Perhaps you also have a fuzzy memory of studying the play, “Our Town,” in Senior English. Minimalist staging was used in the play: the actors sat on chairs set in orderly rows to simulate being dead and buried in the graveyard. This gave them the opportunity to discuss their lives and their town.
Have you thought about what’s going on in your town lately? Unless you are living in an oil/gas boom town or in a town sucking resources from the rest of the country (Washington,DC), then your town probably has a lot in common with the towns I’ve lived in lately.
Just ask yourself some questions about your town: “is it booming with growth or is it visibly decaying?” “What industry consistently employs the most people?” “How does this industry invest in your town?”
My answers are, “decaying; government; buildings.”
Seriously. Look around you. The employer that has consistently expanded by erecting the newest and largest structures in town is government.
The very small town I work in has multiple downtown structures completely abandoned and falling apart. No one bothers to do anything about it – it’s just not worth the effort.
In stark contrast, just across the street from the aging, decaying structures is a decades-newer multi-story building. It dominates the main thoroughfare through town, occupying the choicest location. It is the county administration building.
I was shocked, and yet not so, to recently learn that the site was formerly occupied by a thriving hotel. A hotel that brought tourists, trade, and investment to the area.
No more striking example of what is wrong with our towns could possibly be presented.
You see, government does not invest or grow anything. Economic growth is simply the ability to produce more of the goods and services that we want while using consistently fewer resources. Businesses accomplish this by investing and then reinvesting any profits earned.
Government does no such thing. It exists entirely off of the taxes taken from productive business. It invests nothing that will allow it to produce more goods and services with fewer resources in the future. It doesn’t need to. Like a leach it depends on business to do this for it. This is a self-destructive model of consumption without investment.
The simple fact is that increased government consumption resulting in downtown real estate takeovers is destroying our towns.
Don’t believe me? Look around your town. Look at reality in bricks and mortar. The answer to Our Town’s decay is staring us in the face.