Oct 13, 2013

October 11, 2013: Thoughts off The Left Field Wall, Dominance Over Nature, Implicit Contradictions

“The implicit contradiction of Marxism is that man can only overcome his own self-alienation by attenuating his alienation from his origins.”  ---from The Quotations of Chairman Joe

As a young lad studying in a parochial school, I was taught to loathe the teachings of Marx and Nietzsche.  Upon completing college I went about the business, in my mid 20’s, collecting the works of these authors thinking, to paraphrase Nietzsche, that they had to be worth something to be hated in so indecent a fashion.  The following was composed in the spring of 1977, a little more than a decade before the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Herein is a short essay encapsulating my critique of Marx as his doctrine pertains to the post-industrial world: 

 Alienation is at least as old as religion itself; which is to say that it may be as old as man.  In fact one could see religion as the manifestation of the first alienation.  Further, in contradistinction to our Marxist friends, the religious aspects of alienation have been transformed into economic and political alienation, coinciding historically with the secularization of the state and, later, the industrial revolution.  To put it more concisely, to understand current economic and political alienation, one must first understand religion; for the manifestation of the industrial system is itself the bludgeon we have fashioned to execute our preconceived values concerning man versus nature.  Religion gave us the postulate of man’s domination of nature, and the rise of the nation-state together with the industrial revolution gave us the means to inflict our dominance on an ever more massive scale.  Therefore to embrace the industrial revolution, as Marxism implicitly does, is to embrace the alienation of man from the natural order.

 As George Novack points out in his essay The Problem of Alienation, “The most primitive forms of alienation arise from the disparity between man’s needs and wishes and his control over nature.  Although they have grown strong enough to counter pose themselves as a collective laboring body against the natural environment, primitive peoples do not have enough productive forces, techniques and knowledge to assert mastery over the world around them.  Their helplessness in material production has its counterpart in the power of magic and religion in their social life and thought.  Religion, as Feuerbach explained and Marx repeated, reverses the real relations between mankind and the world.  Man created the gods in his own image.  But to the superstitious mind, unaware of unconscious mental processes, it appears that the gods have created men.  Deluded by such experiences—and by social manipulators from witch doctors to priests—men prostrate themselves before idols of their own manufacture.  The distance between the gods and the mass of worshippers serves as a gauge for estimating the extent of man’s alienation from his fellow men and his subjugation to the natural environment….Alienation is therefore first of all a social expression of the fact that men lack adequate control over the forces of nature” (1)

 These, then, is a short summary of orthodox Marxist teaching concerning religion and alienation, but let us subject these underlying premises to the close scrutiny of the natural order.  First, orthodox Marxism teaches the implicit acceptance of the domination over and the control of nature.  “For it is hard to deny that the potential wealth of society, the degree of satisfaction of rational needs, and the possibility of thereby eliminating the coercive mechanisms in the social and economic organization, have been advancing with giant strides for a whole century—and especially in the last quarter of this century—in what is called ‘industrial’ society.  Why should it be supposed that this tendency cannot result in a qualitative ‘leap’ by which man’s enslavement to the necessities of a ‘struggle for existence’ would wither away and his capacity to dominate his own social organization, no less that he dominates the forces of nature, would come to full flower” .(2)

 The problem of central concern here is that the domination and control over nature by man has itself become the central linchpin of Marxist theory; for the Marxian remedy lies precisely in the acceleration of this control.  For according to Marx and his disciples the alienation and self-alienation of the individual can only be overcome by way of “increasing general conditions of abundance of material goods, the principal goal of production becomes that of producing fully developed individuals, creative and free. In proportion as man becomes the “principle productive force” through the enormous extension of scientific technologies, he is less and less directly “integrated” into the production process.  In proportion as ‘living labor’ is expelled from the production process, it acquires new significance as the organizer and controller of this process.” (3).  In this capsulized form we find the adherence of Marxist philosophy with adopting the growth syndrome of Western technological societies.  Indeed, for the Marxist, the only avenue toward the overcoming of alienation is the shopworn expedient of ever increasing production of material wealth or, to put it bluntly, massive increases in GDP.  Indeed Mandel’s apology for the obvious failure of the Socialist countries efforts to address themselves to this problem stems from their collective failure to increase the material output of their respective economies.  With this in mind, let us return to the previous statements concerning man and his control over nature as they relate to the problem of alienation.

