The Death of America in Small-Town Ohio

A pickup truck rolls through the town square in Kinsman, Ohio.

Trumbull County, Ohio is one of those quaint little patches in the American quilt. Located in the Mahoning Valley, on the far northeastern edge of the Buckeye state, Trumbull borders Pennsylvania and serves as a microcosm of Ohio itself, with a mixture of Rust Belt decline, Appalachian culture, small cities, rural hamlets, and lots of corn fields. The county’s combination of redneck charm and economic anxiety have made it a go-to stop for vote-craving politicos, who barnstorm Trumbull’s many barns every election season promising an imminent return to a mystic Mayberrian past of small-town fuzziness and industrial might embodied by the now-defunct Republic Steel blast furnace in the county seat of Warren.

With a rich history of organized labor, Trumbull (along with neighboring Mahoning County, home to the former “Steel City” of Youngstown) has long been a stronghold for the Democratic Party. In fact, the last time Trumbull voted Republican was for Richard Nixon in 1972. That is, until the county balked tradition and supported Donald Trump for president in 2016. Trumbull County is now Trump country thanks to a fear of death — a death brought on by economic stagnation, declining public health, the opiate epidemic, and the impression that America has been lying comatose in an open grave for too long.

I grew up in Trumbull County, in the town of Hubbard (population: 7,874). To be from Northeast Ohio is to be familiar with death. Not so much the literal death of people and animals (though there’s plenty of that) but death in a societal and existential sense: the death of once great industry, the death of communities, the death of the American Dream as embodied by the capitalist triumphs of a steady income and generational betterment.

It’s not that growing up in Trumbull County was a bad experience; in fact, I’ve got plenty of good memories fishing in Mosquito Lake, hiking the woods and playing baseball in Hubbard’s Harding Park, and driving through the picturesque countryside — all rustic barns, plowed fields, and crisp air — that still defines most of the county today.

Yet when you live in the Mahoning Valley, you live in the shadow of death. Growing up in the Valley, you saw the rusted corpses of shuttered steel mills along the Mahoning River, a constant reminder of the death of the region’s former economic lifeblood. You also saw manufacturers move to Mexico or update to automated technologies. These companies have been shedding jobs for years, and the jobs that remain pay a lot less than they used to. Driving the back roads of Trumbull County took you through many near-deserted town squares, done in by suburban malls that are themselves now dead or on life support.

The now defunct Republic Steel blast furnace in Warren, Ohio.

Then there are the empty homesteads and deserted farms, the hallmarks of rural decline. The fatal combination of population loss, educational disadvantage, technological displacement, growing poverty rates, and poor social mobility continue to decimate Ohio’s smaller cities and towns. These visions of death defined the experience of growing up in Trumbull County, and death still stalks the county today.

Of course, Trumbull County isn’t quite dead. There’s still much life there, and that life is tenacious. But because death shadows life in Trumbull County, the people there viewed Donald Trump as a kind of orange-glow Jesus to their stiffened Lazarus. Trump campaigned throughout the Mahoning Valley during the two-act carnival sideshows of the Republican primaries and the 2016 general election. With a shrewd combination of chest-puffing bluster and mind-numbing bullshit, he attracted Trumbull voters fed up with the shadow of death that still threatened their economic futures.

One such voter, 48-year old laid-off union steelworker (and Democrat) Scott Seitz, dug Trump’s brashness, but he also embraced the Orange One’s promise to cauterize the region’s economic gash. “I didn’t appreciate everything going overseas, that’s why we’re out of business now,” Seitz said, “I really believe that Trump’s gonna bring a lot of that stuff back.” Another steelworker (and Democrat), 57-year old Dan Moore, voted for Trump for a single reason: trade. “A lot of the things that he [Trump] said he’s going to do really resonate with rank-and-file union members who helped build the middle-class in this country, and who certainly don’t have a problem with tariffs being placed on Chinese goods,” Moore stated. His wife, Lisa, worried about other problems facing the region. “Now the last two or three years, where I hear about the heroin crisis in Ohio and Trumbull County and all these drugs, I think they’re coming in from the border illegally, and something needs to be done.” The Moores, just like Scott Seitz, voted for Barack Obama twice. So did thousands of other Democrats in Trumbull County, giving Trump a 50 to 45 percent victory over Hillary Clinton.

The entrance to the GM Lordstown plant, where the Great Orange Bullshitter won over autoworkers.

It wasn’t just steelworkers who flipped for the bellicose billionaire, either. In Lordstown, home of the General Motors plant where United Auto Workers (UAW) famously went on a wildcat strike in 1972 to protest an accelerated, dehumanizing pace of production, auto workers flocked to trump’s faux hard-hat posturing. As The Nation’s D.D. Guttenplan reported, Trump gave Lordstown workers “the sense that they mattered. Not just their votes, but their culture, their sense of themselves as people who worked with their hands and played by the rules. People who felt they’d been written off by the Democratic Party—and had given up on politics.” Trumbull County’s working-class voters rolled the dice on the walking embodiment of the capitalism that betrayed them because they’re desperate to stave off death. When you live in a region defined by decay, it’s worth taking a chance on a potential charlatan to lift yourself out of the grave.

Its Democratic Party affiliation notwithstanding, Trumbull County actually looks like prototypical Trumpland: it’s 89 percent white and significantly rural, it has an alarming 17 percent poverty rate, the median household income is $43,073, and manufacturing is still the top form of (tenuous) employment — although the healthcare sector is actually growing because someone needs to deal with the sick, overdosed, and dying.

But Trump is president now, and some of his Trumbull supporters are worried about their decision to hand their fate over to a modern Republican Party that embraces the Social Darwinism of Ayn Rand as a blueprint for national renewal.

Kinsman, Ohio is a rural unincorporated community with a population of 616. Its tiny town square has an antique shop/thrift store that smells kinda funny and features an old-timey soda fountain. Among its most famous natives was Clarence Darrow, who acted as defense attorney during the Scopes Monkey Trial. It’s also a beautiful part of the county that features sprawling farms and historic churches and buildings.

Tammy and Joseph Pavlic are Trump voters who live in Kinsman. The New York Times recently interviewed the Pavlics, because they’re worried about Trump’s proposed budget. Joseph, a former air-conditioning and heating installer, has Multiple Sclerosis and is disabled. Tammy earns $9,000 a year working at a restaurant. In 2015, the Pavlics took advantage of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, a county program funded by Congress and steered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The HOME program partners with local governments (in Trumbull County, the city of Warren plays this role) to provide funds to assist the poor and disabled with home repairs. HOME helped repair the Pavlics’ roof and gives them vital financial assistance.

But President Donald Trump’s budget would eliminate the HOME program, and this leaves the Trump-supporting Pavlics in a bind. They voted for Trump because “we have people who are coming into this country who are trying to hurt us, and I think that we need to be protected.” That protection, however, won’t help make the Pavlics’ home great again.

Trumbull County Trumpeteers.

So is Donald Trump the Jesus that will finally revive Trumbull County’s Lazarus? Of course not, and people like the Pavlics will find that out the hard way. The fear of death has shaped the last forty years of the county’s history, along with the looming insecurity that comes from putting your faith in a capitalist system that doles out material rewards, only to rip them away along with your sense of identity in this world. Using the workers who labored under it, capitalism built the mills, the manufacturing plants, the farm machinery, and the town squares that embodied Trumbull County, Ohio. Then, like the biblical Yahweh who capriciously created a thriving world only to destroy it in a watery apocalypse, capitalism took those things away.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the Trump phenomenon is the ultimate paradox for late-stage capitalist America; it’s a subconscious repudiation not just of elites and immigrants, but of capitalism as it’s been practiced for the last half century.

Destruction is encoded into capitalism’s DNA. In order to innovate (and in order to protect the calcified wealth of the ruling class), the system theoretically replaces the old and the stale with the new and the cutting edge. Some people can adapt to these changes, while others can’t, and the latter are always higher in number. If we view capitalism as something that exists in the intangible firmament just beyond the reach of human influence (as does much of the right-wing), then the system will proceed unconcerned with the human wreckage it leaves in its wake. It’s a testament to the firmness with which the market gods hold Americans under their celestial thumbs that Trumbull voters angry about creative destruction nonetheless chose as their savior a guy who embodies the very system that has wrought so much death upon them. Choosing Donald Trump and the Republican Party as your champions against the excesses of capitalism is like asking Pharaoh to lead you to the Promised Land.

The End of the Commons General Store in Mesopotamia, Trumbull County, Ohio. Tourist attractions like this historic general store bank on the county’s largely rural character.

I’ve purposefully used the provocative notion of “death” to characterize the anxiety that shadows life in Trumbull County. I’ve done this because creative destruction doesn’t just lead to the death of industries and communities, it also leads to the death of the body and the spirit. When a lack of fulfilling work, adequate health care, and a better place to raise their kids leads people to believe they can no longer thrive, they look for ways to escape.

Thus, Trumbull County is now ground zero for the opiate epidemic that is sweeping the Rust Belt. The presence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid fifty times more potent than heroin, has been linked to dozens of overdose deaths over the past year. Ohio law enforcement agencies have seized 900 pounds of the drug since 2015, and in March 2017, Trumbull County saw 82 overdoses in two weeks. Even more tragic are the children left orphaned by junkie parents. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “many of the children who remain in the care of addicted parents are growing up in mayhem. They watch their mothers and fathers overdose and die on the bathroom floor. They live without electricity, food or heat when their parents can’t pay the bills. They stop going to school, and learn to steal and forage to meet their basic needs.” In more than one respect, death really is a part of life in Trumbull County.

There’s no easy answer to Trumbull County’s problems; no easy way to stave off the death of the American Dream. But the right-wing formula for renewal will forever be a sham. Vengeful tariffs and backdoor bribes won’t boost employment in companies that have innovated much of their labor force into obsolescence. And while protectionist measures might slow the pace with which some manufacturing jobs go south of the border, preserving tenuous jobs by dangling weak carrots in front of powerful companies is unfair to the workers whose livelihoods can still be yanked away if bribed companies get skittish about Trump’s incentives. Tax cuts might add a few extra jobs but won’t create living wages, provide affordable health insurance, or promote anything even remotely resembling job security — but they will funnel more wealth into the offshore bank accounts of the same capitalists who’ve left Trumbull County in the shadow of death for decades. Finally, cutting vital aid programs won’t make people more responsible, it will only make them more destitute.

This graphic photo, released by law enforcement, shows two adults in East Liverpool, Ohio who overdosed on heroin while driving with a four-year-old. The opiate epidemic is a stark reality of dark times in Trumbull County.

The only way to truly improve the lives of people in Trumbull County, and in thousands of counties across America, is to demand a complete cultural reimagining of the nature of capitalism as it relates to the well-being of, well, human beings. Globalized finance capitalism is withering before our eyes while spawning all manner of nationalist-racist movements, the likes of which should have been destroyed along with the Axis Powers during the previous century. Global capitalism won’t exactly die, but its legitimacy hangs by a thread as millions of people, faced with no real alternative, have turned to the Trumps of the world. They need better alternatives, and they need them now.

