To the editor: The global economy affects Chester

This has been quite the story: The sleepy hamlet of Chester takes on globalism locally, the proverbial David & Goliath economic analogy.

On one hand, it should be applauded that folks are protective of their township and its collective economic outlook. I wonder how we would fare if every small town across America expressed such sentiments?

On the other hand, it’s confronting a beast that has insidiously infiltrated almost every aspect of our existence.  I’ve been in the workforce 40 years now, and I have watched small businesses bow down and die in what I can only describe as a dog eat dog system where the biggest dog wins.

I’ve watched manufacturing outsource via Ross Perot’s “giant sucking sound” as well as in-sourcing cheap labor while foreign acquisitions demean and degrade the American worker.

I’ve watched a generation of our youth go from pursuing  education as a sure way to long-term success to the largest debtor faction we now have in this country.

The Dollar General debate reminds me of the Wal-Mart debacle here decades ago. Wallyworld had opened stores all around Vermont’s borders, and wanted in.  Wal-Mart , like most megachains, has its own cookie cutter construction with its own dedicated crews. It was thwarted from coming in for some time.

The Wal-Mart fight

Finally, Wal-Mart bought and renovated an old Grants department store in Bennington. I was hired via third party as the electrical foreman with blueprints that merely said “department store.” We didn’t have to wonder long as the stores debut was soon advertised.

Shortly after, we were crossing picket lines staffed by mostly local merchants and pundits. Most of those merchants no longer exist. Backpedaling, I caught myself saying “But I only work here” to them only then realizing I had become part of the problem, just like most of you reading this.

One could walk through almost any home or business in Chester and question almost any physical item from the  construction materials used to build it, to the furniture, computer you’re reading this on, down to the shoes on your feet to make my point.

One could sit in the gazebo on the Green and watch the flow of traffic, and come to similar conclusions merely observing the make of vehicles. And don’t be fooled by the emblems that are merely a front for foreign investors and/or foreign-made parts, (just like my Harley Davidson for that matter)

So insisting on some pristine local economy where we’re assured commodities pedaled are exclusively manufactured by Americans, sold by Americans for American profit only is rather beyond a lofty aspiration, well into the realm of cognitive dissonance. Perhaps the physical reality of it all fitting inside a store the size of a phone booth (which we no longer make either by the way) instead of a Dollar General would make this point clearer.

No, I don’t like this any more than most of you, but being part of a possible solution is every bit as problematic, and raft with collusion. And we’ve been a part of the problem for well over a generation now. But good luck fighting a global phenomenon locally, keep your powder dry and don’t fire until you see the whites of their lies.

Steve M.

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