 It seems that Marx was well on his way toward unraveling the problem, but then fell prey to the primitive form of alienation”, says Novack, “arise from the disparity between man’s needs and wishes and his control over nature.  Although they have grown strong to counter pose themselves as a collective laboring body against the natural environment, primitive peoples do not have enough productive forces, techniques and knowledge to assert mastery over the world around them”.  It was out of a desperate desire to control nature that man created god.  It is the creation of god itself that is the hallmark of alienated behavior, for here man confuses the part with the whole, her man makes himself the measure of all things.  Likewise is not the separation or ‘gap’ between needs and fulfillment that creates alienated behavior, rather it is the pathological introduction of the concepts of ‘control’ or ‘dominance’ that creates truly alienated activity.  Thus, man was acting in harmony with the natural order when he counter posed himself vis a vis

Nature but as soon as he sought mastery over the world around him, he embarked on the road of futility.  As soon as he sought mastery over nature he declared war on all his natural instincts, on his animal origins, on his life support systems.

 The Marxist avenue to the ‘transcendence’ of the human problem of alienation itself rests on the domination and control of both nature and human nature.  For Marx the human being is only fully realized through labor.  The fully developed human being is a creative soul whose creativity can only be realized through production.  A tree, said Marx, has value only when it is studied by a scientist or transformed into a piece of furniture or a home; when it is an object of scientific inquiry or cut down and cut up and bent to human purposes.   

 Such ‘transcendence’, it must by now appear obvious, itself rests on the alienation of man from the natural order.  That is on the control, indeed on the exploitation of the earth.  ‘Transcendence’ rests on the reckless adherence to the growth syndrome—indeed growth at all costs—even to the implicit acceptance of the industrial revolution.  This blind acceptance of the industrial order, this faith in technology must itself belie a belief in the major presupposition of the industrial revolution—that is on the transcendence of man from the natural order through the domination and control of nature.  Is it not obvious that such ‘transcendence’ of alienation is itself based on pathological alienated activity?  It appears that Marxist philosophy concerning the transcendence of alienation, at this level, betrays an adherence to the fundamental basis of religious alienation.  That is, it is not the separation of god from man that is alienation, rather the creation of god itself.  So too it is not the separation of man from the technological/industrial order that is alienation, rather it is the creation of technologies in order to dominate and control nature that is the essence of alienation itself.  The industrial order was created in order to make manifest man’s alienation from the world by seeking dominion over it.  The liberal, socialist, leftist teaching is, in the broad view, nothing other than a secular religion for it seeks to create a material heaven on earth and it can do so only by declaring war on the natural order and on the earth it rests on. 

 Marx said that all generations stand on the shoulders of their fathers.  In this sense we are all the victims of the institutions and values we inherit.  The avenue toward transcendence of alienation must begin with the industrial/technological state.  However, if it is the industrial/technological order that has produced the highest form of alienation, based as it is on the alienation of man from nature, it is not logical to conclude that the acceptance of that alienation through adherence to unlimited industrial growth will solve the problem.  While Marxian solution may solve certain aspects of the alienation between men, it does nothing to solve the problem of the alienation of man from his eco-system, and from his natural origins.  In short it does nothing to solve the problem of self-alienation, that is, alienation from natural man.

 In any case as the industrial order presses against the barriers of resources and energy as well as creating massive problems with pollution, waste disposal and population growth, the Marxian dream of the transcendence of alienation through postindustrial growth will be revealed for what it is.  Industrialization, like religion, reverses the real relations between man and the world, our task is not to control the natural environment, but to control the industrial/technological revolutions.

