Enlightened Conflict

the Indian Wars Never Ended (and they are still getting screwed)

April 10th, 2017

do not use word i promise ligtly careful

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“We ask for nothing more, and will accept nothing less, than the U.S. government keeping the promises made to Native Americans.”

 

John E. Echohawk

NARF Executive Director

 

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“All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.”

 

Pat Paulsen

 

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“To be continued.”

 

closing words on  Native American Rights Fund TV ad

 

======

 

Well.

 

indian map of usaOne of the first pieces I ever wrote on Enlightened conflict was “200 years later the American Indian may be partially unscrewed.”

 

 

I thought of what I wrote back in 2009 because I just read an article suggesting that 50% … yeah … 50 fucking percent … of native American Indians are homeless.

 

… a Brooklyn-sized housing crisis has languished in the 617 American Indian and Alaska Native tribal areas and 526 surrounding counties where 2.5 million of this land’s first peoples live. There, Native men, women and children occupy the most severely overcrowded and rundown homes in the United States.

 

The 11,000 members of the Northern Arapaho in Wyoming, for example, share just 230 reservation homes. A staggering 55% are considered homeless because they’re couch surfing. In the Navajo Nation, 18,000 homes or roughly 40% of total Navajo housing stock lack electricity or running water.

 

In the twilight of the Obama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated that these forgotten communities urgently needed 68,000 new housing units – 33,000 to eliminate overcrowding and 35,000 to replace deteriorated stock. This is a number similar in scale to total new construction called for in New York’s current 10-year housing plan.

 

But while New York’s housing crisis has occupied headlines and led to a plan of action, the indigenous housing crisis has remained invisible. HUD’s study is the first and only in-depth report on the subject.

american indians 1 american indians 2 american indians 3 american indians 4 american indians 5

 

I could just point out that this is simply unconscionable for a fully developed country but then I would have to point out how little conscious we have shown as we have consistently screwed the native American Indians since we got here.

 

I could point out how easily this could be resolved compared to the ongoing seemingly unsolvable things like balancing the federal budget, climate change and national healthcare initiatives but we seem to like avoiding the solvable because it most likely seems to ‘small.’

 

I could even point out that while we spend incredible amounts of time discussing meaningful issues like livable wages, equal economic opportunities and helping lift people out of poverty it seems like we shouldn’t ignore what I would consider the most basic of basics for every citizen in the united states … food, water & shelter.

 

This is crazy to me.

 

I am not a bleeding heart liberal nor am I a believer in monetary restitution for past discretion but I don’t believe just because I have screwed someone in the past and got away with it I should look the other way in their time of need <thereby screwing them through avoidance>.

 

Well.

 

I actually have one word for us in this moral less stance we seem to be tacking on this issue … a native American Indian word …  Majimanidoo.

 

It is the Chippewa Indians <or Ojibwe tribe if we want to be technically correct> for ‘evil spirit’.

It is an especially brutal word because by ‘evil spirit’ the Indian tribe means ‘someone born without a soul.’

 

This word embodies someone devoid of anything good.

 

You know what? I tend to believe Native American Indians sure could be thinking about using that word for us.

screwed sign

We screwed them by killing them off.

 

We screwed them by taking away their lands.

 

We screwed them by demanding they lose their culture and become … well … Christian Caucasians.

 

And then when we actually acknowledged we screwed them … we threw some money at them.

 

In Life we can all end up on some side of some pretty bad things. This surely seems like one of those bad things.

 

But this is fixable.

 

I cannot right a wrong and I cannot unscrew all the screwing … but I can certainly take some steps to insure the next generation is less screwed than the generations we gave screwed to date.

 

I stand by my suggestions I made back in 2009. I would not only insure they had proper food, water & shelter but I would also build programs that insured the children had a chance to break the cycle. http://brucemctague.com/200-years-later-the-american-indian-may-be-partially-unscrewed

 

Money does not solve everything and in this case I don’t want to give anyone money … I want to give them the opportunity to be … well … not just better than their parents <which is what all parents want for their kids> but rather I want them to be better than my parents, your parents and any parents. I want to give them the opportunity to be the best version of who and what they are as a person.

