Why Are American Communities Dying?
By: Tom Chatham
Most Americans who have been around for a while know life is nothing like it used to be. When someone wanted a job one was found with a little bit of searching. Today jobs are difficult to find, especially in small communities.
When I was growing up in the 70’s, there were several car dealers in my community. There were three tractor dealers and too many mom and pop stores to count. Today there are two used car dealers and the nearest tractor dealer is twenty miles away. So how is it that we now have more people, but fewer businesses to employ them?
A nations wealth is derived from having a product to sell. That wealth needs to circulate in towns and cities to compound the wealth effect and create jobs and businesses. When wealth is not created or it is siphoned off to other places, the wealth effect can not happen, and in many cases goes into reverse. A community needs a certain amount of service related jobs to function but it also needs some type of production jobs to bring in money from the outside. This can be mining , agriculture or manufacturing type jobs, but they must exist to insure a healthy economy.
America has two major problems today. A large amount of our production is done outside the country eliminating production jobs in local communities and many of the small local businesses that kept wealth within communities have been supplanted by large corporations that siphon wealth out of communities and send it to wall street.
In the past when a small business made profit, that profit was kept in the local community because that is where the owner lived. Now, that profit leaves the community never to be seen again. With less money to circulate within the community the businesses that depend on people spending their extra dollars, have fewer customers and eventually go out of business. With fewer jobs there is that much less money circulating and the economic situation spirals down until nothing is left.
These days corporate businesses and government jobs make up the major part of many local communities. In many cases if it were not for the government jobs, many communities would no longer exist. So what do you think would happen if the government suddenly no longer had money to pay those workers? What would happen if corporate profits dropped to the point where corporate stores decided to close and cut their losses?
To some extent we are seeing this happen now in many places. Corporate stores moved in and drove small local businesses out. Then when the profits dried up the corporate stores closed leaving the community with no jobs or products to buy. With no capital in the local communities to rebuild small businesses, the people simply drive to other areas to do their shopping.
The corporate cronies and government laggards control most of the money flowing through communities now and they want to keep it that way. Any attempt to rebuild local businesses is met with luke warm results. Any business that might make a difference is either killed outright or regulated into oblivion before it can get off the ground. The county where I live has all but abandoned local businesses. The bulk of their income comes from property taxes generated by vacation homes and retirement homes of retired government employees. As long as the government pensions and paychecks continue, they see no reason to change the status quo. The result is that the younger people leave as soon as they can and the average age of the population continues to get older. As with many places today, this area has no future.
Where I live is a microcosm of the nation. Corporate and government entities continue to siphon what little money there is out of communities and just as small communities are dying, the nation will soon follow if current trends do not change. A return to small local economics is the only way to reverse some of the damage and keep our communities livable. But, do not be deceived. There is no way to undo all of the damage that has been done and even if we survive, we will only be a shadow of what we once were as a nation