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Thread: Rust Belt Boy: Stories of an American Childhood by Paul Hertneky

  1. #11
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    Years ago I read an article by an author who framed this story as, "Who Did This to Us?" I remember the decline in jobs in the 1970s and 1980s and the need for women to enter the workforce to shore up household income. Yet the blame from the working class went to blacks and women for "taking our jobs" along with the federal government for the affirmative action and civil rights laws.

    In the most recent Great Recession the blame went to illegal immigrants for "taking our jobs." Build that wall. The corporate-owned media did little to dispel this claim, and couple that with the alt-right news who encouraged this stance, it made this many-faceted issue into a jingoistic one.
    In the meantime the greedy banksters are laughing at this scenario and grateful that no attention is being directed to them and their policies that are so ably carried out by their government minions in Congress.

    This latest claim that it's liberal Democrats who "just don't understand" working class pain is another meme now offered up as a shiny distraction from that fact that global events and government actions directly affect everyone in this country, including the working class, but Americans need someone to blame vs. recognizing these truths and working to make things better for all.

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    Do these authors not remember (or are they too young) the "we are becoming a service economy" and the "computers will do it". Automation of a huge variety of previous jobs and the change from manufacturing to service (with lower wages) has been going on for decades.

    20 years or more ago (I retired 10 years ago) I was telling coworkers that all our jobs could be done in one spot with correspondingly fewer levels of managers if they got the computers aligned to work across the country and telephone service was available. Has come to pass but more gently than I thought.

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    It won't be long before China has "rust belts" of it's own - Foxconn (make Apple products among many others) factories are in the process of moving and/or retooling and replacing many thousands of Chinese workers with robots. Those kinds of jobs are not even going to exist anymore, much less come back to the US.

    We're moving past the era where large numbers of laborers were needed to produce products - but without large numbers of laborers, who will have the money to buy these products? Maybe the past few decades were just an anomaly and we're going to move back to the way it pretty much always was prior - a small pool of uber-wealthy in a sea of hungry peasants?

  4. #14
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Oh Creaker, that really has the ring of truth about it and chills me to the bone

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    There's increasing talk of a universal basic income.

  6. #16
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    Given mechanization/automation and increased productivity of capital, along with consumers' acceptance of mass-produced products of dubious quality and provenance, I don't see how there is necessarily enough "productive" work available for our population, or worse yet, a growing one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bae View Post
    Given mechanization/automation and increased productivity of capital, along with consumers' acceptance of mass-produced products of dubious quality and provenance, I don't see how there is necessarily enough "productive" work available for our population, or worse yet, a growing one.
    And yet the working class either doesn't want to accept this as fact, or is encouraged to deflect their anxiety about this onto the latest target, liberal Democrats. All of this continues the partisan divide and does nothing to move us forward as a country with real solutions. Daddy Trump is not the answer.

  8. #18
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    I feel I've made a feeble attempt at reviewing a book who's purpose was probably half reminiscence and half enshrinement. It is not about politics, economics or for that matter even solutions. It is a salute to immigrants, hard work, salt of the earth, self reliance, the passing of an era and renewal or adaptation by sons and daughters of real people with a patina of rust worn like a diamond ring on a wrinkled bent finger.

    There is promise for those who remained, for those with either the foresight to stay or perhaps the timidity to leave. For those who have left and come back to visit, those that remain are heroes. They are the heartbeat, while faint, that keeps hope alive despite outside attempts to meddle in a system several hundred years in the making. From the settling of the Western Frontier, the Indian Wars and Mad Anthony Wayne, the first successful Communist group of Harmonists called Old Economy, a Revolution, A Civil Fracture, and the Age of Industry. It all happened here. From George Washington to George Bush......an ebb and flo of a community that has taken it all in stride.

    I am proud to have been closely associated with such a place. No amount of technology, globalism or whatever ism you chose to assign its downfall to, can take one ounce from purity and simplicity of these people. They are here despite politics. And they will be here when the next incarnation of "Plowboy" poles its way up the Ohio River. They do not put any hope in the most recent elected official but they never dare to hope. They have always chosen to build a bridge to the future.

  9. #19
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    I am proud to have been closely associated with such a place. WS, you are right to be proud of its history and resilience. What the thread posts are asking is: 'where do we go from here?" "How do we build from this base?"

    DH and I used to chuckle at our different perspectives on life. He looked to the past, was the family historian and lived a very practical approach in the present. "The impossible just took a little longer" was one of his favourite sayings. I really miss that perspective these days.

    My approach was always to live with enthusiasm and hope in the present but analyzing, anticipating and seeking future possibilities. This gave him the courage when doubts about our future flared up as they did in the 1970's and gave us the wisdom and ability to risk investing in real estate which ended up being a chief source on return over the years. You need both perspectives. We were a formidable team doing so.

    Don't see the discussion arising from your OP as a negative.. It is the searching, analyzing that is needed to move ahead and we will. The US is not alone in going through this. It is world-wide and ever was thus.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammy View Post
    There's increasing talk of a universal basic income.
    I see Finland is launching an experiment with that.

    http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/02/news...ome/index.html

    It would be interesting to see a large scale-experiment with a significant, formal donee class. How do you cope with the people incapable of coping simply because they have a reliable income? What kind of status systems will evolve? Will politics become a simple bidding process? Will the nastiest jobs become the highest-paying?

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