There’s an urgent demand for an economic system, capitalist or otherwise, that recognizes humans as more than just automatons who can be disposed of mercilessly in a global quest for profits. Perhaps a starting point is increasing employee-owned companies with an emphasis on more localized, communitarian values, both to human well-being and environmental preservation. It would be a small start, but reorganizing the structure of modern human societies has to think big and then start small. Trumbull County deserves a new start, however small, as does everywhere else in America where late-stage capitalism holds the power of life and death over millions of human beings.

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204 Comments

  1. I grew up in Hubbard. IT is so sad to see what has happened to that part of Ohio. I have such fond memories of growing up and am grateful to have experienced my first 17 years there.

      • I am currently living in warren Ohio and I see a divided community in the Trumbull and mahoning county area. On one hand there is a bunch of junkies shooting up. One of my best friends works for the Niles P.D and says that there is 5-8 overdoses a day! The heroine and political corruption have truely put a divot in our economy. In the other hand, there is many good, hardworking people. I can say that we have some of the most beautiful churches and irreplaceable family members dear to my heart. Setting that aside, the negative outweighs the few. I recently visited a friend who lives in the south but grew up in Austintown. He remarked of how snooty, rude, and arrogant people that are in this area. He out of all of the people that I know would fully comprehend the “Youngstown Struggle” he calls it. He is one of the few people who have actually worked to get out of this area. Evan though this area is full of good, heart warming citizens that want a change, most of the crime, violence, and strangely child abuse/sexual assault that is prevelant in our area. I don’t know what to think about my community but I know that this article is pretty accurate.

    • Factual? LMFAO, I guess it’s all trumps fault after 40 years of democratic rule. There was no detection of a political slant to the article at all and let’s not forget the how many references to death in the factual story. Drones….

      • You must have missed the two Republicans named Bush in between these last 40 years you speak of. Well most republicans want to forget the deadly duo and point every finger at Obama. I doubt you actually read every word of this article let alone comprehend what the writer is saying. If you are finger pointing thinking we are the drones you should take another sip of that kool-aid before the aliens come pick you up!

  2. I still call Warren my hometown even though I have only visited since the age of ten. And death is how I would describe it. Grey skies 80% of the time, worn buildings, and tired people. My dad always called us the working poor. My thoughts for the old industrial buildings is recycling plants. Don’t know how to start such a thing but would love to work with someone to see it happen.

    • I totally get your description here. Which is why I get so infuriated at the Republican Party: to them, the “working poor” don’t exist, they’re all just lazy moochers, even though they work harder than any congressperson ever will.

  3. I did what I could, doing my civic duty and stayed actively involved in my Republican Women’s club, volunteering for my republican party at the GOP headquarters, I campaigned, rallied, cheered, carried signs, made phone calls and did whatever I could to help Trump become our president. I am all for making Trumbull County Great Again,

    • I applaud your political involvement, Judie, and when people like the Pavlics (who I mentioned in this article) lose their only sources of income thanks to Trump/ GOP budget-cutting, I’m sure they’ll also applaud the greatness that you helped bring back to Trumbull County.

      • Judie, next time you should join me in supporting a candidate like Bernie Sanders, who really WILL make our county great again.

        • 75% Voted for America as opposed to communism . This article started good and then was spoiled by propanda. Hard to believe some would rather go the route of than to help clean out the criminalizes government that she America out and they democrats are extremely crooked in Warren Ohio which is going to change. And Bernie is a socilaist who will not change anything. Communist. My gosh people.

          • “Communism.” You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

          • Thank God Trump is helping the little guys with his tax incentives! NOT.

          • It would seem that even the “outsider” kind of Republican just can’t quit those trickle-down tax cuts.

  4. I work with many Trump supporters. While I understand their frustrations, I’ll never understand why they think a con man will solve all their problems. A con man who has never in his life experienced any of the struggles that Mahoning valley residents deal with every day. I wonder how many of the people who voted for him have ever actually set foot in a steel mill or coal mine? If those people would want to work a swing shift with mandatory overtime? Another factor is that the valley is competing with the South for manufacturing, and it’s hard to compete with the anti labor south, who also gives massive tax incentives for companies that pay $10-12 an hour.

    • Good points. What you’re referring to is the so-called “race to the bottom,” a foundational aspect of right-wing free-market capitalism. The questions people need to ask are “how low am I willing to let my wage fall?” “How much health coverage am I willing to give up?” “How much power should my employer have over my life?” These are serious questions that actually affect what “freedom: means in people’s lives.

    • Great article! Too many of us know exactly what you’ve described here. I speak from the same hometown as you and have lived through the 50 year decline of the Mahoning, Shenango & Trumbull region.

      You certainly struck the truth nerve as evidenced by the crass, Trump-esque comments.

      Trumpers are loathe to admit that they got snookered by a grand, orange Car Salesman. Face it, would anyone want to admit getting played? Those that pounce on Bernie Sanders have not heard him speak, for if they do, the truth becomes painfully clear.

      Cheers!

      • Trump truly is the greatest con-artist America has ever witnessed. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Difficult to have much sympathy for a population that forgot FDR pulled their ancestors out of abject poverty. Article is a bit overly dramatic.

      • Not just Trump. The Clintons and their “third way” drag-us-all-to-the-far-right policies played a YUGE role in the decline of our valleys here on the OH/PA border.

        • Of course, and Third-Way Clintonism was the Democrats’ attempt to be more like Republicans.

          • I have lived in Lordstown since I was six and I have seen the rise and fall of the auto industry from my backyard. I am not a political person, but Trump was not the answer. In fact, I don’t think either candidate would have been good for our valley. We have to bring God and jobs back to America in general. People are turning to drugs because they have no hope of a better future than poverty. America, in general, has turned away from the beliefs that started our nation. We need to start by putting God back into our government and praying for His guidance! Politicians will say anything to get your vote, but when they get into office, they have their own or their party’s agenda and forget about the promises that they made during their campaign. I love living in Lordstown because it is a small community, but in order for me to get a job to support my family, I have to drive almost an hour or more to find a decent job that doesn’t require a hair net. I do have a college degree, but the job market has declined because many of our jobs are sent to Mexico or China or are replaced by robots. The other problem is minimum wage is on the rise. I’m not saying that fast food workers should be paid $15 an hour, because people can survive on minimum wage, but they usually have more than one job or other income coming into their household. Another problem is the amount of people on welfare. Welfare was designed to be a helping hand when needed not a way of life. There are people who truly need help that can’t get it, but there are some many others who are on welfare that can work and choose not to because they want $15 an hour to flip burgers or don’t want to lose their benefits by actually working and earning the money themselves. Everyone has to start sharing the workload or this country will not survive!

          • “Politicians will say anything to get your vote, but when they get into office, they have their own or their party’s agenda and forget about the promises that they made during their campaign.” It’s not “their party’s agenda,” it’s the agenda of the ruling class that funds them, the same ruling class that lobbies for tax cuts and ships jobs to Mexico so their shareholders can make an extra million off the backs of workers in places like Lordstown. When voters say that government doesn’t work for them, do they know what they mean by that? Who does government work for if not for voters? You know all those wealthy corporations whose taxes Trump is cutting right now, and for which Trump is slashing environmental regulations like water purity laws so that said corporations can dump more chemicals into the groundwater that voters drink? Those are the interests that government represents. Yet those same wealthy interests tell voters to vote to get rid of “big government.” If you’re concerned about welfare, go to Washington D.C. and look at the dozens of lobbying firms that line the streets near the capitol building. That’s the welfare that should concern you.

  6. I grew up in Warren and worked at the steel mill downtown while I went to YSU. I don’t think that is Republic steel. Maybe Copperweld in Chanpion? The picture doesn’t look like the blast furnuce entrance that I used to see. But then again, it’s been awhile. One point that I think you could have touched on more is how manual manufacturing jobs are declining in general as automation is taking over. You briefly mentioned it. If manufacturing does grow back in our hometowns, the jobs that would be available would be maintaining those machines that used to do workers job instead of the same jobs that were lost.

    • Actually, you’re right, it is the entrance in Champion. I mislabeled when I added the pic because I had images of both. Will change the photo. Thanks for the tip! To your point about automation: it’s really the driving issue when it comes to the decline in manufacturing jobs, as you note. I only wonder if the number of positions in machine repair would ever come close to the number lost to old technology…

      • I grew up in the Kinsman area and ended up moving south and becoming an Automation Engineer. Automation doesn’t remove as many jobs as most people think. Quite a lot of the processes that get converted still have to have operators there running the machines. So instead of a person actually doing the repetitive actions day in and day out they are now monitoring the machines doing the work. Then there are the technicians that repair and maintain the machines above the operator level and the engineers above them that support the technicians when needed. Take the GM plant here as an example. I have been inside the facility and it’s as automated as you would think but still employs several thousand people. Another example: Toyota is also moving it’s manufacturing facility here from California and will employ 4000 people. My thoughts have always been that the unions were more to blame for the decline in those types of jobs than robots…at least up there.

        • Good information and thanks for sharing, but, again, everyone blames the unions, yet management remains nary mentioned. Also, I know it’s not the auto industry, but look at Sheet & Tube in Youngstown. Their former plant in Indiana harbor is still operating under another company. Why? Because the market shifted to the west. Sheet & Tube knew that when they closed the Campbell works in Youngstown, and that’s why they left their Indiana plant open. They put all of their money into those plants rather than Youngstown, because Indiana promised higher profits because it isn’t landlocked and subject to more expensive rail transportation. Also, the plant in Indiana has half the employment than it did in the 1970s. Why? Automation. Unions weren’t much of issue regarding that steel plant’s closing. But again, thanks for commenting.

    • Yep, that’s Copperweld, where my grandfather worked for 40 years… and then lost his pension to their bankruptcy.

  7. Great article! Too many of us know exactly what you’ve described here. I speak from the same hometown as you and have lived through the 50 year decline of the Mahoning, Shenango & Trumbull region.

    You certainly struck the truth nerve as evidenced by the crass, Trump-esque comments.

    Trumpers are loathe to admit that they got snookered by a grand, orange Car Salesman. Face it, would anyone want to admit getting played? Those that pounce on Bernie Sanders have not heard him speak, for if they do, the truth becomes painfully clear.

    Cheers!

  8. I live here in Trumbull going on 48 years, and so many of us didn’t vote FOR Trump so much as we voted AGAINST Hillary. The Democrats really screwed this one up. They’ve no one to blame but themselves.

    • So much this. When John Podesta said that they’d get 2 “moderate” Republicans for every Ohio Democrat they lost, that was The End.

