Thursday, February 17, 2011

17 February 1957 “The Tale of Youngstown Ohio: Is It The Tale of Modern America?”

One drawback to being a time traveler is that ones’ joy in the moment is often clouded by knowing the future. I can rather get lost in 1957 easily, but whenever I am researching various things about the day, I inevitable find myself going down a path I must follow. This lead to this lead to this; the “Alice down the rabbit hole” I have come to call it.

So, today I want to share such a journey I took. It started with some innocent findings of a town in Ohio, Youngstown.

Here is a video about Youngstown from 1944

youngstown1850beforeindustry Youngstown Ohio in 1850’s before the industrial revolution really hit it. Here we can see how towns once existed. A mix of agriculture/housing/shops all within walking or easy distance. No cars meant we HAD to be green.

DowntownYoungstown1920ss Downtown Youngstown 1920’s. At this point the Steel industry had been going for a decade and the downtown grew and became the major area of local commerce and business.

1900coal By 1900 coal began to be mined in the area. This, of course, lead to Steel.steelmill And with the help of the automobile and the tripling of production during WWII it got bigger rather quickly.steelmillww2 And after the war, continued onward and upward stellmill50s And by the 60’s the mill and the surronding countryside was growing with the wealth of the country through steel. The USA was a powerhouse exporter of not only oil (which was beginning to run out at this point and we would see that result in the 1970’s)but auto, steel, industry.

steelmill77 By 1977, the steel works and large industrial complex had been a part of the area for decades now. It seemed a permanent fixture, providing jobs and economy for the area. Homes and town had built up from the wealth and jobs.

What I found very interesting was that in In 1952, during the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman attempted to seize United States steel mills in order to avert a strike. This led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer, which limited presidential authority. Had Truman successfully seized control would this have set a precedent? And what, prey, precedent do you mean, 50’s gal, I might hear you ask. That government intervention might be needed when things get ‘too big’. “Oh no!” I hear the gasps, no government intervention. Yet, of course, because of this, the companies continued unhindered by policy into September 19, 1977. ON that day, now locally remembered as ‘Black Monday”, the company abruptly closed its Campbell Works and furloughed 5,000 workers. Closings continued through the 70’s and 80’s.

 

sheettubemetal2So this has become this

sheettubemetalAnd this bridge which once carried steel out of the area sits rotting.

youngstownbridge

rubberfactory    This image ( from THIS flickr stream) really hit home for me. The desolation and waste.

The people of the area were greatly affected. The population dwindled greatly with no major industry providing jobs. This is what happened to the neighborhoods youngstownoh

youngstown today Downtown Youngstown today. It seems almost a movie set of apocalyptic proportions. And this is happening all over the US, not just Ohio.

detroit Here is a ‘home’ in Detroit. Abandoned row houses in Baltimore baltimore North Carolinancarolina

Here is a local testament from 2011:

"When I grew up in the 1950s, the city was at its peak," said Father Ed Noga, who heads St. Patrick's on Youngstown's South Side. "There were kids everywhere and everyone converged on downtown. You went to eat, to shop and to go to the movies."

Today, downtown is positively sleepy and even somewhat derelict. Residents have to drive out of town to shop for clothes or house wares. And while foreclosures have long been a scourge in this city, they have recently skyrocketed along with the rest of the country, up 178% in February from a year ago.

But, we might ask, where has the steel gone? We still drive cars and have need of steel in this country, is that not so? Well, it must be made somewhere. Where have all the American Steel companies gone, they are still making so much money?

China has the world’s largest steel industry. Indeed, in 2005, China made more steel than the next four largest producers combined. From 2000 to 2005, China’s steel production increased by over 170 percent, as the Chinese industry added capacity at a furious rate. Between 1998 and 2005, China’s steel exports more than quadrupled, as China established itself as one of the world’s leading exporters. This explosive growth in both production and exports would not have been possible without the support of the Chinese government.

 

Now, I have no way of knowing if government intervention in 1952 could have set a precedent that would have helped such industry to be forced to stay in the country. But, certainly, something should have been done. The jobs are gone, the towns are gone, the industry is gone for the majority of the people. Yet the few who owned the steel mills make an even higher profit now due to the lower costs of production in China. Then, I ask myself, is it fair that they were allowed to leave? They are a private industry, but are we not private citizens? Perhaps had there been laws that said, “you may leave and take the industry, but you cannot sell in this country what is not made in this country without having this higher wage put upon you for bringing it back in” That is a fair idea for without such an idea, here we are now.

And it isn’t just steel. So much industry that is flourishing now here in 1957 is poising to leave over the next two decades. I feel we really had it right, we Americans, here in the 1950’s. We were given this opportunity to grow and build ourselves up while the rest of the civilized world was repairing itself from a destructive war fought in their backyards. We could have made a fair playing field for ALL Americans: workers and farmers. Because not everyone WANTS to be a captain of industry. Some people just want a nice home affordable, a home they can pay for, reasonable priced food and a chance to raise a family. And if we ALL wanted to be millionaires, how could we, it would make no sense as it could not happen. The idea of allowing freedom where it should not have been took it away from the freedom from most.

When I look at the happy faces smiling out at me in my vintage magazines. Listen to the happy songs and watch the funny sitcoms of the era and the bright and shiny movies, it sometimes makes me cry. I want so bad to really be here, 1957 and to shout out to the others around me. “Pay attention! What you have now is wonderful. Keep shopping downtown. You don’t need to grow bigger. Johnny doesn’t have to leave the farm, work to keep the farms small and local” but, I know very well, it would fall on deaf ears.