      1.     Novack, George “The Problem of Alienation” in George Novack and Ernest Mandel The    Marxist Theory of Alienation New York, Pathfinder Press, 1973. P.66

      2.     Mandel, Ernest “Progressive Disalienation through the Building of Socialist Society Or the Inevitable Alienation in Industrial Society” in The Marxist Theory Of Alienation. P. 46

      3.     Mandel, Ernest. P.42


Oct 8, 2013

October 8, 2013: Melodramatic Rhetoric, Non sequitur, Read Your History

"Proclaiming one's ignorance only makes one ridiculous" ---From the Quotations of Chairman Joe

“It’s not just the death camps. (Hitler) started in the communities, with national health care and gun control. You better read your history. Germany started with national health care and gun control before any of that other stuff happened. And Hitler was elected by a majority of people." (1)

---Arizona State Representative Brenda Barton (Rescumlican)

 Such are the sentiments expressed by a duly elected Rescumlican, this time in the Arizona House.  She accuses the President of being over-the-top, but her melodramatic rhetoric does little to raise the level of debate much above the gutter.

 What is so appalling about her comments is the breathtaking ignorance expressed in such gross simplicity.  I have said, and it bears repeating once again, on a number of occasions in these columns that the problem with modern conservatism is that the historical record keeps getting in the way.  Here our honorable representative of the good people of Arizona is expressing her pure and completely unadulterated ignorance of history. 

Let’s take her critique of our president point by point:

One: Death camps did not start with national health care.  In fact, in Germany, National Health was introduced in the last quarter of the 19th century under the Kaiser and Bismarck, predating Hitler by a half-century.
Two: The concentration camps did not start with Gun Control.  The Third Reich did not institute Gun Control. Gun control was instituted under the Weimar Republic.  The Nazi’s, contrary to the spin zone that is Fixed News, repealed those laws. To hold that Concentration Camps logically and inevitably follow from such legislation is not only a non sequitur but demeans the suffering of those who were so interred.

Three: Hitler was never elected by the majority of Germans. To blindly make such an assertion is to demonstrate at once a blinding ignorance not only of the historical record, but of the nature of a republic operating under a parliamentary system.  The Nazi’s never got much more than 35% or so of the popular vote, but in a parliamentary system in which the leader (Fuhrer), in this case Chancellor, is elected by the parliamentary body and not the popular vote, the Nazis, representing the largest of the parties then in the Reichstag, (German Congress) was the party to which then President Hindenburg turned in order to form a stable government.  To say the Nazis were ever a majority is to blithely misinterpret history.  They were the first among equals, in a manner of speaking, but because the Reichstag was divided upon several parties, they rose to the top.  Here in the United States, where we have a two-party system, it is easy to confuse the difference and because so many Americans, as our honorable member of the Arizona House demonstrates, think that every national government is organized in our image, we quickly assume that because the Nazis rose to power they must have had majority support.  An erroneous assumption that one hears repeated all too often in these here United States.
So there you have it, another melodramatic assertion on the part of a virulently ignorant Rescumlican demonizing our President as another Hitler.  Three short assertions in the space of one paragraph, all taken by the ditto heads of the teabagger movement as gospel, and all unable to withstand the most cursory examination of the historical record.  In fact it does not follow (non-sequitur) that health care and gun control lead to death camps as the historical record of republics all around the globe who have both health care and gun control amply demonstrate. To put forth such an assertion not only does material damage to political discourse but leads to public embarrassment in the bargain.  Giving voice to ignorance only makes you look ridiculous.

Read your history Representative Barton, I suggest William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  It is a tough read, a thousand pages or so and not many pictures.  I suggest then that you put down your crayons and read this book carefully,  preferably with someone at hand who can explain to you what really happened.


(1). http://news.yahoo.com/arizona-de-fuhrer-barton-obama-134942788.html 



Oct 5, 2013

October 5, 2013: Camfield’s Fearless Forecast, Immoral By Definition, Think About It

The following was written sometime in the late summer of 1974 during the high tide of the cold war before weapons of mass destruction were a threat in the hands of terrorist groups.  Nevertheless the commentary, here envisioned as a 19th century poster, contains salient points that I hereby submit for the reader’s consideration.  So, without further ado, here is my composition on why there will be no nuclear war:



Fearless Forecast


That all seeing, all knowing

Wonder of Wonders


Former soda jerk at Arno’s Take Out

Camfield Himself!!

