Monday, March 21, 2016

Week of 03/21/2016

Local Stagnation Gets Ignored
While we hear organized religion forcibly resurrecting the ghosts of Jim Crow to legalize their self-serving putrid discrimination against those they find “offensive”... while we hear the news reports of yet another fascist abuse of power by those seeking the highest office in America... while we hear the endless BS from a gang of sociopathic constitutional hypocrites as they justify failing to fulfill their own constitutional obligations concerning the Supreme Court... something rotten has been seeping into America.
Stagnation.  Economic stagnation.
Oh, sure, the numbers being thrown about from the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton’s fantasy record make the economy look absolutely rosy.  Record corporate profits.  Incredibly low unemployment numbers.  Companies “hiring”.  All of these jobs supposedly “created”.
But a lot of what you hear from them is smoke and mirrors.  Profits are what the companies keep, not what they spend.  Unemployment numbers only measure the people who are receiving unemployment assistance, not those that have exhausted that assistance and have been rendered persona non grata.  Countless millions have been taken off the rolls that way, and not because they found jobs.  And how many those actual jobs were handed to people from other nations that are in America through H1B visas?
If you want a real measurement of the economy, you have to look at it at the local level, not on a national one.
The old saying is that all politics is local, but what about the local economy?  Sure we can talk about overall wages and overall corporate profits, but all of the wages and profits in the world ultimately mean nothing if you can’t go down to the local store to buy a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk.  Saying that there are jobs doesn’t mean that there really is “a job” for you or for your local area.
Big-Box giant Walmart announced back in January that it was shutting down 269 of their stores all across America.  This includes all of their so-called “Express” stores, which were put in as a “test” program to compete with discount “dollar” stores.  Unfortunately, the majority of the closures are regular Walmart stores that were put in to compete with and ultimately replace the local mom-and-pop businesses.
Think about it, folks.  Walmart shows up in your town.  They compete with and overtake the local mom-and-pop stores that you used to do business with to get all of your shopping needs.  They drive those local mom-and-pop stores into bankruptcy, so you now have no choice but to rely on Walmart for all your shopping needs.  And then Walmart decides that those stores aren’t “successful” enough for their tastes and just leave you with an empty building and a longer drive to get what you need.  Those local stores don’t just come back once Walmart leaves.  They don’t have the wherewithal to do it at that point.
Walmart isn’t the only company cutting back either.  Staples is merging with Office Depot/Office Max, which means a lot of stores that used to compete against each other will be shut down.  RadioShack went bankrupt last year, so a lot of their stores have been closing up and shutting down.  Kohl’s is shutting down several stores across America.  McDonald’s is shutting down 500 restaurants.  McDonald’s!  Barnes and Noble, American Eagle Outfitters, Walgreens, Ovation Brand Restaurants, all have announced closings.  All of those hard-working Americans will be joining the ranks of the unemployed through no fault of their own.
Now what happens when a store is closed in your community? You have an empty space and nobody to pay property and business taxes on.  You have people who need work, who aren’t getting paid so they’re not contributing to the local economy.  They’re not able to look ahead, so they can’t plan for things like vacations or getting new cars or new clothes.  Forget retirement.  Forget healthcare.  Everything they have is put into treading financial water.  Just enough to keep the bills paid, keep food in the fridge, and to keep a roof over their heads.
And even if there are jobs for that person, those jobs usually don’t pay as much as the ones they lost, so there’s more financial treading water going on as they try to get back into their comfort level.  But, again, that doesn’t happen overnight.
And they don’t want to hear FoxNews and FoxBusiness and CNBC talk about “job creators”, because they know that is a bold-faced lie.  Calling corporate executives “job creators” while they kill jobs is like calling child molesters “relationship councelors”.
The local newspapers may tell you when jobs are “coming” to the area, but how many of them will tell you when a business closes?
There have been several businesses here in my area that came in with very little fanfare and then left in the dead of night.  No word in the local papers of them opening, and certainly no word of them closing.  Two of them were restaurants that served pretty good food, and yet they simply declared bankruptcy and shut down and moved out, leaving the residents with nothing but yet more empty buildings and “For Lease” signs.
Have you ever seen a whole community in stagnation?  I have, and it’s not pretty.  You don’t see mom-and-pop businesses move in.  You see more title pawn shops and “We Buy Gold” stores.  Every so often you’ll see some local church take up a closed-up store, but they don’t pay taxes, so the community can only count on them filling the space, not the local tax coffers.  And you can only have so many of those kinds of businesses in any given community.
Now it’s one thing if this was something that could be discussed openly as a problem that needs to be addressed.  But let’s get brutally honest here... this is going on despite all of the claims being made in the media and by the blowhard politicians and the wannabe presidential contenders as to how “great” our economy is!  And the more this is being whitewashed and swept under the rug, the harder it gets for those communities to keep going.  They can’t keep treading economic water forever.  Eventually the money runs out.  Just look at Detroit.
These are the people that have become disillusioned by the political “establishment”.  These are the people that have been left out from the corporate profit orgy and left behind from the so-called “recovery” that Obama’s people continue to tout as a “success story” that only exists on paper. These are the people that look at a Donald Trump or a Bernie Sanders, simply because Trump and Sanders seem to acknowledge that there is this problem that is not being addressed.
It’s high time that we acknowledge that, just like all politics is local, all economies are local as well.  We can’t get behind trade deals if those deals end up with us out of work and in fear of our own security.  We can’t support a bailout of a big corporation or a big bank if they turn around and screw us over.  And we certainly can’t get excited over a “recovery” that only exists for the one-percent crowd when we’re worried about whether or not we will still have a future to look forward to.  And maybe then we can deal with the other political games going on in the meanwhile.

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