small town wisdom…
My father never fell for the utopian image of the 1960’s. Small town politics had already taught my father that there was no such thing as a free press. He was the first to tell me that the New York Times and the 6 o’clock news were nothing more than the spokespeople for government and big business.
My dad was no Noam Chomsky, but Chomsky never said anything that my dad didn’t already know.
My father once ran for municipal council in an effort to keep Toronto developers from over-running the last untouched lakes in the county with their new mega-cottages, only to have the provincial government (through the OMB) over-rule local council in favor of the developers. And when it happened again in their effort to stop the big box stores, my father truly realized that it was all just a big game of Bullshit.
We all watched as the box stores – planted in the big open fields outside of town – gutted the downtown – turning it into a wasteland of empty storefronts. My father went to his grave knowing that what had once been a vibrant, neighborly, successful downtown core of a vibrant rural community was gone forever.
When the grocery and hardware and clothing stores had been side-by-side with the flower shops and jewelry stores and the five-and-dimes everyone prospered. When the tourists came to the downtown to buy groceries, hardware and such things they also perused all the little businesses in between.
Now, there are more million dollar cottages and more tourists from the city than ever before – and more every year – yet, there is less and less economic life in the downtown. Tourists now ask why they have to drive through the old narrow downtown street to get to the box stores. Couldn’t a by-pass be built that would be more efficient?
Much has been written about how the box stores killed the old downtowns and one only has to go to Barrie, Orillia, Peterborough, or Bancroft (in Ontario) to see the results. The same thing is happening all over the country. (Halifax’s downtown is currently imploding on itself.)
My dad was the first to explain to me how all of this “bullshit” worked. How the gravy always flowed uphill to the few who could care less about community, who only saw as far as the next quarterly profit report.
My father was a successful businessman in his own right and he had no problem with wealth or economic competition. But he had little time for men who made their money on the sly, or to the detriment of the community.
He was a man of character in that regard. Of which there seems to be too few in business these days.