Much like the plot of any fictional time travel book, I could easily go to 1938 Germany and begin shouting to those around me, “Pay attention, don’t turn away as if nothing is happening. You can stop it now!” Of course they would not listen to me. It would fall on deaf ears.

In many ways this can of worms I have opened with this project has left me feeling much like a true time-traveler. I see myself sitting on the threshold of some great significant historical event seeing how it all happened, only no one can or won’t hear me. Was I better off before, when I didn’t know. When I thought the things the TV told me were true. When I believed that the government was full of people who cared about my freedom and not peopled with heads of the big 5 corporations? And, funny thing is, I had to put on a girdle, make a nice little home, kiss my hubby off to work and live in 1955 to realize it all. Irony, I think, is not a strong enough word for that situation, that my living decades away from my own time has made me the most aware of it than I ever was before.

So, where has that left me today?

To me, being Vintage isn’t just Pink kitchens, buying old things and wearing pretty dresses, its about looking back for the good and bringing it forward again. We have the opportunity to re-live the past in a way that puts aside any of the bad we had then, as we don’t need forethought when we look ahead. Then, with the old skills we can make a better future out of the past. I do know that we cannot, with any true success, just continue on as mindless consumers who don’t want to ask ‘WHY’.

It seems to me one of the main drawbacks to our American vast landscape what our extreme growth during the boom of industry and the automobile. Now, were there laws not allowing the companies not to leave the U.S. then these towns would still exist. Of course, we as consumers would have to pay a little more for our things, as they would be made by us who would cost more money. But, then we would put it all back into our own economy. What a difference would our country be today if products sold here had to be produced here. Yet, we happily buy our cheap products made elsewhere, drive our cars long distances to get these items, watch our downtowns fade and our vast agricultural belts become barren with overplanting of corn and watch the waters get polluted by their run off of chemicals.

I am not sure what would need to happen in this country to make it different. I think one thing would be that we just stop and look around and figure out why it is this way. But, as long as large companies are allowed to produce outside our country, and retailers to gut the market with cheap foreign made products and we all happily buy it all up, there is no change ahead until it will be too late.

There are some people who, much like those after a natural disaster or war, are going into these wrecked towns and trying to rebuild. The sad bit is, they were built around the very industry which is now gone. Is rebuilding that same structure the right answer? On what level can it really exist that way? We might make as many ‘cool art galleries and coffee houses’ but really, without any industry to support the economy really, then we are just playing house in an old city still supplying our needs from the big box stores.

There is a town, Braddock PA that is trying to come back HERE is their site.

But, again, is this the right way? To make this post-apocalyptic or I should say post-Industrial town alive again with what was built on that industry which left it the right answer? I don’t know.

In many ways I am beginning to think we might need to look back further than the 1950’s back to Youngstown in the 1850’s.youngstown1850beforeindustry When the town was made up of what it needed, food shelter, neighbors, and industry wasn’t a big machine that could come in and out as it wished leaving devastation like some great giant. ROUTETORECOVERY/ Leaving it much like a desolate post war world.

How did we allow ourselves to go from thishappy50sfamily To this:modernfamily Was it all worth it?

39 comments:

  1. It is sad, isn't it? That is how places in Colorado look now, beautiful buildings stand empty now. There are no jobs, why would people stay there? I think it is so sad that people have children and yet never make time for them, daddy works, and mommy works so little johnny has to go to day care everyday and has more of a relationship with the workers there than with his own parents, mommy picks him up and microwaves his dinner and then he watches 5 hours of television until he goes to bed. Sometimes I ask myself what's wrong with this country. Isn't there any hope anymore? Why don't people care that all their crap that they buy is from China. Why don't people have standards anymore? Great post..it really makes one think.

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  2. People talk about "American Made" but that has so many different facets. As a resident of Braddock PA, the birthplace of U.S. Steel, I'm constantly reminded that Andrew Carnegie single-handedly destroyed the Pittsburgh area's crucible steel making companies with his Bessemer mills. The steel Carnegie made for the railroads was so bad that the government had to adopt laws to define quality control; in 1898 the ASTM was born. The quality of Carnegie's steel was a joke compared to the amazing steel produced in America before the robber barons came. So, when we wistfully look back on the 1940's and 50's as a time of great American manufacturing, please remember that those decades also saw the beginning of a brand new idea in human history, planned obsolescence. Everything we hate about Chinese made goods was conceived and perfected by American companies first. Maybe it's time to look back a bit further for the good times in America. Maybe the 1840's and 50's are worth considering. Small manufacturers. No code laws needed because a true craftsman wouldn't dare ruin his family name by shoddy work. Nineteenth century sustainability: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. As a craftsman building furniture by hand across the street from the birthplace of US Steel, I like the sound of that.

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  3. Roadbourne-I am with you on that one. In fact I was lamenting the fact that my joy in 1950's with my project now has a taint to it. In that I see we almost need to look at 1850 to really think about how we should shape our futures. Now that doesn't mean turn back the clock on equality, dress, or medical science. But, again, we CAN, we are ALLOWED to adopt the old ways of the past wihtout bringing forward the bad bits and that is what I don't undertand about today. That we have NO sense of history as a learning tool. It is merely, where 'all the bad or quaint things' happened. But there is also some GOOD COMMON SENSE things that we can bring forward and would work wonders today. It is even sad to look back to 1900 and see all the Robber Barons, as you say, coming into power. The sad bit is as long as we are all always plugged in, which we are getting MORE SO, the easier it is to live NOW never think of the past. People seem to even forget that three years ago we had a huge real estate bubble burst and a big scare of our economy, yet I see stores (well big stores) parking lots full up!
    I don't even know if our country would know HOW to make a local community anymore. There may be a co-op somewhere but you can bet there is also a big chain grocery and a walmart.

