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The Death Of The Rust Belt – There Are Many American Cities That Were Once Truly Great That Are Now Truly Frightening To Visit.


By Michael Snyder

Abandoned House in Ambridge, Pennsylvania - Public Domain

Their names are familiar to all of us: Cleveland, Flint, Youngstown, Saginaw, Gary, Toledo, Reading, Akron, Flint and Buffalo were all once booming manufacturing cities that were absolutely packed with thriving middle class families.  But now most of the manufacturing jobs are gone and all of those cities are just shadows of their former selves.  When you drive through many of these communities, you will notice that a lot of people have a really hollow look in their eyes.  Decades of slow, steady economic decline have really taken a toll, and even the architecture in these cities looks depressed.  But despite all of the decay, there is still evidence that there was once something truly great about these communities.  Will we be able to recapture that greatness before it is too late?

A lot of writers make economics really complicated, but the truth is that it does not have to be.  For example, if you want your country to have a great economy it has got to produce wealth.  And one of the primary ways to produce wealth is to make stuff.  Immediately after World War II, the United States had the greatest manufacturing base the world had ever seen and we outproduced the rest of the planet combined.  Great manufacturing cities sprouted up all over America and the middle class thrived.  It was truly a great time to be an American.

But then we decided to start shipping in cheaper products from overseas.  At first it didn’t create too much of a problem for our massive economy, but eventually the floodgates opened up and we lost tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities and millions upon millions of good paying jobs.  Our labor pool was merged with the labor pool of countries such as communist China where it is legal to pay slave labor wages to manufacturing workers.  Needless to say, our workers could not compete with that and our middle class started to shrink rapidly.

Today, there are many American cities that were once truly great that are now truly frightening to visit.  For example, a recent CNBC articledetailed the plight of Reading, Pennsylvania…

In August 2008, factory workers David and Barbara Ludwig treated themselves to new cars—David a Dodge pickup, Barbara a sporty Mazda 3. With David making $22 an hour and Barbara $19, they could easily afford the payments.

A month later, Baldwin Hardware, a unit of Stanley Black & Decker, announced layoffs at the Reading plant where they both worked. David was unemployed for 20 months before finding a janitor job that paid $10 an hour, less than half his previous wage. Barbara hung on, but she, too, lost her shipping-dock job of 26 years as Black & Decker shifted production to Mexico. Now she cleans houses for $10 an hour while looking for something permanent.

They still have the cars. The other trappings of their middle-class lifestyle? In the rear-view mirror.

I once had an aunt that lived in Reading.  She is dead now, and so is most of the city.  At this point, more than 40 percent of those living in Reading are impoverished and the city government is flat broke.

But similar things could also be said about the rest of the Rust Belt

Perhaps no other region in the country has more eerie examples of urban decay than the once dominant industrial region known as the Rust Belt. Covering the Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the region is plagued by a number of abandoned factories, houses and buildings that lay in crumbling ruins.

You can see some incredible photographs by Seph Lawless of the decay in the Rust Belt right here.  The pictures are incredibly depressing, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to see that these cities were once truly impressive.

Just take Gary, Indiana for instance.  It was once known as “the Magic City” because it was doing so well, but now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole.  The following is from an excerpt from a Daily Mail articleabout Gary…

Gary, a struggling city 30 miles south of Chicago along the shores of Lake Michigan, is a prime example of the trend.

Known as the ‘Magic City’ in the roaring 1920s for its spectacular growth, Gary is still home to U.S. Steel’s largest plant, but the number of mill jobs has shrunk to 5,000 from 30,000 in the 1970s.

Gary’s population in 1960 was more than 178,000, but it disintegrated to just 79,000 by 2012.

Some one-third of its residents live in poverty and the home and business vacancy rate is about 35 percent. Gary recorded 43 murders in 2012 – three times as many per capita as nearby Chicago.

At one time, Gary was the envy of the rest of the globe.

But now very few people would ever want to willingly live there.

The following is how James Kunstler described what he saw when he traveled through Gary, Indiana…

Between the ghostly remnants of factories stood a score of small cities and neighborhoods where the immigrants settled five generations ago. A lot of it was foreclosed and shuttered. They were places of such stunning, relentless dreariness that you felt depressed just imagining how depressed the remaining denizens of these endless blocks of run-down shoebox houses must feel. Judging from the frequency of taquerias in the 1950s-vintage strip-malls, one inferred that the old Eastern European population had been lately supplanted by a new wave of Mexicans. They had inherited an infrastructure for daily life that was utterly devoid of conscious artistry when it was new, and now had the special patina of supernatural rot over it that only comes from materials not found in nature disintegrating in surprising and unexpected ways, sometimes even sublimely, like the sheen of an oil slick on water at a certain angle to the sun. There was a Chernobyl-like grandeur to it, as of the longed-for end of something enormous that hadn’t worked out well.

Sadly, what is happening to Reading and Gary is just a preview of what is slowly happening to the entire nation as a whole.

Since 2001, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities.

That is absolutely astounding.

Most of those jobs have gone overseas.  That is why it seems like most of our products say “Made in China” these days.  They are getting rich while our communities suffer, and then we have to beg the Chinese to lend our money back to us.

Meanwhile, we have a permanent epidemic of unemployment in this country.  Back in the 1980s, over 20 percent of the jobs in the U.S. were manufacturing jobs.  Today, only about 9 percent of the jobs in the U.S. are manufacturing jobs.

