Only a generation ago, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania had a steel mill employing tens of thousands of people at good wages. The typical casino worker today in Bethlehem makes $10-12 an hour. Many are part-time.
If I'd made a documentary film about the scars left on America through industrialization, instead of writing Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent about it, what I would have likely ended up with is "Braddock, America."
It wasn't hard to find another small businessman to interview in Vietnam. Trugyn is one of the top tour guides in the country. He was born at such an important time in Vietnam's history -- it was 1960, in a small village at the conclusion of the Vietnam War in 1975.
Because of massive Chinese subsidies to several industries, no free trade exists and markets have failed. To survive, U.S. and European companies must seek government support to open Chinese markets and to protect themselves from subsidized products domestically.
They struggled, sleeping in doorways or cars until a woman named Dolly gave them shelter, but Dolly's generosity had a price tag. Torture was commonplace in her household, and she beat George and his mother.
Like a lot of people, I had come to accept the conventional wisdom that America doesn't make anything anymore. What I discovered is that the prevailing narrative of decline and decay is overly simplistic and, in some ways, flat-out wrong.