Rust Belt Blues – My Job is Gone Gone Gone

Youngstown author Christopher Barzak, sounds a warning to the rust belt linking to media about “Caught in the Middle,” the recently released book by Richard C. Longworth, senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former writer for the Chicago Tribune.

In an interview on Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview program Longworth talked about the impact of globalization on the cities, small towns, farms and factories, politics and future of the Midwest.

Cleveland got a mention and it wasn’t flattering. He says we have our heads in the sand, talking about bringing back what is gone forever. But, he understands why we do what we do. In response to a question of why the Midwest is still upset about NAFTA, he makes a critical and compassionate point; when we talk about NAFTA and its impact, we are really talking about globalization and how it has hurt the lives of the people of this region.

He also makes the point that just because we don’t want to face it doesn’t mean it will go away. It is the elephant in every public square in the Midwest, so we better start talking, and fast. Longworth points out that even though some of the potential answers to globalization’s problems are in their infancy, we are already behind.

Longworth doesn’t give answers. Some of what he says makes this environmental/activist/tree-hugging liberal wince, but he has got me thinking. Thinking about what needs to be done, both in the long and short term.

Education, collaboration, less worry about immigration and more attention to adaptation, nanotechnology and bio-science are his buzz words for action.

More information about Richard Longworth and the Chicago Council

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