Tag Archives: Ohio

You Load Sixteen Tons and What Do You Get? Guest Post

This story came to me from Lee Ballinger, a former steelworker in Ohio’s Warren-Youngstown area. In the early twentieth century, the Youngstown area boasted the largest concentration of steel-making facilities per capita, and per square mile, in the world. In time, the city’s fate turned. Between 1977 and 1982 alone, five major steel mills closed—thereafter, 50,000 jobs vanished.[1] Lee’s was one of them.

I know what it’s like to depend upon coal to feed a family. Many years ago I worked at a steel mill in Ohio. My job was at the coke plant where West Virginia coal was turned into coking coal for the blast furnace. The top of the coke ovens was an area the size of a football field where monstrous machines funneled coal into the ovens. It was my job to put the heavy oven lids back on nice and tight.  It was literally as hot as hell up there. It felt like walking barefoot on hot coals. The air we breathed was truly foul but to us it was the sweet smell of something like success. We called it the smell of money because it paid the bills.  Continue reading

No Other Land, No Other Life

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this, or the like of this.          – Henry David Thoreau

I have been working on my stories about farmers and the agricultural industry in Ohio. The farming experiences of the men I spoke to are quite distinct from one other; they included a medium scale corn and soybean producer, a community-supported berry and vegetable farmer, and a chestnut farmer who made a small fortune from the shale oil boom (but who would take chestnuts over oil any day). One common feature of the interviews was the gorgeous bucolic views I was treated to in the course of our conversations. I want to share some pictures of the landscapes, and of the men whose labor livens the land. I attempt to describe them in writing, of course. But my iPhone camera might be more capable of capturing the beauty.

Swing State Sorrows: The Price of a Vote that Matters

My latest article, now up on the Huffington Post, discusses the impact of Ohio’s centrality in the national elections on our state’s political culture.

We hear it time and again, enviously, bitterly, admiringly, coaxingly. It may be our sole characteristic that induces jealousy among our compatriots. It entices the world’s most powerful men to court us. Observers from Beijing to Benghazi eye us intently; from New York to California they unabashedly ogle us. We are awash — maybe drowning — in the money of millionaires. Here in Ohio, our votes matter.

By November 7, we will have determined the course of the domestic and foreign policies of a global superpower. Very soon thereafter all will forget us, and then in four years wonder again why we are so fickle. In the meantime, we will be left to attend to our wounds. Maybe we will mend them, but probably they will fester. All that is certain is that no entity could be so torn and embattled without suffering critical damage. Read the rest here! 

News and Views

A roundup of news and analyses from and about Ohio – 20 August 2012

“Obama back in Ohio Tuesday following last week’s innovation, infrastructure news,” by John Michael Spinelli for examiner.com on 19 August 2012. Obama bringing $30 million to Youngstown, 15 transportation infrastructure projects, and himself to Ohio.

“Swing state voters don’t see US economy rebounding,” by Aaron Blake for The Washington Post’s blog “The Fix” on 16 August 2012. The Post is still trying to figure out why Ohioans don’t feel confident about their economic recovery. And here’s the poll itself, showing at least an uptick in confidence in recent years.

“US Plans Institute of Innovation to Strengthen Economy,” by Lalit K Jha for Outlook India.com on 17 August 2012. Obama administration plans an institute to keep jobs from going to India and China. I think an institute will hardly match up to profit-driven motives.

“Ohio GOP Election Official Regrets Black Turnout ‘Machine’ Comment,” by Luke Johnson for the Huffington Post on 20 August 2012. The terms of the debate on Sec. of State Husted’s efforts to reduce early voting hours become sleazier and more blatantly discriminatory against Ohio’s minorities and working class (‘read Democrats’).

“Mass Job Layoffs Decline in Ohio,” by Randy Tucker for the Dayton Daily News on 15 August 2012. This is good news, if you can swallow that 668 is a “low” number of layoff announcements last year.

“Honda’s new Accord brings investment, jobs to Ohio,” AP in CBS Money Watch on 17 August 2012. Honda doing even more good for Ohio than they already were.

 

 

 

What is Ohio’s Middle Class?

Published on 15 August 2012 for The Huffington Post.

On Aug. 14, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney rolled through Ohio on his “The Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class” Bus Tour. Two weeks earlier, president-and-candidate Barack Obama made his own appeal to Ohio’s “average middle-class family” on his ninth campaign stop in the state. Both campaigns have placed Ohio and the middle class at the core of their messages. Each insists that they will protect and improve the middle class’s well-being, while the other will destroy it for the sake of the super-rich in one case, the welfare-state in the other. As Ohioans find themselves at the center of all this attention (often unfortunately so, being on the receiving end of 400 political ads per day), I set out to find out what it means to be in Ohio’s middle class, from Ohioans themselves. As it happens, the lower end of the spectrum is lower than Obama, Romney, and our national psyche might realize.  Read the rest here!

News & Views

Here is a roundup of some recent news and analyses from and about Ohio. 10 August 2012.