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February 22, 2009

New Tomdispatch


Tough Times in Troubled Towns
America's Municipal Meltdowns

By Nick Turse

When Barack Obama traveled to Elkhart, Indiana, to push his $800 billion economic recovery package two weeks ago, he made the former "RV capital of the world" a poster-child for the current economic crisis. Over the last year, as the British paper The Independent reported, "Practically the entire [recreational vehicle] industry has disappeared," leaving thousands of RV workers in Elkhart and the surrounding area out of work. As Daily Show host Jon Stewart summed the situation up: "Imagine your main industry combines the slowdown of the auto market with the plunging values in the housing sector." Unfortunately, the pain in Elkhart is no joke, and it only grew worse recently when local manufacturers Keystone RV Co. and Jayco Inc. announced more than 500 additional job cuts.

In a speech at Elkhart's town hall, Obama caught the town's plight dramatically: "[This] area has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in the United States of America, with an unemployment rate of over 15 percent when it was 4.7 percent just last year… We're talking about people who have lost their livelihood and don't know what will take its place… That's what those numbers and statistics mean. That is the true measure of this economic crisis."

Elkhart, as it happens, is but one of countless towns and small cities across the U.S. that have proven particularly vulnerable to tough times simply because their economies relied on just a few major employers, or a single industry, or even a single company that has gone under or cut back drastically. Places like Elkhart are feeling the pain in ways most of the country isn't -- yet; and even worse, from the out-of-work to local officials, no one knows how to stop the bleeding.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at February 22, 2009 10:46 PM

*now watching*
The recalibration of American society's standard of living back to within its means.

Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst.

Posted by: tim at February 23, 2009 02:01 PM

From Mark Souder's (R-Indiana) website under "Energy/Gas Prices":

"Perhaps our biggest problem is the growing trend of nations (Venezuela, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, for example) themselves owning their own oil reserves and controlling all extraction and refining operations. Indeed, in 2006, 65 percent of all oil reserves worldwide are controlled by state-owned oil companies, compared to only one percent in 1960. It is these government-owned enterprises that are most likely to manipulate our markets."

Not that this is directly related to the linked article but really what can Elkhart expect if they continually elect such people as Souder?

I'm not necessarily blaming the individual voters of Elkhart (since I have my very own jingoistic deliberately clueless Republican representative) but how in hell are we going to get out of this mess when crap like this is being sold to (and apparently lapped up by) the voters?

Posted by: Jimbo at February 23, 2009 03:27 PM

Where is the anti-war movement?

Posted by: Rosemary Molloy at February 23, 2009 05:25 PM