    • Hillary was in no way a great candidate, and if you’re a Republican who voted for Trump, then fine, you voted for your party’s candidate. But if you’re a Democrat who voted for Trump, you also voted for a Republican Congress, Senate, and Court system, which I just don’t get. I mean, even if you were concerned about Hillary’s emails, or whatever, Trump’s decades-long history of private-sector corruption and shady deals ain’t exactly a paragon of ethics.

      • Personally I could ​not (in good conscience) vote for either of them and I did not. We may be going to hell in a bucket, but this is as much a statement about the absurdity of a 2 party system as it is about a conman being elected president from my point of view.

          • Perception is reality. If we all continue to believe that a 2 party political system can’t be changed, then it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy doesn’t it? “Be the change you want to see” isn’t just a bumper sticker slogan and neither is “show the courage of your convictions.” I knew my vote for another option was going to mean that I was going to “lose” and I just didn’t care. Our elections are about our voice being heard, not about winning or losing. That false​ narrative about a vote for x is actually a vote for y is complete garbage spouted by people who want to change your minds and believe once again that their party is the only way forward. Alrighty then, now that’s off my chest I’m going to go read more bumper stickers.☮

  9. Yes, I thought that the mill was also Copperweld and East Liverpool isn’t in Trumbull County. But your article makes good points. I returned to care for my parents at the time of the Great Recession and saw much of the decline that you describe.

    The thing is that those mills left a long time ago and current residents have a false hope that they will ever return. When change happens people need to adapt and look to the future. Trump is looking into the past of all we learned when manufacturer left Warren, Ohio.

    Maybe it’s because the head of Fox News and his continuing adviser, Roger Ailes, is from Warren, Ohio and has polluted journalism and news like the steel mills polluted the skies and river of Trumbull County.

    We are at the end of the industrial revolution of the past century and its past time to adapt to a sustainable future and learned from the capitalist mistakes of the past. Fracking will not do that and neither will Trump.

    People seemed to forget that it was the Democrat, Obama and federal intervention that saved the Lordstown plant.

    • It will all come down to a sustainable future, whether people want to believe it or not. People forget that steel jobs were hard jobs that taxed the mind and polluted the body, so as much as we need jobs to return, we also need to consider what kinds of jobs — how will they affect human health and the health of the environment. Also, I had forgotten about Ailes being from Warren, but he had bigger goals, like harassing women…

      • Working in manufacturing as the enviro person, I have seen one company really put their money where their mouth was on protecting the environment.
        It can be done. You can have your cake and eat it too, but it takes work and dedication to new ideas.
        We can make things and not pollute ourselves to death. People are just not used to having that chance… they get caught up in the politics.

        • “It takes work and dedication to new ideas.” Exactly. That’s the whole underlying point of my article.

  10. Hi There;
    I just read your article and I agree with your point of view on most of it. But it seems that there’s a more serious problem that hasn’t been addressed. You wrote about the old mills and plants. Many of which have been closed for years. Another reader who posted a remark suggested turning them into recycling plants.
    The biggest problem with that idea is the massive cost to deal with the environmental cleanup required on those old plants and mills. Back when they where running they ran amok with little or no oversight while they polluted the environment for decades. Northeast Ohio has the highest rate of diseases associated with neurological disorders in the country.
    And worse yet the longer that they remain the worse the health problems get. Come on, the Russians where smart enough to abandon Chernobyl. This area is an environmental disaster whether we admit it or not. The EPA doesn’t disclose information as we would like to think they should. You want a real story about death in Trumbull county. This county is essentially a wasteland with the amount of pollution that remains here all these years later.

    • That’s a really good observation. We know so much more than we did even twenty years ago about the detrimental environmental and health costs of extractive and heavy industries, but I don’t think we yet know the full range of problems that we’ve yet to face. And so we embrace fracking, and demand more coal, and “drill baby drill,” etc. Worse yet, conservatism in unconcerned about how industry and pollution ruins people’s health, and the health of the environment. I sort of touch on this in a previous article, Make the Great Lakes Sick Again. Thanks for commenting.

    • Oren, you are absolutely right. Sadly there are more & more people dying from Cancer in Northeast Ohio and it’s all due to the pollution that remains in the area. Not to mention the well water is contaminated that people continue to drink because they don’t know the difference, since that’s all they’re accustomed to.
      I grew up in the area and wouldn’t change my childhood, as it was such a beautiful place to grow up, in a hometown community with great people. It still has beauty & great people, it’s just sad that it looks like Detroit now and the drug problem is out of control.

      • And yet capitalism made the Mahoning Valley so desperate that they were willing to embrace fracking with only the most lenient oversight and regulation on drilling companies who have almost certainly polluted the water further.

  11. I find it hard to believe that you blame so much on Trump since he has only been in office less than 100 days. Who do you blame for what proceeded him? Your drug problem is not 100 days old.

    • Nowhere here do I “blame” Trump for what happened before he took office. What I’m saying is that what Trump represents will only compound those existing problems.

  12. I grew up in Hubbard too. I remember writing down a description about the death I experienced all around me after driving through Masury (just north of Hubbard — they call it Misery with good reason). There is no better word to describe it. You’re exactly right Jarret. I really think that solution America needs, and I mean all of America, is what Bernie Sanders campaigned on you seem to be pointing right at him with this article.

    • Ah yes, I know Masury well. No single person, Sanders or otherwise, holds the answer, but his point about the need to consider the humanity of capitalism’s “losers” is a foundation of the social democratic tradition. He at least offers a more humane way of thinking about how the economy affects people’s lives. Thanks for commenting.

  13. If the people making negative comments would look at the actual legislation that trump and congress has passed or is proposing to pass and ask themselves what is in the legislation that will help me and my community it might be very eye opening.

    The trick is with politicians is to look at what they do or don’t do, completely ignore what they say. Actions is all that matters.

    • Bingo, but don’t expect that that kind of intellectual inquiry from the Trump-eteers.

  14. I was born and raised in Trumbull County, and I think your piece is heartbreaking and true. I don’t feel that your death references are even that dramatic. They’re real. I really thought I was alone in how much death I have experienced. Your piece has given me a whole new lens to my own grief, and the grief of the people I love who still live there. Thank you for the empathy.

  15. This dudes an idiot and has done nothing but waisted words and time. You should find new work cause u definitely don’t speak for us, we are offended by your attempt, and we really think you should shut up …… cause your an idiot.

  16. I recall going door to door in Warren campaigning for Obama in ’08 with a local fire chief. The neighborhood we were in was a blue-collar one in the shadows of steel mills and car plants, most of them shuttered. The landscape was suburban but if you looked closely, you’d notice the homes were falling down and in some cases trees were growing up through the living room. At some point it might have been a nice neighborhood, but that was obviously long ago. In several homes, in the dead of winter, there were plastic sheets covering broken windows. Doors were sometimes just plywood on cheap hinges. It was incredible. I can totally see how people there voted for Trump, despite it being a terrible choice. What has anyone done for Warren? Actually, it’s unfair to say ‘nothing’ because people have cared. But clearly not enough. It’s not right that a town like that scrapes by in that fashion. Not making poverty priority #1 from Day 1 for Obama was a terrible move. It was a huge problem staring DC in the face and I’m not surprised that people in Warren felt like no one gave two s#$ts about them. They’re not totally wrong. It’s just a pity that Trump came along. He won’t help one tiny bit.

    • Totally agree, and what a vivid portrait of Warren. That’s the death that I’m talking about. Thanks so much for the comment.

  17. The article doesn’t mention the worst economic catastrophe we’ve experienced since Youngstown’s Black Monday. Although it occurred with a subtlety that masked its impact, the Delphi Exodus directly impacted 3,800 families. But hundreds of businesses & restaurants lost a riverflow of discretionary spending that touched everyone’s wallet (independently wealthy excepted).

    The net effect of this loss, the subsequent Lordstown retirement exodus, and the crash of 2008-11 has left a lingering cloud of radioactive air that has settled over the area. Yes, there is life, but it is more of a maimed existence —a survival of injured, of walking dead & dying —that has fostered the explosion of heroin & opiods. There are countless injured victims here, both literally & figuratively, with wounds of the mind & body, of heart & soul. Dreams are much smaller now. Surviving from day-to-day is the new American Dream.

    Many here & across America refuse to see the truth of what’s happening right beside them. They’ll stubbornly refuse to admit that these problems exist because if they did, they’d suddenly realize that it does affect them —that they are one health scare or lob loss away from the same devastation occurring around them.

    Our politicians have squandered our resources —the untold skill & experience that was cast aside to line the wallets of the globalist, corporatist Accredited Investor class. The folks that once were employees with families in the same communities, schools, churches & shops as their workforce, but have now moved on to gated communities & rubbing elbows with the Kiyosaki-inspired.

    The disconnect, the devastation, the drain of economic lifeblood can only continue for so long before real revolution returns to America and class warfare erupts.

    • Damn good points, Steve. The piece was already getting long, but I’m glad you mentioned Delphi. I sometimes wonder if America is beyond the point where such a thing as “class warfare” is even possible anymore — unless of course it’s the the reverse kind of class warfare in which the rich decimate everyone else, using their boot-licking Breitbart drones as sentries.

  18. Jarret, Let me point a few logical shortcomings out in your left leaning stances. First, I was born and raised in Warren, Ohio, and I voted for Obama twice. Like so many others of my generation, I was forced to relocate for economic reasons. The reason poverty has struck the Mahoning Valley: the liberal trade policies that resulted in mass migration of our manufacturing jobs. Socialism has never worked– it has failed time and again. Thank God the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) didn’t follow the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Democrats sponsored these disastrous policies and Democrats are to blame for Trumbull County’s demise– not Republicans. Without NAFTA, we would still have a steel industry, and without NAFTA, we would still have a robust auto manufacturing industry. Trump has been in office for 100 days. Were you expecting a miracle? 8 years of extreme left policies don’t reverse easily.Trump understands politics and economics like no career politician ever could. If he applies that same business savvy to America’s economy, the country might get out of this mess. But sorry dude– Trumbull’s industry is gone. Relocate and reinvent yourself like I did, or fight for crumbs among the whiter shades of pale. Trumbull County can thank misguided altruistic liberal policies for allowing the world to steal our steel and auto manufacturing industries. The misery and poverty that followed is just the cost of doing naive liberal business.

    • Literally everything you wrote here is factually wrong. I mean, NAFTA was promoted by Republicans in the House and Senate like Phil Gramm (and negotiated and signed by President George H.W. Bush) before Bill Clinton signed it into law, for fuck’s sake. Furthermore, the idea of NAFTA (as the Right-Wing Heritage Foundation makes clear in this article) was the brainchild of Ronald Reagan. Moreover, the collapse of the steel industry happened decades before NAFTA was even a twinkle in Reagan’s or Bush I’s eyes. And if you think that the modern, neoliberal, right-leaning Democratic Party promotes “extreme left policies,” then you seriously have no actual knowledge of political theory or the trajectory of recent world history.

