Who Stole My Town?:
No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart: The Surprising Deceptions of Individual Choice (book)
by Tom Slee
Remember me? I used to live here. I was a small business owner, friend and neighbor. I was once an active part of our town. I gladly donated in support of all sorts of community projects and volunteered when I was needed. My customers and suppliers were friends. I never asked to be thanked?it just wasn't necessary; this was my town and I enjoyed it. I was a good employer and paid good wages. I had great employees. I loved it here and I thank you all for all the great years and good memories. I wish that there was something left beyond the memories.
I am gone now. I had to close my business and move away. My customers were lured away by the promise of something better and lower prices. Unfortunately, I think they settled for half of the promise and cheaper, inferior products. I don't pay either wages or taxes here any longer. My building is empty now and the paint is falling off. The big stores that replaced me were lured here by units of government that gave them big tax breaks that I could never receive. I don't make contributions to community projects any longer and I am not here to volunteer when I am needed. The big stores promised lots of jobs and they did what they promised. The problem is that they hired all of the displaced employees of former businesses. My employees mostly work for big company stores now?they aren't trusted. The big store is only interested in quick profits that are entirely sent out of town. The big store seems to care little for its employees and even less for the town?except when they want to do an advertising campaign. Yes, I know that nothing stays as it was but we have become a clone of a thousand other towns and I still miss the town that I knew and loved. A town that is now barely visible.
What happened? We got a better deal didn't we? Prices are lower?aren't they? Or are we just getting cheaper products? We have really big stores now and the community grew didn't it? On second thought, maybe the community didn't really grow, it just changed? We now buy lots of throwaway items because that is all that the big stores sell and nobody seems to know or care enough to fix cheap products anyway. I buy lots of things that aren't really what I need because nobody seems to know anything about what they are trying to sell me. We got more jobs and that's good?but most of them seem to be at minimum wage?hmm. Doesn't it also seem like people are more afraid that ever before? Those honest people who don't lock everything that they own are considered to be fools. We accept criminal behavior like it was bad weather that we can do nothing about. Growth seems to be mostly about big business driving out small business, about traffic, noise and crime. Didn't we use to have more fun and actually cared about each other more? I am now spending too much of my time shopping, driving, buying, waiting, returning merchandise, complaining and trying to fix things that were not designed to be fixed. Is my life simpler? Am I more fulfilled? Am I happier as a result of all this progress?
Who stole my town? It was here just a minute ago. On second thought, I think maybe it wasn't stolen; somebody gave it away because they didn't realize how valuable it was. Was it me that gave it away? I wonder sometimes that if I had only known what was happening if I would or could have done anything about it?
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