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Allentown is so 25 years ago


Obama is convening a jobs summit and then heading to Allentown, PA for the start of his Main Street Tour.

Jeez, didn’t Obama get the memo?  Allentown’s been in a state of Depression for decades.  It started back in the late 70’s when the Japanese started dumping cheap steel on the market and the US steel bossies used it as an excuse to gut their unions.  And lest someone start quoting Niemoller on me, let me just tell you that I lived in Pittsburgh at the time the US steel industry went south.  I have uncles who lost their jobs permanently.  The mills that banged and clanged all night and lit up a sandblasted sky suddenly went silent.  My grandmother’s house, perched on the heights above McKeesport’s mill, became part of a neighborhood in decline.  The stores shuttered up and the town center became desolate.  The water system became compromised with giardia and the tax base disappeared so it couldn’t be fixed.  It was a hard, hard time.

Oh, sure, industry has occasionally sputtered back to life but usually at vastly reduced salaries.  Employees have attempted to buy back the factories, not always with the best results.  The steel mills in Pittshurgh were torn down leaving a riverside view of amazing beauty.  The city has attracted a more technological workforce but went bankrupt not too long ago.  The city coffers were empty.

We younguns saw what happened to our uncles in the steel mills and decided that that wasn’t going to happen to us.  So, we went to school for biochemistry and genomics and cheminformatics and physical chemistry.  People always need medicine, right?  And the science was and is developing so rapidly that we wouldn’t ever become obsolete.  We’d just exercise our flexible minds and read and do and read some more and, gosh darnit!, isn’t this the best country in the world for scientific discovery??

Mebbe.  But we ain’t cheap enough.

The REAL “Main Street”, Mr. Obama, is in Princeton, NJ and Nyack, NY and Groton, Connecticut and Bridgewater, NJ where pharmaceutical companies are shedding tens of thousands of jobs because the CEO’s have decided to abandon the discovery of ‘traditional medicines’ for the trendiness and newly acquired patent extensions on biologicals.  Now, they can get rid of the chemists and biologists that are weighing down their bottom lines for the cheap labor in Hyderabad.  Forget discovering any new reactions in the lab.  The US won’t have any need for that kind of knowledge.

What are you going to do about the loss of intellectual infrastructure, Mr. Obama?  There are no startup companies for us in our future because that would require capital and we haven’t got it.  The bankers do, F^&* you very much.  Why don’t you come to New Jersey and talk to my former colleagues who have their jobs until January 31, 2010?  If you go to Allentown, the newly laid off scientists are going to think you are avoiding them.  They’re going to think you don’t want to draw attention to the people who got educations and are now more or less permanently underemployed.  Why don’t you tell them how they are going to support their families now?

Yeah, right.  When it comes to the bean counting, golf playing, arrogant, thoughtless, short sited corporate CEOs that are throwing us out of work, it’s easy to see that you are one of them.

Take your act to Allentown.

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136 Responses

  1. What? and confront reality? Don’t be silly RD.

  2. Should we feel the same toward journalists as the “taste” for printed news pages has dwindled and the thirst for higher profit margins among the corporate owners has not been quenched? What’s the difference between journalists in this environment or pharma company researchers or formerly employed steel workers?

    • America’s Newsrooms…. More concerned with “Solving” a “Problem” like Sarah Palin than responding to a crisis like poverty and hunger with real reporting.

  3. Wait, aren’t those the bitter, racist people he mocked in San Francisco last year? Anyway, funny propaganda tour for someone who took job creation off his list.
    OT: NY news via tabloids

  4. riverdaughter, this was very moving.

    TOTUS has probably been practicing his lines for this tour. “How about the price of that arugula?”

  5. Just wanted to say I’m from Allentown. Earlier this year I visited the site of the once great Bethlehem Steel when I went to see realatives. Some of the plant is still standing vacant next to a new Sands casino.

  6. Actually we still long for real news but all we’ve gotten in the last 8 years seemed to have been nothing but opinion – perhaps the “journalists” no longer know how to ferret out and honestly write news or simply their bosses no longer want them to write the real news but rather what they are told to write.

