tv Amy Goldstein Janesville CSPAN December 24, 2017 4:44pm-5:48pm EST
thanks very much. i think we're around the end of our hour but i'm not positive. [applause] i'll be signing books out there for i hope many of you would like to buy it. thanks again. quayletimegold teen is next. make closing of a gm assembly plant in janesville, wisconsin, during the great recession.
>> good even, evening. i'm the director of the work life project of the wisconsin humanities council. thank you all for coming tonight to see amy goldstein's book presentation. janesville, an american story. and i thank amy for coming here today to talk about the lives of the hard-working people of janesville, you so beautifully document in your book. the book festival comes to life every year thanks to hard work and dedication of our friends at the madison public library and the madison public library foundation. this event could not be possible without the sponsorship of so many of our friends, so i would encourage everyone of you to go to the festival web site and find out more about our sponsors
tonight. the wisconsin humanities council is proud to sponsor amy this evening. it's a wonderful opportunity for us to continue to what our organization has done statewide for 45 years, which is to support and promote programs that use history, culture and discussion to strengthen community life in wisconsin for everyone. tonight's presentation would not only delight you but help us move forward in this direction. for those who might not know, the wisconsin humanities council -- the wisconsin book festival was created by the wisconsin humanities council organization, coordinating the event for over 13 years before friends at the madison public library decided to take on the herculean task of keeping this event alive and thriving every year so kudos to them for having
such wonderful job making this event great, great, and greater every year. so, amy goldstein is waiting to be presented by our working life project which asks wisconsinites what does work mean in your project. we seek to -- discuss the discussion of past, present and future work in wisconsin. through public events, promote actions about what works, means to all of us individually and for all of us together as a group. to find out more about our project and roo council programs, you can check us out at wisconsin humanities.org. so, i like to introduce amy with a basic idea that is somewhat profound and to many of us. work is the finest future of our
life. part of what the -- connect us. we felt so inspired by amy's book "janesville, an american story" tells the store of janesville people and family which promoted dignity. it's profound and inspiring, bringing to light the story of our auto workers, family and the entire community of janesville came to term e terms with the aftermath of the gm manufacturing plant shutdown. dominate conversations about what the future of our economy and the nature of work life. amy's book reminds us there is more to our economic upturns and downturns. that can be understand. in the midst of it all there are real lives, real people, with real hopes and aspirations
speaking to make a life and living in dignity. aimys impressive credentials include 30 years tenure as a staff write are for the "washington post," where much of her work has focused on social policy. her accolades a pulitzer prize for national reporting. she has been a fellow at the harvard university's human foundation for journalism and the institute for advance. janesville is her first book. we -- i like to invite everyone to silence your phones and put it in -- you know, in silent mode. also, if you feel that this is a really compelling conversation, you're more than welcome to share your thoughts through the media outlets at the wisconsin book festival has set by using the #wibooks and if you could do
it after the presentation, so we can hear amy. now without further adieu, here is amy goldstein. >> thank you for that verifies introduction, thank you for the invitation to be here and thank yous for a large number of your for coming out on a damp night testimony. it's greet be knack janesville. one of the side effects of having spent ceremony years of getting to know janesville, wisconsin, is madison is something of a second home to me. so, i feel like i'm on semi home turf talking with you. i like that. so i have a question. how many of you here have some connection to janesville, either ever lived there or know people who are there? i thought this was safe question to ask because i have not spoken
anywhere where there hasn't been at least one person in the audience from janesville and that includes l.a., san francisco, boulder, colorado, a lot of people who came to one of my first readings in d.c. so i have a sense that this story, whichs about one community and about the mean offering the loss of work and loss of community, very specifically affects a janesville diaspora i learned exists once the book came out. thought i would start by telling you a little bit about my first exposure to janesville, wisconsin. i first stepped into town on july 26, 2011, and i's on an exploratory mission and lined up a few people to meet. the gifts identify was somebody named stan milam. he was an old time journalist in town. he had between state sures buie row chance for jayne gazette and be the time i left him he left
the newspaper and working as an education consultant and had a radio station and he had an office in what had been the parker pen world headquarters which has been rennovated into office buildings with many of the offices empty. and that morning stan and i talked nonstop for probably about three hours. he was from janesville, in this early 60s at the time, and we talked about the history of miss community and about what had happened to its economy. we just talked and talked. finally, stan said to me something i'd been hoping he would ask, which is do you want to see the plant? so i got into his car and be drove down center way and turned left on dulivan drive and there is what i saw the pictures, 4.8 million square feet of nothing going on. and the thing that surprised me more than the potency of seeing this closed, huge, old auto
