2005

Writing Contest: Second Place

Song: "My Town" (Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry)

Sarah Davis, Columbia High School, Columbia Station, OH (Teacher: John Sheridan)

In their hit, "My Town," country duo Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry sing about
many aspects of economics. From outsourcing to the loss of jobs to market fluctuations and the
business cycle, this song addresses many issues that can be related to things that students learn in
an economics class today.

The song starts off with the singer describing the town that he grew up in. He describes
the features in his town that stand out the most: a "big old rusty tractor,"a "pale-blue water
tower," the courthouse, and the flag. By using these words, the image of any small town in
America can form in the heads of the listener. These lines help relay the message to the listener
that what happens in this song can happen in any small town.


The next verse addresses the problem of outsourcing: "There ain't much going on here
since they closed the mill, but that whistle still blows every day at noon."These lines give the
idea that this town had their mill shut down and the jobs were moved to a new location, likely in
a different country. This can also deal with technology, which is an important aspect of
economics, because with technological advancements constantly occurring, goods can be
produced faster and cheaper. If the product being made at this mill can be produced using
different means, and if those means are cheaper and quicker, the product will be made this way.
This could, in turn, cause unemployment in this town when the mill is shut down.
Unemployment is another important aspect of economics. If a country has a high unemployment
rate, they cannot thrive, because these unemployed people will bring down the overall gross
domestic product. All of these problems, however, can be traced back to the outsourcing
problem.


Outsourcing is a very controversial issue in the United States. By definition, outsourcing
is the practice of subcontracting manufacturing work to outside-and especially foreign or
nonunion-companies. Some experts say that outsourcing is good for the United States'
economy because more efficient and less costly production of goods leads to more affordable
products and services. This, in turn, allows countries whose economies have high labor costs
(like the United States and Europe) to be able to stay competitive and preserve the jobs that
remain in their country.

However, not everyone agrees with these experts. One survey done by the Wall Street
Journal shows that only 16 percent of Americans think that outsourcing is good for the nation.
Many people have a very simple opinion of outsourcing: it is wrong because it costs American
jobs and employs foreign workers instead. With a simple search of the word on the Internet, one
can find many sites put up by independent groups against outsourcing. Many tell stories of hardworking
American citizens who are now out of jobs because outsourcing has taken their jobs
overseas.


While there are many varying opinions on this subject, the opinion that is given in this
song is that the town seems to change for the worse when jobs are lost from its mill. When it is
said, "there ain't much going on here," it can be understood that the economy of this small town
is no longer flourishing since the mill was shut down.


The first two verses in general relay to the listener that the town that is being spotlighted
is run-down: an old rusty tractor for sale, a water tower covered in graffiti, a closed-down mill,
and a dismal economy. However, the third verse is a bit more optimistic: the singer has bought
and repainted the old tractor, the county has torn down the old water tower, and the town seems
to be flourishing once again. This last verse deals with another concept of economics: market
fluctuations, which are part of the business cycle. Every economy has market fluctuations; there
are ups and there are downs. For a while, after their mill was closed down, this town was doing
poorly, but now they are doing better once again.


While outsourcing, financial trouble, market fluctuations, the business cycle,
unemployment, and job loss are not what most people expect to hear about when they listen to
their favorite song, these subjects are apparent in many songs, including "My Town" by country
group Montgomery Gentry. While singing about the town they grew up in, they effectively relay
the impacts and effects of outsourcing and the possible financial troubles it can cause, the
fluctuations of a small-town economy, and troubles caused by job loss.


Appendix

"My Town"
Montgomery Gentry
My Town
Columbia Records Nashville
2002


"Outsourcing Affects Us All" Article by Michael Killian


http://credit.about.com/od/basiceconomics/a/100604.htm?terms=outsourcing