A mental ejaculation
Why there will be no



For lack of better form

(The Conservative)

Major Premise:  All politicians are self-seeking, power-hungry megalomaniacal alphas by definition

Minor Premise:  Nuclear war tends to liquidate omega populations, fertile sources of ego-gratification,
and incidentally,


Conclusion:  Nuclear war is both ego-shattering and inoperative


As Camfield Himself once said:

“What politician is wont to rule over 2 million square miles of ***RUBBLE?***


If you don’t accept that,

 (The Liberal)

For you idealists in the crowd, here’s a bone:

Major Premise:  All politicians are altruistic, self-sacrificing, other-directed DO-GOODERS!!!

Minor Premise:  Nuclear war tends to liquidate the recipients, hence the purpose and goals of



 As both Camfield Himself and P.F. Sloan once said:

 “There’ll be no one to save

With the world in a grave”

Conclusion:  Nuclear war, leaving no one to save, is therefore immoral
 by definition. 
 No matter how we look at it,
we lose. 
Think about it.






October 5, 2013: Dead End Proposition, Experience Trumps Ideology, Knee-Jerk Reaction

“Conservatism is a dead end proposition” ---From The Quotations of Chairman Joe

 It should be clear from the foregoing posts that conservatism, brought to its conclusion, is a dead end proposition.  While it is true that, as old Ben Franklin would remind us, a penny saved is a penny earned, it is also true that one can save oneself out of business.  This was certainly true of the Butterfield Corporation and, as I left property maintenance in Athens, management faced with over 50% vacancies in the office building raised rents at the apartment complex.  This, because of the student base upon which the business rests and because yearly migrations produce high turnovers, resulted in a few short months of reducing occupancy at the apartments from 97% to around 75%.  The downward spiral had begun demonstrating, once again, that bedrock conservatism is not only a poor model for governance, but doesn’t even produce a workable model for small businesses.

 Every election cycle the citizenry is bombarded with loaded political messages.  Propaganda is another term for it.  The oracles on the political Wrong would have us believe that if we would only exercise enough discipline and work ourselves into a debt-free condition a new era of unlimited prosperity awaits us.  The problem with this “Morning in America” mentality is that it never did and never will work.

 Conservatism is always running amok not only science and reason, but the historical record.  The facts are overwhelming, in fact bordering upon universal observation and experience, that—as Professor Galbraith has more than once reminded us—all eras of economic advancement have involved debt.  Sometimes a great deal of debt.  The debate should be about how much debt, not about whether there will be debt at all.  For as was demonstrated here in the microcosm, a debt-free condition does not produce strength but weakness and, in the end, collapse.  Had Butterfield borrowed money and kept up with the times,  using its business leverage by having the stock holders let the customers, in effect, finance the expansions, it could very well have survived the times.  The same is true with the operations in Athens.  But the ‘ideological’ imperative was at work forcing management into a series of knee-jerk budget cuts that in the end hollowed out the enterprises.

 The “Ideological Imperative” manifests itself in the rhetoric of the Wrong.  Appeals are made to the fears and anxieties of the political marketplace by asserting that we must adopt policies of austerity lest we fall into a pit of fire and brimstone.  You’ve heard the message:  families have to balance their budgets, so must the government.  Overlooked is the fact that the government is responsible for the value of the currency and the health of the economy; but that is in large measure beside the point.  The fact is that families don’t live on balance budgets in the first place.  It is worth noting that prior to the financial meltdown of 2007, when government had to do some serious borrowing; private debt was far greater than public debt.  Experience trumps ideology.  Every household knows that there will be no home ownership, no automobile, hell no refrigerator or washing machine or indeed lawn mower without accompanying debt.  Debt, it emerges, is not a bad thing.  In fact it can be quite the opposite. 