plant, was what stan said to me. he said, i hate to see this. well, i knew that stan was a pretty tough old reporter. he told me that he was a cynic and over the years i came to believe him. and i said to him, why would somebody like you not want to see this? he told me that his father had worked at the auto plant, and he remembers as a boy how proud his dad had been when he earned enough money on his general motors wages to buy his first car. if this tough old journalists cringe ted site of this plant that told me something powerful about the community sense of identification with this work that had gone away. for a journalist like me that gets ones juices flowing and i kept come back for years. so what was i doing in janesville that day? on this exploratory mission? well, for a couple years at they point i'd been thinking about
writing a long closeup of what really happens when good work goes away. at the time i was covering a broad social policy beat for the "washington post," and as the great recession began at the end of 2017 -- 2007 and kept going 2009, i did a few stories on things later learned war called recession effect, the ground level view of what difference it made that the u.s. economy was in the worst shape it had been in since the great depression of the 1930s. so i did a story for the post, for instance, out of southwest florida, on people who were falling out of the middle class and on to welfare rolls and just meeting people on this welfare office and seeing how traumatizing and shellshocked they were by findings themself there i did a story out of south carolina which at the time had the nation's second highest unemployment rate, about the strains on the private sector
parts of the social safety net, places like nonprofit food pantries that were just slammed with more clients than they'd ever had and had a real diminution in charity, people didn't have enough money to donate. so what the strains were at a tangible level in places like that. and from having done this work on the recession effect it mate be start identify attention to what other journalist were and weren't writing about the bad economic time. what noticed was there were two strains of stories that dominated. there were lots of stories about the government's economic policies and whether the stimulus package of the then-pretty knew obama administration was working or not working and the political fighting about that. a lot of coverage about those policies. and then it's a little bit of time went on issue was struck that in the 2010 election -- this may sound quaint, given the standard layears' a leakses -- there was already a lot of
writing about voter disaffection and anger and what struck -- began to strike me was didn't see much writing that was fusion those two strains imhad the sense you couldn't really understand why some people in the united states were feeling disaffected and scared and turned off from what was going on in their government, unless you really understood their personal economic experiences and fears. jobs they were losing, jobs their neighbors were losing, their anxieties that their jobs might be the next one go. i came across a pew foundation study that really caught my attention. it was a content analysis of stories about the bad economy in the first half of 2009, so the last part of the official period of the great recession. and what it showed was that most of the stories were about the
stimulus package, the auto industry bailout, the banking industry, and whether the country should -- government should have been putting money into rescuing troubled financial institutions, and there was a little bar way to the right of that chart that showed the percentage of stories that were about the effects of the bad economy on ordinary people. that little bar was five percent of the total. and that kind of absence, i thought, was a very important gap that we all knew the unemployment statistics but we didn't really understand what was like to have work go away. so, i became, i can only describe it, as obsessed with finding a way to tell the story and i did something i have never none my long career, which is took a good chunk of time up a from the job to find a community which i could tell the story and start to get to know people in that place. so, how was it i came to find
janesville? if you think bit, if you're going to write a story as a microcosm or a metaphor for what is happening broadly in country, better choose carefully. i thought a lot about what kind of criteria shy use to pick a place, and i heard about janesville a few years before when i was looking for settings for the stories i was doing about the bad economy for the post post, and somebody mentioned to me that small? i wisconsin i had never heard of had just had a very old general motors plant that closed, and i never went there at the time because the plant closing was pretty fresh and the people who had work at general motors itself -- not other people in town who lost their jobs took it by the gmers themselves were still getting what was called union subpay with supplemental unemployment benefits which was buffering the economic payment pain for a lot of people. i never showed up at that time. when i began to think about trying to find a place that
could be my metaphor, my mike microcosm, janesville was on my brain. i needed to fine a place that lost a lot of jabs and janesville fed the bill. 9,000 jobs disappear from janesville, the county seat, and rock county, which sound immigrant. a lot of jobs for small place na southeastern wisconsin. but beyond that, i wanted to be able to write about someplace that had never before been part of the rust belt because i wanted to be able to look at what this bad economic time in our country's history had done and not an eye cumulation of economic deck okay, and janesville had gotten itself general motors plant in 1918. started making tractors in 1919. just after world war i. and it started turn ought shies in 1923. and over the intervening
decades, products had come and products had gone but every time a product left that factory, general motors sent in something else to replace it. so this had not been a rust belt community, and it really made what happened in 2008 -- it was two days before christmas of 2008 that the general motors plant closed down, that that was unprecedented and in this town and very hard for people to get their heads around, that this time was going to be different. i knew that no place i was going to bike be exactly like everyplace in the country but as much as possible it steamed me a good idea to pick a community in which the pattern of job losses matched the broad pattern of job losses in the great recession. so, nationally, and in janesville, lot of the jobs that disappeared were ones that paid pretty well bought not required much formal education. that was certainly true of the auto worker jobs.
