Publisher's Note — March 4, 2013, 5:51 pm

The State of Fostoria, Ohio

A short documentary about a town whose Autolite spark-plug plant moved most of its jobs to Mexico in the wake of NAFTA.

A few years ago, filmmaker Hart Perry (Harlan CountyAmerican Dream) and I shot a short documentary about Fostoria, a small town in Ohio whose Autolite spark plug plant was spoken of in the early 1990s by NAFTA supporters as the kind of business that would benefit from the new free-trade deal. As I wrote in a 2011 article for Le monde diplomatique, by November 2010, only eighty-six assembly jobs remained at the factory, and those workers were making only the ceramic insulators that go around the plug. The plugs themselves were being manufactured by some 600 Mexicans working in a maquiladora south of the border.

Hart recently put our documentary online. You can view it below: 

 
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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

At the time, Chomsky was still finishing his doctoral dissertation for Penn, where he had completed his graduate-school course work. But at bedtime and in his heart of hearts he was living in Boston as a junior member of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, and creating a Harvard-level name for himself.

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