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  4. Mrs Phillips-Well, I know why I USED to buy things indiscriminately without concern: It was easy, cheap and I NEVER heard anything bad about it. The "NEWS" is more concerned about what celebrities are doing or what the 'RIGHT' or "LEFT" is saying. When honestly, at this point I don't know that it matters what side of the aisle politicians sit, as I learn more and more they were put there by the big 5 corps and were often once officers of those places, such as the FDA is peopled with people were worked for monsanto.

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  5. It is getting really difficult now to find anything that is not made in China. I went to several stores to look for bobby pins and most stores carried the same brand and all the packages of bobby pins I found were labelled Made in China. Then I think of the wooden spoons I was looking for. No matter where I went, they were all Made in China. Our choices are so limited and it's incredibly frustrating.

    For the pins I had no choice but to buy what was offered, but for the spoons I'm going to go to some of the craft fairs in the spring and look for local hand-made wooden spoons. They will cost more but I'm sure they'll be vastly superior in quality.

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  6. That is what is so frustrating. We haven't been asking 'WHY' until now and now is it too late? I don't know. I mean, possibly you could have gone to a resale shop or ebay to see if you could get old made in USA that would give money to an idividual, but that is harder, I know, and it is just easier to buy it now. I am not saying you are bad, because some of my bobby pins are indeed modern China made versions. It was easy at the time.
    I am worried that the 'solution' won't come until it HAS to come. I have never felt so lied to and the subject of propaganda, until I started to really ask WHY and start looking.
    Oh, what shall we do. I think we can't really be "Scarlett O'hara" any more and say, "Oh, I will worry about that tomorrow".

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  7. Recently I watched a documentary on PBS about the vanishing Americana in North Carolina. Sad to see those family run stores, restaurants and barber shops disappearing. Definitely calls for a shift in mindset away from cheap and easy.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

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  8. Wonderful post!

    I think about things like this constantly. I think little by little more folks are waking up to the situation, unfortunately not enough.

    I was just thinking how funny it was that I get so excited when I'm in thrift stores and find clothes that were made in the USA! Something so small seems so foreign in any mainstream retail stores now days.

    Even sadder, I was duped at the grocery too. I bought some tomatoes (my little plant inside isn't producing this winter, boo). The package said "Longmont, Colorado". I thought, "Local! Why yes I will!" Only when I got home and inspected the label more carefully, the teeniest print ever said "Product of Mexico" - The company in Longmont was only the distributor... tricky, tricky, tricky!

    LPM

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  9. Great post, 50s Gal. You're preaching to the choir, but even we in the choir need to be reminded often to make good choices in our consumerism.
    I love movies from the 50s and I've noticed that the working class was often very visible. Sadly now-a-days the working class is nearly non-existent. Our nation had a work ethic at one time, but it seems to have disappeared.

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  10. Lapetitemort, I live in Longmont!

    It is so nice to now that my husband and I are not alone in thinking thoughts like yours, 50sgal, and the others on here. Thanks for a great read again!

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  11. Oh my! Sorry for the typo -- it should be know not now.

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  12. Please buy your wooden spoons at craft fairs. Those wooden spoons are most likely wood scraps from larger furniture, so it's an exceedingly sustainable product. The artisans who travel to those craft shows have to spend a fair bit of money trying to get someone to buy a $2500 rocking chair or $5500 bed. We don't sell those beds or chairs nearly as fast as the entry fees and gas bills pile up; so please, buy a couple spoons or a pasta rack or something at your local craft fairs and put a small amount of gas money into some craftsman's pocket so he doesn't have to schlep home with a big Zilch for the weekend. And, while I'm sounding off, think about saving up for that $2500 rocking chair. Heck yeah, that's a lot of money! But you ever wonder why Depression-era families always had a couple pieces of furniture piled high up on the truck? It's not just about family heirlooms. Quality furniture can easily be sold for ready cash. I try to get people to understand that a $2500 rocking chair can always be sold later. A $250 rocking chair can only be repurposed as firewood. The abandoned houses in Braddock are stuffed to overflowing with abandoned furniture. Worthless furniture. Modern pressed-wood, laminated junk. Veneered pine nonsense from the 30's, 40's & 50's, built fast in a factory and only as good as the pathetic glue & screw joinery. My rocking chairs will outlast your great-grandchildren. Can you name something else you can buy for $2500 that will outlast well-built furniture?

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  13. Also, let's have some perspective too; cause I already know people are going to complain about asking $2500 for a rocking chair. It's because, as a culture, we have stopped valuing a job well done, and instead wonder why it can't be done faster, cheaper, easier. It just can't. Done right is NEVER done quick. When there still were master craftsmen in this country, people understood that. To become a master of a craft took longer than it now takes to become an MD. A master cooper required ten years of training. And that was to make barrels! Imagine how long master cabinetmakers apprenticed! If you really want to start living a truly counter-cultural life, buy less and treasure more. You know who already lives like that? Very, very rich people. Right now, they're my only customers.