and in this recession broadly and in janesville, more men than women lost jobs. the kind of job loss that happened in the small wisconsin city was typical of the country, that appealed to me. i also had a spence when -- sense when i started to research the place that janesville fit nicely into the united states history. on the trip where i met stan milam, stan told know find a video of a speech then juror barack obama gave in the assembly plant in february of 2008 when he was campaigning to try to win the wisconsin primary. and this was a very big, important economic speech in his campaign in which he lays out his agent, and in that speech he says two things when i discovered the speech on my laptop in my own hoves as home, just gave me goose bumps. he said, first of all, basically, if the country
elected him in and followed his economic prescription, this plant will be here for another hundred years. the other thing he said was the promise of janesville is a promise of america. and i thought, if i'm going write about this i want to have that sentence in whatever i write. so that appealed to me. janesville also has interesting politics and i should say there are a lot of other moments in u.s. history in which janesville figured directly. so, in the late 1930s there was a very important moment in u.s. labor history called the general motors sitdown strike, and janesville is one of the side of the the strike. during world war ii, it was part of the homefront when it stopped making vehicles and started to make 16-millimeter artillery shells. so there are always the ways in which this small city felt like it was, again, microcosm of what was happening broadly in the country and in u.s. culture.
now, before i knew much at all about janesville, i i understood its politics were interesting. this was an old democratic leaning union town represented by somebody who had been elected to congress when he was 28 years old and very conservative, named paul ryan, and at the time that i first showed up in janesville, paul ryan was not even a committee chairman, let alone a candidate for the vice-presidency of the country, let alone speaker over the house budgeted i there there would be interesting pill ticks going on with if the ewan union town and this state that newly in the hands of scott walker. on top of that i head to mitt thought that janesville was a cool all-american sounding name. so, that seemed sort of appealing. if if was going to by living for a period of time way name i like
the fact it was janesville. so, there was some of the reasons why that summer of 2011 i made the exploratory trip and met with this oldtime journalist who took me to see the site of a plant that had closed that was the most interesting thing hat happened in town recently and he didn't want to see it. so, how did i tell this story? well, the idea i had from the outset was i wanted this book to feel like a kaleidoscope. i wanted to have people from different vantage points in the community whose perspective and whose attitudes and whose behavior i could trace over a period of years. showing how job loss affected, yes, some of the families, and i'll talk about the families in a moment -- but also other people in the community and how they thought they ought to respond. was interested, for instance in a social stewedies teacher i met who was -- tell you the two high
schools in town are named for parker pen, so parker high school, and the other high school is named craig high school and craig was the man who persuaded general motors to come to janesville. so these iconic industrialists from the community, their identities are woven into the name of the high school so parker high school there's a social studies teacher who formed the park are encloses. she was noticing more and more kid from families that used be middle class families, were coming to school maybe not having had breakfast, maybe looking a little scruffy and she started on her own at first and then with help from other people in the school and community, creating a food pantry and a place for kids to get used jeans and school supplies supplies ant tries and the spring they collect prom dress so can girls can go to at the prom who eyes couldn't afford hit.
i traced her story over five years. also interested in a by name bob moreman who -- boreman who was run thing job center which is ground zero where people turned after the jobs had gone away him was seeing a lot and i was interested in what he decide and the decisions he made and how he saw things. i was interested in the main banker in town who cofounded a regional economic development coalition, and so i followed the work that this group did. i was interested in the school's social worker whose job was to be the liaison between the school student and the homeless students to try to keep the students in schooling. she formed a relationship with the -- he counterpart in the next town to the south, delight, to try to start raising money for shelters for
an increasing crop of unaccompanied homeless teenagers. ours course i was also interested in politicians, paul ryan, tim collins, state senator, at the time runs through the story. so there are all these different people who were taking actions that they thought were useful in a town that had just lord the heart of its work, and they didn't all agree on what they thought shy be doing but these were all the strains coming together in this community. trying to figure out what to do when he heart of its work went away. but of course the core of my story is about the dislocated workers themselves, dislocated aid government term that mean outside lost your job and there's not much likelihood it's going to come back. that's what we call these people, dislocate worker. i defended what wanted to illustrate was, as i came to think of it, what choices people make when there are no good choices left.