    Disgusting! 😦

    • I listened to an old time Italian journalist the other day. He warned that the press and the media were in the hands of a very few, powerful corporations. What got printed or aired was decided at the top, and journalists had to follow directives, otherwise their work would not get published, and /or they would risk their jobs.

      That’s over here but I’m sure it’s the same everywhere.

  7. RD, I sympathize with you.
    Nevertheless, the odds of unemployed, well-educated scientists finding new jobs at a living wage is still far greater than that of former factory workers.
    Many of us put years of hard work into getting advanced degrees only to find it didn’t “pay off” in the end.
    Life is unfair and there are no guarantees.
    Allentown still deserves attention.

    • Allentown does deserve attention… the tour that Obama is doing is only for show.

    • No, WeWander, we will not be getting jobs like we used to. I don’t think I have made myself clear. Our jobs are going overseas and they are not coming back. That leaves us with fewer research jobs in the US. And on top of that, Europeans have been protecting their intellectual infrastructure. The new work order will have Europeans doing the proprietary discovery and Asia doing the grunt work. We get nothing.
      If you can think of what we’re supposed to do next, I’m all ears. We’re not stupid people and we’re at a loss. We don’t own the money supply and many of us aren’t cut put to be teachers.
      My point is that there’s very little that can be done to revive old industry like the kind that was once Allentown’s economy. The people in Allentown that are facing layoffs are smaller in number now than the catastrophe that is hitting the scientific research industry.
      WE are the working class now. And just because we are smart doesn’t mean we will do fine on our own without help.

      • If you are cut out to be a teacher, there aren’t enough open positions available. Seems to me that professions which require large capitial investments in equipment or real estate are going to hard to replicate without corporate backing. Drug R&D would appear to fit that category.

        Accountants, radiologists, even lots of legal services are and will be further outsourced unless we manage to change our laws. Basic software engineering and support is largely already gone.

        This problem is much larger than Pharmaceutical R&D. The only jobs left in the US may be “hand-on” in the next decades. Unfortunately, the numbers won’t be there.

        This will be a problem for some of us, but it will be a huge problem for our children and their children. Is there no attention being given to this issue in academia? It seems government it too broken to care.

    • I have never found a real job. Never. Got my master’s degree in 2002. Got my candidacy in 2007. Did a short stint teaching 8th grade and once got a job as an adjunct at a college 3 1/2 hours from my house. Oh, I made straight A’s in college and took some of the most difficult subjects offered.

      • Same thing happening in Italy. Very brilliant science students after their degrees, going on to do research but earning only minimum grants -like $1200 a month. 20 years ago those same 28-35 year olds would be making a living wage. (meaning enough to move out of home and get married ).

      • I’m in a doctoral clinical psych program. It’s a five+ year program, and it’s expensive (it’s a private university, the program has most of us racking up almost six digits of debt). Our professors keep telling us that we went into it to help people and not to make money: this is code for “You will never make a living at this, you’ll be stuck in community mental health forever.”

  8. Riverdaughter’s right; these jobs won’t be coming back. And it’s not just an industry, but lots of them, like software, accounting, publishing, even medicine that are bleeding jobs to India and China.

    I’m 50, unemployed for the first time since 1982, and I’ll never, ever get my career back.

  9. Pittsburgh and Princeton and all those other cities don’t have catchy theme songs or built in symbolism.

    W2 learned his stage management from “Dubya and the Rovenites” They put on a great show too.

    this summit is not about jobs it is about approval ratings.

  10. RD, do what “laid-off” factory workers have been doing for decades:
    Learn to live with less.
    Get used to “the new normal”.
    Take any job(s) even though it pays less.
    Move to another part of the country.
    Live with family or friends and pool resources.
    Go back to school and get new skills – including teacher certification.
    Be creative and flexible.
    I could go on and on….

    • but the point that RD is making, or at least the point that I am understanding from her writing, is that Obama (who let us not forget in 2008 was all about railing against the politics of the past and hyping himself as the one to lead us into the promised land of the future) is not addressing the complexity of the current crisis, he is not talking to the New Main Street, descended from the old Main Street– he is just going to Allentown because of the symbolism. Obama was sold as some great Inspirer-in-Chief… but who is his audience? (His audience = the people who see him on their tv sets with a microphone and a crowd and think, “Oh that Obama, he is working so hard. Not like that Bush.”)

