Sunday, December 04, 2005

Small Town USA

I was in the town of East Liverpool, Ohio this past weekend for a class assignment. It is a place that has seen better days. As we were walking the streets yesterday, one could see that it was once a really prosperous and bustling hamlet on the Ohio River. It was renown in the Western Hemisphere for its pottery. Many of their artisans had come from the famous Stoke-on-Trent and brought with them their expertise. In later years steel and titanuim mills/foundaries rose in importance for the local economy. However over the years, competition, cheap imports and other economic exigencies eroded its place in the world.

Where we are in Ambridge is somewhat similar. The town got the name from the company, the American Bridge Company, who built the twon around a huge steel mill. They are best known for building the famed Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York. But when the mill went bust back in the 60's it started the slow but sure decline of the town.

Towns like these litter the entire Ohio River Valley. I am sure that its the same all over the US as well. Talking to the older inhabitants will get you story after story of the "good old days." Accounts of stores that had people lining up down the block to get in, churches full with barely a seat on a Sunday morning, life and wealth oozing from every street corner.

Some may say, that this is price of progress. It is the way of capitalism. It is economic Darwinism at its best... or worst???? It's just business after all. But there are lives at stake. And families are affected.

When the pursuit of coin usurps as the main agenda, the result is a bankruptcy that knows no limits. The system that we have sold our souls to will gladly wring every last drop of blood out of people and spit out the empty carcasses.

I wonder what our grandkids or maybe even our kids will think when they visit Silicon Valley, or Austin or any number of hot "new economy" hubs in the not too distant future. Will they shake their heads at the old man reminiscing about the "good old days"? I'm not even sure my hometown, Singapore will necessarily be spared.

Money is a good servant, but an incredibly poor master. Or in reality this is just another example of the total depravity of man! jw.

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