There was a time when Milwaukee was known far and wide as “The Machine Shop of the World.” You name it, they made it.   

This strong manufacturing base employed hundreds of thousands of people, including many groups previously denied access to economic opportunities. As in other northern cities, Milwaukee’s factories were desperate for workers, which gave way to the “Great Migration” of African Americans from southern states to the North. Despite widespread discrimination, for many African Americans the factory work meant access to good, middle class jobs for the first time.

In the 1980s, the Milwaukee metropolitan area had about 220,000 jobs in manufacturing; through the 1990s, that number hovered around 170,000 and then began to drop significantly after 2000 to around 120,000 today.

This depletion of manufacturing jobs has hit the African American community the hardest and is, perhaps, why the website 24/7 Wall Street recently named Milwaukee the “Worst City For Black Americans.” According to the site, Milwaukee’s African American unemployment rate is 17.2 percent in a metropolitan area that has an overall unemployment rate of 6.0 percent.

Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have tapped into anger felt by the loss of manufacturing jobs and pointed to so-called “free trade” deals with China and other countries as the culprit. According to the Economic Policy Institute, well over three million jobs have been lost in the United States to China since trade relations were normalized in 2000 under then-President Bill Clinton.

In a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Donald Trump, was asked why it was that he and Bernie Sanders had won the New Hampshire primaries. Without hesitation, Trump said:

“We’re being ripped off by everybody. And I guess that’s the thing that Bernie Sanders and myself have in common. We know about the trade. But unfortunately he can’t do anything to fix it, whereas I will.

This common focus on what Bernie Sanders calls “corporate-written trade deals” has largely been ignored by the media's coverage of the race. But in tonight's debate, look for Sanders to bring it up again and again.

Because, if there’s any place in the world where people are angry about trade deals that have exported their jobs overseas, it’s Milwaukee.

Jud Lounsbury is a frequent contributor to The Progressive.

 

 

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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