    • Gene,
      Socialism actually does work and very well when blended with regulated capitalism. It is called Democratic Socialism, and one does not work without the other. It seems that you may be susceptible to the deliberate propaganda that created a false Liberal boogeyman. The anti-TPP movement was driven by Progressives, not Trump. Progressives fought Obama and won. The GOP wanted the TPP even more. Trump seized on this and co-opted it to curry votes from guys like you & me. TPP was dead long before Trump was elected, let alone sworn-in. Globalists have nothing to do with liberalism. Yesterday’s Democrat is today’s Progressive. The party was co-opted in the 80s by Globalists & big banks.

      I applaud you for moving on & surviving, but you must understand that the economic devastation here is by intentional design and does not have to be. Trump is all talk. He has only benefited from the same policies that are destroying the American Middle Class. He is an opportunist & will only make things worse. His administration is built for this.

      As far as expecting a miracle, that’s what he promised. His “First 100 Days” contract is a disaster. His only accomplishments have been to appease the Billionaire Class and their military investments.

      What you and every American needs to learn is that there is little difference between Obama, Clinton, Trump or any of the establishment-approved candidates. If you need proof, don’t look at the POTUS. Look at the players in their administration (I find it very disturbing that our new Transportation Secretary is Elaine Chao, and so should you).

      Capitalism in its purest definition is unsustainable and self-defeating. We are feeling the effects of deregulated, unfettered capitalism and blaming it on New Deal economics which is utterly absurd. Coupled with the shift from Bretton Woods to a fiat-based global currency scheme, it is becoming akin to a Ponzi scheme, a house of cards poised for inevitable collapse.

      The New Deal that FDR implemented was so successful that it became the de facto model for hundreds of countries that, as we speak, are enjoying the benefits. It built the Middle Class that deregulation & corporate globalism are destroying. It built the incredible infrastructure that is crumbling around us. It provided for all especially private sector businesses with tax revenue that all contributed to.

      The New Deal is a contract with America. Corporations and their preferred shareholders & executives let greed drive them to break this contract.

      This all began post-WWII and accelerated in earnest post-JFK.

  19. That’s funny, the job I had at Copperweld Steel seemed to be very real– right on the heels of NAFTA, which was Bill Clinton’s baby– a democrat. That’s a fact. Let me clue you into a few more facts.NAFTA and free trade are democratic sourced policy. Naming a few turncoat republicans doesn’t change this. Neoliberal right leaning democrats — um is that a joke? I am sure Bernie Sanders would not approve of this odd mix of verbiage. Are you serious when you say the current political climate is moderate? Polarized is more like it.

    • “Naming a few turncoat Republicans” — like George H.W. Bush, the guy who actually negotiated NAFTA with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas. Moreover, More Republicans than Democrats voted for NAFTA. 132 House Republicans and 102 Democrats voted in favor of it. In the Senate, 34 Republicans and 27 Democrats voted for it. In both the House and Senate, more Democrats than Republicans voted against NAFTA. Bernie Sanders, an Independent, voted against NAFTA. But besides those actual, you know, facts, Free Trade is a foundational bedrock part of CONSERVATIVE IDEOLOGY. Every modern Republican president, from Gerald Ford, to Ronald Reagan, to George H.W. Bush, to George W. Bush, has supported free trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Which means that by opposing such a monumental free-trade agreement, you are contradicting your own political preference for the Republican Party.
      As I said, you literally don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • The GOP initiated NAFTA. Clinton ran in the promise to not sign it. He lied and when he signed it he was surrounded by Democratic House & Senate leaders and all living former presidents except for Reagan, who was too far gone with Altzheimer’s disease. The deal was all part of the DUAL-headed sellout of America to corporate globalism.

      After the three-way election of 1992, the Democrats & Republicans conspired to kick out third party challengers from debates & through state-by-state shenanigans.

      Neither of them represent Americans and are unlikely to in the future as long as they are both funded by the investor class. If you want just & fair representation, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Berniecrats are the most viable & trustworthy. Trump is not an outsider. He just co-opted Bernie’s message when it suited him.

      BTW I was a victim of NAFTA, CAFTA & China’s FNS.

      • And yet just look through these comments, and witness how many people are willing to do the investor class’s bidding without question…

        • What we have is a damn effective strategy at work with The Cato Institute, The Project for A New American Century, ALEC, Fuax News, rightwing talk radio Libertarians, and quite a few more tentacles of the Koch Bros.

          It is part propaganda, part false supporting studies, part political gerrymandering & crony candidates, and part state legislation. Wisconsin is the working model.

          These folks are my people, coworkers, neighbors & friends. They are misguided and misinformed. As long as I have a breath in me I will do all I can to counter the deliberate misconceptions, half-truths & lies.

          • You hit the nail on the head. I applaud your efforts, and I’ve really enjoyed your commenting here.

  20. Well, JarretR, I felt your writing was spot on until you went on a rant against Rebublicans. Don’t get me wrong, I too was was a Democrat and was raised Democrat. First and foremost, Donald Trump has been in office for only 4 months. He can’t cure all our countries problems in that amount of time. I lived in Trumbull County most of my life, except when I was interested the military on active duty for 5 yrs (1994-1999) and up until recently I moved to South Carolina 2 yrs ago. All of my family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins all from both sides and even one of my daughters) still live in Trumbull County. I’ve​ seen and lived through the many differences between a democratic state and a republican state. The biggest hurt in Trumbull county was the the 16 yrs of promises that Democrats gave to our people and the praise that unions were for the working people. I know, I was a Union steward. But people lost all track of why the unions were originally formed. The right for fair employment, not the who you know will get you hired. Unions ran almost every company to the ground with their greed for more pay. People with only a high school degree or a GED getting paid $18/hr up to $25/hr demanding a raise. Unions fighting for vacation time, personal time, paid sick days, comp days off and paid holidays. The Unions force the companies to hire and keep the people with bad work ethics and protect them from being fired. Get rid of the unions and make it a right to work state. Who cares if the starting wage is only $12/hr, it’s a personal choice if you wanna get out of bed for those wages or find a better one, possibly work 2 jobs. But for example..Why should brothers pizzaria hire a person for $8/hr, just to have that same person come in and then demand the company to give him/her a $13/hr wage with paid time off, vacation, sick days and holdays all paid for also. Not gonna happen chief. The doors will close before they go farther in debt. And Obama wanted to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr. Are we ready to spend $50 on 1 pizza, how about $10 on a loaf of bread. You think Arbys fast food is expensive, wait until McDonald’s and Taco Bell have to pay those wages. To summarize the whole right to work thing…Would you pay the kid mowing your lawn if he took a sick day, or went on vacation or just felt like staying in the house with mowing your lawn. Would you fire that same kid when he constantly misses strips of grass, especially when 5 other kids are begging to do a better job for you. We watched it happen to Delphi, GE, and many other industrial plants.
    For so long people in Trumbull county loathed in self pitty and depression, they no longer know what it’s like to work hard for a days wage. Older generations excluded. Everyone wants that free hand out promised by Democrats like; tax cuts, stimulus checks from the government, free health care, more welfare money, free phones and the dreaded company crushing FMLA (which anybody in the workforce knows gets abused). People who want to work will find it, no matter what geographical relocation is needed. Not sit around waiting for a job to find them as if it was a welfare check or unemployment check coming in the mail.
    As for education, well, I myself and my children had homework for hours after school. Meanwhile the teachers went on strike for better wages just for me to have to teach them at home and helping with school work. Different down in S.C., my children have no homework and we actually get family time every evening. If the teacher can’t do his/her job in the 8hrs of school a day, then bye bye. There are hundreds of teachers graduating college every day that would love to work.
    I find, in my experience. That alot of young adults (usually under 30) never really took the chance to work hard for one or two jobs, just to afford an apartment, a beat up car to go to work, fill the fridge with food, pay utilities and actually use a landline phone. Not sit at mom and dad’s home playing video games or countless hours on social media, or look for that iconic job of sitting at home, using your computer in hopes of getting a check. All the while, mom and dad are working, paying the mortgage, feeding young adults belly and passifying their fear of growing up and outraging against things they have no life experience to compare to.
    As for the opiate usage, it’s easy. The community needs to step up and call the cops, smack your kid when you catch them. Not be some liberal weak spined parent and think about the psychological reason of why they are doing drugs. Get in there and help them decide who the good friends are.
    And people wanna blame Donald Trump for not fixing all of this in 4 months. Nevermind what he just did for the vets, no longer having to drive all the way to Cleveland VA clinic for health care, now they can use their own physicians. Why couldn’t Democrats do that in the past 16 yrs. And yes vets are hard working blue collar workers, majority are poor. Took a republican to help those poor people.
    Who sticks around working at a restaurant for $9000/yr. A teenager, that’s who. My daughter made that going to high school and working at a restaurant part time. If ya want more money, go get it.

    • That’s a lot to chew on, James, so I’ll just make a few general points. First off, yes there’s been historical corruption in unions, because like any group that involves human beings, they can become corrupt. Of course, there’s also been historical corruption in capital and management. But right-wing ideology says that capital and management are allowed to organize, to lobby, to bribe politicians for their benefit — but workers aren’t. That’s insane, and it completely imbalances the playing field totally in management’s favor. The rights American workers enjoyed during the 20th century came with the backing of Democrats, and Republicans fought them tooth and nail. It’s not that I disagree with your assessment that unions got greedy — many of them did — it’s just that I find your failure to mention (and criticize) unrestricted corporate greed to be rather glaring. Moreover, you mention Trump and veterans’ care, but the Republican Party has consistently voted against expansion of veterans’ health care and benefits, most recently when they voted down the 2014 Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act. They may claim to be outraged at the VA’s admittedly bad treatment of veterans, but they never put up the money to do anything about it.

      Secondly, the idea that Democrats just want to give people “free stuff” has little bearing in the details and reality of actual policy.

      Thirdly. You seem to suggest that the economy for young workers now is comparable to the economies of previous decades. Well it’s not. Wages have been on a downward spiral and haven’t kept up with inflation for decades, labor rights have been eroded (by corporate America and their right-wing allies in government), student debt is outrageous, and the opportunities for blue-collar labor work do not exist the way they did even 20 years ago. To compare past conditions to that of millennials just starting to find their way in a vastly different world is unfair, because it ignores the reality of decades of major structural shifts in the development of the American economy.

      Finally, you seem to promote something I call the “fetishization of work.” Basically, this is the idea that you should never complain about things like a lack of opportunity or structural changes in political and economic policies that depress wages and devalue educational achievement, moreover, you should just buck down and work hard (“if ya want money, go get it”). Sure, it was okay for YOU to get the benefits of a union, but because unions can get corrupted like any other organization of human beings, we should just throw them out and deprive younger generations of their right to bargain for their labor? That seems like quote the “I got mine, so screw you” position.

