The Real Price of War & the Takeover of Anheuser-Busch/St. Louis
by howardpark, Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 07:33:24 PM EDT
In the 1800s immigrants from Germany and other mid-European countries flocked to cities like Cincinnatti, Detroit, Milwaukee and St. Louis. They built many things including built great breweries, like Blatz, Miller, Schlitz, Pabst, Falstaff and a thousand lesser ones. The greatest brewery of them all was Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis. I went to high school just 10 blocks from the 100 square block Busch brewery complex in St. Louis. If the breeze was just right, the smell of hops would blow in and engulf our classroom. It was a reassuring smell. It meant union jobs at solid middle class wages with great benefits that had been won thanks to strong unions and a paternalistic management. Anheuser-Busch, then & now, was the cornerstone of St. Louis.
Our city had once been known for being "first in shoes, first in booze, and last in the American League."
The St. Louis Browns left St. Louis in the early 1950s. The shoe industry left in the 1960s. St. Louis was once second only to Detroit in auto production. The population of the City of St. Louis has declined by close to two-thirds from it's peak in the immediate post-World War Two era (the suburbs grew, but the area declined on a relative basis). Corporate giants like Ralston-Purena, Pet, Southwestern Bell, Emerson Electric, TWA, McDonnell Douglas, Mallinckrodt have all been taken over or moved away. Virtually all of the locally owned banks have been swallowed up. Measured by the loss of population density, St. Louis has fallen even more than cities like Detroit or Newark. About half of the airport is shuttered. In the early 1970s a huge public housing project, one of the worst urban disaster areas in the history of the world, Pruitt-Igoe, once home to over 30,000, was dynamited. Today, over 30 years later, only weeds grow on the site.
We had two world class institutions left. The greatest baseball franchise in the National League and the greatest brewer in the World, Anheuser-Busch. Soon, only the Cardinals will remain.
Thanks to the weak dollar -- a direct result of oil addiction and the incredibly wasteful war in Iraq, American business is at its knees. We have to sell something to the world that still takes our greenbacks in exchange for real goods, mostly from China. European manufacturing is down too but the countries of the EU don't have the military burden that overhangs the American economy. The latest victim is once proud Anheuser-Busch which is about to be taken over by a company from Belgium, InBev, known only for ruthless cost cutting. (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080611/ap_o n_bi_ge/anheuser_busch_inbev_6 ) Seriously "In Bev"? Before a few weeks ago had anybody ever heard of InBev? Only one thing is important, InBev has a lot of Euros and that is worth more than a lot of dollars.
St. Louis won't wash away in the next big Mississippi flood. The city is a thriving medical center. It is a regional capital in the middle of the most productive farms on Earth. The Cardinals still routinely beat the Cubs. A fine microbrewery, Schlafley, has grown. There is still a lot of train & truck traffic. It is a central location. St. Louis has great cultural institutions. People can buy huge homes in St. Louis for the price of a closet in Chicago. St. Louis will never run out of water, which is what built the great brewers, along with railroads, in the first place.
St. Louis also still has the Gateway Arch and the finest skyline between Chicago & San Francisco. The Arch is a memorial to westward expansion. It now stands for something else. The great movement of capital back east, back to Europe, back to the old world. The Bush administration sends Americans to fight & die for nothing, we shed our blood, we shed our treasure while our country is bought up by more sensible Europeans who don't waste thier children or their Euros on stupid wars. This Buds for you, InBev, and for every country that understands that peace means profit while war means ruin and oil means a drain while alternative energy is the future. I hope the future, once again, comes to my hometown. Until then, St. Louis might as well just sell itself in a yard sale to our European competitors.
If you wish, go to www.saveab.com. MyDD is a political site. Missouri is the ultimate swing srate. Let's NEVER, ever, let the Republicans forget that Anheuser-Busch was destroyed on thier watch. The jobs may never come back to St. Louis. Let's make sure that the Republican war monger wasteful spenders never get thier jobs back.
(cross-posted on Daily Kos)