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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Gray Matter: Cameron Kranig in the UK

Monday, August 13, 2007

A few weeks ago I was looking for more stories about the younger generation's summer activities. Happily, I found this one, not about vacationing, but about working abroad.

Cameron Kranig, MMC graduate, Class of '95, has just returned from England where he worked as a kiln technician at the Conoco-Phillips Refinery, in the North Sea village of Grimsby.

Cameron is a welder, but I could as easily call him an artist, who uses

a welding torch instead of a paint brush. He learned the skills from his self-taught father, Bob Kranig, who can do anything with metal and a torch! Cam's artistic side was evidenced during college, by his award-winning photography. Another example of his talent is a wrought-iron altar he designed and welded for the Children's Youth Ministry of his church in Sioux City.

Young Kranig works for Phillips Kiln Service of South Sioux City, which constructs and repairs kilns for a variety of industries, world-wide. He was one of a

crew of 40 the company sent to the UK. These fellows worked side-by-side with a similar group over there, giving them a unique inside view of the way things really function in England. Their first surprising discovery was the fixation with safety. It seems the Brits would do anything to avoid involvement with the nationalized health-care system, which they view as a complete disaster.

"The key to this avoidance was bureaucracy," Kranig said, as he described the days of paper work it took before they could even start working.

Over there, everyone works a 40-hour week. With their high unemployment rate, there is no possibility of overtime. To provide universal health care and the other "perks" of their socialist system, England has (get this !) a 60% income tax. According to Kranig, with absolutely no chance to get ahead there's no incentive to do anything but a so-so job. Those fellows were astounded by the speed and energy with which the "Yanks" attacked their work. The job was finished days ahead of the time they thought it would take.

Cameron was also struck by the totally "buttoned up" attitude of the workers, especially toward their superiors. A particularly obnoxious manager, wearing a rain slicker, showed up late one morning where the men, soaked to the skin, had been working for hours in their cotton coveralls. To the English laborers' astonishment, two Americans started splashing the boss and continued until he was soaked, despite his rain gear.

He didn't retaliate, possibly for fear of annoying his tormentors who were getting the job done so efficiently. The Brits they worked with, seeing examples like this, became much more relaxed and easy-going by the time the Americans left for home.

Kranig, admittedly a hard-core conservative, came away totally convinced that anyone who wants the US to increase taxes and adopt universal health care should visit the UK for a window into what our future would be like under those proposals. He, for one, wants none of it.

His extensive reading and research, combined with this personal experience, left him prouder than ever to be an American. "In spite of being the youngest major power in the world, we have the oldest continuing system of government because ours is founded on a bible-based system of moral values," Cameron observed. He is convinced that nothing beats having a Midwest work ethic and living in the center of the greatest nation in the world.

Now there is a thinking young man's summer experience which I'm truly proud to tell you about.