The Steel Crisis: The Economics and Politics of a Declining Industry

By William Scheuerman | Go to book overview

1
Steel on the Slide

Profits is a business proposition, livelihood is not.

Thorstein Veblen

Along the westernmost portion of the New York State Thruway, just east of the Pennsylvania border and adjacent to the once abundant coalfields of Erie, a road sign suddenly announces Springville-Orchard Park. A left off the exit ramp leads to Orchard Park, the home of the Buffalo Bills; to the right the road wanders through Lackawanna, a city built on a backbone of steel and once recognized as New York's "steel city." With the exception of Sunday afternoons in the fall, when fliousands of fans inch their way to Bills games at Rich Stadium, the traffic off exit 55 is usually very light. Few people drive to the Orchard Park stadium during the week, and nowadays there is just not much activity of any kind in Lackawanna. Lackawanna's ghosttown existence immediately becomes apparent to the venturesome soul who decides to explore the former steel city.

As we turn onto Ridge Road and skirt through the city's residential wards, the golden arches of an antiquated McDonalds disrupt the visual tranquillity provided by rows of neat little houses nestled behind well-manicured lawns and shrubbery. One of the first of Mr. Kroc's hamburger factories, a facade of shiny white tile with fireengine red trim substitutes for the omnipresent placid brick of the store's contemporary progeny. Sparkling bright and antiseptically clean, McDonalds manages to rest quietly, alone and isolated from other fast-food outlets.

-1-

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The Steel Crisis: The Economics and Politics of a Declining Industry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • List of Tables and Figures xiii
  • 1 - Steel on the Slide 1
  • 2 - Law and Social Power 22
  • Notes 39
  • 3 - The Golden Years: From Dominance to Decline 45
  • Notes 61
  • 4 - Protectionism and Disinvestment 64
  • Notes 94
  • 5 - Instrumental Politics and the Trade Act 98
  • Notes 125
  • 6 - Recovery, Relapse, and Retrenchment: The Trigger Price Mechanism 129
  • 7 - Restructuring: The Politics of Disinvestment 151
  • Notes 182
  • 8 - Economic Decline and Democratic Demise: Prospects for the Future 185
  • Notes 206
  • Index 209
  • About the Author 221
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