      Basically, your advice boils down to this: “shut up, don’t complain, and just work harder.” Well let me tell you, in my most forthright way possible, that this type of advice is bad advice. Change always starts with someone complaining about unfair conditions, it always has, and it always will.

      The idea that you should work harder and harder for less opportunity and less pay, or just move somewhere else (in the process abandoning your family, your roots, your connections to the place where you were born) just so some company shareholder can reap another million from what used to be your labor, is simply wrongheaded. I categorically reject this notion that all of a person’s identity and purpose in life revolves around the idea of working harder, no matter the circumstances. Life is too short to spend your days slaving for someone else just to get by. Humans are living, thinking beings with dreams, hopes, aspirations, and needs that add up to way more than just work.

      Finally, I seriously hope that other states don’t follow South Carolina’s educational protocol, since that state currently ranks last in education in America.

      Now, I hope you don’t mistake my bluntness for rudeness. But honestly, I’ve grown tired of people finger-wagging millennials about our supposed lack of work ethic. If you want to spend your days with your tongue on the boss’s boots, be my guest, but I don’t, and neither do millions of other people. The answer is not simply to vote for Democrats (I’ve written plenty of articles on this blog criticizing the Democratic Party), but it sure in hell doesn’t mean voting Republican. All that said, I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

      • “The idea that you should work harder and harder for less opportunity and less pay, or just move somewhere else (in the process abandoning your family, your roots, your connections to the place where you were born) just so some company shareholder can reap another million from what used to be your labor, is simply wrongheaded. I categorically reject this notion that all of a person’s identity and purpose in life revolves around the idea of working harder, no matter the circumstances. Life is too short to spend your days slaving for someone else just to get by. Humans are living, thinking beings with dreams, hopes, aspirations, and needs that add up to way more than just work.”
        Sadly this is the mainstream idea of the millennials, AKA boomerang generation. How else are you going to get paid. This is the idea of “I want for free, without labor.” Explained here in Time Magazine
        https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/time/247/millennials-the-me-me-me-generation/%.
        As for not up and moving in search of a better life. Well, all of our ancestors did it. They all moved from what they considered a crummy situation in hopes to find a better way of life. They also had a lot more to risk in doing so. I’ll end this with “The world owes nobody a living”. Thank you for the response back. Shows you do care about your writing. It was an intriguing twilight hour.

    • Lectures like this from baby boomers are insufferable.

      This is the generation that grew up with affordable secondary education, a decent wage for even the most unskilled of labor. Now you’re going to suck the medicare and social security teats dry while voting for people who want to gut the programs – not for YOU of course – just anyone who comes after.

      Your generation has selfishly wrecked this country & is pulling the ladder up behind you while yelling at everyone down below they’re just not working as hard as you seem to believe you did once.

      Sad!

      • Oh man, don’t even get me started on Baby Boomers. They’re the most entitled generation in the history of humanity, of which Donald Trump is the apex embodiment, and yet they lecture us about how we have to work harder to clean up the wreckage they left of the world. SAD!

    • James,

      I’ve lived & worked here for 50 hrs. except for a jaunt to the big city. Some things come to mind while reading your comment:

      1) I’ve been Union & not. Union is better. Totally better.

      2) Unions are Representative Collective Bargaining. Don’t fault them for negotiating, Corporations don’t give up anything that they can’t afford

      3) Like anything, any institution, there eill always be a percentage that abuse the system. It happens in Union workforces, management, gov’t., sports, communities, etc. Like anything, this is the price of doing business & it is management’s job to police it & enforce shop rules. Otherwise they’re not earning their exorbitant pay.

      4) You’ve listed all of the superficial reasons corporations move jobs. The real reasons are l: cheap labor, cheap labor, and cheap labor.

      5) You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Or taken away. Our citizenry is experiencing this under increasingly rightist & totalitarian gov’t rule.

      6) Until the 90s, when the Clinton/Gingrich/Greenspan administration deregulated & shifted our economy to service-based, waitresses were paid min. wage & gratuities were ecactly that. Restaurants exploded with discretionary spending coupled with increasingly mandatory two-income households. That is, until they lobbied for an exempted decrease, forcing tips to compensate for pay. These days, many waiters, waitresses are forced to supply change for patrons out of their own pocket. Cashiers must prep their drawers on their own time. Jobs have been eliminated by combining them for increasingly less pay

      As a Union Steward, you must be aware of the self-serving nature of unions that became more & more sympathetic to management as they became more & more like management.

      • “You’ve listed all of the superficial reasons corporations move jobs. The real reasons are l: cheap labor, cheap labor, and cheap labor.” That’s the big one. By blaming unions for everything, Americans play right into corporate hands by willingly getting a jump-start at the race to the bottom, and it’s a race they won’t win.

  21. NAFTA is bipartisan. Both sides are culpable. Clinton and Obama were pro-NAFTA, as were the Bushes. Reagan was out before NAFTA was implemented. Either way, it does not comport well for the middle class. Don’t claim victory– both parties are guilty– and that’s a fact.

    • Exactly what I’ve been saying. I’m no fan of NAFTA, obviously. But claiming that conservatism had nothing to do with it is just untrue.

  22. Reading the comments is exactly why I left Hubbard Ohio 30 years ago & never ever looked back. The place I reside is in an economic boom, our county also voted 90% AGAINST Trump. It makes me sad that the people back there can not see through him. Why in the world would they think he cared about them or that area? He has never cared about the working poor. I honestly don’t understand. Industry is never going to come back like it once was. Things change, they evolve. NE Ohio needs to start moving forward. Great article. Makes me sad.

    • “Why in the world would they think he cared about them or that area? He has never cared about the working poor.” Well, in part because he at least claimed that he cared. He was lying, but he’s a good liar. The fact that the two-party system has failed to curb capitalism’s abuses merely opened the door for a charlatan like Trump.

    • Your perspective that industry can’t or won’t return like before is also by design. Industry is moved with careful, calculated deliberation, not because of some natural migration. It’s disturbing that someone so progressive as you could not see this. It shows how pandemically effective the lie is.

  23. Well written, if a bit short-sighted historically. The death of Warren and Youngstown started in the early 1970’s with an onslaught of foreign auto sales that continues to this day. I’m from Youngstown and remember my father saying that the worst thing that happened to the region was winning World War Two – the Marshal Plan allowed Japan and Germany to completely rebuild and modernize their production, while places like Mahoning and Trumbull County remained mired in old technology. Adding in the flight of those members of society – educated and middle class – who contribute tax dollars and stability – has resulted in a ghost town. I left in the early 80’s and have returned for visits 3-4
    times. It boggles the imagination that citizens followed the Orange Pied Piper. The lies were so big and the racism so inherent!

    • Great, factual criticism. Author needed to stick to one subjuCT and not just wander all over. The pessimism no where reflects what is actually going on in this county.No one person is going to correct everything in this country. You left out one of the biggest things that caused the death of the steel mills. The government regulation and the EPA. Millions of us grew up with the taste of Copperweld and other steel Mills in our mouths. We are also dying from that. However, when the EPA came in like gangbusters , and demanding the air quality be cleaned up by refitting the mills, the Mills began complaining of the excessive costs for all that cleaner air. Those regulations literally put smaller Mills like Liberty Steel out of business. As a baby boomer, I’d sure like to know how we are “entitled”. We have worked long and hard for everything we have. As for us suckling the life out of social security, we paid that social security. Some like me paid for years then became a public employee, I never got to collect one penny of the money paid into social security. The problems with SS started when our government, illegally, “borrowed” funds from SS and never rrpaid a penny.

      • “Millions of us grew up with the taste of Copperweld and other steel Mills in our mouths. We are also dying from that.” And yet I hear people defend corporate interests’ right to claim they should be able to poison human beings without penalty, or they’ll shut down. That’s not freedom. That’s extortion. It’s criminal, and it’s what capitalism without conscience does.

  24. JarretR you are part of the problem. Everyone wants to fuss and cry about not having jobs, having little money to survive. I was born and raised in Warren, OH. I was there to experience the decline of that area. I watched it with my parents, my friend’s parents, my family and my siblings. There’s nothing more dehabilitating than watching all your surroundings slowly diminish and lose hope that things will get better. But let me school you a little, young buck. The local people there are the ones who can really make change happen. Every person who sits stuck suffering and comainimg because government handouts are being taken away is the problem. I know enty of my friends and family around Warren and that area that are doing great due to thier own sacrifice and drive to go out and succeed. Instead, people would rather cry and bitch about a president. Grow the hell up little boy and find a job that makes a real difference. You hate to see the decline of that area. Then write about ways to make it better. Stop complaining and do something about it.
    Sincerely,
    Army Ohioan who made it.

    • “The local people there are the ones who can really make change happen. Every person who sits stuck suffering and comainimg because government handouts are being taken away is the problem.” Yeah, you’re an asshole.

    • Another off-base perspective from one who had personal success elsewhere. Oh wise teacher, can you enlighten us “young bucks” —specifically — on how we might duplicate your succes for millions of Ohioans?

      Join the Army, perhaps?

  25. Fantastic article.

    My family moved out of this very area 40-some years ago, after I graduated college, they moved back. Over the course of those 4 decades we returned every couple of years to visit family, and that gave me a kind of time-lapse view of everything described in this article.

    The sad fact of the matter is that this decay started way back in the 70’s – it was the beginning of the wave my family rode out of the area on. The golden age for this area was already over by this time. Springsteen’s career is founded on these lamentations. Pull out your copy of “Born in the USA” and give it a good listen – that album came out nearly TEN YEARS before NAFTA was signed. The treaty may have been a nail in NE OH’s coffin, but it wasn’t the cause of death.

    It’s sad to see these people falling for Trump’s shtick, but after reading this piece, I think I really understand why now. Nobody wants to accept the fact that all of this is America’s fault – not Mexico’s, not India’s, not China’s. Corporations and their owners (the investor class) have convinced everyone that the trillions of dollars in profits they rake in each year belong to the few at the top and that they have no moral, and scant financial, obligations to their employees. I guess, under our current system, this is probably true.

    What do we do here? I can’t even begin to imagine… I hear the idea of a universal basic income being thrown around – just can’t see that ever happening – who’s going to pay for that? The wealthiest Americans and corporations have been screaming that they’re already paying too much in taxes, the middle class is evaporating, the poor don’t pay taxes….

    There’s no answers here – we’re screwed until there’s some fundamental change to our economic and governmental system.

    Thanks for the mid-week existential crisis.

    • This is the best comment I’ve received so far. Thanks for reading and for the contribution.

    • Basic income indeed! That was actually a principle deliberated by the “founding fathers”. Thomas Paine, the great Brit that helped inspire the American Revolution with his op-eds “Common Sense” & “The American Crisis” also wrote “Agrarian Justice”, a brilliant plan to create wealth, economic security & sovereign strength through land & income grants.

