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Bringing Back the Old Economy

In 1960, my father attended what was then Case Institute of Technology.  Even though it was the most expensive school in Ohio, he was able to pay his tuition with his summer jobs.  When he graduated, mechanical engineers were in demand; American manufacturing was booming, and the jobs being offered to good young engineers generally included the promise of a pension and the expectation of job security.  In our neighborhood, most of the families I knew had a father working in manufacturing and a mother taking care of the children and the home.  Not all those working in manufacturing were engineers; many were high-school graduates who worked on the plant floor.  But all made enough money to support their families in comfortable, middle-class fashion, without the need for a second income.

The manufacturing sector they worked in was focused overwhelmingly on the American market.  American tools processed American parts for American customers.  People were wary of foreign products; their instinctive patriotism fully applied to the economic realm.  Divorce was virtually unheard of—I knew one divorced family on our street.  People did not often change employers, so few people moved off our street.  Most of us were able to see our relatives on a regular basis.  I saw my paternal grandparents at least once per week, and my mom’s parents regularly.  Also missing from our street were liberals,...

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