Boom, Bust, Exodus - Chad Broughton
Broughton has written a powerful indictment of corporate greed and poor public policy, balanced by a tribute to the perseverance of the working-class people of two nations. In 2001, Broughton moved to the small western Illinois city of Galesburg, just a year before the local Maytag factory closing was announced. Broughton traces backward from this event, looking at the history of the factory and the company, then following the lives of several of its workers up to the present. He broadens his study by turning to Reynosa, Mexico, a city just across the border from McAllen, Tex., and home to the new maquiladora factory, Planta Maytag III, which replaced the Galesburg plant. Broughton extends the story further by interviewing residents of several villages in Veracruz, home state of many of the Reynosa plant's workers. Mexico is shown suffering under a new form of economic colonialism in which a handful of U.S. corporations reap vast profits because of NAFTA and related policies. Meanwhile, in both the U.S. and Mexico, he finds blue-collar workers living with economic hardship but bravely soldiering on and, in a few cases, finding better lives. While most readers will be familiar with the growth of economic inequality in the U.S., Broughton's unflinching, empathetic account puts a human face to that idea.