      “Who’s going to pay for it?” “There are no answers here.”

      Don’t despair. The rich have swindled & stolen our wealth from us althewhile creating the illusion that they deserve it. They pat themselves in the back for their genius. They lay awake at night dreaming of new ways to get their greedy little hands into our wallets.
      And we apathetically let them.

      There are answers. There are solutions. They begin with us saying, “No more!”

    • Basic income indeed! That was actually a principle deliberated by the “founding fathers”. Thomas Paine, the great Brit that helped inspire the American Revolution with his op-eds “Common Sense” & “The American Crisis” also wrote “Agrarian Justice”, a brilliant plan to create wealth, economic security & sovereign strength through land & income grants.

  26. Sadly, this article paints a portrait of hundreds of American cities.
    In Central Indiana there are so many similarities that it is frightening. The opiate issue is a major issue here, along with unemployment caused by the closure of ALL GM plants and the loss of literally thousands of jobs.
    I can’t comment on the election results from Madison County, but I suspect there are a lot of people who voted twice for our prior president and would have voted for him again if he had been in the running. Sadly, these minions are the offspring of several generations of union employees who were programed to vote a straight Democratic ticket. No need to use any thought process when it came to elections…just pull the “D” lever and smile about it.
    Now their family legacy is becoming beating the government system to get more handouts for nothing except their entitlement status.
    I pray to God that for the next four years we might be able to start to turn things around and become a respected nation that cares for it’s people.
    I’ve had enough of the greedy political system that’s brought us the likes of the Clinton’s and the Obama’s. The self serving, destructive, greedy approach to governing this nation has been very successful is meeting their goals.
    It’s time for someone to lead the people back to prosperity and self respect. If this new administration cannot turn the corner and make America Great again, our children may soon be speaking Mandarin.

    • “If this new administration cannot turn the corner and make America Great again.” It can’t, and it won’t.

  27. Why help towns like this when they feed the armed services with kids desperate to get out? Seriously – this used to be a great place to live and work until the mills closed and people lost their farms. BTW – I grew up in Warren and joined the Air Force near the end of the Vietnam War to get out. I served with kids from all over the country who were from dying mill towns and foreclosed on farms. We were cannon fodder for Vietnam just as kids from these towns are now for the so-called Global War on Terror. We need to stop these wars and use the resources for our own people like the good folks from Warren, Ohio.

    • There’s some good points here about how the Military Industrial Complex feeds human bodies to the bullet fields in the name of global capitalism’s imperial march. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is cutting Meals on Wheels so he can funnel more millions into the defense budget. For Making America Great Again, of course.

  28. I will take my chances with the billionaire populist versus the corrupt rich socialist or the corrupt rich traitor that the democratic party marched out in 2016. It was democrats in the rust belt that were tired of four decades of empty promises from the left that said enough of the empty promises, class warfare, race baiting and victimization… while guys like Jarret continue to support the liberal hate machine against anyone that does not buy into the propaganda. I respect Jarret’s right to say way he believes while disagreeing with my beliefs….can he do the same?

  29. Your article should be titled the suicide of NE Ohio. The Youngstown area has been suckers for, “conmen,” for as long as I can remember. As I watched the steel industry tell everyone for years take cuts or we are packing up and leaving, the unions kept taking their money and lying to everyone. Lordstown was subject to the same thing until Obama baled out GM with TARP money and did the cash for clunkers which kept GM from folding after its bankruptcy. Lets also thank Obama for the contract with GM to purchase new cars for federal employees. There was a long ling of conmen before Trump not limited to current mayor McNally and congressman Jim Traficant. After graduation from YSU I lived in Huston Tx and Columbus Oh where learned why the area had died while other city’s prospered. I knew a man that was a state senator from the Columbus area and when asking him why the Youngstown area had die his response was simple. No business was going to go into an area where every city and county official had there hand out. not to forget the unions demanding their fair share. His answer was simple and rang true. Forty years later nothing has changed. NE Ohio is a victim of self inflected wounds of bad judgement in people. Trump being the most recent. If you look at the numbers the population of NE Ohio continues to shrink as it has for the past 40 years. The late Sam Kennison had a joke. ” If you want to solve world hunger send the u-hauls so they can move to where the food is. They live in a desert.” Yes NE Ohio is a desert. As the rest of America prospers I advise people from this area to take Mr. Kennison’s advice. Nothing will ever change. Go and find success because it’s out there. I personally know. I wish everyone well.

    • Fair enough, but a common theme seems to be that it’s bad for labor to demand their “fair” share, but it’s perfectly fine for capital to rape people blind. After all, it’s fine for management to take their cuts, but not workers, right? I mean, to criticize the bailout, for example, without mentioning the terrible management of CEO Rick Wagoner, is inexcusable. But more to the point, your list of con-men doesn’t include anyone from the corporate sector, which merely reinforces the notion that somehow, the decisions made by capital are simply never to blame when things go haywire. It’s always government and labor’s fault, always and forever. Meanwhile, a steelworker in China is making $3.50 an hour U.S., but you expect an American worker to “take cuts” to match that kind of cutthroat cheap labor cost. Come on.

  30. The Mahoning Valley certainly has not thrived under four decades of democratic rule and eight years of Obama….. and you want a magic wand now …. sweet dreams young man.

    • I think your use of the phrase “magic wand” is appropriate, given the impending Voodoo economics that you’ll get from the GOP. I’m not saying that the Democrats are the answer: I’ve criticized their failures multiple times on this blog. But the idea that the GOP can magically bring back dead industries with tax cuts is delusional. But by all means, keep bending over to the whims of race-to-the-bottom capitalism. After all, it’s not like we’ve got much of a choice anyway.

  31. Face it, Jarret. The diehard conservatives have no interest in facts, only their beliefs. They cling to their beliefs because reality terrifies them. In 2020 they’re going to be sitting there having lost more under Trump and the rule of the oligarchs, but continue to support them because they reject the facts that prove them wrong.

    • That may be true enough, but I’m trying to get beyond merely blaming this party or that. Both parties have failed to curb the excesses of globalized capitalism, it’s just that the GOP openly embraces this destruction, while the Democrats tacitly embrace it.

      • That is why I favored Bernie Sanders. While Trump is doing nothing for the country, no major Democratic challengers are emerging, certainly none that offer any different policies than have been advanced by Hilary and mainstream Democrats. It’s time for a change away from both as they offer nothing but the same old thing over and over.

  32. Let me know where this guy lives so I can kick him the balls. We don’t have an open market economy and haven’t for over 100 years. Socialists who bemoan the capitalist system claiming it to be a failure whilst yoking it with their utopian bullshit are living a delusion. You want ” cooperative control” check out Venezuela. This dude should be punched in his mahoning county face for comparing Trumbull county to Mayberry. p.s. Don’t claim that I don’t understand communism in a weak retort because I guarantee I understand it better than you.

    • Someone who doesn’t want to be called stupid and will fight anyone who thinks he is – it’s like someone distilled a Trump rally, took the resulting goo and made a person out of it.

    • Physical threats? Not cool at all. Just incredibly lame.

      Don’t worry about debate or conversation on socio-economic ideologies. You’re just not worth the effort.

  33. Its trumps fault that Trumbull county helped re elect Jim trafficant to 13 terms in congress. Want to blame someone try years of unopposed democrat-one party-rule. Now that voters are trying other options out you berate them and insult them for Leaving your utopian communal plantation. For the less educated: if it sucks it’s because you built that. Fun to read but your assumptions are so laced with dialectics that you can hardly be said to be anything but a bitter kicked dog who has been put outside without dinner. How does it feel to be called stupid and listless?

    • “How does it feel to be called stupid and listless?” I wouldn’t know, I have a PhD and you’re a guy on the internet…

      • LOL!!!! You’ve written some terrific articles. Capitalism has to go. Period. No more greenwashing. And yes, I’m a Baby Boomer.

  34. I grew up in Johnson, Ohio. Had a wonderful childhood. Dad worked 43 years st GM. Mom worked too as an office manager. They provided us a great upbringing in Trumbull county. So grateful for all they’re many years of labor for it. The way I see it, the “organized” labor is what built but ultimately destroyed the area. Labor unions, who once empowered the workers and allowed for higher wages and better overall benefits, became an enabler for unproductive employees to get lazyand keep their jobs. The town best known as “Bombtown USA”, because of the mobs running a muck in the early days of the steel industry, is apparently still alive and kicking; however, more subtle in it’s strangulation of the community. It’s a small circle, if your in, your in… if your not, your not. It’s like having a second taxation and government over the area. Now, even the industry that remains and that does hire, only does so through temp agencies. My guess is that the temp agencies are making up to $5 an hour for each employee who makes $9-$12 per hour, are run by the local “organized” labor in crowd. (Mobsters) So, if your lucky enough to land a temp job your getting taxed locally that way as well. Not many years ago these same companies hired without the help of temp agencies. It’s a no brainer who came up with that idea. There are many causes for the overall decline and death of the area because of national governmental issues; however, in my mind it’s been the mob and labor unions.

    • Your points about the mob are spot on, and similar situations have existed in New York and New Orleans. But ask yourself this question: even if the labor unions cut back, and even if the mob didn’t skim, would those industries still be around today in the same way as during their heyday? I seriously doubt it, hence my point about creative destruction. The downside of winner-take-all capitalism is that it will destroy what it created, and some will win, and some will lose, and those people who lose often bear no fault for losing, while the winners gallop off to wreck the next community. I’m not excusing union excesses, it’s just that people are always quick to point the excesses of labor without ever mentioning the excesses of capital.

      • Exactly- no mob in Arizona.. no unions to speak of either, and our jobs are gone too..
        Greed by corporations took the money.. and ran…

      • You are correct. It wouldn’t exist the same way. I was merely going to the middle of the alphabet with blame. I believe that the letter z, with regards to blame, is the wealthy elite (global bankers), are the puppetmasters and whose and game is total economical collapse here in the US and all over the earth. It’s their agenda to depopulate the earth in order for it to become “sustainable “and to control those who are left outside of their very small club. It’s a very easy reasoning, if we no longer produce the things which we need in life, we become nothing bit consumers, using money with controlled by the outside federal reserve, and ultimately because of that… we are consuming ourselves.

  35. I grew up in Hubbard. Up to the mid 80’s it was still pretty awesome. Things change.. hope for the best..

  36. Jarett I grew up in nearby Mercer county so I definitely have personally experienced the decline of the area. One huge issue I have with the left is the energy spent on demonizing, which in doing so deflects from personal responsibility. Capitalism is certainly not a perfect system but there is plenty of proof out there of the abject failure of the alternatives. Folks like to thow out certain vountries in Europe as examples of success but when you peel back the onion on those countries a different story emerges. One thing we can agree on is that both major parties in America have been inundated with corrupt self serving individuals, and their lack of ethics and positive results is a major factor if not the major factor in President Trump’s rise to power. After 15,000 days of democratic rule the Mahoning Valley decided to go a different direction. 100 days in you want to claim Trump a lier and fraud. You gave Obama a pass for 2900 days so be a debbie downer all you like on Mr Trump but your little blog isnt going to do a damn bit of good to help your community…. however spending some time with meals on wheels or picking up trash in your city park and giving 10% of your income to a local charity certainly would.

