Saturday, October 9, 2010

On Mindless Boosterism and Babbitry

We are living near a small rural town, the type of place where people are friendly, down-to-earth, and decent. As of late the town fathers have been presenting their plans for future growth. The economy has slowed things up recently, but during the go-go years leading up to the latest "adjustment," plenty of farmers made megabucks selling their cotton fields and pastures to developers.

The town built infrastructure for the coming real estate boom that didn't happen--yet. You'll see fire hydrants along country roads out in the middle of nowhere.

They're talking about attracting young people and new businesses. Mainly they were talking about franchised businesses. One fellow, who likes to voice his opinion on everything (he's a retired schoolteacher), said he would really like this-and-such a fried chicken franchise to come in. "It's a shame we don't have one of those, and a few others."
Who doesn't like progress? But the problem is, that if even one more franchised restaurant came within easy commuting distance, the first thing to happen would be that the good old boys' favorite breakfast places would go under. They're struggling to stay open now.

There's no point in saying anything about that, though. You'd get labeled a trouble-maker, or anti-development, or a Jim Kunstler type. What they don't realize is that what they have now is much better than any plasticine "miracle mile" seen outside every major American city.

Of course, American homogeneity seems to be what the public wants. But it's a shame some of the locals don't remember what their grandma used to say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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