 Nevertheless, we are now in the grips of a government ‘shut-down’ orchestrated by the teabaggers and their malignant representatives stalking the halls of Congress.  At issue is financing the Affordable Health Care act, otherwise known as Obamacare.  Once again the idiot Wrong is willing to drive us to the point of economic crisis in a knee-jerk reaction to further investments in ourselves.  As the experiences of life in the marketplace suggests when we recoil from investing in ourselves nothing but hardship can be the result. 

Oct 3, 2013

October 3, 2013: Succeeding Generations, Time Does Not Wait For Maintenance, I Can't Give It Away on 7th Avenue

“You cannot protect wealth from succeeding generations” --- from The Quotations of Chairman Joe

 As the miserable record of ‘ol Two-Cows’ suggests, succeeding generations wither in the shadows of greatness.  In biology it is a general rule of thumb that succeeding generations revert to the mean.  It is not logical to expect then that the sons of accomplishment will ever rise to the level of their fathers, a principle revealed with terrifying clarity as the Boomers took the seats of their forebears.  There are exceptions to every rule, of course, the Bach family leaps immediately to mind but, alas, the exceptions prove the rule.  When I first proposed this maxim on the internet in 2000 arguing that the snot-nosed son of wealth and power would, in the end, make his father look like Marcus Aurelius, I was immediately ridiculed by one wag who raised the example of Barry Bonds.  Alas, steroids have demonstrated my point for old W was all hat an no cows. The point still stands.

What is true in politics is also true in other facets of life.  Ted Turner is a notable exception but I think we can rest secure knowing that he represents, in that family, the pinnacle of achievement.  Like the Rockefellers, Fords, and others, the offspring of Bill Gates and Ted Turner will in all likelihood not be the captains of capitalist achievement that was their father. 

 And so it is on a much smaller scale.  I spent over a decade in Athens, Georgia working with several property management companies.  Two such companies were the results of inherited wealth, and both very dysfunctional. In a college town, a town in which the demand for rental housing is exceedingly high and every opportunity for success presents itself, both of these operations were working their dead level best to parrot William Clay Ford and become the Detroit Lions of the rental industry.

 Both companies were characterized by bed-rock conservatism.  One of the proprietors of the first obtained the company through inherited wealth, following a business model in which maintenance was shoddy and infrequent, and the work of contractors substandard.  The other Company was directly inherited.  While the maintenance standards were much higher, the ethic was nonetheless as basely conservative.

 Both companies were, in spite of the prevailing contempt for the ‘welfare state’ sucking off the public teat.  In the first, the most significant single client was the University of Georgia which leased a huge office space for its testing center.  In both cases the companies were hugely dependent on student subsidies, federal grants and loans in which students, unless they are at school on daddy’s credit card, pay their rents.

 In the second example, however, conservatism took a more familiar form.  Drew would say to me that his goal was to be ‘debt free’.  Inheriting a sizeable debt as well as the operations from his father, he vowed to rid both himself and the company of debt.  Reading the ‘Drudge Report’ and other ranting’s of the paranoid, psychotic conspiracy freaks; Drew was convinced that the sword of Damocles hung directly overhead. It was sort of an economic survivalist mentality, bordering on an a personal form of the ideological imperative.  He would soon be debt-free, he would say, ensuring that the company would become rock-solid, impervious to change.  I had heard tale before, visions of the Good Ship Butterfield slowly sliding into Davey Jones’ locker danced before my eyes.  

 Drew inherited several properties, including an apartment complex and a large office building.  When I first began my work, the apartment complex was full.  But time waits for no man, as the old adage goes, and time certainly does not wait for routine maintenance.  Over the years, the buildings had begun to deteriorate, especially the office building.  One of my first recollections was a few vacancies on the upper floor of the two floor structure.  It had been vacant for nearly a year when I arrived and, in time, I began to understand why.  The roof leaked.  The structure had a flat roof which was easily over half a century old.  It had been patched many times. When it rained hard, and it rains hard often in subtropical Georgia, the downspouts, located on only one side of the building, are quickly overwhelmed resulting in the pooling of several inches of water.  Water, as you know, finds its own level, and will soon seek a path downward and any weaknesses in the structure will soon be discovered.  Accordingly, with every significant rainfall, we would be spending our day cleaning up the mess.  Sometimes these were considerable with desks and records destroyed.  The inexorable effect of all this was soon apparent.