and i did not pick characters. it's fun you to call these people characters because i just saw them thursday night in janesville. people who delivering lives and characters in a book with this dual identity on the page and in their lives. i did not pick people quickly because i felt i needed to get to know well enough what was happening in this community and what was the range of things people were doing before i could figure out which families might be good illustrations of these bad choices that people were selecting because they might be bert than other bad choices. so i'll tell you about these families. the first family is called the vaughns. and they were being union family in town. they were one of two families in janesville that had three generations of men on the united auto worked local 95 executive commit year, and dave vaughn worked at gm and retired, and he was run of the people i met on
this very first trip i made out to janesville, the summer of 2011. and i met him because at the time in his retirement, he and another gm retiree were running the uaw local because there were no active auto workers to be running the local. so they were rung it in their retirement. and he had had a full career. he was getting his pension, and when i said to him, as i said to many people nor first period of time that it was coming back and forth to janesville, who else should i get to know? dave said, you should get to know my son but probably won't want to talk to you. his son, one over characters in the book, is mike vaughn. mike was the shop chairman at a place called lear seating, the largest supplier factory to the general motors plant. it had 800 workers itself. and it was making seats and other auto parts in what is called just in time production,
so these seats were being delivered to the assembly plant three hours before they were bolted into gm vehicles. suvs, the plant was making towards the end. so if you got that kind of lockstop production you can imagine what happened the day that general motors first laid off one shift and then a few months later closed. lear closed as well. and mike's wife, barb, worked at lee and are had lost her job the summer of 2008. mike was allowed to stay longer because after the plat shut down there was a skeletal crew kept on for a few months, taking apart the assembly plant. so mike went to work every day and his work consult of watching the place he had worked at for many years, getting emptiyer and emptier and during this time he was thinking about what he would do for work him tried to apply for union johns in three states and couldn't find anything that he thought was good work for him, so his wife was already
back in school and he began thinking about retraining, and he decided after a lot of thought about what his union skills might have rem him for that preponderances he should go into a new program in human resources management. and he really did a lot of thinking about the ethic of this and whether he could switch from labor tied management and he made peace with it, thinking if he could help from them union side, he could help people from the management side. similar work but a different perch but he has to tell his father. i'll let you read the back to find out how that goes. second family is a wopat family. like the families in story, they're a multi generational family. marv wopat worked at the plant for 40 years, and a few months
and retired the summer of 2008. wopat he was a big guy in the town. on the county board of supervisors, just been elected on the board of supervisors. he also was the person on one shift at the plant who was the employee assistance director. he knew everybody's secrets and was the person you turned tonight were having trouble. and needed somebody to lean only marv retires just a matter of weeks before his son, matt, loses his job. so, marv has his retirement party, hundreds of people show up because he knows a lot of anymore town, feeling just guilty as sin that his son is about to lose his job. and matt also tries to figure out what to do next, and like a lot of people in town, matt was listening to his father or people who were saying what his father was saying to him, were
saying-don't worry, the shutdown is temporary, products is going to come back. so there was a huge amount of denial that went on for a lot of years in the community of janesville about whether this closing was permanent. so matt for a while was helping a buddy who was a roofer but weren't many roofs being put on and the place was a lousy economy, and he was collecting his union unemployment pay and just hoping things would get better, and he, too, finally went back to school. and he studied to become a utility lineman because the word was both the word on the street and the word among the college instructors and counselors would were trying to guide people that there war lot of older workers at the uit who were ready to retire so this paid well and jobs will open up. so matt begins studying. in his late 30s. hasn't been in school for a couple decade at this point. a little embars red be doing his
homework if his three daughters on he kitchen table after din-under but is doing okay. and by wintertime, he and his wife, who is doing minimum wage work, began to get nervous that it they were boot to lose their house and the reason they were getting nervous is they'd been been getting general motors health benefits for a while after the plant closed and those benefits were running out. so, starting to pay for health insurance would become really expensive and didn't have the money for and that a mortgage. so, matt and a bunch of his gmer buddies any same curriculum program at black hawk tech one day go to their instructor and say, look, if we hang out until the spring and get our certificates in this program there are going to be jobs for us at the end? and the asked this because at this time matt had a choice to make. all along people who had worked at gm who were pretty good seniority, which i everybody who had been at that plant, had transferred rights to other