That’s what gets them out of this unfucking believable screwed up situation we created by screwing them.

 

Look.

 

Every once in a while I see an incredibly bad ad, for a very good cause — support justice for Native American tribes, organizations, and individuals – in television.

 

I’m not exactly sure what to make of this strange bad ad.

 

It seems like the purpose is to solicit donations … but I can’t imagine rapping that “…the Indian Wars never ended…” will make very many people sympathetic to what is a significantly underappreciated issue – societally & morally.

 

I would offer to do their marketing for free just because I believe they deserve better and the issue deserves national attention.

 

I imagine my issue with getting this free gig would be, if asked, I would tell them all I would do is show images throughout the history of time leading to indian war fuck columbusthe current situation with a voice over that said:

 

“we were happy … and then you came and screwed us … screwed us some more … figured out how to set up systems to ongoingly screw us … were kind enough to give us citizenship in 1924 <the last ‘minority’ to gain that … albeit we were the original Americans> … you were kind enough to give us some money not long ago to partially unscrew us … but we are still getting screwed. All we want is an opportunity to not get screwed.”  

 

 

<hence the reason I will not get this gig>

 

 

Anyway.

 

As for now … and the native America homeless?

 

=========

 

What’s remarkable about Indian Country’s massive and forgotten housing crisis is that it would not exist if our government and society simply cared enough to devote adequate resources to putting roofs over the heads of people who need and deserve them. The troubling reality is that unless that roof makes someone money, we simply don’t care.

Julian Brave NoiseCat

indians still here

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At some point it would be nice if we could figure out a way to stop screwing the Native American Indians because they will always be here — it is their home.

 

That just doesn’t seem too much to ask.

 

health care in 2017 from a business perspective

March 22nd, 2017

take the extra time to do things right the first time

 

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If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

 

—-

John Wooden

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American healthcare is getting quite tiring. Shit … I have written about it in 2009 and even recently wrote about it <Healthscare > as recently as January 4th 2017.

it is complicated complex not simple Life world 

All you have to do is turn on the tv or maybe go to some politics driven website and you will see gobs of articles & pundits yapping about the upcoming vote on repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act <Obamacare>.

 

Suffice it to say the new plan is not being particularly well embraced by its own party as they plod their way toward the finish line vote tomorrow.

 

To me this whole discussion and action plan shows the lack of business leadership knowledge which exists in politics and government. And, yes, that includes the President <who should know better if he was truly a business person>.

 

Let me address some key issues from a business perspective.

 

 

Time.

 

30 days.

That’s about the amount of time this repeal plan of action has been discussed <just ignore the last 7 years which they should have been thinking about it … or even the additional month or so if you wanted to begin on inauguration slow down take time do rightday>.

 

30 days for something like this is insane.

 

Okay. It is just stupid.

 

This is unlike how the Affordable Care Act <ACA> was implemented, which – just to remind everyone — was debated for almost an entire year in both houses of Congress with 79 hearings in the House alone and a number of amendments incorporated in the process … and hospitals, associations and insurers were all brought in.

 

But you know what?

 

Any business person with half a brain would tell you trying to build a plan of action which would turn a company 180 degrees around <or at least something that would change maybe 20% of the entire revenue stream> and gain alignment is going to take more than 30 days.

 

Any business person with half a brain would tell you pushing through this kind of change without alignment, education and some aspects of agreement is not only foolish but deadly.

 

Any business person with half a brain would take a step back and say “lets take the time we need to get this right.”

 

Promises delivered.

 

I have noted before business leaders only have to learn this lesson once … a bad promise delivered is never remembered as a promise delivered … just  promise i something bad delivered.

