Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pennsylvania? Bitter!

Nothing like sending a New York Times reporter into the heartland to chronicle the misery of people less fortunate than New York Times reporters -- i.e., 95% of America:
Few want a handout, but fewer want government to abandon them. A simmering hurt suffuses their words, a sense that neither hard work nor their unions could save them.
James Stanford, a retired and still heavily muscled steel worker, stood at his door and spoke of a pension that had evaporated. "Obama got one thing right," he said. "We are bitter here."
John Sylvester, 76, remembers when you could not find a parking space in Beaver Falls. You danced Saturday night at the Sons of Italy Club and drank with Dutch Town and River Rat neighborhood boys.
Mr. Sylvester labored in a steel mill for 42 years. Then the mill owner declared bankruptcy. Now he was bent over a chipped fire hydrant, putting down a coat of yellow paint for $7 an hour.
His blue eyes were piercing beneath a white sun visor. "I got a little money in the end but nothing to speak of," he said.
Decades of job losses have created a youthful diaspora -- you can knock on many doors without finding anyone under age 45. Declining enrollments forced Raccoon Township to close its elementary and middle schools. Political wisdom holds that such fractures favor the Democrats.
But Mr. Obama does not sound like a sure bet.
"Obama's very charismatic but if you listen closely, he hasn't said a whole lot," Mr. Sylvester said.
I wonder if anyone ever pointed out to Mr. Sylvester that maybe the greedy ways of his union bosses had something to do with the bankruptcy of that steel mill.

I wonder, but I wouldn't dare say that in a Pennsylvania steel town, where they have been taught for generations that labor unions are sacred. Unemployed union guys will punch you in the nose if you say anything bad about the unions that have bankrupted their former employers.


  1. Mr Sylvester had 42 years of straight employment... sounds like he got more than "a little money" to me. They don't have banks in Pennsylvania? They don't sell stocks or other investments in Pennsylvania?

    If the guy couldn't find the time in 42 years to put some money away why isn't that his fault, rather than mine as a taxpayer?

  2. And I'm always amazed these guys aren't pissed at the unions for not safeguarding their pensions. But the unions view pensions like the Social Security Ponzi scheme, we'll just wait for the next generation of workers to saddle with the previous ones retirement costs. But this is unfortunately what happens when there is no "next" generation.