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Despite Promises, Another Black Monday for the Mahoning Valley


The Mahoning Valley really, really hates Mondays. 41 years after Youngstown’s “Black Monday” meant 5,000 lost jobs immediately and tens of thousands more to follow, on this latest Monday the ax may finally be coming to GM’s Lordstown, OH facility.

It was only a few years ago that Lordstown, which sits 20 odd miles away from the remnants of the once thriving steel industry of Youngstown, employed as many as 4,500 workers. The General Motors Assembly plant had flirted with closure before, but seemed to be revived not long ago when GM moved car production for the Chevy Cruze there in 2000. But now it has been “unallocated” for 2019, a more pleasant and truncated way of saying nothing will be produced there, and no plans to do so are forthcoming. To the workers – some of them children, grandchildren, and other relations to the men laid off that September morning in 1977 – this is a movie they have seen before.

Deja Vu All Over Again

The first Black Monday refers to the Monday morning when 5,000 men of the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube were informed they would no longer have jobs after that following Friday. It was called a furlough, but it was permanent, a fact the company knew at the time and the workers would learn slowly. Soon other names followed: Briar Hill Works, the rolling plants in Warren, US Steel’s Ohio operations, Jones and Laughlin Steel, Republic Steel, and soon almost all the rest. Each name was measured by job loss in the thousands. From the late 70s to today, 50,000 jobs have been lost and the Youngstown area bled roughly 100K in population.


President Obama holds roundtable at GM Lordstown Assembly Plant, 2009

When GM went through bankruptcy, Lordstown was widely rumored to be on the chopping block, but the announcement of the then-new Chevy Cruze being allocated brought new life. Such was the demand that GM moved furloughed workers from elsewhere to the Mahoning Valley to make up the gap from recalling the plant’s own laid-off work force. So dramatic was the reprieve it warranted a presidential visit from Barack Obama, touting the new life of the plant as part of a slow but desperately in need of good news economic recovery. Folks didn’t even mind that the plant was even more “assembly” than ever before, with the Cruze that was finished there being a Korean design with a German drive-train.

But that started to change last year. In March of 2017, the third shift shut down production and those workers were laid off. In April of 2018, the second shift followed suit. Then Monday, 26 November, came word that the plant would be shut down for good in March of 2019.

This time it isn’t just Ohio feeling the cut. GM’s announcement covered 5 North American facilities and more than 14,700 jobs total. Those numbers don’t include the ripple effect of large plants closing down, as everything from supply chains, transportation, logics, and the local economies will be affected. Youngstown knows that part of this all too well. With Lordstown being the area’s second largest employer, the damage to the local economy is immeasurable-but not unimaginable to an area still walking in the fog of past economic catastrophes.

“I knew immediately it was going to be bad,” Lou DeSimone remembered in an oral history of his own job being among those at Youngstown Sheet and Tube to end. “A rule of thumb was that for every steel mill job there is, there are approximately four other jobs in the community, anything from telephone operators to dry cleaners to bartenders. It wasn’t just the 5,000 people who lost their jobs, you had another 20,000 that were going to lose their jobs through the next year. I knew that was going to happen, and I knew it was going to be devastating. You take 25,000 jobs out of here, people are going to leave. They’re going to find a job to support their family, whether it’s Columbus or Timbuktu.”


Former Youngstown Sheet and Tube, 2006

And they did. Today, Youngstown’s population hovers in the mid-60Ks, far short of its 1970s peak. Where once miles and miles of mills and works were now lay empty fields and the occasional rusted buildings. The old rolling mill of the Campbell works, where 20,000 men once plied their trades, now has less than twenty working in it. The medium income of the area is almost identical to the wages the typical steelworker was making the morning the end began in 1977, as if economic time had both stopped and accelerated. It is the perfect formula for socio-economic despair, and the incubator of disaffected politics.

