Stop the elitism - Detroit deserves better

I live in Detroit where the meltdown of the American auto industry is up close and personal.

My next-door neighbor Paul works for Ford, assembling bumpers. He works an eight-hour shift picking up one bumper after the other and bolting it on. He's one step away from being laid off, even though he has 16 years of seniority. A year ago, he thought he'd be able to make his way to the top of the union pipe-fitter training list, which would give him the opportunity to get a less-exhausting and better-paying job, but now it doesn't look like that will happen because the union doesn't have any opportunities for pipe-fitters.

It's not just autoworkers who are feeling the pain. The painter, who has worked for me many times over the past few years as I renovated a couple of houses, called me the other day, embarrassed. He said he hadn't worked at all in two months and wanted to know if I had anything that needed to be painted.