      • My point is:
        Obama or no Obama, people who lose their jobs need to find ways to survive.
        Spend some time mourning the loss of what once was and then try to make a new life – even if it is not the wonderful life you once had or envisioned having.
        People who undergo serious life changes – job loss, chronic illness, etc. – must learn to adapt. That is how we have survived as a species.

        • I agree…but at what point does this adaptability of our species turn into a convenient excuse for the last president or the current president or the president after that, and so forth, to do nothing?

          • Old Herbie Hoover believed that the government should do nothing about the Great Depression because the economy would work itself out eventually.

          • It should never be an excuse to do nothing.
            However, I found RD’s essay rather elitist in tone.
            “Allentown is so 25 years ago”??? Not to the people and communities who are still living with the loss of manufacturing jobs.
            Scientists, with their years of education, should not lose their jobs and have to adapt the way factory workers have? They should be protected from what is happening in other job sectors?
            I don’t remember any “R&D Scientists United Against Manufacturing Jobs Going Overseas” group. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.

          • I agree with you to an extent, BUT have never been comfortable with the argument that because things suck for one group, everybody else should have it just as bad. I would prefer to see ALL of our boats rise.

          • WeWander, I don’t think you’re understanding the point of the post.

          • I don’t think that’s her point at all. She’s saying that it’s 25 years too late to help the steel workers and the manufacturing core is not coming back, but there are steps that can be taken to save the industries that are being exported right now. And it seems ridiculous to get on a high horse about how elitist scientists shouldn’t be too good to suffer like we all have to–talk about race to the bottom.

        • Are you familiar with the psychological concept of the locus of control? Some people have a highly external locus of control- they think that everything that happens to them is outside of their power to change. They feel like they have no control over their circumstances. It’s an unhealthy perspective. On the other hand, you have people with a highly internal locus of control. These people think that anyone should be able to do anything, and that they should be in control of their circumstances entirely. These people tend to blame sick people for their illnesses, to take failure extremely hard, to be unforgiving of themselves and others. This is also not particularly healthy.

          The healthiest thing is to be somewhere in the middle: to recognize the limits of what you can be responsible for.

          Someone who gets laid off can sell their car and move to a smaller apartment and give up the luxuries. They can go back to school (assuming there’s money for that). But they can’t single-handedly get themselves employed again. There has to be a JOB AVAILABLE first.

          These people aren’t being picky. There are simply more people than jobs. And when you have student debt, you can’t live on a much smaller income than you anticipated unless you want creditors on your ass.

        • You are new to this site do I’m going to cut you a break.
          I believe that the people who you might call elitists are the new working class. Yes, we also happen to be more academically inclined than our parents. I’ve been fighting that snub from my own family for nearly my entire life. Somehow, I’m supposed to be ashamed of all my book learnin’. But I never abandoned working class Democrats last year and you would know that if you had been a long term reader.
          As a matter of fact, my elistist job that I worked hard to get affords me a modest townhouse in the burbs of NJ and a second hand car. Most of my furniture is old and every one of my bathrooms needs a major overhaul. I am saving up for a new air conditioner. I am not rolling in dough. I economize. I’m frugal. I save for rainy days. I don’t have a lot of debt and nothing on my credit cards.
          I have lived like a pauper and know what it is like to work my way through school. I’ve lived for weeks on ramen noodles. I’ve mopped floors til 2 am in a fast food restaurant and had to take a class at 8 am the same morning. I’ve waited tables and painted oil tanks on the second shift in a factory. In short, I come by my elitism the old fashioned way: I earned it. I like classical music, ballet and travel to nice places for vacation, preferably during a business trip. So sue me.

          • WeWander, here.

            No need to cut me a break, RD. I won’t be back. This place has unhealthy energy, IMHO.
            Good luck with the “new movement”.

          • Unhealthy energy? Well pardon us. I’ll balance my Chi and spit-shine my aura next time you come to share priceless pearls of wisdom, so as not to offend.

          • RD, I apologize for my contribution to this thread derail/fail.