“Another road show here in Youngstown”

A few months after the Lordstown’s 3rd shift ground to a halt, and 18 months after the area went surprisingly strong, along with much of the rust belt, for the Republican nominee for the White House, President Trump took the stage at a packed Covelli Centre in Youngstown in July of 2017. Among the usual trappings of a MAGA rally, the president was greeted with roars of approval when he declared about the manufacturing jobs in the area “They’re all coming back. Don’t sell your house.” While the style was decidedly Trump, the message wasn’t that much different than what President Obama said when visiting in 2009, or Hillary had in her campaigns of 2008 and 2016, or for that matter John McCain when he ran for president. So too for almost every politician that sought votes from the area, as promising jobs is standard boilerplate for both parties. Trump being Trump, he went even further: “If we don’t negotiate a great deal with Mexico and Canada, we will terminate NAFTA and we will start all over again,” he promised. The people at the rally ate it up, many of whom had voted for him in 2016.


President Trump at Youngstown MAGA rally, July 2017

Those votes were the difference in a contentious campaign; the belief in promises and the response to Trump’s message was discernable in action at the polls. Mahoning and Trumbull counties had been traditional Democrat strongholds, but the former kept Hillary Clinton below 50% and the latter went Republican for the first time since 1972 in an eye-popping 38-point swing that stood out even amongst the most surprising of 2016 results. NAFTA has indeed been renegotiated, and Trump spoke often of steel and aluminum, vital components both historically and currently to Youngstown, during his insistence on tariffs and his escalation of a trade war with China and others.

But none of that saved Lordstown, and not only will the jobs not be coming back, the ones that remained are also going away. On November 19th, United Auto Workers Local 1112 Union Hall in Youngstown hosted the kickoff for what was being called the “Drive it Home” campaign to encourage GM to invest in the Lordstown complex and the Youngstown community. It was a play off a similar “Bring it Home” campaign that was successful in the 80’s.

Drive it Home lasted 7 days before GM announced the closing.

The Politics of Frustration


Chevy Cruze signed by President Obama, 2009, Lordstown Assembly

GM’s issues predate the Trump presidency, and individual factory closings have little to do who sits behind the Resolute Desk. Mid-sized cars like the Cruze are being all but abandoned in the North American market by not just GM but also Ford, with other manufacturers scaling back in favor of popular SUVs and crossover vehicles. President Obama signed a Cruze hood on the assembly line as “car of the future” ten years ago, an eternity in the constantly evolving automotive world. Time and tastes move on. It wasn’t then-President Jimmy Carter’s fault in ’77 that the steel industry had failed to improve their technology and manufacturing techniques to match the brand new, post-war mills of Europe, Japan, and elsewhere years before. Like Trump with Lordstown and the other GM plants the business side of the closure equation was decided long ago. Carter did pay for the economic malaise, among other issues of the late 70s, when he was swept from office on the tide of Reagan.

But then again, Carter never promised to be a savior in a cardigan during his now-infamous attempt to speak to a scared and economically hurting country.

President Trump very much has, and the man who wears his successful businessman persona the same way he does his suits will have a hard time playing this off in Youngstown between now and 2020. With both sitting Ohio Governor John Kasich and Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown expected to run for the White House in two years, expect the plight of the Lordstown closing to be brought up frequently. The same will be true in Michigan, where Trump carried that essential state by less than 11,000 votes. Two GM facilities will also be closing there, and no doubt similar sentiments will flow from the politicians and affected people there.

Such events play perfectly into the messaging that lifted Bernie Sanders into real contention in 2016, and will be a major theme again in 2020. “The company reaped a massive tax break from last year’s GOP tax bill and failed to invest that money in American jobs,” the senator tweeted after the announcement, “corporate greed at its worst.” Another 2020 presidential aspirant, Amy Klobuchar, who is the Democratic Senator from the western edge of the Rust Belt in Minnesota, similarly Tweeted, “Rising inequality hurts everyone and the tax bill made it worse: GM layoffs are another victory for capital over labor.” More complex an issue is the effect that the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on steel, aluminum, and other source materials affected decisions, but whatever number crunchers come up with it surely didn’t help.

If frustrated populism was the wave Trump rode into office, it may well be the same force that wipes out his presidency. Hope can bring in the votes, but no rhetoric can replace lost jobs, especially specifically promised jobs. During the campaign much was made of Trump’s quip that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” He said it in Iowa, and much ink and characters have been spilled since deducing just how big the “Shoot Somebody” caucus might be. That will eternally be a matter of conjecture, but in 23 months we may very well know the exact price for crushing dreams in Ohio and Michigan. For the Mahoning Valley, another Monday that will be remembered by the 4-digit number of jobs lost passes with nothing but questions, and trials, on the horizon.

