Author: Paul Clemens
I’m fascinated by old buildings, especially factories. When looking at or inside them, I can’t help imaging earlier days when our nation and workers were the kings of the world. Author Paul Clemens is a kindred spirit – his “Punching Out” reports on the sad closing of the Budd Company stamping plant, built in 1919 and one of the oldest active factories in Detroit. Somehow it made sense to end operations there supporting Ford (at one time it had 10,000 employees, 350 at the end), disassemble its massive stamping mills (up to four-stories high), ship them to Mexico, and there resume production for two Chrysler plants that it was situated between. The new reality – there’s more money to be made tearing Detroit down than restoring its former glory; it’s now become the world capital of closed and torn down auto plants.
Unfortunately, neither Detroit nor the Budd Stamping plant are unique – the twice-monthly “Plant Closing News” has reported on more than 5,000 industrial closures and re-locations since February, 2003. In its first year of publication, 983 plant closings were reported, and the number has risen every year since.
Why these closings and job losses haven’t upended American politics is beyond me. Regardless, Clemens’ book provides excellent reading and perspectives – even if the title is misleading. The book is actually about the year after the closing, not its last year of production. Regardless, readers will be haunted by its unanswered question, “Why are we allowing this to happen?”
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