Feeling Down On Main Street
"In the town where I grew up, men had new trucks in their driveways, and three weeks of vacation for chasing deer in the fall and fish in the summer. They drank beer at a morning happy-hour after the graveyard shift ended, and voted for Democrats because they cared about the little guy, or so it was said.
In less than a generation's time, the life jobs at the aluminum factory disappeared and the men lost their health benefits, their pensions, their self-confidence. You could say, without starting a fight, that some of them turned to God or guns for comfort - or at least for diversion. And then there were those who turned to alcohol.
It's an old story, the grinding of winners into losers, a sort of geographic lottery. My town was Spokane, Wash., which has rebounded somewhat from the collapse of Kaiser Aluminum. But it could be McKeesport, Pa., or Utica, N.Y., or any of the 900 counties across the country that have lost jobs or population for decades."