Short Views

A Fast Track to Oblivion

On April 25, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a story with the sort of headline we have come to expect in recent decades: “Goodyear chooses Mexico, not Akron.”  The story went on to report that Goodyear had chosen to build a $500 million plant to make premium tires in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, even though Akron, the city where Goodyear is still headquartered, had avidly sought the new facility, which will employ a thousand people.  The men now running Goodyear had no qualms about spurning the city where they live to put the plant in a foreign land, and, if pressed, would likely justify their decision with bromides about the need to compete in a “global economy” and claims to be “citizens of the world.”

There was a time, of course, when the headline would have read, “Goodyear chooses Akron again.”  Akron grew prosperous as the tiremaker to America, just as nearby Canton grew rich making roller bearings, Toledo thrived making glass, and other cities in Ohio and throughout the country found a rewarding place in an American economy that was based on Americans making goods for other Americans.  The men then running companies like Goodyear, Timken, and Owens-Illinois felt an obligation to create jobs in their hometowns, or at least their own country, and this social pressure was coupled with the practical incentives offered by the tariff.  The wealth created...

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