The Rust Belt is Becoming More Innovative

The last time most people heard about the Rust Belt, it was bad news. The economy was plummeting, people were moving away, those who were staying were angry. If asked about the Rust Belt, most would conjure up images of abandoned buildings in downtown Detroit or the crumbling infrastructure of some factory that went out of business fifteen years ago. For most people, the Rust Belt is a dreary place to imagine, full of boarded-up windows and restless unemployed (or underemployed) former factory workers full of bitterness. It’s a hopeless place in this imagining.

Well, that image is out of date. The Rust Belt is making a comeback.

According to Fortune magazine, cities like Pittsburgh and Akron are becoming centers of innovation. While the idea of innovation tends to get lumped with other parts of the country (Silicon Valley, New York, and Austin, for instance), there’s a lot of great ideas coming out of the Rust Belt region. Pittsburgh, to give a big example, is using its former factory knowledge to move into robotics. Akron is using its old tire-making knowhow to work in polymers and other materials to help design self-driving cars.

Such innovation and economic rebirth should be applauded, although it comes with a couple big negatives. First, such businesses employ nowhere near the same number of people, nor do they employ many of the people who need work most. Those who work on the innovation side of things are highly educated, and the positions required are a small portion of those who would have been needed to run a factory.

The second issue is more general. There are still risks to working in such areas. While innovation labs may not be as dangerous as factories can be, working with hazardous chemicals—as all these industries do—can lead to accidents, injuries, and workers’ compensation problems if everything isn’t handled carefully. There’s always the risk of spills and exposures.

Fortune suggests a solution for both these issues, however: retrain old Rust Belt workers to become experts in new precision work. With such a large and nearly qualified labor force available, retraining former factory workers could all the production side (versus the exclusive innovation and design side) to flourish more quickly. Such old hands would also be more experienced handling the risks associated with production work with hazardous materials as well.

While even with production soaring, it would still be unlikely every old worker would find a new job, moving in the retraining direction would at least get us halfway back to such fulfilling and lucrative employment. It would bring more money into those Rust Belt cities that desperately need it, and it may encourage others to move from Silicon Valley to the region where people still know how to get stuff produced.

Don’t Let a Lack of Insurance Effect Your Teeth

There are plenty of reasons to avoid the dentist. There aren’t a whole lot of people out there who enjoy their regular dentist visits. They go because they want to keep their teeth healthy, and they grin (or say aww) and bear it.

On the flip side, many people will come up with all sorts of excuses to put off those semi-annual dental visits. They’re too busy. They forgot to book an appointment. They’re brushing often enough not to need it. They’re teeth seem fine.

All of these are bad excuses and are easily seen as such once they’re written down. But what about people who don’t have dental insurance? Isn’t that a fair excuse for avoiding the dentist?

After all, dental visits can get expensive, especially when you aren’t just going in for a cleaning. Filling cavities, doing root canals, and other intensive dental work can be expensive. Some point would rather deal with the pain as well as they can since they can’t afford the insurance and without the insurance, they can’t afford the procedures.

Even this is a poor excuse, of course. First of all, dental insurance is fairly cheap and easy to acquire. There are policies for as little as $10 a month in some places. While you want to be careful to get a policy that is both affordable and that covers everything you might need, it’s likely that policy exists in your area. Spending the time researching can help you avoid any of the harder decisions like dealing with pain versus feeling the pain in your pocket.

If you need dental care, even without insurance, it’s still recommended you go. Many dentists will help you with payments if you don’t have insurance. Find out beforehand how your local dentists will work with you, and go to the place that seems most accommodating.

Remember that your teeth are important to your overall health. Going to the dentist isn’t just about making sure you have a nice smile. Nor is it just about avoiding the pain of cavities. Having healthy teeth can protect you from all sorts of illnesses. Sometimes, bad teeth can even be responsible for serious illness or even life-threatening illnesses. Bacteria can get into the bloodstream through cuts in the mouth due to weak gums. The lungs can get infected by bacteria that hasn’t been cleaned from the mouth. There are all sorts of potential illnesses that could cause far more damage than a toothache.

So, no matter what your excuse, it’s time to get over it and start looking to book that next appointment. It may not be the most pleasant hour you spend this week, but it’s probably the one that is going to be the best thing to do. Afterward, you’ll know not just that your teeth are healthy, but that you’ve done a lot to keep the rest of your body healthy as well.