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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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70 thoughts on “Despite Promises, Another Black Monday for the Mahoning Valley

  1. I can appreciate why a lot of companies, after the tax break, went on stock buyback binges, rather than raising wages or making local capital investments, but IMHO everyone who did it was being awfully short sighted.

    As for GM, they’ve been the recipient of so much state and federal largess… I would hope that their example would remind people why it’s bad for government to play those games (COUGH!amazonCOUGH!), but no matter how often it ends badly, people are relentlessly willing to be duped into optimism about it.


      • Tesla get’s it’s share, but also operates at something of a disadvantage from the Big 3, and even the Asian and Euro makers, in that it refuses to cowtow to the dealership model.

        I also tend to give Tesla something of a pass because, despite their missteps, they are actually trying to push the engineering that goes into automobiles (believe me, I know, about half the automakers in the world use our software, so I get a regular roundup of what they’ve been doing). The IC powerplant is about maxed out when it comes to cost-benefit. In the past 20 years or so, the biggest things to come out of IC powerplant development are Variable Displacement and Constant Velocity Transmissions, neither are widely employed, and both are handicapped* in some way or another.

        Toss in ventures like SpaceX, and IMHO Tesla is pushing the limits and taking risks that can pay off for society as a whole.

        *Funny thing, people have gotten so use to the noise and feel of a transmission shifting that they don’t like it if it’s missing. Hand them a hybrid or an electric car, and for some reason they accept the lack of shifting gears, but if that car has pistons directly powering the wheels, it had better shift gears. Subaru, when they were market testing the CVT, had to modify the automatic controls so that if the driver applied more than a base level amount of power, the system would behave like a geared transmission. If you want to the CVT to actually act like a CVT, you have to take it easy on the gas.


        • We did a test run of hybrid pickups for flightline duty in Vegas years ago, and it was a safety issue for a while, the young troops it was freaking them out since during refined movements (prime moving up and down ramps for example) they were so used to engine noise and response as part of what they judged on. Took a while to adapt.


  2. Failure is down stream of inferior engineering, bad management, too many regulations, barriers to entry, and non competitive wages. Trumps nationalism or Bernies socialism can’t fix that mess. There are some hard lessons ahead.


    • That’s a great line, but let’s go easy on what anyone “deserves”.

      The media gave Trump tons of free publicity, ran down his primary opponents (who admittedly sucked, thanks R’s for picking winners there) constantly, till he was the only one standing. Whether this was for clicks or because they thought Hillary could beat him, who can say. Either way it was a dick move and totally contrary to the spirit of democracy. Then, D’s rigged their own system and cheated to give us a terrible candidate that many people really genuinely disliked for entirely legitimate reasons, whose idea of campaigning was name dropping celebrities constantly and spending a billion dollars without managing to find the state of Wisconsin.

      You guys want to start the meter running with the election of Trump but the fact is the meter was running for a long time before Trump got elected. There were a MILLION things that people in powerful positions – the Republican Party to a lesser extent, the media, the Democrats to a greater extent – could have done to prevent Trump and they did precisely none of them.

      Everyday people wandered to a voting booth and picked the person they thought would be a better president. That some of these everyday people thought Trump would be a better president – I think says a lot more about Candidate Hilary’s shortcomings than what any person out there just trying to live their lives and maybe vote every 4 years “deserves”.


      • @atomickristin I’m not a fan of saying what harm anyone “deserves” either.

        That said, blaming the opposition and the media for not doing enough to stop him – to a greater extent than the party he got all those votes from – is rather blindered.

        And it denies a lot of agency to the everyday people, as well. I’m so tired of people excusing bad behavior on the basis that the everyman got snowed by someone…. letting yourself be snowed is exactly how the really bad stuff happens. People make choices that lead to them getting snowed, personal responsibility is a real thing that very many conservatives believe in so very strongly except when it comes to the voting booth…


      • There were a MILLION things that people in powerful positions – the Republican Party to a lesser extent, the media, the Democrats to a greater extent – could have done to prevent Trump and they did precisely none of them.

        Amazing. To riff on a George Carlin bit, Trump is the product of conservative families, conservative schools, conservative churches, conservative media, and conservative politics. He’s the best conservatives could do, folks.