    • Fuck the “new normal”!

      • Fuck the “be creative and flexible”…
        (I mean wasn’t there someone who became a millionaire by selling stones on ebay? (heard that one on NPR)

        • Actually, I know a quite lot of people – people with advanced degrees and people without high school degrees – who lost their jobs and have rebounded by being “creative and flexible”.
          But you can f*ck that idea if you want to. To me, your attitude is one of helplessness, not mine.

          • My objection to the “just be creative and flexible!” advice is that it is damned condescending.

          • It’s not condescending. It’s practical. As someone with a chronic, progressive, and untreatable illness, I speak from long experience.

          • I think we will have to agree to disagree. I don’t find anything wrong with the sentiment — it’s the manner in which it is frequently delivered that makes me grind my teeth.

          • The “creative and flexible” meme is very similar to the Republican idea that wealth is a meritocracy.

            The point of RD’s post is that she is a survivor of the Rust Belt, and she got an education and “worked hard and played by the rules” but now her industry is being outsourced to india.

          • As usual, you said it better than I could….

          • Nothing wrong with be creative and flexible, but that on its own is not an sufficient offering to the 10 million families without income today, especially if you happen to be the Potus, especially if you happen to be the Potus who talk incessantly about hope and change for two years.

        • Be creative and flexible was the only part of that which I agreed with. 😉

          • Not everyone can create a new way to make a million dollars, and mortgages and kids play hell on flexibility.

          • This. Not to mention those above-referenced nondischargeable student loans. And $1000/month COBRA “benefits.”

          • I was a single parent of 2 kids for years, so I know a bit about their effect on flexibility. Making the attempt at creativity in your situation is almost never bad advice though.

          • Neither is “work hard” but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get or keep a job.

          • Poor people are the most creative people around, in my experience. In terms of finding ways to survive. Which is another reason the “be creative!” advice rubs me the wrong way — it always seems like it is coming from people who assume that the poor/laid off are stupid and/or lazy. The opposite of the new “creative class” elite.

          • Poor people I know laughed their asses off at the whole smug “reduce, reuse, recycle” concept that the veddy veddy creative and smart elites “discovered” for the first time EVAH! And boy were they proud of themselves at their heretofore-unseen-in-the-universe ingenuity, and blogged and blogged and bragged about hip new ways to find clever uses for old stuff – gee, aren’t they SMAHT!!??

            Meanwhile, half of my dirt-poor family was in peals of laughter – “Ummm…. get a clue, we’ve been doing that since our great great grandma taught us how.”

          • I’m remembering Saran Wrap on the windows….

          • I grew up in a poor family. I shop at Goodwill ( have since I was a teenager), buy most of my necessities at the Dollar Store, ride the bus ( don’t own a car), and live in a small apartment on a low income.
            I am well-educated but scarcely part of any smug “creative class” as you call it. I have, however, managed to survive many hardships, including my illness, by being “creative and flexible”. And I’m damn proud of it! And I’m about as far to the left from Ronnie Raygun as a person can possibly be.
            Yet, you attack me for my suggestions on how people can survive job loss and you defend Sarah Palin as a moderate who has been poorly served by her handlers?
            What have you got twisted???

          • WWII, I’m a bit confused. Who “attacked” you? Where? I see some lively discussion and disagreement or clarifications on a few points, but no attacks.

          • How did Sarah Palin get into this?

        • I think the issue with me is that when you spend some much time, resources, and money getting trained in a supposedly high skilled job which you’re directed towards because of a number of things, then you wind up being surplus, you feel that a career change request is a bit over the top. Many of these folks are probably still indentured to Sallie Mae and we’re sold a bill of goods that their intense training and education protected them. Now to find out they need to go back to school to again, spend more time, money, and get students loans to switch to being ‘teachers’ or nurses is also a bit over the top.

          As a teacher, I can tell you its no bed of roses here in academia either. We’re being furloughed, tenured professors are losing positions, and we’ve lost all kinds of resources plus some schools or some disciplines pay really bad. Believe me, there are days when I want to sell out to the dark side and go work for Goldman Sachs for a few years for all those bonuses.