 Moreover the structure suffered from lack of routing replacement of old and rusting air conditioning equipment.  Rust from the “A” coils in the air conditioning would soon fill up the pans and drains where the condensate, in the form of water dripping off these coils, would collect resulting in leaks in the office ceilings.  Repeated efforts to clear the drains were always the response, but no monies were to be borrowed to repair either the cooling systems or the roof.  The result was predictable.  When I left, some two years later, the building was nearly 50 per cent vacant.

“I can’t give it away on 7th avenue….”    --- The Rolling Stones “Shattered”

 Recognizing the stench of death, I moved on.  I had been here before, de ja vu all over again.

Oct 2, 2013

October 2, 2013: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ensigns of Activity, The Sidewalk Sale

“It is one of the maxims in life that the larger the institution the greater the distance between the head and the body.”                                          ---From The Quotations of Chairman Joe


 It has become commonplace on the political wrong to criticize labor unions as being wholly out of touch with their membership.  And, on balance this criticism is valid.  For any organization worth its salt has to be large and the leadership that emerges becomes, by degrees and by definition, an elite.  The same can also be said of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

 The Chamber, in the American Romantic version, is seen a group of civic-minded leaders who regularly gather to address the needs and aspirations of the local community. In days of yore this would typically involve the coming together of the leadership on Main Street what, referring to such gatherings in Grand Haven Michigan, I would in my youth refer to as the “Washington Street Aristocracy”.  Washington Street, being of course, the name of the City’s Main Street.  In attendance one would encounter the Presidents of the local banks, the downtown pharmacists, the owners of the downtown furniture, hardware, and appliance stores, the owners the local restaurants and hotels, the owners of local media, and representatives of the then emerging chain operations like McClellan’s downtown.  These people would join forces to further the interests of the business district then the heart of commerce, seen as pumping life into community. It was, in my youth, the group that built what was then billed as the “world’s largest musical fountain” at the foot of Main Street, serving as an attraction to combat the emerging strip malls then beginning to make their appearance on the outlying Beacon Boulevard. 

 Today, the local chamber is as hollowed-out as is the rest of the economy.  Gone are the owners of the hardware stores, the pharmacist and the hotel. In their place have emerged craft and novelty shops, small mom and pop operations.  The real retail operations have been taken over by the regional and national chains.  The old neighborhood grocery has given way to Meijer and Plumbs, the old hardware stores have been gobbled up first by the old W.T. Grant corporation to be superseded Meijer, and the old hotel has given way to Best Western and other Giants. The local pharmacist is now a mere employee of the regional ‘big box’ operations.  The result is that the local Chamber of Commerce no longer represents the true moneyed interests of the community.  Today at any Chamber meeting in rural or semi-rural America you will encounter more often than not a gathering of small merchants and corporate underlings, none of whom are empowered to put the weight of their corporate paymasters behind any decision under discussion.  Where once stood the captains of commerce now sit the ensigns of activity.  The result is that the collective production has diminished with their community standing.  Where once the Chamber could produce a monument on Main Street, today their mighty labors call forth only the occasional sidewalk sale. 

 Nevertheless, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to nurture the image of its local chapters being the ground upon which the movers and shakers meet to shape the future of the community.  Likewise, the local chapter nurtures the myth that the national chamber is nothing more than the collection of the local body, with the interests of Main Street writ large on a national scale.

 Nothing could be further from the truth.  While the local chamber has been hollowed out to the point of near irrelevance, the national Chamber of Commerce has gone whoring after the Koch Brothers and foreign interests, financing a self-serving wrong-wing agenda that serves the interests of a relative handful of international financiers, foreign suppliers, and the Rescumlican partisan political agenda. 

