Men and women who carried lunch pails and spent their days on assembly lines could earn good wages, own their own homes, feed their families, and keep a cottage by the lake. It was a safe, solid way of life, and it didn’t require much book learning. One step up the ladder stood the trades, the jobs in construction and nursing and repair. The junior colleges and vocational schools taught these trades and taught them well. If they didn’t teach much science or math, that was all right, because only students going to universities needed that knowledge. . . . The Midwest has lost the knack to compete in the new economy, and the schools have lost their ability to teach it. (pp. 179–180)
Globalization may be the most egalitarian force in history. . . . If you’re good, you’ve got a chance. If you've got the education and the skills, the door is open. But if you don’t . . . you’re out of luck. . . . If the Midwest’s future contains manufacturing, it will be high-end, high-tech manufacturing, demanding two-year degrees at the least. Biosciences will hire no dropouts. (pp. 172–173)
This is an important book for anyone who lives in the Midwest (or any other primarily rural area). It's a depressing book, but an important book. I learned a ton. I give it 5 highlighters.