 

Leaders get paid to make good decisions not deliver bad promises. I have made many ‘promises’ <more often ‘plans of action’ than promises> and yet still stood up in front of people and sucked it up and said “I did not know this then, I know this now, and we will not do the plan I said … but rather here is where we go from here” when I had to.

Why? Every business leader knows honesty wins more often than wasted energy.

 

Just doing something because you said you would do it is … well … stupid business.

 

Any business person with half a brain is very careful making promises but exponentially more careful about the promises you choose to fulfill <because one is just words and the other is action>.

 

 

Phased plans.

 

Speaker Ryan has said not to worry — there will be a “second” and “third” phase that will fix everything.

 

Uh oh.

Future plans. Need I remind everyone that the Affordable Healthcare Plan was a plan intended to adapt <have other ‘phases’> to the market and make adjustments to accommodate what happened when the plan actually hit the market?

Everyone should be reminded of this.

 

December 2009 I wrote my first thoughts on the affordable healthcare act and the thoughts remain exactly the way I believe …

 

Sure.

The way it’s conceived – all the weird aspects they had to build in upfront to try and make the system work from the get go,  the complex subsidy system that rocket scientists cannot even explain, odd benefit levels, an unwieldy sign up system, just to name a few, absolutely suck.

But, if we see the program as fluid <which any sane business would do> it will evolve until we settles into better solutions and better affect. As I said back in 2009 … the initial plan ain’t gonna be perfect <any business person worth a shit could have told them that>.

perfection progress

 

Obamacare would most likely be humming along quite nicely if Congress had made the necessary adjustments in real time <like any business person with half a brain would have>. Instead phase 2, 3 … or … well … any phase … never occurred as congress haggled over the plan itself.

 

All I can tell you is that if this American Healthcare Frankenstein of a plan is actually implemented everyone, Republicans & Democrats, better decide this time “in for a penny in for a pound.” That is where the Affordable Healthcare Act stumbled … not everyone invested in it once it was in market.

 

All I can tell you is that any business person with half a brain would be hesitant to offer a phased plan to an organization that has a history of getting stuck in phase one.

 

Look.

 

I certainly know that if you are a 100% free market healthcare believer that tweaking the current plan doesn’t have a lot of appeal to you. But we have a plan, flaws and all, that has a strong foundation which creates the potential for something better than what was <healthcare going into 2008 was shit>.

 

time to do it right do it overI certainly know that the ACA needs to be tweaked.

 

I certainly know that the ACA should have been tweaked years ago.

 

I certainly know that the ACA could be fixed fairly quickly and efficiently.

 

And I certainly know that any new plan will not be perfect and will also need tweaking.

 

But what I absolutely know is that the current plan is not good and any business person with half a brain would stop the insanity, step up to some microphone and outline a reason why giving the American people the best alternative takes time.

 

Slow down.

Stop.

 

Get this right … because this is NOT about keeping your job or eve keeping your promises … this is about people’s live and their healthcare.

 

 

communications, advertising & the battle for truth

December 6th, 2016

 

everybody needs what i am selling deserve life

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“Forget words like ‘hard sell’ and ‘soft sell.’

That will only confuse you.

 

Just be sure your advertising is saying something with substance, something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be sure you’re saying it like it’s never been said before.”

 

=

David Ogilvy

 

———————

 

“If you try to comprehend air before breathing it, you will die.”

 

=

Mark Nepo

 

—————

 

“Seeking truth is a full time job.

Communicating truth is a purpose in Life.

Embrace that truth and your Life will be significantly more complicated, but significantly more rewarding.”

 

=

Bruce McTague

 

——————–

 

Well.

 

Communicating has always been a tough gig but in today’s world it has taken on liaran increased challenge.

 

I scan headlines in magazines and online and I cannot see one topic being discussed, one industry or any one group of influential type people that isn’t under attack by ‘lack of trust’ or, in other words, ‘liars.’

