Monday, February 25, 2013

Wal-Mart passes city council, 5 - 4

This evening Springfield City Council, on a 5 - 4 vote, approved the re-zoning of the church property at 444 West Grand, between Campbell and Grant, to permit the construction of a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

Councilman Rush, Mayor Stephens, Councilwoman Fisk, Councilman Compton and the little guy who works for the Chamber of Commerce in his day job Siegfried, all voted in Wal-Mart's favor.

When I got home this evening from the City Council meeting, this was in my email box:

 "After Ruining America, the Era of Giant Chain Stores Is Over" by James Howard Kunsler.

The coming implosion of big box retail implies tremendous opportunities for young people to make a livelihood in the imperative rebuilding of local economies. February 24, 2013

Global currency wars (competitive devaluations) are about to destroy trade relationships. Say goodbye to the 12,000 mile supply chain from Guangzhou to Hackensack. Say goodbye to the growth financing model in which it becomes necessary to open dozens of new stores every year to keep the credit revolving. Then there is the matter of the American customers themselves. The WalMart shoppers are exactly the demographic that is getting squashed in the contraction of this phony-baloney corporate buccaneer parasite revolving credit crony capital economy.

Unlike the Federal Reserve, WalMart shoppers can't print their own money, and they can't bundle their MasterCard and Visa debts into CDOs to be fobbed off on Scandinavian pension funds for quick profits.

They have only one real choice: buy less stuff, especially the stuff of leisure, comfort, and convenience. The potential for all sorts of economic hardship is obvious in this burgeoning dynamic. But the coming implosion of big box retail implies tremendous opportunities for young people to make a livelihood in the imperative rebuilding of local economies.

 Back in the day when big box retail started to explode upon the American landscape like a raging economic scrofula, I attended many a town planning board meeting where the pro and con factions faced off over the permitting hurdle. The meetings were often raucous and wrathful and almost all the time the pro forces won — for the excellent reason that they were funded and organized by the chain stores themselves (in an early demonstration of the new axioms that money-is-speech and corporations are people, too!).

The chain stores won not only because they flung money around — sometimes directly into the wallets of public officials — but because a sizeable chunk of every local population longed for the dazzling new mode of commerce. "We Want Bargain Shopping" was their rallying cry.

The unintended consequence of their victories through the 1970s and beyond was the total destruction of local economic networks, that is, Main Streets and downtowns, in effect destroying many of their own livelihoods. Wasn't that a bargain, though? Despite the obvious damage now visible in the entropic desolation of every American home town,

WalMart managed to install itself in the pantheon of American Dream icons, along with apple pie, motherhood, and Coca Cola. In most of the country there is no other place to buy goods (and no other place to get a paycheck, scant and demeaning as it may be). America made itself hostage to bargain shopping and then committed suicide.

Here we find another axiom of human affairs at work: People get what they deserve, not what they expect. Life is tragic. The older generations responsible for all that may be done for, but the momentum has now turned in the opposite direction. Though the public hasn't groked it yet,

WalMart and its kindred malignant organisms have entered their own yeast-overgrowth death spiral. In a now permanently contracting economy the big box model fails spectacularly. Every element of economic reality is now poised to squash them.

Diesel fuel prices are heading well north of $4 again. If they push toward $5 this year you can say goodbye to the "warehouse on wheels" distribution method. (The truckers, who are mostly independent contractors, can say hello to the re-po men come to take possession of their mortgaged rigs.)

At this stage it is probably discouraging for them, because all their life programming has conditioned them to be hostages of giant corporations and so to feel helpless. In a town like the old factory village I live in (population 2500) few of the few remaining young adults might venture to open a retail operation in one of the dozen-odd vacant storefronts on Main Street.

 The presence of K-Mart, Tractor Supply, and Radio Shack a quarter mile west in the strip mall would seem to mock their dim inklings that something is in the wind. But K-Mart will close over 200 boxes this year, and Radio Shack is committed to shutter around 500 stores. They could be gone in this town well before Santa Claus starts checking his lists. If they go down, opportunities will blossom. There will be no new chain store brands to replace the dying ones. That phase of our history is over. What we're on the brink of is scale implosion. Everything gigantic in American life is about to get smaller or die.

 Everything that we do to support economic activities at gigantic scale is going to hamper our journey into the new reality. The campaign to sustain the unsustainable, which is the official policy of US leadership, will only produce deeper whirls of entropy. I hope young people recognize this and can marshal their enthusiasm to get to work. It's already happening in the local farming scene; now it needs to happen in a commercial economy that will support local agriculture. The additional tragedy of the big box saga is that it scuttled social roles and social relations in every American community.

On top of the insult of destroying the geographic places we call home, the chain stores also destroyed people's place in the order of daily life, including the duties, responsibilities, obligations, and ceremonies that prompt citizens to care for each other.

We can get that all back, but it won't be a bargain. © 2013 James Howard Kunstler

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Good Bye Old Friend


This olelongrooffan has previously shared some of the vehicles my family and I  have owned over the years. But one of the most beloved vehicles was the one my older brother, Bus-Plunge, owned for over twenty years. I am, of course referring to the short bus that has played an important role in not just Bus-Plunge's life but his kids, grandkids, family members and friend's lives as well.

Should any of my fellow Hoons be so inclined to make the jump, please accept this olelongrooffan's apologies for the wonkiness of the size of some of the old school photos. They are over a 1/4 century old by this point. Thanks.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

More Obfuscation from Billy Long

In addition to signing the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity bus while it was in Springfield on a campaign tour (pictured above), Billy Long has signed a lot of things that take some explaining...

“For the last two years I’ve pressed the United States Postal Service for real numbers on cost-saving options,” said U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield. “Dropping Saturday delivery was one of the first questions I asked about and was surprised to see how little they would save by ending Saturday delivery.”.

PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! Is there anyone on staff with the SN-L who has institutional knowledge of Springfield, Greene County, SW MO and MO7?

Remember when David Stoeffler News-Leader wrote a couple of weeks ago that the SN-L would be watching out for us and even unveiled a little 'watchdog' journalism logo?

What happened David?, did you miss the boat on this? Or perhaps, because it was not originial content to the News-Leader you decided it wasn't news worthy?

To allow Billy Long to make a statement like above with no follow up questions is a pretty poor example of watch dog journalism.

Do you remember when Long added -- not signed, not read, not typed but WROTE in his own handwriting in response to the following statement:

"Privatization: I will support legislation aimed at protecting taxpayers by privatizing government sponsored corporations and enterprises such as THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, the housing government -sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Tennessee Valley Authority."

Long hand wrote the following in the comment section under that statement:
"Entities like the USPS Fannie and Freddie are proven economic failures that operate at losses constantly. Service and profitability would be enhanced by privatization."

Long's crocodile tears and snake charmer words reek of insincerity, pandering and signify that his allegiance and votes are NOT to workers and constituents of MO---

Long has not given constituents any explanation of his statements or votes regarding this issue. As a matter of fact, he has not allowed critical constituents to question his votes, actions or statements on any issue. Why he turned into the FBI and Sheriff Arnott the names of people who dared to question his positions.

ah jeez.

Jim Lee