Thursday, November 30, 2017

Janesville: An American [Horror] Story

I added the word HORROR to the title because that is how I read the book -- like a sad horror story.

If you want to understand the Trump victory an even better story than the one told by J.D. Vance has been written by Amy Goldstein: a classic story chronicling the story of Paul Ryan's hometown, Janesville, WI and the impact of the closing of the GM plant from the initial announcement in 2008 and the chain reaction to other plants and businesses through 2013. Along with that story is the attack on unions and their deterioration from a vital part of the community to total ineffectiveness. (Mulgrew said at the last Ex Bd meeting he was bringing in a union leader from Wisconsin to speak about that devastation and how they responded.

Families who had been within cocoon of the working relationship between the unions and industry for generations and had reached a safe middle class status, suddenly found themselves mightily struggling even to the point of putting food on the table. Those who managed to procure a job were making half of what they made before. Some "lucky" auto workers had to 5-7 hours commute to other plants and had to leave their families behind.

Goldstein who has been a staff writer at the Washington Post for 30 years, takes a subtle approach -- telling all sides of the story from Paul Ryan's take to the individual families involved and even some of their teachers. You will come to certain conclusions. Many people are truly saints. The sense of sharing and giving even under duress was enormous.

Also, Republicans, bankers, and the very rich who have money to burn on right wing causes are dicks.

Some of the saddest stories is how people turned against teachers after the attacks of Scott Walker. People under attack began to look at teachers who had not been laid off and kept jobs at the salary they had been making, as being favored and the resentment mounted. The stories of the impact on the children and the adults trying to help them are devastating.

In the end, by 2016, so many people who had voted for Obama had deserted -- with no unions as central organizing force, people drifted right and towards populism -- which only shows that Republicans and their allies in their full fledged assault on unions have punched their ticket to staying in power for life.

Kudos to Amy Goldstein for her perseverance over such a long period of time and for embedding herself into so many families. My only complaint is the seeming all white tragedies with nary a mention that there are people of color who, whatever the travails of white people, suffered even more. And eblack people seem to have truly disappeared in this horror story.

I'm sure they were in other places where they got the full monty.

Also read:The Atlantic
What Is Janesville, Wisconsin, Without General Motors?
Eight years after its GM assembly plant closed, the city of 63,500 is still trying to answer that question.


  1. Blacks are 1.7 % of Jansville's population.

    1. And exacttly how is that relevant to the issue at hand?

    2. Because he mentions it in his article you intellectual giant


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