This week we drove half the Lake Erie Circle Tour: Buffalo NY, Erie PA, Cleveland and Toledo OH, then to Lansing MI.
On the way home we listened to many hours of Hot, Flat and Crowded, Thomas Friedman’s latest discourse on the state of the world. One segment of that book describes “Dutch Disease”, a de-industrialization process that sometimes follows some windfall discovery of natural resources. Seems the Dutch found huge natural gas deposits offshore in the 60s, and got so busy extracting it (and getting rich off it) that the rest of their industrial complex sorta rotted away.
I’ve observed in previous trips through Buffalo that that city’s primary growth industry appears to be Personal Injury Law. What used to be a thriving industrial center has suffered years of decline, following the general fortunes of American manufacturing.
Lansing at one time was the #1 car production city in the US, with four major GM plants. Lot of empty space there now, although there’s also some really keen stuff going on with a gradually rejuvenating downtown area. Right now you can buy homes in decent shape in Lansing for $50,000 or less in some cases.
The confluence of that particular drive across that particular industrial corridor, and the friend I visited and his company in Lansing, and the arguments in that particular book, has really got the neurons firing.
Global warming, industrial decay, urban renewal, electron guns and superconductors, a turkey-bacon sandwich accident and a killer bottle of white Burgundy wine. (That’s the Reassembler version of a movie trailer line.) I’ll hope to post a lot of thoughts and connections over the next few weeks.