      • I admit I don’t understand the hate for Hillary, but that’s somewhat beside the point. Everything wrong with Trump: his near-universal ignorance, his unprecedented level of Dunning-Kruger, his inability to understand anything except in terms of how it affect him, his dishonesty, his pettiness, his pathetic need for constant praise, his misogyny, and his racism were all on full display during the campaign. No one who voted for him could be under any illusions about what they were choosing. That he was last person in the world who was either interested in or capable of helping working people could not have been clever.


    • Well, that’s why you should have been supporting Cruz.

      The protectionist impulse is a thing of the left. It stinks that Trump believes in it, but so did Bernie, and even Hillary nodded in that direction. Obama was no protectionist, but he also believed that he could run the auto industry.


      • The protectionist impulse is a thing of the left, which is why both W and Trump imposed tariffs. Fiscal conservatism is a thing of the right, which is why Reagan divorced revenue from expenditure, W ran two wars off-budget, and under united GOP government we have trillion-dollar full-employment deficits.


  3. The collapse of 2008 saw the U.S. government more or less propping up the economy of the entire free world, more or less because the people who wrecked it told of the dire consequences of them not receiving government largesse. We’ll never know what might have happened if the government had let the chips fall where they may have.

    That said, Ford’s and GM’s recent announcements seem nothing more than a reaction to what the market is demanding: more trucks and fewer cars.


  4. First, my condolences to everyone hurt by this, workers, their families, all the people with secondary jobs, and so on. That sucks.

    I’ve been wondering if it would make sense to figure out how to provide some moving assistance to people who have been “furloughed” or laid off due to plant closures or contractions. Help them move somewhere. Let the corps who run the plants contribute to that fund, as well. Does that make sense to y’all?


  5. But now that the trucks are being made by cheaper labor, just think how much easier it will be for those laid off workers to buy one!

    Win win, positive sum voluntary exchanges fed by constant real time pricing signals as the workers are now freed to apply their labor to more productive uses!


  6. …the president was greeted with roars of approval when he declared about the manufacturing jobs in the area “They’re all coming back. Don’t sell your house.” While the style was decidedly Trump, the message wasn’t that much different than what President Obama said when visiting in 2009, or Hillary had in her campaigns of 2008 and 2016, or for that matter John McCain when he ran for president.

    To me this is the real lie of Trumpism. The idea that these jobs are ever coming back is BS, and its been BS for decades, but it’s also a sort of bipartisan BS. The problem I see is that no plausible candidates for president, not Kasich, not Klobuchar, or, as best I can tell, anyone in Congress has a real answer. Our economy is changing. Work that used to take thousands now takes only a handful.

    Someone needs to come up with a new social contract and find a way to get a mandate for it, but I’m not sure whether something like that is possible anymore.


      • I’ve researched what we’re paying our tech resources in Bangalore, India… and what it costs to live in Bangalore, India… It isn’t clear to me how you get wage equilibrium globally… but it sounds like you have an idea, what would that be?


        • The economy has sustained a rate of steady increase in wages, what I propose is reversing that rate to a decrease.

          I’ve said before that equilibrium is probably not achievable because of chance processes in comparative advantage, so it would only be a measure in becoming more competitive in the world market.

          The indicators I would really want to see is that velocity of money starts circulating locally and industry begins to trickle back. Even if it is owner operators using niche automation to provide products and services at competitive rates.

          The alternative I see would most likely be to remain non-competitive in the world market and hope some type of ‘-ism’ would fix the disparity. (i don’t see that working out well)

          What are your thoughts?


          • Its hard for me to see how global labor reaches an equilibrium that is somewhere near 63% lower than the current cost of living in Baltimore.

            And that’s just based on Bangalore which is experiencing something of a tech boom… If I compare to another site in Chennai, India… well, wages and cost of living in Baltimore would have to drop a bit more. If we switch to, say, Shenzen, China… then wages in Baltimore would only need to drop about 50% to be competitive.

            And Shenzen is China’s #3 city: “Shenzhen’s most important economic sector lies in its role as the headquarters for many of China’s high-tech companies. Shenzhen is home to many internationally successful high-tech companies, including Huawei, Tencent, BYD, Konka, Skyworth, ZTE, Gionee, TP-Link, DJI, BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute), OnePlus”

            I’m honestly not sure “velocity of money” will decrease the cost of living and wages in Baltimore to provide equilibrium to Global High-Tech wages (let alone the poor schmucks who service them).

