All day long the front door buzzes at Uptown Gems & Jewels. The people come in with their trinkets wrapped in tissue or velvet boxes. They say their hours have been cut or they've been laid off. Some have their first names stitched in cursive on their uniforms, others wear safety-toe boots.
At campaign time, they are celebrated as the people who built America. Now they just want to know how much they can get for a wedding band.
"Let me show you something," says Dallas Root, standing behind the counter with a jeweler's loupe strung around his neck. He holds up a gallon-size Ziploc bag that's two-thirds full of gold -- engagement rings, class rings, promise rings, serpentine chains, St. Christopher medals, bracelets, anklets and earrings.
"This is just this week," Root says.
Uptown Gems & Jewels doesn't offer the refined science of Wall Street or Washington. But when Root puts the loupe to his eye, he peers into the lives of the working class and sees how badly the recession has knocked them to the ground.
What's so "progressive" about despair?