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  14. That is quite true, something well made you have less and it lasts longer. My 1950's sewing machine (which was factory made, but in usa) would have cost an equivalent of almost $2000 in its time. But it was built with solid parts to last and it still does so that I can buy and use it now.
    What we must also understand, though, is a society where one can consider a 2500 rocking chair is the very structure of our economy. If we cannot return to an economy that is built and based locally and I hate to say it, move a bit away from oil, then there shan't be $2500 for anyone to buy. Or the value of our dollars will be so reduced in the world economy that it might as well be $2 million.
    What we have to realize is that craft and construction cannot only be for pleasure items such as can be found at craft fairs (which are important don't get me wrong) but also the very basics of human need. I wish we had a grocery store that was stocked with food sourced locally. Maybe a small concern locally that canned that bought from local farmers to sell in that grocery. The shelves in the grocery built locally and our clothing, as well, made locally. That means not just making cute items from fabric but thinking about where do we get fabric. Where is it loomed. Where do we grow or trade for the cotton or wool to make it? Only then, when we are really considering what it takes to make a small community really WORK without the need of the big guys, will we have control over our lives again.
    It is fine to consider some things homemade locally while we still survive by wearing clothes bought cheaply that are made in China, even a 'cute ironic t-shirt' bought at a craft fair still has its hands in China. The level to which we really need to think about our future is immense and varied and the lines of it all run back to the basics: Food, Shelter, Clothing.
    I do really wonder at our future.

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  15. 50sgal, you might really enjoy the children's book The Oxcart Man. As much as I love and adore the 1950's, I'd really like to try my hand living in the 1820's or 1830's. Tasha Tudor lived like it was the 1830's, I think. Honestly, though, I doubt I'd make it one day!

    My ancestors came to America in the very late 1600's and eventually made their way to KY in the 1820's. My great aunt, born around 1904, wrote a small book about the history of our family farm. Every bit of information in the book she gleaned from her parents and grandparents, who would have had memories of their parents and grandparents. I was amazed at how utterly self-sufficient the farm was pre-1900's. The land provided almost everything they needed, and for what they couldn't get from the land, they traded and bartered.

    Life has changed, and so much for the better, but also so much for the worse. Like you, I really do wonder about the future. It does feel good to learn and try my best to improve our little corner of the world. Kudos to you for the inspiration you've given me.

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  16. GenealogistHomemakerFebruary 17, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    Thank you for a great post and to everyone for great comments. That was a very interesting and thought provoking read that has really got us thinking and talking.

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  17. Business has been being shipped overseas by the US due to the high wages demanded by unionized labor. Now that mandatory healthcare has been passed, even more jobs will go overseas. it is interesting that many who are against big businesses and box stores, do not realize that soon these will be the only companies around, because Mom & Pop stores are not able to financially pay for healthcare for the masses. Healthcare is not a right, it is something that people should be allowed to pay for our not - their choice like life insurance. Johnson's "Great Society" has made americans lazy and self-reliant on government programs. A recent survey of Boston HS students showed that the goal of the majority of seniors is to get Section 8 housing, food stamps, and not have to work. Children are emancipating themselves from their parents so that they can qualify for subsidized housing before they are 18. They also say that while they "collect" they can have a boyfriend move in who can work under the table for spending $$, get a free gov't issues cellphone, and receive WIC and extra food if they have a baby. This is rapidly becoming the New American Dream, So say what the government has done to youthful-ambition and self-sufficiency.

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  18. anon-Its funny, because I used to believe this as well. But now, I think it almost laughable to blame that which has not yet happened (healthcare) on things that have come about decades ago.
    Mom and pop stores cannot afford to exist because we never asked for any sort of control so the few got more and more powerful. The government now is really neither left or right. It is simply a place peopled by the few powerful corporations.
    It is true that our welfare system needs a revamp but I love how whatever the latest 'buzzword' happens to be feed to us by the 'talking media box' is what we choose as the current scapegoat.
    I can't imagine WHAT jobs are left to go overseas. Currently almost all of our production is outside of the USA, this began in the 1980's. I used to think it was the labor strikes, but when I found out how much the companies made and knew that they CHOSE of their own free will to go to China and Mexico where they could underpay others who aren't even Americans to make MORE MONEY at the expense of towns they had allowed build up over their business structure. Free market should not mean free of Morals or human decency.
    We have to see that why we are here is because the culture of greed has allowed to happen.
    And you do realize that the welfare systems are actually wanted BY the big business. Think about it. Those who recieve it, governemnet money-your money-then put it into the private sector. Where do you think those WIC coupons and money goes? It isn't to farmers markets and mom and pops. Our system is now a complete cycle of retail workers putting pay into taxes, those taxes into subsidies and welfare and that goes into the private sector.
    We need to except corporations to act as we would our neighbor. Why we have allowed ourselves to be duped into the fact that there is one set of morals for the 'corp' and one for our fellow neighbor also shows why we are at a level that might not recover vouluntarily.
    And I have to laugh at the healthcare.
    I don't know that much about the current plant, but if it is anything like the plan that was FORCED on my home state MA a few years back, I have to laugh. Our 'healthcare' problem was solved by the fact that we were now legally BOUND to have it. No breaks or free healthcare mind, just that if we DIDN"T get it we have to pay 400 dollars at the end of the year towards our already high taxes. THAT was the solution.
    Yet I see countries like the UK and Canada who not only have a great healthcare system but a democracy as well.
    Honestly, though, this very atitude is exactly why I sort of feel sad. I know, because I once believed the commone 'logic' of it all. I was even a registered Republican at college. But, being disconnected from it all and just learning and studying and looking up things has torn off the veil and it scares me.
    We need to stop placing our anger and excuses on 'some outside source' like the Democrats, healthcare, no healthcare etc and realize we are part of the problem and we are the only soulution.
    Yet, I wonder, the corps are now SO big and SO FULL of the government, in fact ARE the government that I am not sure what will happen.
    I have lost the will to really try and convince anyone because I see those who agree agree and those who don't don't and we all stay the same. I know I personally changed my views and opinions but that took two years of study to really want to look at it objectively. I KNOW that will not happen to most people.
    Part of the loss of youthful ambition is due to the ability of the media (also a corporation) to grow to the level it has and that we all are plugged in all the time. Why should we expect young people to be any different when we all when we aren't working are watching tv, on the computer, on the cell phone, on the laptop, texting and so on. Until we look in the mirror for the real problem and solution I honestly fear for this country.

