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Missing Toolboxes, Lost Men, Signal U.S. Woes: Jeffrey Goldberg

Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- It was in the parking lot of the United Auto Workers hall in Janesville, Wisconsin, that I learned, among other things, about the insufficiencies of my toolbox.

I was visiting the UAW several years ago, to talk about politics with some of its members. We were standing around a Ford F-350 that belonged to a veteran General Motors Co. assembly-line worker. A monstrous, gull-winged toolbox took up a quarter of the truck’s bed. Its owner had two GM trucks, but his decision to drive a Ford that day made him the target of amiable mockery. A Toyota or a Honda in the lot would draw not insults but vandals. I was told that local police would categorize slashed tires on a Japanese car in a UAW lot as an act of God, and leave it at that.