We are all from Flint.

Author:Rundles, Jeff
Position:RUNDLES WRAP UP - Need for community and economic development in Flint - Column


I spent my entire childhood there in the Golden Age--the Golden Age of Flint, yes, but also the Golden Age of industrial America. It was a time when great wealth was created, and much of it was shared with the people whose labor made wealth possible, the Great Middle Class of America. Those industrial jobs provided a standard of living unparalleled in human history, and they were the platform for a myriad of other businesses and services that, all told, made up--indeed created--the American Dream. Each successive generation during the Industrial Age did better than the previous one they were more educated, healthier, lived longer, owned more homes, were more innovative, and helped spread American influence worldwide.

They didn't call the 20th Century The American Century for nothing.

Of course, not everything was rosy back in the 1950s and '60s. But, by and large, when the U.S. was the economic wonder of the world, the American people pretty much from top to bottom benefitted from and believed in the American promise.

Flint, Mich., was the centerpiece of all that. The Middle Class was born in Flint, and for decades flourished. The greatest industrial giant of the age, General Motors, was founded in Flint. The American labor movement, led by the United Auto Workers, made its stand in Flint. There are those who detest Corporate America, and those who vilify Big Labor, but wherever you stand on the issue, in the late 1940s, the '50s and '60s, the country's biggest corporation and its strongest labor union together created the American economic miracle. You could see it all over Flint in the '60s; I did. Nearly everyone, men at least, had a job; people owned their homes and had cars, families were stable, schools were first-rate, business was great, the downtown was prosperous and busy, crime was very low, and opportunity abounded. It's hard to believe now, but in 1960 a photograph of Flint could easily have accompanied the encyclopedia entry for American Prosperity.

Flint has been much in the news lately because of the abysmal water situation, something that should never happen in America. There are many scoundrels in the saga, and I'll let others play that out. At base, however, is the simple fact that since the collapse of American manufacturing--the move of production overseas--that began in the 1970s and continues apace...

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