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Boom, Bust, ExodusThe Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities$
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Chad Broughton

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199765614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199765614.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 January 2022

Treading Water in the Great Recession

Treading Water in the Great Recession

(p.250) 16 Treading Water in the Great Recession
Boom, Bust, Exodus

Chad Broughton

Oxford University Press

In April 2010 George Carney found himself stacking and banding wooden boards to be made into roof and barn trusses. His new workplace was Roberts and Dybdahl, a lumberyard in Milan, Illinois. Carney was paired with a partner, an automated cutting machine with five enormous shark-toothed saw blades that bit loudly into lumber and dropped boards onto the tray below. Now 51, Carney was using his body to earn a living again, even if the job paid only $9 an hour, a shade above the Illinois minimum. The first week he put in 60 hours. “It was a hard job. It was perfect for me.” On April 29, his ninth day on the job, Carney’s life changed forever, again. Two days after an unremarkable Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection, a two-by-six shot out of the saws like “a ball out of pitching machine.” Its long side smacked right into Carney’s skull, and in an instant his world went dark. In the previous year Carney had been bartending while he lived in his son’s extra bedroom in Matherville, Illinois. He served “fancy, high falutin” drinks at the Oak View Country Club starting in late May 2009, after being unemployed for a couple of months. Members liked Carney because he would remember their names and favorite drink. The “whisky-beer man” learned to make cosmopolitans, martinis, manhattans, and other country club mixes. “I always told myself I was shy, but everyone tells me I’m not. I feel uncomfortable with it, but I seem to be fairly sociable.” In August he added a day job at Milan Lanes, a bowling alley and bar, and was working almost every day. Still, it was a “pretty low point” to be a working-age man living in his son’s extra room. It was a role-reversal that neither of them relished. “You don’t feel like you got anything,” Carney said of the year after leaving the Town Tavern. Then Carney’s father succumbed to cancer in March 2010.

Keywords:   American Dream, Butler Manufacturing, Gates Rubber Company, No Child Left Behind Act, Town Tavern, achievement gap, downward mobility, impact bias, life satisfaction after Maytag, motivated sense-making

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