Lee Pitts: Why buy the cow?
October 7, 2011
Everyone has their own theory of how we got so messed up in this country. I think you are probably, right this moment, holding the answer in your hands.
The downtown of a city near us used to be a quaint collection of thriving mom and pop stores but today it is a hollowed out assortment of vacant buildings and eateries, most of which are starving because consumers are watching every penny, and many can’t find a job. I talked to one man who was going out of business and he explained that his store had become nothing more than a showroom for folks to check out the merchandise before going online to buy it cheaper. And without any sales tax! So he had to fire five people.
The man I bought my last car from was forced to sell out for the same reason as his salespeople were spending their time giving free test rides to folks who had no intention of buying the car because they could get a better deal online from a dealer in the big city. And so the “too big to fail” get bigger, while mom and pop sell out.
The newsstand I used to love went out of business and fired more folks because consumers are downloading the same content they used to sell. Borders went broke and many newspapers are teetering because people are reading their newspapers online and not paying for a subscription. Music stores and video stores shuttered their doors for the same reason. Hey, why buy the cow when you get your milk for free?
There are two empty bank buildings in town, one of them was shut down by the Feds and the other was merged out of existence. The tellers lost their jobs because more folks are banking online or at the ATM. No need for a building or the folks who worked there.
And we wonder why there is 9 percent unemployment?
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The Post Office is broke big time because everybody is e-mailing instead, so they’re slashing jobs and probably going to do away with Saturday delivery. The gas and electric company that provides me services just announced they were installing “smart meters.” There went the meter reader’s job. And I notice more and more self-checkout lines at the grocery store, so more single moms who fed their family cashiering are now applying for unemployment.
I recently saw a painter make arrangements to paint a house and he didn’t have a pen on his person. “No problem,” he said, “who needs paper and pencil? I’ll just put it on my iPhone.” That’s why both stationery stores in town went out of business.
And we wonder why people are out of work?
All this modern technology is great until you realize that folks have to have jobs in order to afford it. Oh well, the unemployed will have more time to Tweet, check on their Facebook friends, and blog about the hard times. Change is necessary but the Internet revolution hit so hard and so fast that entire industries did not have time to adjust. And we can’t all make a living designing web pages.
They say all this technology will make us more efficient but I just spent 30 minutes watching a painter, paint gun in one hand and cell phone in the other. I swear he was on the phone the entire time and barely applied any paint.
The Internet has allowed hackers to disrupt our lives and perverts to prey on our kids. We’re all having our identities stolen, in more ways than one, as people on the street barely acknowledge each other because they’re too busy texting; in competition with each other to see who has the most Facebook friends. We have a childhood obesity problem in this country because our kids are all indoors, sitting on their haunches playing Madden Football, instead of being outside playing the real thing.
Meanwhile, far too many of us are in a dormant trance, staring at the screens on our cell phones, looking for a job.