          • It is tough, especially when one gets to be a “certain age.” And those of us who spent 8, 10, 12 years playing by higher education’s rules were, in a lot of cases, sold a bill of goods IMHO. I feel particularly bad for people who went and got Ph.D.’s (as opposed to say, law degrees or MBAs) because they are often SO specialized that realistically it is very very difficult to retool without completely starting over.

            My husband is among the ranks of the career-changers. He’s been in the entertainment industry for nearly 20 years, but post-production is increasingly being offshored. Now he is in — you guessed it — a pre-nursing program. And by the time he has the RN he will be 42! Even more depressing, this is a guy who already has a chemistry degree, but because it is “too old” he is forced to retake all the intro-to classes (which he is, of course, aceing, but it’s making this whole thing take about a year longer than it should).

            At least if there ARE any jobs by the time he gets out, he should at least get health insurance on his own. For the first time in his adult life. Dude is lucky that he is French and apparently invincible.

    • Go back to school, my ass. That’s the whole point. We’ve been bleeding manufacturing jobs for decades. Then we were bleeding white-collar and tech support jobs. Now we’re bleeding highly skilled science jobs. Soon there will be only a skeleton crew of workers left employed in this country: government workers, emergency services, upper management, the service industry.

      Go back to school to study WHAT? Flipping burgers?

      • And becoming serfs to the student loan industry with mortgage-sized, nondischargeable debts.

      • This attitude of helplessness is a slave mentality. We have to fight this somehow and someway.

        • Absolutely. But the answer isn’t to tell people things aren’t so bad, or to tell them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. See my post downthread (upthread? Somewhere anyway) about locus of control. We put the blame where it belongs and then effect the change we can.

          • I think you have to separate 1) What can I do to help myself as an individual? from 2) Hold the bastards accountable for ruining this country, and insist on real fixes.

            The 2 approaches are not mutually exclusive. It’s not either/or.

      • Word.

  11. Funny thing that, when they started shipping all the smoke stack jobs out we were told America’s future would lie in scientific and technological innovations.
    We know that people in the E U can get health care for less, anybody know what else is cheaper over there?

    • Employers can’t lay people off on a whim over there. It’s not an easy process to downsize. We should learn from Germany 😉

    • Very little is cheaper over here, food and electronics, cameras etc cost more, wages are lower, minimum wage is higher, health care and education are a great deal cheaper.

      • How much of those higher prices can be attributed to import duties and etc?

        • And to mark ups from small businesses. However it keeps more people employed.

          • And it keeps the spread of incomes smaller. The disparity between the quality of living of the poor and the rich is considerably smaller in Europe than it is here. Not that there aren’t extremely poor people in the EU.

  12. We’re are like Wildebeests attacked by hyenas.
    They come in and take the weakest of the heard as the rest go on.
    When is the heard going to tune and trample the predators?
    Never, if the print and broadcast media have their way.
    We can start the stampede by telling friends and co-workers to burn their Democrat party gimmie letters.
    Have a demonstration like in the sixties when draft cards were burnt.

    • I have some hope that the 2010 elections will sweep enough encumbents from office to begin a small difference. Even a small step beats what we’ve been going through.

  13. Thanks for mentioning Groton, CT. Spent most of my childhood there as a Navy brat and graduated from high school there.

    There are really only two industries in the town-defense and Pfizer. Scared to go back now after this much carnage.

  14. ‘Media follow White House script’ thought you might like this one…re Afghanistan


  15. I still mourn for the places like Allentown, because I grew up in the U.P., which was devastated by the collapse of the steel industry. (My stepfather, and every man in our little town, Palmer, pulled iron ore out of the ground at the Empire and Tilden mines between layoffs.) The town grade school and two of the three churches are gone, the only grocery store is gone along with the family who ran it, our house has pretty much collapsed (my parents never were able to sell it — they just abandoned ship). The only new business in the last 20 years is a bar. Families who lived in the area for generations, including mine, scattered all over the country to find work. Same thing in Minnesota’s Iron Range. Same thing in upstate Maine with the loss of logging and textile jobs, same thing in rural Oregon and Washington with the loss of the timber industry. Probably the same thing in the vast swaths of the country that used to be family farmed.