    • That is well and good, but I myself and happy to have my taxes go to feed someone’s grammy.
      I do not feel happy giving that money to corporations that offshore, and then bring no money back here in the form of taxes. You have been bamboozled!

    • Those are all good points and I largely agree with you. However, I don’t trust Trump because I don’t trust Republicans, which is why leftist-types like me spent eight years frustrated with the Obama Administration for being, like the previous Democratic Administration, a softer version of the GOP. I still supported Obama, but mostly because the alternative is pretty vile. I should also note that I’m trying to get people to understand that it’s okay to criticize capitalism. I want to humanize it, to make it better, to make it work in a way that benefits more people. I’m hardly a communist (I’m a historian, for God’s sake, I know what’s failed). But accepting full-on, unregulated, corporate rule is a lost cause, for Trumbull County and elsewhere. As for my residence in the community, I moved out of Trumbull County to pursue school, and I’ve relocated elsewhere, but I have plenty of family still there. This post was inspired by a recent visit back home.

    • Well said Stigs! Nothing is ever solved with bitterness and negativity. The derogatory and divisive style of this article is a detriment to the community (and other suffering rust belt communities), as it paints a portrait of hopelessness. In my opinion, journalistic integrity has no room for political party rhetoric. It would be a better world if those with this type of platform used their gifts to help lift their fellow Americans out of the darkness. The journalist’s personal venom, tainted what could have been an informative piece on the real struggles faced by many in this country, as he did an excellent job of pointing out very real problems. I personally feel that our government has been corrupt for many years, on both sides of the aisle, and the average American has paid the price. The same corrupt people, and often families have been running Washington for generations. We need to work together to find solutions as Americans, united and indivisible. It is way past time that we roll up our sleeves, and check our political parties at the door, in order to solve these problems. Americans are weary of the finger pointing, name calling, mentality that is ruining much of this country, including my beloved Trumbull County where my ancestors settled and built their lives beginning in the 1820’s. With hope and determination mankind can accomplish just about anything.

  37. Nice article. I grew up in Brookfield and Hubbard, but luckily got to leave and go and see the world. My family is still there, and I hate going to the area.. if it wasn’t for them, I would NEVER step foot in Ohio again. It is depressing, and gets worse every day.
    I do environmental and safety as my job, and have seen the same kinds of changes in AZ and CA. Manufacturing is dying here. That means my jobs in manufacturing are all but gone.. to Mexico, to Malaysia, to Singapore, to Czech… wherever labor is cheap and enviro rules are not enforced. It is sad.
    Most people don’t see that we did this to ourselves- shopping at Walmart, buying this cheap imported crap just to save a few pennies. We kill our own interests.
    And don’t even get me started on Trump. I see people’s frustration, but neither Trump nor Clinton hold our interests at heart. Only money.
    And people that criticize Sanders- well, enjoy being without insurance, good roads, clean air.. anything good left in your life, because he was the only one even vaguely interested in helping us.
    ps- I am no communist, and have a job…a house.. pay taxes.. etc. but not in Ohio…

    • Thank you, Michelle. I hope everyone who commented here reads what you wrote. When you try to win the race to the bottom, the only place you’ll end up is in the hole you dug for yourself.

  38. I know a young man from the area now in his mid 20’s that is totally self sufficient. He worked hard from a young age starting with mowing lawns and shoveling snow… and now has multiple businesses and has more net worth than I will ever have. He is a perfect example of what can happen when your gocus is not on the blame game…. he does struggle though with his work force because most if those that he hires dont want to put in a solid days wirk for their pay…. i guess the hand outs are more fun for them.

    • My focus isn’t in blame.. I work, have been working.. put myself through school, 2 degrees, no debt. Never so much as had unemployment paid to me. No hand outs asked for or received here.
      But you know, it would be damn nice to make something in this country again….

    • Good for him, I’m not downplaying initiative. But blame is the only thing that creates structural change. If you just accept the attitude that, no matter what happens, “I’ll just work harder,” you basically invite those with more power (who also use the system to THEIR advantage because you refuse to, i.e. lobbyists) to walk all over you. Again, systematic issues are very real, and not everyone is in place to simply work harder and adapt.

  39. Jarret I served 24 yrs in the military so guys like you can sit in your safe area with your PHD on the wall and criticize Conservatives. You are welcome. Liberal ideas sound really good in theory but when placed into the real world they dont fare so well. Wouldnt it be awesome if we did not need a military, border patrols, police forces or locks on our front and back doors. Its fun I guess for you to dream about that…. but guys like me exist to keep your candy azz from getting mugged in the middle of your nice little dream. No offense Jarret

    • But I don’t understand why you think I have something against the military or police. Where did that come from?

    • Stigs,
      Conservatism fails when placed in real world context as well. Just look at the ideology espoused by the Trump administration and how it is unconstitutional, unworkable, and totally ignorant of factual based information. While you may not like liberalism, at least most liberal policies use facts to develop solutions while conservatives go to great lengths to reject facts that conflict with what they want to hear.

    • I figured.. but it isn’t the point- everyone is so quick to accuse someone of being lazy or demanding something they are not entitled to.
      Corporations take SO much more of your money than the so called welfare queens and such. That is just a political boogie man. They have lead you down a path to make you against change agents…

    • Why would I do that? I come from a working-class family. I worked a million jobs to get through college: I mowed lawns, washed dishes, worked as a greenskeeper, loaded storage boxes, cleaned gutters, and went through the grind of graduate work. I successfully applied for funds that covered my doctoral program, and I spent five years earning a PhD while getting paid a pittance wage to teach university courses. Along the way, I met many other hard-working people, and watched them get summarily screwed by university administrators and their stooge funders who were born into wealthy, GOP-voting families. These people continue to devalue the labor of teachers by depressing their wages, slashing their benefits, and scorning their commitments to other people across the educational spectrum, teachers who work more than these silver-spooned trust-funders ever will. And all the while I have to listen to assholish comments from right-wingers who just love to assume that people like me don’t work. Well, fuck them. This blog is my retort to the cancer of conservatism and the devaluing of human life and labor that it promotes. Of course, you can disagree and that’s cool. That’s what politics is.

  40. Jarret truth is these discussions between guys like us rarely end up anywhere useful… Its been more fun than usual I suppose. My perspective is that liberalism has done significant to our country and if continued unfettered I think we are going to see some very dark days ahead …. you think liberal ideas are awesome …. I get it … Night sir

  41. Michelle I grew up surrounded by welfare types . I know a lot more about it than you think, and truly my angst is not toward them so much as it is against suburban liberals that promote policies to perpetuate their dependency on the govt.

    • So did I. But I also can see that it is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.. BILLIONS go to corporations. CEOS make millions a year and pay minimal taxes..
      The ex-CEO for Honeywell pays less taxes than me.. and if you are not pissed at that, then something is wrong…
      The little people on the bottom are just a blip in the economy.

  42. There are always going to be rich people. In case you are not aware on an annual basis guess which party has the largest number of $1 million plus contributions coming in… and if you guessed the republican party you would be wrong

    • The problem is- that the rich are getting richer and not giving that old trickle down politics any work. CEOs make more now than they ever have, and oddly- the rest of us make less… this is new. THIS is why this country is circling the drain….and they have us bickering over bathrooms and which party and lalalala. It is an amazing smoke screen as they take over more and more control.

  43. I am Retired military who was born and raised in Youngstown,Oh and my father worked in the Steel Mill for over 30 years. I have family members that I visit once or twice a year in Youngstown and I have watched how it and all surrounding counties have deteriorated. I cannot believe those who really think manufacturing jobs are going coming back. Trump really pulled the wool over your eyes and as you see so far all he is doing is trying to make the rich even richer.

  44. I choose not to focus on the evil rich and instead focus on living an honorable life

  45. Great article and even greater responses to the comments. I was born in Warren, grew up in Kinsman, Vernon, and neighboring Greenville PA. I remember the tail end of the boom years. Was planning on working in the Steel mills after my stint in the Army in 1978-81. Unfortunately when i got out I had to learn, and face, the reality that this area was doomed. Now live in AZ. Always wanted to go back when things picked back up. They never did. It was an awesome place as a child though. Small town idiots reign supreme now.

    • Thanks for the comment, Danny. As much as I lament about the death of small towns in the Valley, I care deeply about their survival — minus the idiocy, of course. We always need less of that 😉

  46. My favorite episode of The Andy Griffith Show: Trumbull County is when Floyd the Barber got gunned down by indiscriminate gunshots fired at the police station.

  47. Anyone growing up after 1975 knew full well that a career related to the steel industry was not going to happen in this area. If you sat around lamenting the situation and looking for someone to blame then please stay away from mirrors because the image in that mirror is your culprit. The path out from despair starts within not in looking outward. Find a job and do it well .. pursue education/training/experiences that will provide you upward mobility. Stay off the booze and drugs. Live off 80% of what you make and put 10% for the future and 10% toward the charity of your choice. Teach those you love to do the same. When hundreds of people live with this philosophy a community driven by these principles will improve regardless of the evil democrats, republicans or evil rich people that you want to blame.

  48. I went to high school in Andover, and my second job was in kinsman at IGA. This was back in 2004-2005. I didn’t feel that sense of despair. Everyone seemed more or less happy with the lives they lived there. It’s a poor town, but the cost of living isn’t very high either…

    I think people remember things better than they were, (and that might color my recollection of that time as well) but I think Trump just tapped the nostalgia button enough times to get older Americans in these small towns to think life used to be better…

    • I know exactly what you’re saying. The sense of despair I’m referring to was something less in the forefront (though sometimes it was) and more in the background, always omnipresent. I also enjoyed growing up in small-town Trumbull County. Places like these are great places to live and they need to be preserved and they need to thrive.

  49. And its the residents of those communities that will make it happen if its going to happen … not government

  50. What the area does not need is a bunch off liberal intellectuals feeding their despondency. Jarret I do understand your desparate attempts to discredit President Trump because the only thing you fear more than Mr Trump being the man being who you present him to be is the oppposite coming true. Alinsky tactics in full swing is your only play I guess.

    • Yes, and after we’re done intellectually launching Alisky-tipped missiles into American communities, we’ll proceed with our master plan to finish them off with ACORN-laced liberal-socialist-communist-pugilist-orthodontist anti-freedom toxins!