 

What that means is anything you are communicating isn’t starting from a commodity standpoint <all facts and truths are created equal> but rather you are already in a hole trying to climb out of ‘prove to me this is not a lie.’

 

Truth has never had a more difficult challenge than today. This may sound odd because common sense suggests truth is truth and, unvarnished, stands clear of any and all clutter as … well … truth.

Unfortunately that is not … well … true.

Truth, more often than not, is a wallflower and not the one breakdancing in the middle of the room. The schlub doing the crazy dance alone, being watched by everyone, is more likely a lie or a semi/partial truth. You have to coax truth to the dance floor. Someone has to bring it out into the audience and permit it to be seen.

 

Truth telling is hard work. It is not for the faint of heart. Seeking truth is a full time job <which most people, frankly, just do not have the time to do as they do their paid full time job>.

And communicating truth has to be a purpose in one’s life in order to meet the onslaught of untruths, purposeful ignorance, unintended ignorance, semi-truths and … well … cynicism.

 

To be clear.

 

I do not believe we are in some ‘post truth world.’

Nor do I believe what someone said “there are no facts anymore.”

 

Facts are facts and truth is truth.

There may be some confusion around this but … of all industries … advertising and marketing communications people had sure as shit better be fucking clear on this … or they are in deep shit.

 

Anyone in the professional communications business had better be absolutely fucking clear that communicating today ain’t like communicating yesterday … or they are in deep shit.

 

While I believe business, in general, benefits if they start on day one embracing the thought they are in the decommoditization business <rather than in the ‘uniqueness business’> I believe communications would benefit by embracing the thought they are in the ‘establishing truths’ business.

 

Look <part 1>.

 

Advertising, marketing and all of professional communications is in a challenging position. Challenging in that businesses spend money on marketing & advertising most typically to sell shit. Therefore its main goal is to … well … sell nothing in boxes business selling stuff capitalismshit.

 

This means that if I represent a product and its main buying audience is white, male & blue collar <or pick any demographically based segment> … I am going to use imagery and words that will appeal to them <sometimes to the detriment to other audiences who are less likely to buy your shit>.

 

Now.

 

Of course you want to do it with style and substance and some sense of responsibility <not be stupid>. So any advertising person with any chops <any good> will figure out a way of not doing the stupid shit to sell shit.

Even then … your audience is your audience and while we would like to suggest everything is made to be created with a larger purpose of ‘bettering the world’ … to a business who only has maybe $1000 to market something <or some finite budget amount> that $1000 is spent on selling shit and not ‘bettering the world.’

 

Simplistically … you sell to the people who will buy or have bought.

 

Simplistically … you sell to those people who will buy in the most effective way so that they will actually buy.

 

I say hat because someone on the outside looking in can take apart imagery & words and make some very valid points with regard to the kinds of messages they send … but marketing people & advertising people are under a lot of pressure to sell shit. And, remember, they are in the service business … they ultimately do not do anything but ‘strategically create persuasive creations’… and a business makes the decision on whether what they create will actually be produced and put in front of people.

 

And here is where the communications folk can get a little sideways. They focus on imagery & words & ‘attention’ with the intent to gain interest … not specifically sell shit. And they ignore truth as … well … too complicated & too complex. And it is quite possible we communications folk may have gotten away with that in the past, but in today’s world, sure as shit, you better be grounded in hard, clear truth or you are gonna get screwed.

 

Look <part 2>.

 

In the good ole days … truth was appreciated, but aspirational sold.

 

sell hope i canWell.

 

That was before we all got a good dose of cynicism and started drinking from the fountain of untruths.

Messages are everywhere and simply suggesting you were offering truth because “you’re too clever to fall for manipulation” gave people permission to at least think you were offering truth.

No more my friends.

While aspirational drives value, lack of truth suffocates value into nothingness.

This doesn’t mean there will not be a boatload of products and services who make a sale standing on the superficial surface of irrelevant, but appealing, value. But that will be the geography populated by the hacks.