    One thing that I got from RD’s post is that knowledge workers are finding themselves (or will soon find themselves) living in a nation of Allentowns, but it’s easier for B0 to have a photo op at a symbol of the past (which can be conveniently laid at Reagan’s feet) than today’s “ground zero.” What’s happening to these communities was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. I want justice for blue, pink, *and* white collar workers, and it’s really sick and wrong that this photo op is likely all we’re going to get.

  16. We shoulda elected a Democrat last November.

    Too bad there weren’t any on the ballot.

  17. RD, I think in this piece you speak for Everytown, USA.
    It’s so hard to read it — it is, because there is so much hard truth on the page.

    I don’t even know what to say, anymore. It seemed like two years ago we were hoping, just hoping and now? It’s just bleak everywhere you look.

    The worst of it is the betrayal by corporations.

    Out here places are vacant and going out of business. It’s terrible — stores that have been in business for years. It’s like dominoes, all tumbling. My thoughts are with you and your scientist colleagues at this time.

    The last time you wrote about this — right before Thanksgiving — we saw the fallout.

    I just remember the Confluence and how it was once.
    I hope we will be seeing better times, soon.
    It seems like there must be somewhere in the world where people are happy and things are normal. Denmark? Like you said.

    hugs RD & Co.

  18. ps: I read this this morning and it is very telling…


    Also! If you want an escape into fiction (a YA teen romance) I wrote one. Nothing happens except holding hands and a first kiss between a boy and girl in this story — but, there is a lot of love on the pages if any of you want to follow as a break from politics.
    I’m posting two pages a day at this blog. The two kids in the tale are charmers — they grew up in times that were better…

    In a way I have written it for RD’s daughter’s gen…


  19. Somehow all of Obama’s examples seem strangely out of date — he is going to Allentown because they lost all of those manufacturing jobs — 30 years ago. He railed against doctors taking out tonsils just for the money when in reality that stopped about 30 years ago. When I was growing up I got my tonsils out at age 5 because I was always getting tonsilitis (sp?). Nowadays no one gets tonsilitis and has their tonsils removed, instead they get multiple ear infections and need to get tubes in their ears and be on maintenance medication just in hopes of keeping the infections such that medicine can knock it out. It is like he wasn’t paying attention the last 20 to 30 years and is just pulling comments that he heard when he was young.

  20. I wonder if he has been prepared to answer any question relating to the SEIU threat to sue the City of Allentown over a Boy Scout volunteer that was in the national news recently.

  21. Bloomberg:

    “I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

    (h/t Corrente)

    • I saw that on Market Ticker. They know that it’s possibly going to get bad, and they know that the public is going to be righteously angry when it does.

      I reiterate my call to the banksters: “JUMP, fuckers!”

    • OTOH, it’s rather pitiful and laughable, because if things REALLY went all French Revolution, do the financiers think that pistol is going to help them? Hell, they are surrounded by a country full of people with guns, who actually are comfortable with and know how to use them. My second cousin hunted from the time he was 5, and could outshoot any loafered bastards before he was 12.

      Heres a thought: If you know that the populace is pissed off enough at you that you feel the need to ARM yourself, how about changing your behavior so maybe they won’t want to string you to the nearest Wall Street lamppost? There’s a novel solution, huh?

      • that would require adapting and personal responsibility, and the only people under the definition of “personhood” who are required to actually adapt and be personally responsible are actual living breathing people. Corporations and zygotes on the other hand qualify for the part of being a person where your being is valued as something to be protected.

        • For your information, Wonk, I strongly support a new WPA-type program as Krugman has outlined recently. And anything else that would help create and keep jobs here.
          But in the immediate absence of that, what to do? Blame Obama? Go right ahead, but I don’t think that’s going to pay the rent.
          Ergo, my suggestions upthread.

          • WWII, see below. There are infrastructure projects needed, but we’re giving them to China. Jeebus Crispies, how STUPID is that??!! I’m all for WPA type projects as well. We’re past the point where a $1500 credit for new windows is going to do bupkus.

