Midwesterners generally favor unions, public and private, and overwhelmingly support the right of workers to organize for collective bargaining rights. So says a new poll that indicates that pro-union sentiment is still alive, if not necessarily thriving, across the Midwest.
Yet a union-led drive to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker over just this issue failed, fairly solidly. This raises the question of whether these pro-union attitudes will translate into votes for the Democrats come November.
Earlier this spring, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued what it called a "territorial review" on the Chicago economic region, stretching from Milwaukee through northwest Indiana. Basically, the OECD said this region was much less than the sum of its parts, and needed some real cooperation, across state lines, to achieve a vibrant economy in the age of globalization.
At the time, I wrote about this report and expressed the hope that somebody in the region would jump on these ideas and try to turn them into reality. It looks now like this may be happening.
After an economic winter that has lasted nearly a decade, the first green shoots of thaw are appearing in America’s industrial heartland. Headlines sprout words like “recovery” and “revival”. Factories that had slashed workforces are hiring again. There are even signs of jobs coming back from China.
This is good, of course. But how good? Is this a blip or a boom? Do these green shoots have roots?
No one knows yet, so it’s too early to celebrate the Midwest’s revitalisation. But it’s wrong to conclude, as some have, that manufacturing will drive the Midwest’s economy in the 21st century, as it did for most of the 20th.
Regular readers of this blog know that I'm a fan of farmers in general and big farmers in particular. Part of this, I suppose, goes with having roots in Iowa soil. But mostly, it's a reaction to the smug superiority displayed in print by Michael Pollan and other writers, who disdain any farmer who'd actually like to earn a living from farming, and in person by the urban farmers and market gardeners who feel the only real agriculture has to be small, organic and shoestring. In my book, big farmers who see it as their task to feed the world -- who provide the yields and exports that keep starvation at bay around the globe -- are heroes.
But sometimes, oh my, these big farmers -- or rather, the lobbyists and politicians who speak for them -- sure do make it hard to stand up and cheer.
The Global Midwest Initiative of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is a regional effort to promote interstate dialogue and to serve as a resource for those interested in the Midwest's ability to navigate today's global landscape.