 The difference is that as Labor has its own elites, these groups have historically supported and continue to support a wide range of issues from immigration reform, education, working conditions, minimum wage, health care, the environment and regulation to name a few, the Chamber has become a spokesman for international greed and the lackeys who support it.  While one supports the middle class, the other has declared war upon it.   This too is the face of modern Conservatism.





Oct 1, 2013

October 1, 2013: Down on Main Street, Stench of Death, Vulchers Looming Overhead

For over 10 years I labored as an account executive, mostly in Ionia but also for brief periods for radio stations in St. Ignace, Ludington, and Hastings, Michigan.  It was during these years that I became intimately acquainted with the business conditions and practices on what is colloquially called “Main Street”.  By Main Street one generally means the old business district in downtown rural or semi-rural America.  Like the passing “family farm” images of which are used to portray a golden era in this country with a square-shooting business and no-nonsense work ethic.  It is to these traditions that political appeals are made to convey a sense of well-being as well as a standard of honesty and integrity.

 But, like so much of what has happened to America in the last half-century, all is not well in the heartland.   Visit any Main Street today and you are likely as not to be confronted with a declining and dilapidated old business environment, with boarded up windows.  As in the financial sector in which 6 banks control two thirds of the national economy, so too retail business today has been swallowed up by a relative handful of regional and national chains.  These operations, all too familiar around the globe, have moved out into the suburbs and exurbs into malls and strip malls drawing the life-blood out of the old business districts.  In fact, they draw the lifeblood out of the whole town as daily deposits are quickly siphoned off to their national and international headquarters.  Wal-Mart is an example.  Importing most of its goods from overseas it quickly draws out the money from towns like Ionia leaving behind only the starvation wages that they pay to their employees. 

 I’ve seen the impact of these operations in the old business districts.  So devastating have they been that storefront rental rates, having quickly fallen, attract business start-ups that are all too often undercapitalized.  I’ve seen people invest their meager savings into small shops and not have a “Grand Opening” promotion because they couldn’t afford it.  If ever there is a time to advertise and promote your business it is when you are opening the doors for the first time.  But funds for this important function were not foreseen and, therefore, were not budgeted, the merchant instead relying on “word of mouth” and his sign hanging outside the shop to draw in customers.  All too often by the time word gets out about this splendid little establishment it is too late.  In the meantime the merchant had to drain whatever his residual resources by way of savings and operating funds to get through.  All too predictably, the business would shortly fail.  After a few years plying the main streets of Mid-Michigan, I could predict with unnerving accuracy which of these start-ups would soon go under.  The stench of death became all too common.

 The price of real-estate and commercial rentals declines to such a degree as to entice the would-be entrepreneur to risk his savings, his credit, and his reputation.  He invests all in an erstwhile effort to establish his own independence and take his place among the “somebody’s” that have traditionally occupied these places. 

But, alas, it is a cruel hoax.  I’ve seen it first-hand.  As far back as the mid 1980’s I began to witness it. 

A new technology emerges, in this case the VHS tape player.  Taking advantage of the readily available vacant storefronts on Main Street, Mom’s and Pop’s across the country opened up video rental stores, investing thousands of dollars in inventory and staffing the operation themselves or employing immediate family for these were not large operations.  Soon they were realizing a modest profit.

There were 3 such stores in downtown Ionia, but these operations soon got the attention of the large chain operations.  In this case it was Meijer, Inc., a regional big-box outfit.  Meijer introduced its 99 cent video and quickly ran these operations out of business. Today, some 30 years later, Meijer is out of this business and no longer handles video rentals having themselves relinquished the field to Blockbuster and Mammoth, who are themselves now under siege from the computer-based Netflix.  The same thing happened with the dawn of the internet.  Small operators pioneered the installation and marketing of dial-up internet service only to be elbowed out of the way by EarthLink, cable and now satellite service companies.  And so it goes.  Today these shops are once again boarded up or being leased to a new generation of start-ups who are themselves doomed in the long run to the avarice of the capitalist pigs.  Like the stock market, the small investor is lured into the market only to be picked clean by the vultures looming overhead as soon as they demonstrate that the industry is viable.