From an industrial to a medical care economy

When I first came to live here in Rochester, N.Y., the local economy was dominated by Eastman Kodak Co. and Xerox Corp.

Now both companies are shadows of their former selves, and the largest employer is the University of Rochester, mainly because of the size and scope of the UR Medical Center.

Our business news used to focus on Kodak’s and Xerox’s latest products, high-tech startups and employment and profits figures of major companies.  Now it’s more about restaurant openings and closings.

The growth of the URMC is a good thing, I guess, although much of it is through acquiring formerly independent hospitals and clinics.  I’m glad of the good care I get from URMC’s Wilmot Cancer Center. 

But it’s not as if medical care is an adequate substitute for a strong manufacturing base.  It’s the fable of the village where people made a living by taking in each others’ washing. 

On the other hand, if we can produce all the stuff we need with less back-breaking, health-destroying labor, and devote more resources to caring for each other, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

My friend Steve from Texas referred me to a new book, The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America, which describes the same thing going on in Pittsburgh, Pa.

I don’t know when, if ever, I’ll get around to reading or reviewing it.  My reading and writing speeds are slower than it used to be. But here are some links that give the gist of it.  The author, Gabriel Winant, is on to something.

LINKS

The Rise of Healthcare in Steel City, an interview of Gabriel Winant for Dissent Magazine.

Gabriel Winant’s Book, “The Next Shift,” Portrays a Rust Belt City’s New Working Class by Scott W. Stern for The New Republic.

First Nurses Saved Our Lives, Now They’re Saving Our Health Care by Sarah Jaffe for The Nation.

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