            We could, perhaps, insist that wages in Bangalore, Chennai, and Shenzen double or triple… or we could tax the labor in B/C/S via tariffs to equalize the disparity… but that’s the weird economic no-man’s land of the Competitive Advantage of Labor (which isn’t a competitive advantage of labor, but maybe a competitive disparity of infrastructure or political/social capital).

            So sure, if there was really a global market for labor I could see things maybe equalizing, but there isn’t really a global market for labor… there are silo’d local labor markets that have steep barriers to entry and exit (think its tough to move from Youngstown to Baltimore? What about Youngstown to Shenzen?) that Capital can arbitrage; capital flies, but labor walks.

            The old Neo-Liberal mantra is/was precisely that eventually Bangalore/Shenzen wages/costs would indeed Triple making Baltimore competitive again… but there’s now some doubt whether thats true, or whether that’s true in a time horizon that doesn’t see Neo-Liberals thrown out of power, well, everywhere.


            • You are seeing it pretty clear.

              The thing about velocity of money isn’t so much to change cost of living, but opportunity to have income (where it wasn’t available before).

              Do you have any thoughts on how to ‘adjust’ the silo’d markets, or do you think competition would eventually break through?


              • Hold on while I get my Billy Bragg cd for mood music. {Hey, he’s updated it for the 21st century v.2.0}

                I’ll take it as axiomatic that it is structurally impossible to deflate our way into competitive wages and costs; any attempt would be globally catastrophic. The fixed cost of debt on a personal, state and federal level would crater the global economy in any scenario that saw 50% deflation in US wage $$.

                The challenge is that the assumptions of breaking the Global silo’s didn’t live up to the reality of the labor shocks… which the Autor paper in 2016 first brought to our collective attention. In some ways, if their analysis is close to correct, it helps to explain the slow-motion crisis of faith in Neo-Liberalism that’s happening in the West. I think we’re still seeing the working out and possible responses to this dawning change of assumptions. It doesn’t surprise me that Neo-Liberal orthodoxy is having a hard time adjusting, but it also doesn’t surprise me that nobody feels obligated to stand by while it does.

                So what do you do when many of the assumptions about Global Labor and Competition don’t respond in the ways we hoped and predicted? Well, if I could build *that* economic model you’d be paying me to read my answer. :-)

                So, um, I don’t know.

                My hunch is that the path forward lies through a new sort of Labor Solidarity movement that targets the labor arbitrage by insisting that the socio-economic goods that we have priced into US/European labor have to be extended to all labor markets, else a tax on goods/services to normalize the costs will be levied. In short, there’s more benefit in paying more for our shit than there is paying less.

                I also think we’re still working through the implications of Automation and Data as an asset… I anticipate that we’ll see new (distributed) models of production emerge (I hope) and I’m pretty sure we’re going to reevaluate the ownership of data… when? I don’t know. If we’re not engaged in a Butlerian Jihad, I expect we’ll see some good ole fashioned High Tech trust busting Teddy Roosevelt style – and the emergence of new ownership models. Or so I hope.


                • Good stuff. I don’t weigh the global economy as particularly a useful construct if it can’t withstand one nations slow movement towards equilibrium. If cascade failure is the only future, I would rather it happen at 4.25 feet off the ground than at 15 feet+.

                  Solidarity movements mean social entanglements. Social entanglements mean less freedom to distribute the production in accordance to subjective value. What I am proposing is to detangle the social constructs of national wage. Any country that doesn’t detangle will be stuck with a rigid system that won’t be able to respond to distributed production on a global level.

                  In short it leverages freer markets against socialist markets.


        • Well, these are mostly “Knowledge Workers” I’m talking about… but then, I sell software that is specifically designed to help fewer Knowledge Workers Automate and Scale… so, um, yeah. We’re pretty much doomed to become meat for the few or batteries for the inorganic.


          • My opinion is that no knowledge worker is fully immune. I’m an in house attorney at a small mid-size company. My small legal department does tasks that 30 years ago would’ve taken 2-3 times as many people a much longer time to complete. As long as our legal system requires a bit of a human touch, particularly in litigation, there will always be a need for some flesh and blood lawyers to be local. But most of the research and drafting work done in Big and Mid Law or in house could probably be outsourced to appropriately educated people for cheaper. Certain cultural biaes and barriers slow it down but it’ll eventually happen.

