Two Ground Reports from the Midwest

This is from the blog of Dr. Paul Craig Roberts (, a former Assistant Treasury Secretary under Reagan:

Dear Mr. Roberts, I check out your website at least twice each week. It is always most informative. Thank you. Where I live down here in far-southern Illinois the unemployment rate is upwards of sixty to eighty percent. Most individuals and families rely on food stamps or some combination of government aid. No doubt if these were taken away you would have riots in the streets. Surroundings towns are mostly destitute, with very little local commerce to speak of other than the occasional corporate franchise store ( mini-WallMarts). Seventy five years ago and with ten times the population this region was thriving economically, flourishing mostly on local river traffic and small family farming, with the varied supporting commerce that was dependent on and as an outgrowth of these two basic economic activities. The very same rich and abundant natural resources that existed then exist today but now everything is mostly under the control of outside corporate interests that extract most of the wealth from the region. Today nearly every town is only a shadow of its former self and nearly all farms are large corporate enterprises that employ very few locals. I, for one, have to drive miles just to visit a good grocery store when my own town has blocks of abandoned store fronts and a deteriorating infrastructure. You have to wonder what is happening to our country when most rural regions today seem to be turning into third-world backwaters devoid of any life and real meaning. It seems all of our nation’s wealth is now concentrating in a few wealthy regions and everywhere else is merely becoming sacrifice zones for “extraction” and “mining” to support the investor elites.

Another Roberts reader reports on the job situation in Ohio:

Regarding your recent post on southern Illinois, we could make similar comments on north central Ohio. Once a bastion of foundry, steel production, finer-multi-stage products (AMF Bowling products “Magic Score” for example) as well as drilling tubing, brass products, bicycles, Fisher Body truck assembly, White Westinghouse washer and dryer design, production & assembly…plus many, many more…all this is gone now. All of this was in just one county of about 122,000 residents. None of these factories exist now and all high school graduates have to face leaving the area to pursue their lives. Graduate engineers and graduate nurses cannot find any jobs. Even the number of family owned restaurants has dwindled to very few.


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