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  19. It is laughable that you claim that Canada & UK have great healthcare. Have you ever talked to the large number of Canadian or British people who choose to work/live in the US for our healthcare? the fact that as American we have been able to choose and pay for our own heathcare is a freedom. In Canada & UK if someone needs to have an operation, it is up to the government to approve them for it. There are waiting lists for simple surgeries and procedures and operations that we can have done in the US. If you are over 70 in Canada & UK many procedures are not preformed at all because of actuarial calculations as to weather the government investment would be worth it in terms of life expectancy. have you ever heard the British expression... Marry you first spouse for love, your second spouse for security and the third time marry an American for their healthcare.

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  20. Anon. you have skewed statistics. You're creating a group of Canadians and British who moved to America because they like the American mindset. Nobody moves to America because of our healthcare. That's a complete fallacy that has never been backed by statistics. And I've lived in Britain and I've never heard that expression you've used. I love "If you can't enjoy it, lie back and think of Britain" which I always loved. I also like starting a speech with, "Ladies, Gentlemen, and Officers of the Navy..." That one always makes me smile. But I've never heard a Brit talk about coming to America for the healthcare. The British transplant who lives behind us in Braddock is horrified of our healthcare system, where your ability to pay is the first question you're asked. It's the main thing about America she doesn't like. If America really cared about small business, we'd have universal healthcare paid for by the very tax dollars which kept Egypt's Mubarak propped up for decades. If America really embraced small business, they'd get rid of the two biggest stressers of small businesses; health care coverage and worker's comp; which are essentially the same thing. Another thing about Britain, they don't have ambulance chasing barristers because the British aren't willing to pay for someone's "pain and suffering". How would you ever put a price on that without insulting coal miners, Alaskan fishermen and soldiers who never get a cent for those things?

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  21. You mention that the government is run by the big corporations. That may be true to some extent, but I think the unions are the real powerhouse. Perhaps it's like this only in the Midwest. I've had personal experience (nightmares) with them--it was their goal to put me out of business instead of unionize my business, and they purposefully caused my payment from the government to be "delayed"--not a friend to business, in my opinion. I am referring to the people who run the unions, not its members. They have also demanded wages and benefits so out of line with the private sector. It should be no surprise when a business leaves an area or even the country. If people could see things from an employer's point of view, maybe they'd understand that higher employment costs decrease profit--profit being the only thing that is keeping them afloat. (I know there is a line somewhere between reasonable profit and excessive profit.) The cost of our government would be decreased if the businesses doing their construction, supplying, etc., would not have to pay "prevailing wage" plus unrealistic benefits. The union may have been a great idea years ago, but now it is indirectly the reason jobs are going across seas. I'm sure there are many who will vehemently disagree with this. I do not mean to offend anyone, but this viewpoint is never presented in the media.

    On a lighter note, I definitely see the value in purchasing American made and locally made products. I am going to be much more aware when I make my purchases.

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  22. Anon. you have some points, but your anger blinds you. It sounds very personal and I'm sorry for that. Unions do suck. In Thomas Bell's wonderful book on Braddock about the hard-fought battle workers fought for unions, the last chapter is an honest questioning of the future of unions. Where would they go? We've seen where they go. They've gone where all of America has gone. If you want to blame the unions, then you're letting the rest of the country off the hook. Modern union leaders make six and seven figure salaries, so they have to show something for it. But they're lazy, like most Americans, so they don't want to work. It's much easier to create a conflict between management and labor. That way nothing happens but we get all the Sturm/Drang! Just like the healthcare debate. We all want results, but what we get is political posturing. Like our economy. We all want more American jobs, but then as soon as someone talks about them, people roll out the old anti-labor union manifesto and talk about how jeans will cost $200. Guess what, I'd pay $200 for jeans if they lasted me ten years like Levi's used to. Now I pay $40 for a pair that don't last a year. That's $400 for the same ten years of use. If we all discuss our problems quietly, the politicians, union bosses, corporate giants and lawyers will poop their pants, because without all the noise, without all the fury, we would all have to face the cold hard fact that the noise doesn't actually DO anything. It just covers up the lack of something being done. I truly believe all politics should be accomplished in a whisper. Then, if nothing gets done, there'd be no way to drown out the lack of accomplishment.

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  23. I was once a mom and pop myself. I owned a flowershop. What put me out of business was the large chain grocery store and then its competitor in two years which offered flowers LOWER than I could buy them wholesale. AND at the Boston Flower market some of the flower wholesalers were also hurting and had to go out of business, why? because the large companies get big enough to FORCE their hand to lower prices directly to growers and use growers OUTSIDE the USA.
    I WAS a statistic of the mom and pop being plowed under by the big guys unfair advantage. I was not only unable to have healthcare for my employeess ( I looked into it but it was too expensive) we also had NO healthcare for us!
    I know canadians and brits ON MY FORUM and this site that have never talked of the things you speak of. They have healthcare for their needs.
    Drugs in this country are also a part of the corproate structure. When they advertise drugs to 'cure' a new 'ailment' and ask you to ask your doctor, that to me is a sign of a falling empire. It took thousands of years for Rome to build up and when it had become too big and too corrupt only roughly one generation to fall. Then we were in the dark ages, literally.
    I love that we can have such debate here. I think keeping ones emotions out of the debate is rather grown up of us and I know that modern 'news media' does not do that.
    Something I also find interesting of modern politics/solutions, is we talk about what went wrong and then what WILL go wrong when this or that happens but we are taught not to look at RIGHT NOW. What is happening now and what can we do with what is going on RIGHT NOW. We have no healthcare system now, yet our economy has been tanking for some time, why? Let's try to figure it out and solve it. Yet, I know the scapegoats will simply fill that role.
    I also don't think it amazing that we now have a Democrat president after two years of a Republican. I have come to honestly believe that these are both sides of the same coins.
    There is no speculation or opinion involved, the current politicians of the past decades and now ARE backed by corporations. It isnt' even a discussing point it is simply a fact easily enough found out. Even the Clintons were backed by Wal-mart and Monsanto. There are no 'good guys' and there are no single reasons other than our own accountability to what we let happen around us.
    Another issue is that when population increases (and believe it or not our country and not third world countries that has an insanely large population increase) we have more people divided among fewer 'political representatives' so it is a fact that our 'freedoms' and voice literally become less. That is simply a mathematical fact.
    Anon-I am not sure where you did get your statistics about Canadians and Brits 'standing inline' for healthcare.

