BRUCETON, Tennessee

Ghost Towns of the 21st Century

BRUCETON, Tenn.—When textile companies started sending jobs overseas in the 1990s, this town wasn’t spared. Here, the Henry I. Siegel company made jeans and suits in three giant plants, employing 1,700. It started laying people off in 1995. Over time, Siegel, known locally as H.I.S., closed its wash plant, its distribution center, and its cutting center. It laid off its last 55 workers in 2000.

In the 15 years since then, this town has struggled to figure out how to survive. The three giant H.I.S. plants in town are empty, their windows broken, their paint peeling. A few new manufacturing operations have come, but they’ve also left. One by one, the businesses on the main streets of Bruceton and neighboring town Hollow Rock have closed, leaving modern-day ghost towns. In downtown Bruceton, the bank is gone, the supermarket and the fashion store have closed, and there’s a parking lot where there used to be another supermarket. All that’s left is a pharmacy where seniors come to get their prescriptions filled.

This is a good article on trade deals in general. An entire class of people, among them your neighbors, friends and family have been written off as surplus.

Yes trade deals benefit the economy, yes they provide access to cheaper goods but that is no consolation when you don’t have a job.

All trade deals have winners and losers, but towns such as Bruceton, which haven’t rebounded after more than a decade raise an important question: If trade is good for the nation, why have the benefits still not reached these towns?

  • Drunk_by_Noon

    Actually, I don’t think these “trade deals” are beneficial to the economy at all unless you are looking at a very narrow range of what is beneficial.
    They benefit a few a lot, but for most people they don’t.
    I’d rather shop at an expensive store because I have a good paying job (or one at all) than have to shop at Wal-Mart because I don’t.

    • WalterBannon

      I agree. I never shop at Walmart, mainly because most of their products are inferior quality, and while they are cheap they are not a good value

      For example, ever try to buy a good can opener lately? Used to be able to get a good quality made in USA swingline that had a lifetime warranty. Now all you can get is some crappy Chinese can opener that stops working after you have opened a few dozen cans, and meanwhile the plant in the US that made the good quality ones is shut down, the people unemployed.

      I always look for quality if it is available over price.

      • Exile1981

        Lee valley tools has a great little can opener. When i bought mine the tag said made in the us. I’ve opened hundreds of cans with it. The slightly cheaper walmart one the accountant bought for the office broke on the 3rd soup canI used it on.

    • That is my point, cheap goods aren’t cheap if you don’t have a job.

      The benefits are not universal. They accrue to just enough to keep the underclass created in check.

  • BillyHW

    When they just import workers in your field in the form of immigration to drive down wages and take your job, not only are you out of work, but now your a foreigner in your own country. That’s worse than a trade deal.

    • Exile1981

      Actually i’m starting to see american workers showing up in the oil patch. Many have been out of work 2-3 years and are working for half the going rate.

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    • Immigration should be halted.

  • Maggat

    Handy place to dump the immigrants.

    • Cat-astrophe

      Same thought I had.

  • Cat-astrophe

    Wait till the TPP TTIP are fully implemented.
    I cannot see it being all that good for the average middle class family.

  • marty_p

    Wow – it is a great spot to retire – I looked at real estate listings in town and you can get a 2,900 sq ft 4 bedroom, 2 bath bungalow for $117,900.,pf_pt/40941012_zpid/17202_rid/36.132467,-88.103314,35.988701,-88.439084_rect/11_zm/?3col=true

  • Hard Little Machine

    TPP will suck a million jobs out of the US in 2 years.