How Lancaster, Ohio: Reveals The Complexity Of Donald Trump’s Election And The Deconstruction Of An American Dream
Get a firsthand look at what’s behind the scenes in a town that supported Donald Trump by reading Glass House.
This book takes an in-depth look at Lancaster, Ohio, a town that many have pointed to as an example when trying to explain the political shift towards Trump during recent elections.
By examining the case of Lancaster, Ohio, you’ll gain insight on why blaming white working-class culture is often an oversimplification.
It certainly wasn’t enough for this town— despite its local success with Anchor Hocking Glass Company—to survive and thrive.
The issues were much more complex than that.
In chronological form, get insights on how greedy corporate hands caused Midwestern towns can become vessels of decay; learning how having a beer at the pub could land you a job; discovering how President Trump’s key economic adviser impacted small Midwestern towns; and understanding why people who ruined their community are still touted by some long-time locals.
A Model American Town: How Lancaster, Ohio Was The Hollywood Ideal
In the decades following World War II, Lancaster, Ohio was a quintessentially American town.
Forbes, the editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, even held it up as an example of what could be achieved without left-wingers meddling in affairs.
It was a thriving, industrious hub of the community, with its very own glass factory – Anchor Hocking – employing over 5,000 residents.
It had a picture perfect downtown area where neighbors would greet one another as they passed by.
Herb George and his wife Nancy were examples of families living in such conditions: he worked at Anchor Hocking while she volunteered for various causes within the community such as setting up vaccination drives and putting pressure on city council meetings to get new schools built.
The people here were justly proud of their honest workmanship and families there were trustful enough to let their kids freely run around town streets.
Even those from higher social classes would gather alongside other glass factory workers for a drink or two at Old Bill Bailey’s tavern and it wasn’t unusual for executives to hire brand new employees right out of the bar!
Lancaster wasn’t exactly paradise but it was as close to a Hollywood version of small-town America you can find outside of films – in fact part of a 1948 movie “Green Grass Of Wyoming” did get filmed here!
How Free-Market Capitalism And Corporate Greed Destroyed The Dreams Of A Small Town
Lancaster, Ohio was much different before it was hit by a toxic combination of bad management, greedy private-equity financiers, and unregulated free-market capitalism that took over in the 1980s.
It was once a rural idyll with prosperous factory towns, instead of what it has become today – home to rampant drug addiction, crippling unemployment and bankruptcy.
The once beautiful houses and buildings are now falling apart due to neglect and lack of funding.
It’s not uncommon for children to be living with their grandparents since 58 percent of the social service program kids have parents with an opiate addiction in Fairfield County (and 79 percent in neighboring Hocking County).
Drugs became an escape from how bleak life had become, but only ended up leading to even more problems for Lancaster.
The man in charge of the city’s Major Crimes unit had tears spilling for all his hometown arrests whenever he recounted the stories about his old high school friends falling prey to this dangerous cycle; meanwhile oldtimers cling on to ideals from a bygone era that no longer seem relevant anymore.
It’s tragic when you think that all this could have been avoided if it had been stopped at its root cause – corporate sharks swooping into Anchor Hocking factory led by Carl Icahn whose ‘greenmailing’ tactics earned him millions while leaving Lancaster worse off than ever before.
Today, the town is barely recognizable as a ghost of its former self; the history behind it is essential if anyone is going to understand why things have become so bleak.
The Lasting Impact Of Corporate Buyouts On Communities: The Case Of Anchor Hocking
Once Anchor Hocking became a company to be bought and sold, the lives of workers changed dramatically.
With corporate buyouts came executives who had to choose between staying in the community and relinquishing their jobs, as well as workers facing a very uncertain future – when one investment firm took over from another and cost-cutting measures were aggressively enforced.
The employer was tasked with putting part of an employee’s salary into their 401(k) retirement plan, yet the amount steadily decreased until it became clear that these pensions would no longer guarantee a comfortable retirement.
The factory then proceeded to be downsized and defunded until all that was left were the memories of happier days.
It’s tragic how Anchor Hocking was subjected to hostile takeovers which resulted in highly destructive cost-cutting measures that inflicted hardship on both the people working at the plant, as well as on their beloved town.
The Real Cause Of Lancaster’s Downfall Has Nothing To Do With Selfish Residents But Rather The Exploitation Of Its Resources By Private-Equity Vampires And Greedy Politicians
The blame for Lancaster’s demise cannot be solely placed on the shoulders of its residents.
Despite what some might say, the true cause of their troubles lies with politicians and executives.
The private-equity vampires stripped away the leadership that was invested in Lancaster by relocating the company HQ and removing all sense of local accountability.
Moving the headquarters meant that there was no longer any socializing between executives and factory workers.
Furthermore, no taxes were being paid to support their town as well as a lack of funds from corporate contributions typically made by these leaders’ wives.
Desperate politicians looked to appease the new owners by offering them free land, but all this did was worsen their problems, such as when $50,000 in school funding was handed over in exchange for tax incentives for executives who already had private jets and Manhattan apartments.
But this wasn’t all; poor decisions were also made when politicians borrowed funds from predatory lenders that charged an exorbitant 636 percent interest rate—all contributing towards Lancaster’s decline.
It would be wrong to insinuate that it is entirely down to unionized workers demanding higher pay either, as this only serves as a symptom of a much larger problem caused by those in power.
The Irony Of Lancaster: How Greed Killed The American Dream In A Small Midwestern Town
The town of Lancaster, Ohio is a perfect example of why we should all be more cautious about the so-called ‘benefits’ of free-market economics.
After all, it was free market policies that led to Lancaster’s current situation: rampant poverty, drugs, and general malaise among the citizens.
What makes this story even more poignant is the irony that this Midwestern town voted for Trump in 2016; many of them believed his message about making America great again and uniting a divided nation.
However, it’s worth noting that The Donald’s way to success is quite different from the traditional American Dream.
So what lessons can we learn from Lancaster? One thing that stands out is its inhabitants’ willingness to believe in fairy tales perpetuated by figures like Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman without realizing how these same economic policies led to their own present reality.
It’s also important to look at the role played by financial vampires such as Monomoy Capital Partners and Cerberus Capital Management in leeching away non-renewable resources from local businesses with total disregard for a community’s wellbeing.
Furthermore, leaders like Carl Icahn (the founder of Cerberus) being at the forefront of advisors in Trump’s cabinet put an extra layer of bleakness on this situation.
In order to make real changes towards justice and equity, our leaders must seek solutions that would undo decades of wrongs inflicted upon small towns like Lancaster through fixed economic systems created by those seeking only to look out for their own interests over everyone else’s – especially those in power who have benefited financially from free market policies.
Ultimately then, Lancaster has plenty to teach us about the far-reaching effects when a society runs itself under a strict free-market philosophy.
The Glass House offers a vivid picture of the town of Lancaster, Ohio and its troubled history.
While many have blamed the residents of Lancaster for their own misfortunes, the truth is that it was deceptive financiers and greedy politicians who brought the town to ruin with their bad deals.
What we can learn from this book is that even though one person or group of people can make mistakes which can result in numerous negative consequences, ultimately, everyone has power over their own future and in rebuilding from disaster.
The story of Lancaster is a testament to how communities can come together and work hard to create something new out of something old.