general motors plants that were still going. so there were people who, since the plant closed pretty much, had been commute to arlington, texas, and outside kansas city and ohio and michigan. some families were moving but most cases the gm worker was commuting huge distances, coming home every week or every month, and matt from a very close family and just sworn he wouldn't become what these people were called which is gm gypsies. but the starts thinking about whether he should change his view of that because there was an offer on the table to transfer to fort wayne, indiana, which while nearly 300-miles away was the closest transfer offer that came long, and his instructor says, if i were you guys, i would take that offer and run for it because these utility jobs just aren't opening up. older workers, they're -- their savings were wiped out in
reexpression they're working longer. in march of 2010. matt begins communitying to fort wayne, indiana. he is still doing it. he leaves every monday morning. he comes home on friday nights, commuting with other gm guys from janesville and he has six more years to go until eligible for retirement. so that ohio the wopats stayed any middle-class. finally there's the whittaker family and jarred whittaker was a gm employee, been there right around the same amount of time as matt wopat and he thought this work would come back. he is kind of coasting, enjoying not working, never really liked work on the assembly line but the pay was too good. but the work doesn't come back. so jarred goes back to school and exactly same program that matt had utility linemen kind of work and lasts two and a half weeks because what happens is that the instructor tells his
students to form little groups and take about ten-foot-tall practice wooden paola, knock into it the ground and practice climbing. so when jarrett's term toms he claims up the pole luciouss his foot and scrapes up his chest sliding down and this terrifies him and he thinks, okay, ten feet, i can handle that. what if i were really on a utility pol and i get hers. he drops out after a matter of weeks and bounces out of a whole succession of bad pay jobs. the general motors plant was paying at the end $28 an hour. he is now making 12-13-$14 an hour depending on the job, his wife is walking two part-time jobs, not making much money and they have three kid including at the time two twins who were in high school. so i met these girls, names
alyssa and zia when they were high school seniors ask their great kids, teachers love them, college, bound, ap courses, really good girls and they were work between them five part-time jobs to help pay the family bills. so, those are some of the families whose stories weave through the chronology that my book tells and the story is written in short chap with these rotating perspectives. this the kind of kaleidoscopic quality i was shooting for, showing how things change over time for the families and people in the community who are trying to figure out what to do about the fact all this good work has gone away. now, i want this book to be a closeup but i also wanted to find ways to make clear that these people whose experiences i was very intimately, i hope it would feel intimate when i wrote
it -- chronicling were representing the broader truth in the community. here's where my inner nerd came out full force. did two projections to look at' different things and one was the study of the effect tvness or lack of effectiveness of job retraining, got a bunch of data from the department of work force development at the state and the college black hock -- black hawk tech was helpful and found out what happened to people who were laid off who had and had not gone back to school al blackhawk tech where people were training. what we found was counterintuitive. people who had retrained looking at what they were earning and how many of them were working before the recession in 2007, compared to the data we had was 2011, so not as recently as now
but a good few years after all this work had vanished. if they had gone back to school they were less like to have a job as people who had not retrained, likely to have had a bigger pay drop from before the restowings afterward if they wore working, and they were more likely to have parttime work than full-time work, and if you want we can talk about why that turns tout have been the case. but we sliced and diced the data a lot of different ways to see if it was some way we looked at it. we looked at people who just finished that's right than people who just started. people going into fields that the college felt were the ones where jobs were most likely to exist. all kind of different subsets trying to break that negative part concern and just could not find any exceptions to it. so that was one set of nerdy work i was involved in as part of this book's research. the other thing that i did -- and i did this actually while i
was in residence at the university, institute of research and poverty, and worked with da couple of academics and with the university survey center on a one-county survey, the rock county survey looking at people's economic experiences and altitudes. we did this work -- the survey went into the field in first half of 2013 so about five years after the work had gone away. and we asked basic things like, do you think the country is still in a recession or not? this is 2013. 75% said, yes, they thought the country was still in a recession. we asked how their personal financial situation was? just over half said it was worse. only 18% said their situation was better. we asked if you owned a house, what has happened to your housing value in the last five years? vast majority of people said their housing values were down.
so i also wanted to know what was the prevalence of this job loss. so we asked a question has you or anyone in your home lost a job in the last five years. just over a third said that was true of their home. so that is such a widespread job loss. and then we asked a set of questions about just of those people who said that job loss had affected their own how would -- household, what's happened? some questions were about the kind of emotional and social effects of losing work, and 75% said they had been losing sleep during the period. after the strain of family relationships during the time. 63% said yes. but the question that really i found heartbreaking was one that asked, do you feel ashamed or embarrassed about being out of work? just over half, 53%, said yes.