          • This isn’t about blame, this is about the public trust and about accountability:

          • Why in the world are you assuming that was directed at you? You’re a little touchy. Not everything is about you. You may have once declared the sky is blue, but that’s a common sentiment and not every historical reference to it leads back to you.

          • Oh I see — someone is here to defend the ONE!!!

            Another tactic — but some old BS.

      • I want to watch the uprising against the bank. It would be a real money maker on pay-per-view.

  22. In my small city, the city council just enacted a 45 day moratorium on thrift stores. Yeah, that’s our only growth industry & it doesn’t bring in the needed tax revenue. Wonder if Obama will visit our thrift stores on Main St.

  23. From a comment at Cannonfire. Infuriating.

    Chinese companies rebuilding our infrastructure

    Speaking of Asia, did you see that we are now awarding contracts to China to build/rebuild our infrastructure?

    China State Construction Engineering Corp, the largest contractor in China, has bagged a subway ventilation project worth about $100 million in New York’s Manhattan area, marking the construction giant’s third order in the United States’ infrastructure space this year.

    The contract was given to China Construction American Co, a subsidiary, the Wall Street Journal quoted a source as saying.

    “The new project, along with the $410-million Hamilton Bridge project and a $1.7-billion entertainment project it won earlier this year, signals China State Construction’s ambition to tap the American construction market,” said Li Zhirui, an industry analyst at First Capital Securities.

    • It just keeps getting better and better, don’t it?

      • I just got an email late last night from the New Orleans emergency system that the air force is doing more of those “homeland security” practices around us … gearing up for control of likely food riots?

        • When does paranoia become just good common sense? For the first time, I think I may purchase some extra ammunition.

          Latin America is looking better lately for retirement. It’s much easier to live with essentially nothing there.

          • I know really sane, normal people who have bought guns and ammo, as well as a few who have sunk wells, readied to expand their gardens, purchased chickens and goats, talked with family about banding together as a cooperative if TSHTF etc. These aren’t wacko far-right survivalists, they are really everyday teachers and plumbers and such, just being prudent.

    • Yeah, but Obama is going to create jobs at Home Depot and Lowe’s by offering a measly tax credit for people to buy insulated windows! Yay!

      Sheesh, what’s a $410 million long-term infrastructure project compared to that? You must be racist.

      • These must be some of those jobs that Americans won’t do. Surely they wouldn’t screw us over 😯

  24. http://market-ticker.org/archives/1682-Fed-Reduces-AIG-Debt.html

    In other news, didja know that AIG just “paid off” a bunch of the debt they owe us? They did it by selling a couple of depts to the Fed. As one wag on Denninger put it:

    The taxpayers sell a fraction of a company they own 80% of to a company they own 100% of, for money borrowed from a company they own 100% off. (maybe not technically correct, but in essence.. on the hook for any losses at said 100% companies)

    Who won? All we know for sure (100%) is that the taxpayer certainly didn’t.

    But see, as Madoff said, it all balances on paper! Fucking Ponzi shell-game scum, the lot of them

  25. Good piece about Afghanistan from Turkana.
    h/t Corrente

    Afghanistan, Why not Mexico?

    Why not first fix, say, Mexico? In terms of its importance to the United States, our southern neighbor—a major supplier of oil and drugs among other commodities deemed vital to the American way of life—outranks Afghanistan by several orders of magnitude.

  26. Sorry about the OT comments, but I can’t seem to let go of this bone. Now we are sold out on matter of life and death.

    The campaign cash behind the Afghanistan escalation

    Some are calling the president’s plan to ratchet up the war a betrayal of the Democratic base, which overwhelmingly opposes sending more troops. For example, a recent Gallup poll found that 60% of Democrats want the president to begin reducing troop levels in Afghanistan.

    But while the president may be showing disloyalty to his political base, he’s remaining faithful to the defense industry interests that so generously funded his campaign.

    According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org database, the top recipient of defense industry money in the 2008 election cycle was Barack Obama, whose haul of $1,029,997 far surpassed Republican contender Sen. John McCain’s $696,948.

  27. What..no video. Used to stop by Allentown every semester on my way to school. Billy made me do it.

    • Three Wickets:
      You just don’t get it! See, Allentown is so 25 years ago.

      • 27 actually.