            I also have no doubt that the kind of software your company makes will eventually be used to eliminate large amounts of drafting and review work. Research that used to take boat loads of junior staff plowing through print, Shepherdizing authority, etc. is already vastly simplified by online products.

            To Joe’s point below, a day isn’t on the horizon wherel no one will work. But a day is coming soon when full time employment as practiced in the mid 20th century to now will no longer be a sustainable model of allocating resources to the vast majority of people. That’s what we need to start building systems to handle.


            • I’m not clear on the resource allocation issue mentioned. 18th century resource production and resource consumption were relatively flat in the horizontal sense.

              There wasn’t much (if any) non-tangible capital that was captured or stored by a special faction.

              The way I see it, non-tangible capital formations have created considerable verticle issues in distributed resource allocations. There are ways to unwind that, distributed tangible production being a critical one.


        • I’m not as scared about automation, people always figure out something that has subjective value to produce/exchange. In fact the more something is automated and supplied, the subjective value quickly drops off the cliff in value.

          The ‘unseen’ that has went on for years is that subjective value has only ever existed in/for providing the demand side, very few think about it on the production side. It’ll probably go full circle to a preferable cottage industries model that really never should have been abandoned.


            • I would be 100% down with redistribution of money. The problem is that wealth is a lot harder to redistribute and, when it comes to Maslow’s Hierarchy, there’s only but so much that can be redistributed at all.

              How do you redistribute self-esteem? Respect of your peers?

              Especially when there are interpretations of self-esteem/respect that involve damage following the redistribution of money?


              • The way I see it, you aren’t redistributing those things, but you are redistributing a pretty versatile tool for helping people figure out those things on their own.

                The “universal” part is important because I think it at least makes it possible that it might not be so damaging to respect and self-esteem. You aren’t getting it because you suck, you’re getting it because everybody gets it.

                (This is also why I don’t worry so much about ‘s concern about it dividing workers against each other.)


                • Adaptation to the American psyche would ideally be part of any UBI package. We aren’t Europe. There’s a cultural aversion to a monthly check in the mail for the able bodied for no real reason. If I were exploring strategy I’d see if it couldn’t be implemented as something like an expanded EITC.


                  • That’s kinda where I’m at.
                    Where instead of a one single check, there is a big basket of direct cash transfers, and in-kind assistance.

                    Like, an EITC, single payer health care, tuition free college, free public transportation, tax credits for inclusionary housing, etc.

                    We know from direct experience that everyone loves government assistance, so long as it is hidden like the suburban subsidies we walked about here, or if they have a fig leaf of credibility.
                    Farmers, military contractors, cities- they all get cash transfers, but are able to say with a straight face that they somehow deserve them, or that they are not welfare because reasons.


                      • Job Guarantees are the same as work requirements… if UBI is tied to work requirements, I shudder at the prospect of the knock-on effects. I would fight this with every vote I have. Better to give people free money that force them into an involuntary labor contract.


                  • That’s a common reaction, but I wonder how long that aversion would last if every able-bodied adult started getting a monthly check in the mail for no real reason.

                    Not a hill to die on, and I certainly wouldn’t say no to a more generous EITC.


                    • how about if we just explain we’re giving out the money as a side benefit of being an American the country throws off so much extra wealth we have to give it back to you as if a monthly rebate check for your hard work of being born here.


  7. I always find it somewhat interesting to compare how many people are employed by GM and how much the company is worth with new businesses like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon…

    The new companies hire fewer people by an order of magnitude given their valuations. (Amazon is the only real exception, in that it has more than 600,000 workers worldwide. Hard to find US numbers of that 600,000, though.)


    • One way out of the box it to think of all of us as co-collaborators with Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and the like… we should be paid for curating and creating the content they sell. Start annuity streams for your online value.

      Not that that won’t create a whole new set of weird incentives… but still, weird incentives are what make the world go ’round.


  8. Slade the Leveller: My problem with this story from the get go is the people crying wolf never showed their work. We just had to take it on faith that dire things would happen if the subsidies didn’t arrive. Everyone caught with their hand in the till got absolution, while the little guys still lost their jobs, homes, and 401k accounts.

