In 2002, the town of Galesburg, a slowly declining Rustbelt city of 33,000 in western Illinois, learned that it would soon lose its largest factory, a Maytag refrigerator plant that had anchored Galesburg's social and economic life for decades. Workers at the plant earned $15.14 an hour, had good insurance, and were assured a solid retirement. In 2004, the plant was relocated to Reynosa, Mexico, where workers sometimes spent 13-hour days assembling refrigerators for $1.10 an hour.
In Boom, Bust, Exodus, Chad Broughton offers a ground-level look at the rapid transition to a globalized economy, from the perspective of those whose lives it has most deeply affected. We live in a commoditized world, increasingly divorced from the origins of the goods we consume; it is easy to ignore who is manufacturing our smart phones and hybrid cars; and where they come from no longer seems to matter. And yet, Broughton shows, the who and where matter deeply, and in this audiobook he puts human faces to the relentless cycle of global manufacturing.
It is a tale of two cities. In Galesburg, where parts of the empty Maytag factory still stand, a hollowed out version of the American dream, the economy is a shadow of what it once was. Reynosa, in contrast, has become one of the exploding post-NAFTA "second-tier cities" of the developing world, thanks to the influx of foreign-owned, export-oriented maquiladoras - an industrial promised land throbbing with the energy of commerce, legal and illegal. And yet even these distinctions, Broughton shows, cannot be finely drawn: Families in Reynosa also struggle to get by, and the city is beset by violence and a ruthless drug war. Those left behind in the post-Industrial decline of Galesburg, meanwhile, do not see themselves as helpless victims: They have gone back to school, pursued new careers, and learned to adapt and even thrive.
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Interesting look at pros and cons of outsourcing
Very interesting look at the effects of outsourcing manufacturing jobs - pros and cons for all involved, from leadership to line workers.
Learning the negative effects of expanding jobs from USA on community life in Mexico.
- Jeanine M. Czech
A gem, a throwback and a heart-curling reflection
Having read the book and listened to the book in the same week, I'm (understandably) a little ticked-off. Yes, the small-town-gone-bankrupt is a fact of any Midwesterners existence, but this book pushes it a bit. It pays little mind to lateral lambasting (Detroit, anyone?) and focuses instead on the lost art of an, umm, job.
No favorite characters? Not that type of book and inappropriate to play favorites.
A moment is hard to pin down. A circumstance that diluted an entire region of wage earners? Can they be considered a favorite?
I like how this book would seem to fit into 1906, 1927, 1935, the 1990s, but is uniquely about an under-reported sequence of events that occurs in our rural areas systematically. This timeliness, plus the 'stick-to-the-facts' attitude toward a circumstance that still provides human-compassion and development and honest feeling, makes this book shine.
Our literary landscape is (rightfully) crowded with the expose of the working poor, urban blight and the corner-cutting of an economic system we all live under. Broughton, however, laser-focuses on a small, rural plant closure which appears to accurately summarize US business policy some 20 years after NAFTA and GATT.
Yes, factories left, America went from manufacturing to a service economy and our small towns got far more poor and futureless in the process. Broughton, however, doesn't need to force-feed his audience with what happened: he gives us a reality, free of paint-by-numbers thought. A readership that is respected? Yes, that's refreshing Very, very good!