Janesville
An American story
Amy Goldstein
Simon and schuster

Janesville is a us town that was once home to a thriving manufacturing industry. It’s claim to fame is that it’s the ancestral home to the founder of the Parker pen. Many stories have been written by those Parker pens and in this computerized world it is a shining light to the past. Of course that light now shines in Mexico where the pens are manufactured

Car manufacturers are more a relic of the western world as parts and Labour gets cheaper the more south of the globe you travel. Where towns like Janesville had once got massive factories employing thousands in the automobile industry there now lies empty buildings. A homage to different times. And so when General Morors announce in 2008 that in 2 short years they would close their plant down in Janesville people’s thoughts immediately turned to presenting an image of a ghost town for the 21st Century

And with each bad news story there’s a trickle down mountain of further tales. A town whose dependency on a factory is so large that it’s sole industry is that factory and the support structures that goes with it learns that factory is going to close. Families became despondent as the busiest worker was going to be those in the job centers. With very little to offer. With this despondency can come a feeling if Shane and helplessness as the community then worked together to try and move on from this news. Where to start though? The local job Centre.

Of course there wasn’t a quick resolution so a team was put together. Politicians, business people and community workers sat down to try and find a way out of the General Motors driven malaise. A plan starts to hatch, working with other towns and like many plans funding is needed. The business community, of which there are still some making profit get tentatively behind an idea for the whole county and not just Janesville. Except for Now the idea is just that, have an idea.

They try to get gm to remain open. Offer huge concessions and agree to slashing wages. Unions and union reps were put to the cosh. All they fought for years was unraveling. With so many redundancies jobs were at a premium which meant that employers were better able to dictate terms and conditions. Those of us in the Irish public service who have felt a rift growing between private and public sector would recognize this. A wedge been driven between two sides of the same pie in an effort to bring down wages and workers benefits.

Similar to Ireland homelessness becomes an issue as people lose the ability to it for rent and mortgages. A group to support homeless children 16:49 is set up. 16:49 being the time spent outside school on a week day. This group resorts to having a float in the annual Labor Day March, which really symbolizes what happened to Janesville over a short period.

All in all this is a book with no real ending. It is a tale of what happened and continues to happen in two a across the world as global capitalism gets a grip. It tells the reality of communities and how they respond. It’s not a call for revolution or never mentions reaction, just a statement of fact. It’s up to they’re of us to deal with the facts they way we feel we should

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