        • No I get it. BO’s team has lost control of any ability to control or craft a leadership message. Starting a Main Street tour in Allentown is both stupid and disingenuous. But I still like the song. Reminds me of growing up in the midwest, so sue me.

      • The point being that our govt never responded appropriately to Allentown, and now they are pulling the same shit with other economic and job sectors.

        It IS 25 years ago. And it never got better, and the jobs we are losing NOW aren’t going to come back either, unless changes are made.

        So let’s not try to twist RD’s post into a diss of Allentown, mm’kay? Her point was the opposite – that what happened to the Steel industry was bad, but we can’t go back, and meanwhile focusing nostalgically on that loss can blind us to the fact that the same damn thing is happening to multiple sectors now.

        We can’t so much about Allentown now. It’s been 27 years. But maybe we CAN halt the outsourcing of everything else before it’s too late.

        • meanwhile focusing nostalgically on that loss can blind us to the fact that the same damn thing is happening to multiple sectors now.

          I was trying to work out why he was focusing on Allentown, and that has to be what’s behind it. Nostalgia and blurred reality has always been an Axelrod way of communicating.

        • Sure OB and Co are using Allentown as a political photo-op but, the overall issue is not nostalgic. The same damn thing has been happening to multiple sectors (almost everything else) for decades.

    • that song still gives me the shivers

  28. If there’s anything “real” about Princeton, NJ I missed it during the years I was there. Maybe Conte’s at the far end of Witherspoon St. comes close to something real, but that’s about it.

    • Any university town is like that. Avoiding reality comes with the job descriptions there.

    • There are 450 REAL people who just lost their research jobs at a site in Princeton. I used to work there and if I were there still, I’d be out of a job too.
      Those people have REAL children, REAL houses and REAL feelings. They are not unlike my own REAL BFF, who was told yesterday that his job at a site in NY ends on Feb. 27, 2010. He will REALLY be unemployed and when the severence money runs out, he’ll probably have to sell his REAL house. Last week, one of his coworkers killed himself in the employee parking lot. That was REALLY depressing.
      There is a lot of REALLY bad shit going on in the Princeton area. We aren’t abstractions. We are REAL people.

      • It’s not real until the “creative class” start losing THEIR jobs.

        • this is the fourth time I’ve been through this … I’m getting jaded… the first was during the S&L crisis back in the 80s then my exhusband lost his job at farm credit back in the farming crisis in the 1980s a few years later … then I’ve been through it through two universities here in New Orleans and one Casino … that’s THREE times in the last 15 years. Management screws up and every one gets put out the door. It’s pandemic any more.

          • I’m just fortunate people in finance that don’t go to Goldman Sachs are hard to come by so I’m just watching every one else go out the door during the last two university slaughters … but it’s not easy surviving either and I’m leaving because existing in that environment is not fun.

          • Management screws up and every one ELSE gets put out the door.

            Fixt it for ya.

      • I’m sorry for you and your friends’ troubles RD.

      • Sorry for the problems RD. Been there during the Oil Bust of the ’80s and it’s painful. I really wish we could be more supportive.

  29. I’m thinking he picked Allentown because there was some active canvassing first for HRC, then for McCain going on, IE, pocpumaa. It was a hotbed of electoral indecision.
    The AP said this about them in April 2008:

    “Service to country and patriotism are particularly evident in Allentown, about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia. During the American Revolution, townspeople hid the Liberty Bell from the British in the still existing Zion’s Reformed Church of Christ.”

    Because Spector is now a dem, and especially because The other repub in Dem clothing, Robert Casey is pressuring him.

    And look at this, announced today:


  30. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether Obama uses the so-called “old Main St.” or so-called “new Main St”. as the backdrop for his latest round of empty speechifying. He’s not going to do anything to help either Allentown or Princeton.

    In any event, real people have been getting screwed over by approx. 30 years of the “Chicago school” nonsense. Pretty soon, if not already, we’ll almost be out of “real Main Streets” except for Wall St and K Street which, will probably be the last “main streets” left standing.

  31. The only real way to fix (some) jobs as far as I can see, is to fix the Chinese exchange rate.

    The internet has made all this global undercutting far too easy.

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