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  24. I recently was speaking with a friend of mine who is an expat in BRIT. his daughter just finished ALL her medical school education at a cost of around 7000 UK pounds. it would have been over 50000 us dollars a year in the states. Here the universities are also corporations. We have been duped and I am not sure why those who would benefit from it most seem to be those who are against it the most. Of course, I don't know, you might have affordable health care, I know my healthcare is not that affordable and luckily supplied by my hubby's work. But I know what it is to be without it as well.
    But, to me, healthcare is the LEAST of our worries.
    I think I am beginning to get to that point where I just have to sort of get my sense of humor back about it and just grin and bear it. I shall try my best to prepare for whatever inevitability our country has in store for us and try to laugh along the way. I know I cannot change the world, not this world any way.
    As much as we don't want to acknowledge how much of our life is dependent upon oil is how much we don't want to see how much of our american life is decided upon and profited by various corporations. I hate to say it but we , WE are as responsible for all of it happening just as much as those who simply didn't want to pay attention to what was happening in Germany during WWII were as responsible for the deaths of those who were killed.
    Not paying attention to facts does not make them go away. I wish it would because I have tried to make a life of mine own. But, as much as I love living in the 1950's the 21st century keeps knocking on my door and it will march forward rather I pay attention or not.

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  25. Donna, Britain is in MAJOR financial trouble, in part because of those low tuition fees. They've set up a model that is completely unsustainable and they're having to make deep, painful cuts that affect every single person in that country. A lot of their tax rates are going to have to be doubled or tripled, in combination with massive spending cuts just to keep their heads above water.

    Nothing is really free. That cheap 7,000 pound medical education cost the taxpayers of England probably 6-7 times that. That's more expensive in the long run than taking out student loans here in the US. It's not my responsibility to pay for someone else to go to college. It's only my responsibility to pay for myself.

    My problem with Obamacare is that it's unconstitutional. The government has NO RIGHT to force Americans to buy health insurance. Health insurance is not a right. It is a privilege and not necessary to have a fulfilled life. If they can force us to buy insurance, then there's nothing they *can't* force us to buy. That is the scariest thing of all to me. Not to mention the tax increases that go with it, the innovation it will kill, the hospitals it will close and the doctors it will put out of business. It's a massive nightmare that WILL break us financially if it's allowed to be implemented. It usurps states' rights and gives the federal government authority it was never intended to have and has no legal basis to claim. And that is why I am opposed to it.

    Not to mention it will create as many as 5,000 new IRS agents. I don't think there's a single person in this country who thinks that's a good idea!

    Public sector unions are a huge part of our current fiscal troubles, on the federal and state level. They need to contribute to society and the tax coffers just like the rest of us. Not take and take and take and pitch a hissy fit when the money runs out, like what's happening in Wisconsin this week. The Democrats in the state government have fled to Illinois so they won't have to vote on the issue, while the Democratic National Committee is busing public employees to the capital and encouraging signs that depict the Wisconsin governor as Hitler and have the dreaded gun sights on his face.

    We have to fix the problems right in front of us before we can address the other ones. If we don't fix the financial mess we're in and stop Obamacare and the unions, there won't be any money left for anyone to try to save anything else.

    The 70's oil crisis was manufactured by the government. I've lived in oil country all my life, as has most of my extended family. My grandfather works in the oil industry now, taking care of a dozen or so wells where he lives. He has hundreds of stories of well owners who were still pumping oil during the height of the crisis. Federal officials came out to their wells and confiscated their oil on a regular basis. A few of them actually witnessed their oil being poured out on the ground and contaminated.

    Our oil reserves are not running out. That is a lie put forth by environmental extremists who think preserving nature is more important than keeping man alive. Our untapped reserves are massive. We have enough oil in our land and waters to provide all of our oil needs for over 100 years. The so-called "green" energy sources are cost prohibitive and surviving only because the government is using *our* tax dollars to prop them up. If it weren't for that they wouldn't be able to make a profit on it. When did it become the government's job to create and prop up an industry with *MY* money?

    America was built on the right for a person to choose for himself how he would live his life. That is what we have given up and that's why we're in so much trouble. If we don't take that back, nothing else matters.

