The end of Empire

Welcome to the first true Obamaville, a formerly prosperous town reduced to desert dust. Company town Empire, Nevada, will soon be no more:

This mining town of 300 people clings like a burr to the back of the Black Rock Desert. For years, it was marked on state Highway 447 by a two-story sign reading, “Welcome to Nowhere.”

Empire, Nev., will transform into a ghost town. An eight-foot chain-link fence crowned with barbed wire will seal off the 136-acre plot. Even the local ZIP Code, 89405, will be discontinued.

Many towns have been scarred by the recession, but Empire will be the first to completely disappear. For only a few days more it will remain the last intact example of an American icon: the company town.

The United States Gypsum Corporation–the largest sheet rock manufacturer in the country–owned the town of Empire. Drywall sales have dropped 50% since 2006. After a desperate price hike to boost sales last fall, the company couldn’t hold out for a housing recovery any longer.

The end of Empire began just before Christmas, when dozens of workers in steel-toed shoes and hard hats filed into the community hall for a mandatory 7:30 a.m. meeting. Mike Spihlman, the gypsum plant’s soft-spoken manager, delivered the news to a room of stunned faces: Empire was shutting down. “I had to stand in front of 92 people and say ‘Not only do you not have a job anymore, you don’t have a house anymore,’ ” Mr. Spihlman recalled.

Read the rest. Obama’s interventionist policies last summer created an artificial bump in the market rather than letting it hit bottom. The results ripple. The construction industry–and now its suppliers–continue to bleed jobs.

This strikes me:

For decades, Empire was largely insulated from the troubles of the outside world. Here, you could rent a company-owned home for $250 a month, or an apartment for as little as $110. Water, cable TV, sewer, trash, and Internet service were all provided on the company dime. Workers were awarded gold-colored construction helmets when they reached 25 years of service and wore them with pride. No one bothered to lock cars or homes. Kids had the run of the neighborhood, but were still in hollering distance come dinnertime.

The company provided everything. Not the government. Liberals would argue that this is the end result of capitalism: company provides, goes bankrupt, people are left with nothing whereas government housing is for-ev-er. But the inverse is true–capitalism created jobs, houses, a community. When government intervened, it all came crashing down.

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One Response

  1. Sad. They should just level it. There are too many houses in this country, so they are not worth anything.

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