and that really drove home to me in combination with these people who i had got ton know, how personal losing work is. even when you're losing a job, when thousand of your neighbors are losing the exact same kind of work in the time of the done toronto what's second worst -- the worst economic period since the great depression, people were take, it very, very personally. so, i'm going to finish up by reading a little bit from a chapter late in the book about matt wopat's inned friday night drive home. called night drive and i've been asked elsewhere so i'll give you the clue, yes, i was in the back seat. come on, get the hell out of here, guy shout as he burs out the door and speed walks across the tiled lobby. barely slowing to slide his i.d. card through thank you punch
clock. friday night at the fort wayne assembly plant. the end of the work week, the end of second shift, a nine hour shift today with the lucky hour of overtime so that at 11:45:00 p.m. as the sky is shouting, one guy among 1100 gmers starting the weekend. amid this hoard matt wopat reaches the lobby at 11:47:00 p.m., wearing a knick hat and a backpack on his shoulder. he is walking very fast. a friday night ritual. he reaches the chilly night air and a coworker wishes him a safe drive tonight. he stops at the 97 saturn which he parks in the same part of the lot every friday night next middle row under street lamps so he won't have to think about where he left his car when he return's monday. pulls hi duffel from the trunk and works over to a near 2003
grand prix already idling. in the driver's sit is chris aldrich. in the back seat his coat scrimmaged up between him and the floor is paul sheridan. janesville gm jimmies both. chris pops the trunk and slams the trunk sit before he gets in on the passenger side. matt's do is barclay closed when chris guns the enginesors and off. 280 miles to go. four hours and 35 minutes speeding just a little where they're pretty sure they will not get caught. matt pulls out his phone, calls darcy to tell her they're leaving, same as eve we can. when chris guns the engine it's 11:3:54 p.m. in fort wayne except that mat is not the only one who stays on janesville time show to dashboard clock on the grand prix says 10:54. chris started working in fort wayne on august 17, 2009, seven months before matt.
chris will never forget that day. his wife and kid along to help him move, except he doesn't like to say he moved so he says he stays in fort wayne. knee howe, his family left on monday morning when he went to plant for orientation which was during first shift so he was become in the new apartment by 3:30 that afternoon, and he sat on a chair from a cheap dineet set, stairing at while. his buy and kids back in janesville, one of the best worst effects of his life. that was three and a half years ago. the grand prix had 47,000 miles on it. enough it has 134,407. on this night, they're not yet ten minutes from the plant, about to turn on to route 114, when matt says, in his quiet way, this is my three-year anniversary. chris doesn't miss a beat relevant aren't going to celebrate that, he sheets back. matt already had texted darcy before going to work.
happy anniversary to me, three years. and the rye play came back, has it been three years? seems a lot longer. darcy had added a sad face emoticon. three years even with gm vacations factored in is a lot of fridays hurdling through the night to get home. this week it snowed ten inches in fort wayne but then it thawed and today was sunny. tonight is clear so the stars are bright on the driver through the indiana farmland, so much flatter than wisconsin. think we'll get lucky and get a double raccoon tonight, chris asks? has summer one raccoon ran into the road from the left and another from the right, and the grand prix struck them both, one with a front tire and one from the rear. you don't get that every week. but they do get the house alongside the road whops occupants have a flair for decorating. tonight it's lit up like
christmas but in green and gold with shamrocks for st. patrick's day coming up. and now the bend north and then west on to u.s. 30, four lanes divided, which chris and paul and matt agree is a better dui go than the indiana toll rod further north that the other janesville gypsies take on friday night. u.s. 30 gives them chance in the storm try to guess what is playing at the drive-in movie theater. the passengers klaining their necks to get a quick peek at the screen at an angle. and one time they drove threw giant thunderstorm with lightning bolts along this flat land of long views they could see shooting straight down into the fields. no matter the season, there's always the bourbon bible church with the weird larger than life -- die arama you can see. matt's phone rings and it's his
flicker of flames. u.s. steel arrived in 1906 to build the mills on the south side of lake michigan. now its pomlation of 78,000 is less than half of the heyday in 1960. fourur in 10 of people living there are in poverty. gary is a per speck specimen of what the rust belt looks like and what janesville is striving not to become. it is almost 1:30 p.m. in janesville time when the grand prix hand into the easy pass. the dan ryan is easy to cruise tonight with the exha hour at the plant, overtime later than usual and most of the city of big shoulders is carl sandberg christened it for the toil of piling job on job is asleep. the downtown skyline comes into
view. just north of chicago a red car passes with four guys inside. tom is driving chris notes. almost looks like a leery in back. more janesville gypsies. matt dozes off a few minutes joining paul in his slumber. chris doesn't like the silence. you're supposed to be doing color commentary matt, when he wakes up. good thing matt is awakes, a little after two a.m. a text arrived on his phone, another car filled with janesville gypsies up ahead. cop in the median. chris slows. nine miles later matt spots the cop. no like tickets, chris says. can't afford to. the one-time mat got pulled over the summer last he told the officer the truth. that he works in wayne during the week and was driving home, and he guess he was just a little bit excited to get there and see his family. the cop said he could understand
and let matt off. they passed the belevedere chrysler plant, the one that wasn't hiring when the assembly plant shuts down. when they get to rockford, chris says, homestretch. in the driveway in 20 minutes. we're nearly home matt says. paul continues his gentle snores. at this hour, 2:41 janesville time, chris gets fill so much call spending work weeks in for the wayne. funny how we count time, he says. i count how many christmases i have to spend there, three more christmas. he isor coming up on 2years sine he became a gmer on august 17th, 1986, part of a big hiring wave after janesville survived one of its near-death experiences. when the last day really came, december 23rd, 2008, chris was down at the plant shooting video with digital camera. his anniversary date means chris has three years, seven months until he canir retire.
