Monday, January 07, 2008

The Rust Belt Experience

A letter to the Editor of the Cumberland Times-News spells out the need for people, not jobs. Putting aside my inclination to engage the argument, I see another example of the shared Rust Belt experience:

In Allegany County, several facts have been constant themes for the forward facing economic debate. Here's a quick list.

1. Since the early 1950s, Allegany County has steadily decreased in population.

2. Since the early 1950s, Allegany County has declined in manufacturing jobs.

3. Since the early 1950s, Allegany County real estate value has not kept pace with the nation or the rest of the state.

These circumstances are not unique. They are shared throughout America's Rust Belt, a geographic swath of places once characterized by heavy manufacturing that have suffered major economic decline as manufacturing moved south and off shore in the second half of the 20th century. If any of these communities could "assume a can opener" to replace lost jobs they surely would have by now.

I gather that Rust Belt residents are tired of policy leftovers that haven't rescued other shrinking cities from their economic funk.

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