The effects of industrialization on Milam County, Texas
Industrialization has initiated vast changes in human affairs during the past two hundred years, many of which have exerted a negative impact on the social and economic structure. Indifferent and even cruel treatment of labor, overcrowded living conditions, environmental pollution, poor wages, dangerous working conditions and social anomie are only some of the problems which have accompanied the Industrial Revolution. However, these, problems are not inevitable by-products of industrialization. This thesis demonstrates one possible alternative to the process of urban industrialization which has been traditionally implemented. Heavy industrialization in predominantly rural settings can alleviate many social problems which have erupted in urban, industrial centers. In 1952, the Aluminum Company of America constructed a large aluminum smelter plant in Milam County, Texas. Previous to the installation of the Alcoa plant, Milam county was undergoing the same difficulties that other rural counties throughout the nation were experiencing: declining populations and deteriorating economies. Agriculture was absorbing fewer and fewer of the work force each year and there was no other employment available for these surplus workers. Many counties have continued in this condition because nothing has happened to bring a reversal in the situation. In Milam County, however, the trend has been reversed and social and economic decay have been avoided. Since the Alcoa plant came to the county, the population has stabilized, economic conditions have greatly improved, and the quality of life has vastly improved. The tax base has risen sharply both for the county and for its schools. New medical facilities, libraries, urban renewal programs and new, smaller industries have come to Milam County in the wake of the Alcoa decision. At the same time, the advantages of rural and small town life have been preserved. Industrialization in rural areas, as demonstrated by the recent experience of Milam County, is one important alternative to the sprawling, industrialized urban blight which now plagues the United States.