    And many of them then voted for Mr. Trump because he said what they wanted to hear politicians say. Both Democrats and Republicans in National Offices have bitten the neoliberal economic model bug, where whats good for corporations is good for every one. And that is just not true, Kind of like Trickle Down is an abysmal failure. And we have 40 years of data to prove it. But it keeps being sold as THE solution to our economic problems.

    Doctor Jay: I’ve been wondering if it would make sense to figure out how to provide some moving assistance to people who have been “furloughed” or laid off due to plant closures or contractions. Help them move somewhere. Let the corps who run the plants contribute to that fund, as well. Does that make sense to y’all?

    It makes perfect sense, and has been advocated by a very few liberal progressive politcians over the last few years. There are and will be jobs, but you have to get people to them. And as with Coal’s failure in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, many of these folks who are now going to be jobless are third or even fourth generation GM employees who have stuck around. Loosing their jobs is not – in and of itself – going to be enough incentive to overcome the emotional barriers to movement. GM being forced to help pay to move them somewhere where they can find work might do the trick – but only with a lot of social service support.

    InMD: Someone needs to come up with a new social contract and find a way to get a mandate for it, but I’m not sure whether something like that is possible anymore.

    this reality undergirds Progressives calls for universal basic incomes. Which would be a greater reality if US corporate fiduciary law weren’t so focused on profits to shareholders.

    Slade the Leveller: That said, Ford’s and GM’s recent announcements seem nothing more than a reaction to what the market is demanding: more trucks and fewer cars.

    This is likely true, but its politically untenable, even for Republicans. Their political approach is for government intervention that rewards corporations regardless of the destruction wrought on Labor. It also turns a blind eye to price supports (which Steel enjoyed even before the Tariffs), and other governmental interventions in the “free” market.


    • And that is just not true, Kind of like Trickle Down is an abysmal failure. And we have 40 years of data to prove it. But it keeps being sold as THE solution to our economic problems.

      Well, if you are a true believer in Trickle Down, then it makes sense to believe that a company going under has horrible downstream effects, at least as equivalently bad as the good you imagine it’s doing.

      Where I see the incoherence is from people who are ardently critical of Trickle Down, but who still turn around and accept that GM going under will just be horrifically bad.


    • this reality undergirds Progressives calls for universal basic incomes

      Wait, Progressive are calling for this? I though only us nutty libertarians thought this was a good… well, necessary, idea.


      • Some progressive support a UBI.

        Some progressives see the libertarian calls for a UBI as a way to destroy organizing of the poor and working class as they rightly know they’ll be able to get enough of the working class who still work to attack those on the Dole or UBI or whatever you want to call it for any issues in society.

        Any UBI that exists will be one in addition to the current welfare state, not one that strips it apart, like Charles Murray et al wants too.


        • A UBI would necessitate the elimination of any other cash transfer (including SS), but not the elimination of the welfare state as a whole. Medicare/MediCaid (or something like it) would still be a thing, as would social assistance that is not cash transfers.

          And that’s all fine, because a lot of the existing cash transfers are horribly paternalistic and riddled with terrible incentives.


  9. It’ll be hard for Trump to wriggle away from this one considering how loudly he trumpeted and took credit for GM’s decisions at the start of his term.


    • The GM situation is probably a direct result of Trump’s booming economy. The plants being closed made things like the Chevy Volt. Obama promised us he’d buy a Volt when he left office, but sadly, he didn’t. Few others did either. Instead of buying GM’s cars, people were buying trucks and SUVs – because in a booming economy people have stuff to haul and work to do and they can’t do that in a toy car.

      It’s like complaining that the economy must be in trouble because people aren’t buying single-wide mobile homes, they’re buying three story houses in gated communities.

      It also shows that a CEO who talks about partnering with government, in a consumer sector, is a big red flag. GM was making vehicles that made the government happy, but that were spurned by their actual customers. That’s not a good way to do business.


      • Instead of buying GM’s cars, people were buying trucks and SUVs – because in a booming economy people have stuff to haul and work to do and they can’t do that in a toy car.

        It would be interesting to see how purchasers of trucks and SUVs break down by profession. I live in Chicago, where tons of people drive SUVs, and I know there aren’t that many tradesmen here. It’s a white collar town. Those things are just the latest automotive fad, made possible by the cheap cost of gas.


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