Like many small towns in North Carolina, my hometown of Hickory is fairly unassuming. Easy to miss between the boom town of Charlotte and the beautiful Appalachian mountains, our claim to fame is being the birthplace of NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett.
So imagine my surprise when Hickory was front page in the Wall Street Journal, in a story presenting a grim view of Hickory and Catawba County—a furniture hub supposedly destroyed by free trade, littered with abandoned mills, and plagued by sky-high unemployment. In their words, Hickory is experiencing “devastation” and, as with many other places in America, China is to blame. If America never began to trade more freely with them, the authors imply, Hickory and other U.S. “mill towns” would be thriving.