This truth thing may not be a battle which some people want to fight. And that is okay. But someone has to or the entire industry will become … well … irrelevant. If no one tells the truth then why would I listen to anyone.

I, personally, am not suggesting ditching aspirational but I am suggesting that truth, communicating the truth in a away that people actually believe it is true, is the key to future success.

 

Look <part 3>

 

I have worked in and out of the marketing and advertising business for <yikes> over 30 years so I feel like I have some qualifications to comment on the industry.

 

Everyone on the outside of the advertising business looking in thinks those creating the advertising think about shit that … well … truthfully … advertising people actually never waste their time thinking about.

 

And everyone inside the advertising business thinks about more shit than people outside the advertising could ever imagine they think about.we all scream for the truth

 

Suffice it to say I could gather up examples of advertising using material over 20 years and make pretty much any point I want to make – good, bad, absurd, true, untrue, semitruthful, smart, insightful or blatantly uninsightful.

 

Anyway.

 

Here is a communications truth — perception is not reality.

 

The perception is that advertising makes shit up, makes stupid vapid shit and says nothing <as much as possible> and if they do say something it is a lie and, ultimately, they try and make people feel something <to sell>.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth <with the non hacks>.

 

The problem in advertising typically arises when the ad creators struggle to articulate the benefit <or convince themselves that it is ‘non differentiating’ and then seek to ‘differentiate’ in some form or fashion>.

 

It then can unravel from there because the ‘go-to’ phrase at this point in time is ‘do something brave’ … or ‘entertaining’ or ‘edgy’ <notice nowhere in there is “smart, insightful, thoughtful, truth”>.

 

Sure.

 

Great advertising messaging always is, and will be, imbued with some sense of courage.

 

Why?

 

Because if you want to be distinct you will not please everyone.

Because if you want to tell the truth you will not please everyone.

 

on-top-of-the-worldThe hack advertising people use the ‘do something brave’ phrase indiscriminately to justify bad advertising.

 

The good advertising people use this phrase to do something smart in order to not be different but stand ABOVE everyone else.

 

Yup.

 

Huge difference.

 

Hacks say ‘stand apart.’

 

Non hacks say ‘stand above.’

 

And this is where I imagine articles about advertising should focus their attention on.

 

Why doesn’t the advertising stand above <and not be below what is good & right & untrue>.

 

Advertising should be smart and not talk down to people but actually enable them to rise up to the occasion … and FEEL like they are rising up to engage with that brand or company.

 

Communications should be truthful, regardless whether it is simple or complex, and enable people to be able to FEEL truth in such a way that doubts about that brand or company are swept away.

few thinking and feeling

And it all has to be done with an eye toward ‘decommoditizing’ or being distinct in some meaningful way <because truth, in and of itself, is not a differentiator>.

 

Advertising cannot be dull and uninspired … and you cannot use a small budget as an excuse.

 

In fact … the truth is that a limited budget is typically what drives innovative advertising.

Yup.

Inspired smart creativity tends to make each dollar be more effective <hence you can live with a smaller budget>.

 

In other words … a smart, insightful, relevant, entertaining ad will be more memorable than a typical ‘category using sacred cow imagery’ ad therefore it needs to be seen less for the same effect.

 

Oh.

And if you add in ‘truth’ <in a way in which you aren’t just communicating it but people actually BELIEVE it>, your communications is more memorable, more believable, can be seen less for the same effect … and is, of course, of higher value.

 

By the way … smart means not any obvious photoshopping or any exaggerated ridiculous claims or just plain inaccurate information or anything fluffed up or untrue.

 

By the way … smart means avoiding stereotypes, typecasting and idiotic generalizations and lies.

 

Note to advertising people:

We can see through those slimy tactics. Realize consumers are people … people who are smart and informed.

Make me aware of a product.

Educate me.

Relate to me.

Tell me the Truth.

 

Regardless.

 

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“A dull truth will not be looked at.

An exciting lie will.