And an astounding number of our young men are just sitting at home instead of doing something productive.  As I wrote about the other day,one out of every six men in their prime working years (25 to 54) do not have a job at this point.

Also, the percentage of working age Americans not participating in the labor force is up to 37.2 percent - a 36 year high.

Not only that, but the quality of our jobs has also steadily declined as we have lost good paying manufacturing jobs to overseas workers.

Right now, half the country makes $27,520 a year or less from their jobs.

No wonder the middle class is dying.

And of course there is so much more that could be said about this.  For even more numbers about our manufacturing decline, please see my previous article entitled “Shocking Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Everyone Should Know“.

These problems were not created overnight, and they are not going to be solved overnight either.

But as a nation, we have got to understand that we cannot consume our way to prosperity.  That is only going to result in even more debt.

Instead, we have got to make the decision to produce our way to prosperity.

In other words, we have got to start making stuff in this country again.

That may sounds “crazy” to a lot of people, but it is possible.  We have just got to have the willingness to do it.

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  • David Mowers

    We are so fortunate to have companies like Bain Capital ensuring a middle class for all Chinese! Good Bless American finance. Jesus would want 28 million Americans out of work so that Asians can have jobs and God Bless you “Pioneer in outsourcing” Mitt Romney!

    • 02144pomroy

      Sounds more like Bill Clinton and Al Gore with NAFTA. Perot warned Al Gore about this during their NAFTA debate.

      • David Mowers

        God Bless the Republican Party for voting FOR NAFTA under Clinton!

        God Bless their multimillionaire hearts.

    • GodsendshisloveI’msure

      Communists always destroy the middle class, niot long after they have destroyed values.

  • Roddy Pfeiffer

    In China it only takes 9000 US dollars a year in household income to be middle class. That’s measured by western standards of home ownership, consumer goods, health care, savings, and retirement. Upper middle class starts at $16,000 US dollars for a household of 3 or more. America is too expensive to compete any more. All those wars that were financed, all the money that was borrowed from China and a lot of other countries has to be paid back. Like they say, “payback is a bitch”.

    • David Mowers

      In order to manufacture in China you have to agree to sell your products in the Chinese market at cost. To offset your loss from this they rebate all income taxes you pay in America back to you and charge no income tax or tax on profits as long as those profits stay in Chinese banks.

      China cares about its people, unlike the United States.

      • treavle

        China treats people like disposable sheep and works them to the bone in sweatshops, churning out cheap shit, of which ninety percent ends up in the Atlantic. Stop trying to glamourize Communist slavery you bell-end.

        • Roddy Pfeiffer

          I live in China, I doubt if you have ever been near it, or out of your trailer park. You get your news from the Jewish media in America and believe what they tell you to believe. You are a good citizen. Bow to your Zionist masters.

  • remploy

    You wanted Communism, now you have it. You cannot say you weren’t warned, time and time again. Anyway, you will all be equal soon, in misery, deprivation and liberal decadence.

    • Nikki Santoro

      No capitalism ruins people. And this is the end result. And so we ought to go back to the old ways. Farming, small mom and pops, and no large corporations! Unless absolutely necessary. I mean some things require economies of scale.

      • Fuck the U.S.A.

        Capitalism and Communism both brought to you by the same Jews. Makes no difference what you want to call it, America is going to be brought to its feet exactly like Russia was one hundred years ago, by the exact same tribe. They are also flooding you with immigrants to start race wars and destroy any attempts at community, or unity. Your petty outpourings about the ‘tranquil life’ seem deluded, almost as if you are so obtuse that you are unable to grasp the brevity of the situation which is not happening by accident, I can assure you.

  • George Beerwood

    I lived near Gary when I was a kid, It was almost impossible to breath and the sky was yellow .. and it STUNK,

  • George Beerwood

    Americans forget that if not for UNIONS all those people in those cities would have been workign 80 hour weeks for peanuts,.

  • NobodysaysBOO

    BECAUSE this is becoming Israel we MUST build a wall around all these places for our safety and protection after all WE POOR Americans TREAT ISRAEL to TRILLIONS of our TAX DOLLARS every year that could easily have gone to rebuilding THIS COUNTRY and NOT IRAQ ECT ECT !
    PS: VOTING DOES NOT WORK in the USA anymore we NEED MORE!
    PSS: WHERE is OUR FOREIGN AID to fight the INSURGENT MEXICAN NATIONALS and assorted invasive TRASH?

    Got to go the FOOD BANK is just open for 2 hours first serve everyone else can go to HELL!

  • judenjager

    All these places have 2 things in common. No.1, they are majority BLACK. No2, They are DEMOCRATIC voters.

    • Isaac

      And that is why Israel who own and run America are flooding America with immigrants, they like to drag everything down to the lowest common denominator, then feed off the misery. The Goy love to submit to it as well.

      • judenjager

        Not this guy. I know the jew for what it is… A parasitic entity. All our other problems pale in comparison to the jew problem.

    • Alverez

      Nigger commies,a.k.a. the black plague.’Planet Of The Apes’,wasn`t just a science fiction story,it was prophecy.The jews hate us so much they want to breed us out of existence with the monkey-heads.

  • James

    Yep,there`s the elephant in the romm..Blacks!Between the blacks and the jews we will never get the star trek future.