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  26. Rachel-Perhaps you are right. I only know that our energy needs are increasing with each year, not decreasing. I do know that there is a point when oil will not be there. I guess I want our country to be that place that thinks of the future of generations that we may not know but that deserve a viable world as well. If we have enough oil for the next 100 years, is it right to keep a model that uses that without preparing for when it isn't for the future generations? I don't know. As of now, OUR country says NO it is not important. And I am not sure that is how I feel.
    I think 'freedom' can be a relative term as well.
    And the UK problems are not as bad as US and the uk financial propblems are from US interest NOT their social system.
    I am glad we can have an open forum and we each can express our own opinions, I really LOVE that about us here. I feel in some way we ladies (and gentlemen) are a real community in that we are not homogenious. We are so varied by states, country, political/religious differences, yet we still come together and rather have a good ole' 'internet time'. Of that I am proud that we can meet like that.
    For me, though, I don't know that I believe about our future. All I do know is I can and will try to keep finding the good and the bad in the past and try to re-enliven the good while still pointing out the bad that might still be affecting us. We all have our own right to choose what we believe and that is a freedom that I do enjoy.
    Thank you all for your honest opinions and information. I think we all only feel more informed and more aware. And quite honestly, just being able to be aware of what is happening, even if we don't change our own views, is still a positive step, because we are building community. And rather we are American or Lithuanian, community has always been and will always be the most important element we have has educated human beings.
    Thank you all for you time and consideration in commenting on my blog. The future is uncertain in many ways, but I can see it is certain in one: People and Community. We need to foster that and know, now matter what happens, we are ALL in this together and we all can and should be each others best support. Thank you all again.

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  27. Oil needs covered for the next 100 years doesn't exactly impress me. If we don't invest in green options now, when will we? In 100 years? Ugh.

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  28. mei-that is my concern as well. IF there is enough for past our life, that is fine for us, but I want us to CARE about the future, especially those with children. I have no children and as of now, that may stay the same with the more I learn of the future. And EVEN I care about those as of yet unborn generations. I do hope we can begin the idea of a new socitey that could support such a world. And really such a world would be nice if we plan it. We can see more community growth. We can see farmers returning as an option of a career for american's (In the 50's almost 50% of population was farmers today less than 1% and it is almost impossible to become a small farmer because of current legislation supported by the likes of Monsanto)and really it would mean in many ways the things we LOVE about the past. Home skills would be important and regarded SO HIGHLY. Community would be more fun and more exciting than TV as we would not need the programming for things that essentially 'waste' electricity. Save it for medicine/hospitals/education systems and home country production. So, really, even if there is enough oil for a MILLION years, why not try to prepare for it not being there anyway. Once the ideal was to be a grasshopper preparing for the worse, today the ant mentality of 'live it up its good for us now' seems to prevail.
    If only there was unchartered country, we could all go claim it and make an 'old fashioned' culture with our own currency and such, pipe dream I know, but still sounds better than just 'waiting to see what happens'.

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  29. I meant that the other way round, the ant prepares the grasshopper uses it up, but you know what I mean.

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  30. Oh and Rachel, I too dislike a program that just forces us to BUY it. My home state of MA institued this a while back. I couldn't believe it because instead of providing healthcare for the middle class (which we sorely need) it just made us HAVE to pay high prices for healthcare that goes where? You guessed the private sectore. Again we see government agency making us pay into private. This happens on both side of the aisle, Republican and Democrat. So, as of right now my state already HAS this 'healthcare' which of course just forces a family that already CAN"T afford it to now have to buy it or pay more taxes at the end of the year.
    What really needs to be done is address the Insurance system, but that WILL NOT happen. Health care privately or publicly should NOT be as expensive as it currently is. I had a friend who had a sick child and had to get the health care (yes she lived without because she couldn't afford it) and the insurance companies wouldn't accept her because the child was already ill. Now that has everything to do with the corporate structure of health care itself and NOTHING to do with government mandates.It is just such a crazy situation all round. It seems that none of us are getting the whole picture and that allows us all to draw lines in the sand. This, of course, results in NO compromise or solution but does allow the current structure to go on making more and more money. Sad, really.

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  31. To fix the problem of high health care costs, we need to look at it from every angle or contributing factor. For example, we need to get some control on medical malpractice lawsuits. So many doctors charge more because their malpractice insurance costs so much. Many doctors have stopped practicing because the insurance is too expensive or they don't want to get sued. People are so "sue happy" in our society. I know there are people (not lawyers) who actually make a living out of "slipping and falling" and then suing over their "injury". What happened to common sense and integrity?

    Another reason doctors and clinics charge so much is because they CAN. Medicare and insurance companies usually pay the bill, even the ones that are illegitimate. Unfortunately, the people who really NEED an important procedure are often denied.

    I took my dog to the vet the other day; the vet examined her and gave me a few prescriptions. I braced myself for a huge bill. It was barely $100. If pet insurance was common like health insurance is, that bill would have been many times that! It's hard to believe that a 10-minute appointment with a nurse practitioner should cost over $300! And why are medical supplies so expensive? Probably because the insurance companies will pay, whether it makes sense or not. This sounds a lot like when the government paid $640 for a toilet seat! Again, what happened to common sense?

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  32. anon-that is so true. And it is also true that we, as a country, are 'sue crazy'. I was amazed the other day when, in my random research, found out that a gall bladder surgery in the mid 50's would have cost the equivalent of around $1000 today. I couldn't believe it. I thought, well, that is actually not too expensive, considering the surgery and the hospital stay. That was 1000 in today's money considering inflation. Now I am sure it would be considerably more than that today.
    It does indeed sound much like the 400 dollar hammer we often heard about.

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  33. Anon, here here! Preach it. My dad's a doctor. He's been sued no less than 5 times. None of them actually had a legitimate claim against him. The most recent was about two years ago and a patient's family tried to sue the entire hospital. I live in one of the few states with a cap on pain and suffering cap and it has decreased the cost of medicine significantly here.

