By Nathan Barton
When researching the column on “Disappearances: American Style?” (some time ago) I did find a few interesting articles about disappearances that are of interest but distracted from the point of that commentary. Still worth looking at and talking about, and asking “Why?”
Here are some examples:
Jobs for males are disappearing (according to the NY Times) as a major economic crisis grows worse. Other people just point out that a LOT of jobs, male and female, are disappearing as we enter the sixth year of the Crash of 2009. Especially the “good jobs” that pay more than minimum wage and a couple of dollars over. And many of us have jobs (or operate businesses) where the amount we earn has, in dollars, not changed in 10-20 years, even while the dollar has melted down.
North America’s rest areas are disappearing, it is claimed. But never fear, we don’t need them, we are told, as more and more fast food places and convenience stores pop up on highway exits. (Architecture News Daily) Well, idiots, try traveling in the REAL America, where dozens of Interstate exits are ghost towns: abandoned service stations and fast food places and convenience stores killed back in the 1970s and 1980s are still abandoned, and where even newer places are closing down, and see if we can do without rest areas. And THEN go to the REAL highways, NOT the Interstates, but the highways that move the wheat and corn and cattle and sheep and sugar beets that feed America (and much of the world) and look at the abandoned towns and fuel stations and even saloons and trading posts… I have driven hundreds of thousands of miles in North America since the early 1970s, and seen the rise and fall of the system and the economy.
America’s favorite stores are disappearing as the FedGov burdens on the middle class grow heavier. (WND) Sears and Penney’s are in trouble, and Alco (like Gibson’s and Montgomery Wards and others before it, I add) has disappeared from Fly-over Country (some are now part of Shopko’s growing chain, but not all). Even Family Dollar and Dollar Tree, recent success stories on the lower rung of discount/”little big box” stores, are closing stores in some places (but opening many elsewhere). This story points out the damage that does to rural and frontier areas. But to really appreciate the impact, you have to drive on the US and state highways through these towns to see it.
These were briefly in the news, and actually go back to last year and several years past. Since the 1920s, tourism has been a major part of the economy of the Black Hills of both South Dakota and Wyoming. Much of that in the 1950s and 1960s were family road trips: loading up and going to Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave and Custer State Park, or on the way to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. But the tourism business has changed: more and more convention trade and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally dominates the business now. Family road trips have been replaced by visits to Disney World and cruises in the Caribbean. As a result, tourist attractions that have been around for more than half a century – some pushing 70-80 years, are going away.
Most recently, an icon of my childhood (and of my childen’s) at Custer City, Flintstones Bedrock City, a small amusement park and campground, closed and reopened as “Buffalo Ridge Resort.” Last year, Sitting Bull Caverns, a lovely privately-owned park and limestone cave filled with crystal formations, was closed by the local family who owned and operated it since the 1930s. Several years ago, the Black Hills Passion Play in Spearfish, a three-times-per-week summer performance of the last days and resurrection of the Christ here in the Hills (and with a winter season in Florida) completely closed after sixty years: the Meiers family had run out of steam. Tourist places come and go, and we’ve seen quite a few over the years shut down and sell their collections or give up their locations. And we’ve seen a few come into existence, also, like the new replica of Independence Hall south of Rapid City and its “Founders of America” museum and displays.
But the point of this rambling is simple: it is more and more difficult for small businesses and small towns (in both rural and frontier areas) to survive. And even LARGE retail corporations (like Sears or Penneys) have it tough. It is easy to blame changes in technology and new methods of buying and selling (like on-line giants Amazon and the like). And clearly, businesses which are unable to adapt and learn and practice new ways of business are going to lose. And fashions and styles change: fads come and go.
But much of this is NOT due to lack of agility or ability. Much of it is due to the smothering hand of government at all levels that makes it harder to survive and live with regulations that get worse by the year, taxes that suck everyone dry, new prohibitions on what people can do, and all the secondary effects of those problems. Those small towns without fuel stations, those closed rest areas (often maintained by volunteers and local civic groups), those fewer jobs for men, etc. are all, in part, due to stupid actions of government and the results of unholy alliances between governments and big business and unions and other special interest groups.
It is one more reason why we must regain our liberty by taking away the power of government.
Enough is enough.
Mama’s Note: In addition, consider the possibly millions of businesses, products, ideas that never see the light of day because the people who would have brought those things to the market are discouraged or actively prevented from doing so by the heavy hand of non-voluntary government.
Those who want me to doubt that anarchy (self ownership and individual responsibility) is the best, most moral, and ethical way to live among others are asking me to accept that theft, aggression, superstition, and slavery are perhaps better. (Kent McManigal)