There is a debate in America that does not have much substance is the divide between the rich and poor. Urban and rural America this past winter suffered silently in the transformation in the 21st Century. Technology has risen to the point of no return for any possibility of non-skill labor that paid money for autoworkers in the 20th Century. Post-industrial Michigan left Detroit and Flint with thousands of workers with no jobs. The new technology demands skill sets, that require the education and training to work in the technical field. The demise of public education was a ladder to a better chance at life. The time presently in those better days have shifted and the divide of social, economics and education has weakened the former middle working class.
The historical bankruptcy in Detroit has yet unfold completely. The political rhetoric suggests that everything had to take place. Perhaps, yet, the damage, methodology of reconstructing fiscal matters hides the extreme payout to the experts who restructured Detroit debts. The true losers are the middle class workers who pensions have become lesser under the Emergency Manager who along with the blessings of the governor allowed the high fees without a sense of fairness. The media of today is owned by business leadership that is strictly capitalist with an understanding limited to capital profit. The good life, high end of big business, shadowed by Wall Street hedge funds means high class business is the order of the day. Public education which once prospered as Flint, Michigan once hosted the finest after school program in America is now much like the ghetto ruins of other forgotten urban cities. The lure, expectation, sense of hope has become forgotten by thousands who are living in distressed conditions. An ecological environment that is complex, fallen, and reconstructing with Mother Nature reclaiming crumbled infrastructures of once meaningful social constructs. Old street lights, abandoned residential housing, commercial zones of hardware stores, small grocery stores, local drug stores, small businesses that catered to community needs like cleaners, specialty shops, supermarkets, clothing, and beauty salons, barbershops no longer exist. Like the classic song, Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles the chorus rings “all the lonely people…” There now countless empty dwellings that once housed families anchored by a labor force that made decent wages that supported public services. Public education that allowed schools to offer education beyond normal day hours. Night school, GED, education, vocational training left school open for community members until ten o’clock at night. The faith-based institutions offered not only religious services but provided positive youth development for youth who had little else to occupy their lives.
The ignorance is that this challenge is nothing but social change extends and includes rural communities that have seen small farms struggling in the new order of the great divide. The higher prices for farm operations has put many farms out of business. The fiscal reality of sharing state tax revenue has left many rural communities with belt tightening policies. Ironically, the rural poor is much like the urban poor. Unemployment stares into the technology that again demands skill sets connected to training, education that allows workers new skills that are not based on labor, physical actions alone. The cost of heating in recent years has found many rural citizens battling to heat their homes, care for their livestock and endure other challenges connected to changing times. The social, political and economics of America has been flipped upside down with the racial charge of having the first African American president. The social stage has found subject matters of same sex marriage, abortions, gun ownership, state rights vs federal rights, taxes, marijuana legalization, and unions entangled both externally and internally within American communities. Today, the citizenship of many is mythological based on what American rhetoric professed forever. Horatio Alger is a myth along with the notion of hard work allows you to become rich in this nation. There is serious divide between the high class of the have’s vs. the lower class of the have not’s. The rich in this society can enjoy $10,000 ringside seats for a championship boxing match in Las Vegas while many denizens in poor sections of other communities can not pay rent. Public education is all but dead in reality. The traditions of the United States of America are being questioned by those who are not citizens, they are non-citizens feeling left out of the whole democratic promise. Then the resentment, hatred, hopelessness of those who are so discontent they are anti-citizens. These Americans are actually the blow back that the higher class ignore in building their new Detroit, new Flint and perhaps the blueprint for new reconstruction era of revised urban and rural America. The capacity, humanity for those who once held hope to live the American Dream have found merely a mythological memory at best. There is the rhetoric and then there are bad roads, high prices even in fast food places, inferior public education, housing shortage that one can afford and last, no decent jobs, or simply employment that allowed America to have a middle working class. Change is here, hardly what many expected as we live in 2015. The great divide means some folks see everything is wonderful. The developing, growing lower class find little good in the divide or the change socially, educationally, and especially economically. No jobs, no employment for thousands is the great divide, sadly.