[Marxism] In ‘Janesville,’ When the G.M. Plant Closed, Havoc Followed,

Michael Yates MIKEDJYATES at msn.com
Thu Apr 20 11:09:00 MDT 2017

The review of the book about what happened in Janesville, Wisconsin after the GM plant closed is interesting. When I quit teaching and took to the road, Janesville was where we spent our first night, on the way to work at Yellowstone National Park.

We knew about what the author of the book describes a long time ago, during the 1980s in Johnstown, PA and other factory towns in the Rust Belt. Studies then, one of which I helped with, showed that retraining of laid off workers was a dead end. I used to teach a good many of them. And the social consequences of plant closings were readily apparent. During the 1990s I taught auto workers at a GM plant near Pittsburgh. Some were far from home, like some men in Janesville, working at other GM plants, as their contract gave them the right to do. I heard some awful stories. Suicides, illness, family troubles, not to mention that some were working 7-day weeks and 12 hour days, to earn enough money to get through the next disaster. Some had suffered multiple plant closings.

When economic catastrophes occur, lives and communities are shattered. Bad things happen, and they get worse for the next generation. Drugs, crime, you name it. Then the economy improves and the media, capitalists, and public officials sing the praises of the resilience of the free market economy. But underneath the surface, hidden from most of us, is extreme human misery. We act as if what happened didn't happen. Oh well, we say, life goes on.

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