the abandoned plant and now it is a burned-out hulk.

I watched an internet presentation of some “goof-ball” teenagers throwing a steel chair through a plate glass window door in an abandoned industrial plant site in Georgia.

In my mind, these old, abandoned industrial sites are holy places – places which are deserving of more respect and reverence than religious facilities such as churches. Yes, these “man-made” places had their environmental, labor, and profit problems. However, industry provided the money for the homes in “tidy” little residential neighborhoods; they provided money for automobiles to keep people out of the cold, rain, dust, and dark; they put bread on the table and clothing on the backs of workers as well as their families; they provided income for investors; and they created an intelligent, highly-skilled, safety-oriented, independent, and self-sufficient work force. And, we threw it all away.


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