    • The nation doesn’t need a conman and his cronies lying their asses off to it. It doesn’t need a tax reform plan that is meant to cut the taxes of the wealthy and increase the national debt. It doesn’t need 24,000,000 people to lose access to healthcare. It doesn’t need an ideology based on lies that fulfills the ambitions of self-centered individuals.

      What it needs is a leadership that puts the good of all Americans over that of the individuals with the money who buy political power to further their interests over the good of the country. What it needs is people to reject the self-centered approach and instead work together to achieve goals that benefit all of us.

      If you think Trump is going to help the people of this nation, then you’re ignoring his lies and actions over the last 100 days. You are self-deluded and rejecting the facts as they stand before you in favor of a narcissistic ideology.

        • Trump hasn’t fixed anything. He and his cronies have made things worse. Just look at all those accomplishments that have done nothing.

          • You knuckleheads caused us to suffer through 2900 days of Osama bin Obama and almost brought the most corrupt family in American history back into the white house….. but you declare President Trump a corrupt failure …… thats rich

          • Let’s see…Trump promotes nepotism, but that’s not a problem for you. Trump broke the law with his Russian connections, but that’s not a problem for you. Trump refuses to pay his bills, but that’s not a problem for you. Trump can only advance his agenda through executive orders, but that’s not a problem for you. Trump promotes legislation that would increase the debt, but suddenly the debt isn’t a problem for you.

            Hypocrisy is conservatism.

      • It certainly did not need the con man race baiter from Chicago either but we survived his reign …. your turn to suck it up Jimmy

        • Things got better under Obama, but slaves to a bankrupt self-centered ideology can’t see that. Their belief system rejects the use of facts which prove them wrong.

          Your turn. By the way, if you can’t bring anything but your opinion to the conversation you are wasting your time.

          • Bring facts. I tire of your deluded opinion. Show proof. Otherwise shut up.

  51. Spoken like a true Libtard. I lost my job at Rg Steel under the Obama administration. The downfall of the mill was in part due to the Democratic run so called “Union”. Trump isn’t the joke….trust me.

  52. Jimmy I am done with you … now finish pouting with the other libs. Jarett I enjoyed out give and take but your boy … and I do mean boy Jimmy is a bit much to suffer through any longer…. we are only 100 days in boys so I guess the whining has a long long way to go …. good luck with that.

    • I’d just like to point out here that while I have my partisan opinions like anyone else, the major point of my article was the problem of creative destruction, which clearly just keeps destroying regardless of what political party has the reigns either at the local or federal level. There were steel plant closings under George W. Bush, and steel plant closings under Barack Obama. Heck, U.S. steel closed their plant in deep-red Alabama two years ago. So while I’ll continue to decry GOP policies and point out the haplessness of the Democrats (which I’ve done in many other posts), the problem remains of what to do about people affected by the globalized economy.

    • Of course you don’t like me. I challenge your beliefs and demand facts. You have none to offer. That’s the problem with people like you. You want everyone to believe your horse crap and can’t handle it when someone points out your lies. You’re a typical conservative.

      Jarret wrote an article and backed it up with facts. That’s what historians do. You on the other hand reject the facts and spout ideological crap with nothing to support your statements. That’s what conservatives do.

      Keep blaming people for your problems. No matter how hard you scream the real problem is yourself.

  53. Sorry I have to disagree with much that is stated here. Technology doesn’t kill jobs. It makes for a safer and more competitive workforce. I have traveled the US and abroad for over 25 years working in many different types of manufacturing. Those who fail, in the majority of the cases are trying to win a Formula One race with a Model T. This has been the problem (here) since the 70’s and yet people still just don’t get it. We have the one natural resource that is dying out west “Water” and plenty of it. That’s what is driving a new surge to move manufacturers from the West back to the East. If we do not embrace this along with technology we will continue to be the “Rust Belt”. Putting our eggs in 1.5 baskets (Mills & Auto Manufacturing) is also a recipe for disaster. We need a good mix of manufacturing to offset any downturns in others. I have to ask myself “why is it that Google, Intel, and other none Automotive Companies the current leaders in smart cars”. I just paid $150 for an updated map for my cars navigation system that “just came out”. Not so funny that it was 4 to 5 years outdated.
    As for the drug issue. Well, we have relied on a failed “War On Drugs” policy for way too long. Time to rethink this one. Job creation is a piece that will help. When people are working and successful there will be less time and reasons to self-medicate. Incarceration fails because we don’t try to rehabilitate. Instead, we put them back on the streets with even fewer opportunities to break the cycle. Drugs have been around longer than humanity. It even exists in the animal kingdom. This is why pharmaceutical companies do so well at brainwashing the masses. When we start promoting healthier lifestyles and subsidize farmers and companies who promote healthy choices and stop flashing fast-food & prescription drugs ever time you turn on the TV, then we might stop some of the madness.
    Best of all is what I coin as “Political Party Groupies”. If their Party line isn’t in control they spend all their time finding fault in the ones in control. This is the precursor to becoming a junkie. Though the policies, new or old may affect you or someone you may know, it isn’t “Tthe End Of The World As We Know It”. Spend more time looking at the positive things mentioned (or not) in this opinion blog. The People, Churches, Comunity Activities, & Successful Companies.
    Time to start investing in ourselves and communities. Time to stop waiting for someone else to do it for us or blaming them for not doing it.

  54. “Poor working class Americans”? You’ve obviously never worked in a health care facility that accepts Medicaid. I wish I was such an assholes that I could have kids with every Joe, Dick, and Harry and make everyone else pay for them. What’s so “working class poor” of a mother having 12 (YES, TWELVE) children out of wedlock, on Medicaid, and then bragging that she’s taking ALL of them to Disney World all while smelling like a skunk (YES, WEED). You’re a joke if you believe in the “working class poor”.

  55. So one encounter with a pothead completely invalidates the existence of the working poor. OK.

  56. Don’t make capitalism the sole scapegoat here, although, the shifting dynamics of a global economy has been a factor. The Mahoning valley should right itself, once it finds a new niche within that global economy. The valley is also not the quaint picturesque and sparsely populated towns as described. The author highlighted the far edges of the county, and far edges of the valley, rather than the central core. The Warren-Youngstown-Boardman metropolitan statistical area is about the 100th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. This is close to the size of the Toledo metro area, which ranks around #91, and is larger than the Green Bay, Wisconsin metro area at that is ranked around #157. During the steel boom, it was one of the largest and fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation, similar to how Cleveland was once the nations 5th largest city. Stagnant population grown and population decline has played a large role in the decline of the valley, and it’s not all due to the job market. Perhaps research how much wealth has left this area, as retirees move south to better weather. I’ve also known many working class professionals who have left for better weather and outdoor activities, rather than job opportunities. Of course, they took their accumulated wealth with them. Yes, weather plays a large part in the decline of the valley, as air conditioning has made it feasible to move south. I think the valley is also stuck in a catch 22; it doesn’t necessarily have all the amenities of a major city to attract and retain active citizens, yet it’s past growth was arching towards that and left a lot of unmet expectations. The Mahoning valley is stuck in the middle between being a big city or being a small community. That makes it difficult to compete against larger cities or fair weather towns.

    • All good points, although I should note that I was primarily addressing Trumbull County in the piece, not the whole Mahoning Valley, per say.

      • The thing to keep in mind, though, that may confuse many readers is quoting for example the Hubbard City population of just under 8,000. Most of the country would imagine a town out in the middle of nowhere, where perhaps that town is the county seat of a small county. Most of the nation does not realize that Ohio is literally dotted with many of these small towns just 10 miles or less apart. True, southeast Ohio matches that first idea, with numerous Appalachian counties that are around 20,000 population total. Northeast Ohio is a different ballgame. Nearly every village, township or city in Trumbull County is bigger than the aforementioned Kinsman. There are at least 10 communities that are larger than the aforementioned Hubbard City of 7,800 population, including the separate Hubbard Township that has 14,000 population. Even the city of Youngstown partially resides in Trumbull county, so it’s technically hard to differentiate Trumbull and Mahoning as they are so intertwined. Trumbull County, as a whole, is well over 200,000 population. There are numerous states that don’t even have a single county of that size. In fact, Trumbull is the 13th most populous county out of the 88 Ohio counties. It’s not quite “mystic Mayberrian”, or looking for a return to that, except for a few remote towns on the northern edge bordering Ashtabula County. Those few towns don’t represent the county as a whole. The county voted Trump, not looking for a return to mystic “Mayberrian”, but rather looking for a return to industrialization. This vote was a revolt to the free trade agreements, especially NAFTA. Unfortunately, Trump is a false hope, as the industry that left is probably never returning.

        • Again, all fair points about population sizes, but my experience growing up there, and from what I gather about people I know who still live in Trumbull County, is that the area has more of a multiple small-town feel that even a small-city feel. While it’s true that the area is dotted with medium-sized population centers, I think the presence of of so many suburban developments (Hubbard Township being the prototypical example) lends Trumbull County more of a small-town feel even if its population doesn’t quite match that of southeastern Ohio. I mean, when you talk to people who live in Warren, they tend to describe the “big city” as Cleveland, though Warren itself is pretty darn big. Even when discussing Youngstown, people tend to think of it in terms of neighborhoods. Moreover, the number of small Kinsman-like villages and spread-out towns really do give the county a more Mayberry-feel to a lot of people (though not all of them feel that way). I think this might be a reflection of the high-levels of suburban-exurban developments; thus, people who might work in the bigger towns often live in the country, or what they perceive to be the country. A city like Niles, for example, is roughly 19,000 people, but the suburban-exurban nature of its development evokes more of a small-town feel. I mean, you rarely heard people say they were going to “downtown Niles” they way they’d describe going to “downtown Cleveland” or even “downtown Youngstown.” To me, the urban, industrial nature of Trumbull County has always been a bit over-emphasized. Growing up there, towns like Hubbard, Newton Falls, Champion, Brookfield, Mesopotamia, Kinsman, Mecca, Hartford, etc. were the places I most associated with the county, and this article was, in part, a reflection of my own experiences in addition to the experiences of people I know who still live there. Plus, in this part of the country, it’s pretty common for small-scale manufacturing to be located in fairly rural stretches as well. Thanks for the comments!

  57. Wow. Lots of great dialog here. Valid points and opinions on all sides. I have one big gripe about what’s going on in America that I believe contributes to the ‘decline’ of America. RESPONSIBLE PARENTING. Procreate responsibly and teach your children well. That’s as grass roots as it can get. In my opinion.
    I’m no match for any of you and too thinned skin anyway. But kids deserve parents who stick around and also to live free from fear. And I include every segment of American society here.

    • Yes, but in a capitalist economy, by definition, fear of not pleasing the boss and thus losing one’s job is the reality. It’s very difficult to not be a fearful person in a capitalist economy. When a worker loses his/her job, it’s very tough to be a “responsible parent.” Yes, “kids deserve parents who stick around and also live free from fear” but that is an oxymoron in a capitalist economy.

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