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Population growth? Run for your life…

Sometimes I have survivor’s guilt. I got in my Jeep, I drove and drove and drove, and I escaped the corporate life. Not only that, but many people struggling to get closer to the troughs in the corporate feedlots tried to eat my lunch back then, but I beat them back. It was self-defense, but my hands are stained.

I even cleverly managed to keep Wall Street from tricking me out of the secret stash I’d hoarded while in the feedlots. With that stash I built my little refuge in the woods. I had gotten too old to fight anymore. I am as far as I can afford to be from everything that is corporate, where the top dogs rake it in and leave the rest of us to fight over the scraps.

The U.S. Census bureau released numbers yesterday for population growth in North Carolina for the 10 years between the 2000 census and the 2010 census. The population of the Raleigh area grew by a horrifying 43.5 percent. Stokes County’s population grew by 6 percent.

Why do I use the word horrifying? Everything looks different when you’re no longer a poor hunk of pork getting the life rendered out of you in today’s pressure-cooker economy. Once upon a time when I was of working age, I too had to go somewhere where the money was, and I went to San Francisco. But that was then, and this is now. When you finally get to step off the corporate treadmill, you want to be as far from the corporate feedlots and kitchens as you can possibly get.

I have not been to Raleigh in decades, but I have been to Charlotte. What 43.5 percent growth has done to Raleigh can only be worse than what 32.2 percent growth has done to Charlotte. Charlotte is hideously ugly. It has no focus, no center, no charm, no style. It has sprawl, traffic jams, and people who, having gone where the growth is, are always in a hurry. Charlotte seems unaware of what has happened to it. The story in today’s Charlotte Observer is self-congratulatory and cheers this population growth, taking for granted that it’s a good thing. But to my eyes, what growth has done to America’s regional inland cities is as horrifying, ugly, and unhealthy as what steam-driven industrialization did to 19th-century England.

As I see it, the dog-eat-dog dynamic of today’s working environment is only going to get worse. There’s a story going around the blogosphere. It’s about David Koch, one of the billionaire oilmen who have financed the tea parties and the “think tanks” that produce the right-wing propaganda that Fox News disseminates. The story has many variations, but it goes like this:

David Koch and a tea partier are sitting at a table. On the table is a plate with a dozen cookies. Koch grabs 11 cookies, then looks at the tea partier and says, “Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie.”

Recent polls indicate that working Americans support Wisconsin’s unions more than they support Wisconsin’s union-busting governor, who takes money — and phone calls — from David Koch.

Maybe Americans are finally starting to figure out who it is who is eating their lunch (and their cookies). And does anyone (other than those who live in the fog of Fox News lies) think that corporate America cares any more about workers in general than it cares about unionized workers like teachers and firemen? The effectiveness of the propaganda on Fox News is really quite terrifying. It can cause Red State Americans of very modest means, and who would be hard up but for Social Security and Medicare, to vilify government and not only vote for, but also cheer for, the interests of the rich.

For those of you who are still working, I hope you’ve found one of those rare safe spots in this globalized Brave New World that Wall Street is creating.

And I hope that someday you too will be able to find a place where the growth is not.

One Comment

  1. Quetal wrote:

    I have joined a local fly fish group. I am actively involved in their conservation efforts. What I find sad, even in this environment, the interest is low for various reasons. I won’t go into the reasoning. However I join with 5 regulars to clean up what others leave behind, and as well send short letters to our representatives, attend meetings, rally the troops and other efforts, to let Congress know we won’t stand still for their changing of our environmental laws. Good luck re smart growth.


    Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

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