matt has 12 years and seven months. when i retire, chris says, i don't want to leave you guys there. i want everyone home. maybe that will be my business after i retire. i will be a shuttle guy and bring you guys home. paul wakes up as the grand prix pulse off the internate at exit 77. cool your jets, paul, i will have you home in a heartbeat. justft after 3:00 a.m. janesvile time, because this is janesville, i when chris pulls into paul's driveway. after dropping him off, chris drives up center avenue crossing the rock river near where the assembly plant still stands vacant. up senaway street to milton avenue to matt's nice househ on the north edge of town he and darcy managed to keep because he is gypsy. a straight shot up through town. sometimes they go through town different ways because it is nice to be home, nice to see janesville streets.
at 3:20 a.m., chris pulls into the driveway of the beige house with the stark front door. darcy has not remembered to turn ont the outside left but left e light on the laundry room just inside the garage door where she and g the girls once cried when matt was leaving for for the wayne for the first time. matt hands chris a 20-dollar bill for gas and oil changes when the grand prix needs them. what time will you be on monday morning matt asks, before pulling the duffle out of trunk. >> eight:10, 8:15, the usual. thank you very much. [applause] we've gotot about it ten minutes of questions. i'm told it is good idea to come to the microphone so the questions can be picked up.
this somebody is coming. come around. >> thank you for writing this wonderful book. i had a chance to read it couple of o months ago and, you know, t bed just before going to sleep. i'm not sure that was the best idea because when i got to the parts of the book where the high school teacher and the social worker were struggling so mightily to fulfill their vision for their respective programs, to try to t help the kids and te families, there was also the reading about business leaders in the community and their efforts, the banker and especially diane hendrix, who i
suspect is pretty well-known in thisin room. and seeing how the teacher and the social worker were struggling so mightily and how one of the richest women in the country not even sure if she was aware what the school staff were trying to do but could have easily support what they were doing. i was wondering if you had, i can't quite remember the details. did you have an opportunity to interview diane hendrix and get a sense how much she was aware of the pain that was going on in thatd community? >> so that is a good question. before i talk about diane hendricks. when i went along doing this research i came up with a phrase that's in the book, that there were two janesvilles over time. there was a pretty, you know, it wasn't lawn with place anywhere at any point. there were people who were more affluent. people on harder times always.
there were democrats predominantly but there were also republicans in town but the place was pretty, where pretty much people got along. sounds like it's a wonderful life but this was a place where people were pretty collegial. when all p this work started gog away some people in town were acutely aware of the pain and other people were not seeing it depending what their vantage point in the community. when the social worker, a woman named ann, just on a panel with in janesville two nights ago, when she and this polite social worker trying to raise money for housing for these unaccompanied homeless teenagers, a boy talmmaker made this little documentary called 1649, which stood for theum number of hours and minutes between the end of one school day and the beginning of the next, with the idea behind it, very long period of time for a kid who doesn't have a steady place to be and sleep.
