I am spending a few days in the country’s Midwest so that I can celebrate Mothers Day with my parents. It is quite wake up call as to how the economy is affecting America’s heartland.
Here in Minnesota, where most towns were settled by immigrants from Germany and Sweden, you would be hard pressed to find a Volkswagen or a SAAB, a BMW or a Volvo. No, this area of the US where you still find people speaking with touches of German and Swedish in their language, you are far more likely to see four-wheeled transportation made by GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
The loyalty to American makes is strong despite the alternatives available.
And the environment is not kind to cars here. With all the advances in car design to fight rust you see the effects of winter’s salt and sand on cars that have but a handful of years upon them. Trucks are not immune either.
I have seen cars in Vermont and upstate New York that look better. It is a rough life for a car our here with Canadian winds and weather rolling over the area and holding on for months after North Carolina has seen Spring. Yes, Spring and Summer will arrive – and disappear as quickly as they come. Long enough to have millions of acres of corn grow and mature.
While the earth is black as coal and rich with nutrients that produce and abundance of crops to harvest, life is getting very tough around here. As I travel through the towns supported by agriculture it is clear that retail businesses are disappearing like the steel bodies of the Chevy pickup trucks that have seen a handful of Minnesota winters. While the nations average unemployment percentage may be under 9% it is fast approaching 20% in these parts.
When I stopped for lunch in a town outside of Minneapolis I picked up a local paper and found that after the first three pages it consisted of many pages of legal notices of mortgage foreclosures.
This will be a long financial winter for many in this part of the country.