I laughed so hard and bitterly I almost fell off my reclining chair when I saw this advertisement the Donald Trump brigade now has flying across the television. He's talking about bringing 'American Steel' back. Oh yeah? 'American Steel' as in the gargantuan integrated steel mills that took up space and added weight to such places as Pittsburgh, Pa.; Youngstown, Ohio; and Gary, Ind.?
Like everything "The Donald" dreams up in his egoistic, maniacal, sick mind, I know he's not talking about mini-mills here. There is just not enough scrap steel lying around desolate, overgrown, brownfield sites to feed mini-mills (which melt down scrap steel, add some specialty alloys to the mix, and melt down these ingredients by way of electric arc furnaces). No, Trump's talking about bringing back the old coke-fueled blast furnaces that both my grandfathers worked in during another time in American history. "The Donald" couldn't be considering the creation of a slew of little mini-mills - with their more modest electric arc furnaces used to melt scrap steel and alloys into bars, plates, coils, and various other shapes, which will later be shipped to a menagerie of down-line steel processing facilities for further manufacture and fabrication.
Donald Trump's own business acumen is suspect. Hillary Clinton now has flying on television stations a portion of this advertisement - from an interview Trump had with David Letterman over three years ago - of how Trump's operated his own mess of businesses. Dress shirts Trump's had made in Bangladesh; ties made in China; and if Letterman didn't go into retirement after this interview with Trump, the longstanding, legendary, talk-show host and comic would probably badger and ridicule Trump for apparently having his MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hats made in China, according to some reports.
But what I'm most interested in is how "The Donald" plans to bring back a thriving, gigantic, hyper-productive steel industry that's big enough to rebuild America. Are he and his friends in the casino industry going to forsake their current ways of stealing Social Security money from old gray-headed ladies glued to slot machines? This is a very safe and lucrative industry, where money is the pinch, product, prize, and the perfect paragon. Are all these fat cats going to get into the steel industry now? It wouldn't cost millions, but probably more in the vicinity of several billion, to build a colossal, integrated, money-making integrated steel mill today.
And where are these mills going to be built, Donald? Probably not in the steel territory of the upper Midwest. There's nary an integrated steel mill operating around Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Gary. There are a few still in operation, but finding one is about as rare as finding an albino Bigfoot in downtown Cleveland. The old mills have been torn down and in many cases, what's left on the ground level are super-fund sites so polluted that it's hazardous just for kids to play around them, or for adults to walk around their perimeters for their physical fitness routines. Maybe you can build these integrated steel mills down South? They're more cozy with the non-union label down there and perhaps you and your casino fat cat friends can set up shop in Alabama or Arkansas.
Maybe your pal Hugh Hefner will sell the Playboy Mansion and all his business holdings and throw that money into building a giant integrated steel mill, one that doesn't take up several city blocks but half of the side of a middle-sized city. Of course, Mr. Hefner might consider that publishing photos of beautiful naked women is a cash cow and creating a monstrous integrated steel mill would be a financially dicey proposal. He might lose everything he's ever worked for on such a venture!
- Oh yes, the entirety of the east side of Anniston, Ala., is now a belching mess of smoke and cinders. All the homes have been razed and the people have found other places to live. Our mill has not one blast furnace, but three. And we pay our workers well. They start out shoveling coal for the coke transferring process at $9 an hour. That's $1.75 cents above the minimum wage down here in The Yellowhammer State!
There are other problematic questions involved with bringing back an elephantine domestic steel industry. And even though I've been a fierce critic of the Environmental Protection Agency here, on opednews.com, I can't see how the EPA would ever condone, let alone rubber stamp , a host of cyclopean steel mills operating in a city. Check your history of steel manufacturing, Donald - in any steel-making city, there was never just "one integrated steel mill". No, there were many. Far too many to funnel out all the noxious air, water, and land pollution associated with making steel from scratch. And that's just what integrated steel mills do - they use all the ingredients like iron ore, coal, and sundry other kinds of nasty nasties to create the end product of perfect steel.
My favorite large American city, Pittsburgh, Pa., has rebounded wonderfully after the steel industry imploded and just left town. Today, Pittsburgh is a pretty city, with clean air, nice buildings, seemingly happy people (it has a pretty good employment rate for a large American city), and the rivers that flow through town - The Ohio, Monongahela and the Allegheny, are no longer being doused with poisonous liquid byproducts of an industry that's been long dead for decades now.
In "Cleaning Up One of America's Most Polluted Cities", writer Matt Stroud writes on The Verge: "In 1995, the Monongahela River Valley's air was among the most polluted in the United States. This collection of municipalities, about 10 miles southeast of downtown Pittsburgh, sat downwind from the Clairton Coke Works, which is a giant factory engaged in one of the dirtiest industrial processes known to civilization. It had been established decades earlier that people who grew up close to dense air pollution could suffer from chronic bronchitis, heart disease, premature death, lung cancer, and other debilitating ailments. If nothing changed in the Mon Valley, people would continue to suffer."
"One major barrier existed between Mon Valley's residents and clean, breathable air, however: the US Steel Corporation, one of the largest steel companies in the world. It wasn't going to change anything without a fight. But a fight is exactly what it got," Stroud writes.
"There's a reason why the city's NFL team is named the Steelers, why its tallest building was until recently known as the US Steel Building, and why the mention of the "steel city" evokes black-and-white images of thick smoke above bricked streets in downtown Pittsburgh. From the 1860s through the Carter administration, Pittsburgh was the most productive steel producer in the United States. During World War II, more than half of the country's steel was produced along the city's three rivers. Hundreds of steel mills were notorious for coughing a thick fog of soot toward the city and anywhere else nearby," Stroud writes.
"That soot sometimes forced the city to keep downtown streetlights illuminated in mid afternoon, and it made the city's rivers look like sludge. But it also gave generations of blue collar workers the ability to make excellent wages and comprise one of the strongest economies in post-war America. So the pollution was tolerated. But as with most US industrial cities, Pittsburgh went through decades of decline in the late 20th century. Raw materials became scarcer and, as steel companies looked for ways to cut costs, most moved their operations to other parts of the world. As a result, almost all of the city's steel mills closed and the unemployment rate skyrocketed. By 2000, the population of Pittsburgh was almost half of what it had been in 1950," The Verge writer continues.
"While Pittsburgh's economy took a major hit from the death of steel, its environment thrived. Though seemingly nothing could generate revenue like the steel industry did, education and medical industries served as its replacement. Eventually, the city's rivers no longer resembled open sewers. The sky was no longer constantly overcast. Over the course of a couple decades, Pittsburgh went from a deeply polluted industrial center to a city with blue skies and greenery-covered hills," the story continues.