they were showing the film. people in the community were shocked the homeless kids exists. this is not janesville's conception of itself. there were different levels of sensitivity what was going on. so diane hendricks. she has been during the five years i'm writing about from 2008 to 2013 and since been very, very supportive economic development in beloit but not in janesville. she and her husband had as young adults, started out in janesville, hoped to start out in janesville, felt janesville was not very hospitable to them and they went to beloit. her husband is no longer alive. he died tragically years ago. her money has gone to economic
development one town south of janesville. yes? >> book inevitably raises the question of corporatebl responsibility andnd government responsibility in these situations. and i just wonder, about your thoughts on that? >> there is one scene in the book where matt is making the hard cities to start commuting as he explained it to me was trying to figure out who was to blame for the jam he was in. he couldn't figure out who to blame because he felt that the company which had laid him off was for a couple years still paying himpa benefits and health insurance and that company was going to go bankrupt a year later. heha wasn't happy to have lost s work but he could understand the company was in a position to try to get rid of personnel. the federal government was paying tuition for his job
retraining. there were all these policies that were intended to cushion people that didn't always do it. >> yeah, i was wondering what was understanding of the families why this was happening to them in janesville? does this give us any understanding for the rise of economic nationalism and perhaps some form of trumpism? >> yeah. so that is an interesting question about what are the political meaning that people attach to these jobs having gone away and i was in janesville on election night in 2012 because paul ryan was on the ticket and i wanted to hang out with republicans in town and that election barack obama won in
mauk county by 62%, big margin of victory. after last year's election, just about a year ago i woke up, you can first thing i do ran to the computer to see how rock county voted, had gone for clinton 52% t was still democratic but margin was obviously much thinner, and when i looked at the raw numbers, it was not that people flipped parties but the democraticne turnout was way do. so, i've had to think about what is the meaning of, you know, the harsh experience of losing good work in this community that wasn't a trump-voting community for places that were trump-voting communities and i guess what i have come to think is that the kind of economic experiences that people had in janesville, if they happened in other place notice country that didn't have such long, ingrained, democratic and union
traditions might have made a , ndidate who was espousing change, that was his rhetoric attractive but it wasn't enough to flip janesville. yes? >> hello. i'm a student here at uw, we read your book for public policy class. >> i love to hear that. [laughter]. what was the class? >> introduction to public policy. >> great. [laughter] >> oneru aspect we found really interesting was that we have the ideaha that education is the silver bullet, however as your research has shown education didn't actually make people's lives better. it usually made those people's lives,ua apparently made those lives worse. in a changing economy. someone who has studied social policy for a couple decades, what are your ideas how we should address making sure that workers have opportunities in
tandem with education or without education, so they can actually better themselves? >> that is a pretty heavy-duty question. thank you for that. know, i think that job altraining is not always a bad idea. it depends on the context. with these couple labor economists working on this study, and i began to see these counterintuitive findings i did a lot of talking to people what could account for this. one possibility that i if had data went up through now people might be doing better. on the other hand the unemployment rate is way down but pay is still, way down, it is below 4% in janesville. it was over 13% in early 2009 a few months after all this work vanished. but the pay is nothing like $28 an hour. so, i think in communities in
which jobs are going to come back or are coming back, retraining for new workers is a great idea and i think that bob borman who isrk the he had of te job center who is one of the characters in this story ended up feeling kind of guilty because he had been encouraging hiski staff to encourage these people to retrain on what was a very sound premise turned to be wrong. the premise was if you looked at past recessions jobs would recover after certain period of time and itpr turned out nationally and locally, in this recession it took much longer for jobs toti start to come bac. so it is not, i think that what i found is not an indictment of the whole notion of job training but you look at what the climate is, ability of people to find work after they go back to school. >> yes? >> you were observing janesville during the ramp up of the
affordable care act. in what way do you think the effects of that law were felt in janesville and does janesville as a whole or the dislocated workers specifically, do they feel as if it was a good thing or are they in the camp that was against it or how is it split i guess? >> so i'm really glad that you asked that question because my day job at "the washington post" is to cover health care policy. nice emphasis here. but i've got to tell you that the main partve of the chronoloy of this story ends part way through 2013 and it wasn't until the fall of 2013 that people could start enrolling in the insurance exchanges through the affordable care act. so the time that i was specifically looking at predated that and there was this little clinic right downtown in janesville on milwaukee street called healthnet that was seeing
a lot of people during this time and still has a pretty good patient base and was holding fund-raiser after fund-raiser and could not manage to get enough money to see everybody who needed to be seen. as it would have been patients. i know it is not in the story but i know that the mix of people who do and don't have insurance has changed in janesville and wisconsin even though wisconsin has not been a very good stateis getting out te information on the health insurance of the affordable care act. there is a story this week in theth janesville gazette that healthnet may be getting budget cats at the local level because of some changes in state policy regarding how much funding localities can put into non-profits. so all these years later it is
still a little bit vulnerable. i'm told that is all the time that we have and thank you very, very much. [applause] >> my name is david maraniss. i'm a madison guy, happy to be participating in this and delighted tonight to have a conversation with doug stanton who is a brilliant magazine writer andli author and a fellow mid earner from across lake michigan in traverse city. which for any of you who might not know has one of the premier book events in america, the national writers series where they bring in people like margaret atwood and some