THE GREAT LAKES STATES OF AMERICA by Neal R. & John Keefe Peirce

THE GREAT LAKES STATES OF AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This ninth and last volume of Neal Peirce's nationwide political survey covers Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio--states in the ""postindustrial era"" losing out to the West and Sunbelt, yet ""buoyant and strong and resourceful,"" as exemplified by efforts to clean local waterways. Although the 1970s saw an end to the area's ""dynamic growth and expansion,"" with actual shrinkage in some places, Peirce and Wisconsin-based consultant John Keefe report two hopeful developments: the energy crisis forcing increased reliance on Great Lakes shipping; and pressure from local Congressmen for greater use of Lakes ports. Their discussion of Illinois features Chicago (its well-diversified economy despite job losses; Daley's rule and ""unadulterated vote stealing""); labels Stevenson and Ogilvie governors of ""unusual distinction""; but concludes that Illinois government has ""few innovations or accomplishments to be proud of."" Wisconsin is better off economically than its neighbors, thanks largely to tax incentives for industry, and despite a personal tax burden that is 120 percent of the 1965 national average--but ""not as liberal"" as its progressive reputation might suggest. Michigan gets praise for activist governors Williams, Romney, and Milliken; former Senators Hart and Griffin; and its leadership position in industries other than automobiles. But Detroit's future is uncertain and auto-industry losses make Michigan's unemployment higher than the national average, leading Peirce and Keefe to conclude that ""with its wealth and opportunities, Michigan should never have let Detroit happen."" Indiana is ""a microcosm of what America was half a century ago,"" while Ohio--""least distinctive of the great industrial states""--shows a few ""fresh signs of movement."" Peirce and Keefe offer no definitive prognosis, but their bleak economic portrait, tempered with suggestions of rebirth, implies a viable future, albeit with a smaller population and at a slower growth rate than before. A well-detailed, comprehensive picture of five distinctive states whose identities sometimes seem to blur.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1980
Publisher: Norton