    Medical malpractice reform is the elephant in the room that no wants to talk about. It is a major reason why health care costs so much. Medicare regulations and below market-value payments from Medicare are the other reason. For the standard 15-minute office visit, Medicare pays about $43. Obamacare wants to decrease that even more. That $43 does not cover the doctor's cost for operating his office, the time it takes the staff to file the claim (which is not easy!), not to mention paying the doctor. It is nearly impossible for a doctor in practice by himself to survive if his practice is more than 45% Medicare patients. That's what happened to my dad. Medicare put him out of business.

    Needless to say I am not fond of government intervention with health insurance. I worked in his office for several years and saw first hand the damage that did to the clinic finances and my parents' finances. He couldn't even afford to hire a licensed nurse. I was his nurse. My sister was his receptionist and the assistant insurance clerk. The only person in the office who wasn't family was the insurance clerk/office manager. There were times he couldn't even afford to pay mine and my sister's salaries, which were not that much. Or we would tell the office manager not to pay us because Mama needed to pay the electric bill or the phone before they came and cut it off.

    Unfortunately this scenario is all too common in rural areas. It happened to the surgeon I worked for a couple years ago. He relocated to Texas and joined a big clinic so he could make ends meet.

    The reason they charge private insurance more than Medicare and Medicaid is not because they can. It's more because they HAVE to. Medicaid payments make Medicare payments look like big bucks. Most doctors will not accept Medicaid anymore. It will bankrupt them. The surgeon I worked was lucky to get $10 from Medicaid for himself, for a procedure that could take 3 hours. No other high risk profession will put up with that, but a doctor is expected to sit back and keep his mouth shut while he wonders how he's going to pay his bills.

    Most doctors are so in debt, to keep up appearances, that they'll never get out of it.

    I agree we need to be looking for our next energy source. But we shouldn't be trying to force its implementation before the technology is ready. It still needs a great deal of fine-tuning to be cost-effective. We're not ready to start phasing out oil. The new Chevy Volt starts at $33,000. The only Chevy car more expensive than that itsy bitsy Volt is the Corvette. Base price on a Suburban, the mother of all SUV's, is only $40,000. It's cost-prohibitive and size prohibitive for much of this country. Chevy's being forced by the feds to operate at a loss on the Volt so they can meet their quota of sales on it, also set by the feds.

    The batteries in these electric and hybrid cars are considered hazardous material. If they're involved in an accident, the responders need to have special equipment on hand that most fire departments don't have and can't justify the expense of purchasing it. But the salesman's not going to tell you that. You won't find out about it until you're in a wreck and the firefighters won't get anywhere near your car.

    I'm of the opinion the federal government should not be manipulating energy policy like this.

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  34. What is interesting is the electric car actually preceded the oil/gas car. The firs was a three wheeled version in England in 1888.
    America didn't join the electric car party until around the turn of the twentieth century, when New York City got a fleet of electrically-powered taxis.People preferred electrics to gasmobiles hands down in those days. They liked electrics so much because they were quiet, quick, and didn't cough smoke.
    There were three hundred companies making electric cars in the early 1900's, and more than 30,000 electric vehicles on roads. Electric cars looked like they were here to stay.
    I think we have Rockerfeller to thank for the electric car never making it. He, I have to say, was a tyrant and a wretched person. He was even thought the person responsible for The German inventor, Diesel (yes diesel cars and fuel) odd 'dissaperence' off a liner heading for the US> HE had plans to take his diesel engine to mass produce to help the farmers of US and Europe and had a very 'lets help all as well as make money' approach. This did not bode well with Rockefeller.
    So, we could have had and in fact did have, electric cars along time ago. Also, gas in accidents is also not exactly a safe situation and is VERY flammable.

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  35. Oh and for speed electric was the way to go, The first electric race car, built in 1899, could go faster than 65 mph. The ROADS weren't capable of that kind of speed then, but the electric CARS were.

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  36. A personal note from the 1950's: I was born at home in a small town in 1955, and the fee for the doctor was fifty dollars. I don't know if that included prenatal care or not.

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  37. Rachel, you seem ready to ignore government’s manipulation of oil prices by providing subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies let alone the wars we get involved in to subsidize our oil needs. And government manipulation of the medical industry happened hand in hand with the AMA, the hospital corporations, and the insurance industry in order to create huge profit-making monopolies. Now that the system is falling apart suddenly all that history disappears in a cloud of partisan screaming which won’t fix a thing.

    Trying to blame one political part or one president is partisan and useless at this point, like you and anonymous blaming “Obamacare” which doesn’t exist -- it’s a law passed by congress, not “Obama’s” care -- modeled after Bob Dole’s plan from the 1990’s and enacted by Mitt Romney in Mass a few years ago. Both parties are part of the problem.

    I’m with 50’sgal on this one. Both parties have been bought by the military industrial complex. Now that the Supreme Court has declared corporations as legal persons things will get worse and worse for average Americans because the game board is tilted in favor of the corporations through their control of money, government, land, and media. Eisenhower warned us of the possibility of this happening as he left office. Shame more people didn’t take him more seriously.

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  38. Oh, boy, oh, boy, isn't that the truth. If we could only go back and tell them. We used to live in Rome, N.Y., a lovely city in its day, our favorite, and it looks just like that now, since the industries have left.

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  39. And,I agree...why was this allowed to happen? I believe in free enterprise and all that, but why was our country allowed to be sold down the river? We used to live in S. Korea in the 1980's, and their government was very strict about things like this (buying imported things, etc). They loved their country enough to make sure it was built up, and that is why it is the thriving modern country it is today. Those people over their must think we're stupid. Those Koreans were willing to sacrifice so that their country could be something -- some place good for their children to live.

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