 

That is what good, sincere people must understand. They must make their truth exciting and new, or their good works will be born dead.”

 

==

Bill Bernbach

 

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Truth is truth.

 

Lies are lies.

 

Responsibility is responsibility.

 

And if you do not accept your responsibility to tell the truth as excitingly and politics lies and truth and repeatingconvincingly as you possibly can … lies will win.

 

If you choose to vulgarize the society or brutalize it … or even ignore it <all under the guise of ‘understanding what the consumer wants’> … society will lose.

 

I honestly do not despair when I look at business in today’s world … or even marketing & advertising behavior.

 

I get aggravated.

 

No.

 

I get angry.

I get angry that we are not accepting the responsibility.

I get angry that we are not strong enough to accept the burden.

I get angry that many do not even presume the responsibility is within their purview.

 

Business, whether you like it or not, shapes society. Business, whether you like it or not, shapes truth.

 

What we do matters.

 

Selling stuff doesn’t matter.

It only matters as a means to an end.

 

What really matters is the shaping of attitudes <which ultimately shapes behavior>.

 

Far too often by simply focusing on ‘selling stuff’ the byproduct of our ignoring the larger responsibility is that we brutalizing society in some form or fashion – in this case and in this time and place … it would be truth we are brutalizing.

 

Am I suggesting that selling stuff or being profitable isn’t important? Of course not.

 

All I am suggesting is that HOW you sell stuff and be profitable matters.

And that you have a responsibility in HOW you do what you do.

 

Because HOW you do things impacts society.

It shapes society. It can vulgarize or brutalize … or invigorate or instill good.

 

HOW you do things has a power way beyond simply you or what you do in that moment.

 

HOW you do things is a pebble dropping into a pond.

 

In the end.

 

I will not argue that all advertising is good.

I will not argue that all professional communications is good.

A lot of it is shit.

 

But I will argue that good communications & advertising people, not hacks, are smart and tend to create smart insightful educating communication pieces that avoid the trite and stereotyping imagery and focus on telling the truth, if not A real truth, rather than lie or some semi truth.

 

I would also argue that good communications & advertising people, not hacks, have the opportunity to save truth in today’s society.

telling-truth-piss-you-off

I think many of the world’s institutions are embattled but the one that concerns me the most is Truth.

The institution of truth is under siege.

I can honestly say I don’t think most who are attacking truth are trying to facilitate its downfall … most are simply unclear what is truth and what is not. I believe anyone in any position of influence should be proactively assuming the burdensome responsibility of telling and protecting truth <that will come at an expense> but today … I think the professional communications industry should be at the forefront of the battle.

 

Why?

 

They get paid to communicate. If they cannot figure out how to effectively communicate truth, who can?

 

They must … must make their truth exciting and new, or their good works will be born dead. Uhm. And lies will win.

seek_truth

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About the author:

I am a 50something who believes my generation hollowed out Truth by simplistically suggesting truth was best told through simplicity.

Truth is neither simple nor hollow.

I have had one framed picture in my office since maybe 2000: Seek Truth.

 

the death of the mall and a divided america

November 28th, 2016

  just-came-from-the-mall

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The impression left after watching the motions of birds is that of extreme mobility – a life of perpetual impulse checked only by fear.

 

—-

Richard Jefferies

 

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“My fundamental philosophy is that you owe it to society to transfer to them any knowledge you have that might be useful.”

 

—-

Leroy Hood

 

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Well.

 

Because USA just faced is heinous tradition called ‘black Friday’ <a made up sales day to encourage people to buy things they most likely don’t need under the guise of ‘early start for Christmas shopping’ — this is a made up day beliefs divide people doubt unitescreated by retail sellers solely to sell more shit early> I started thinking about how the ‘death of malls’ was a reflection of the American rural/urban divide.

 

Ok.

 

Maybe the death of malls is a metaphor.

 

Regardless.

 

A long time ago I wrote about the convenience economy. Malls were most likely the first step into the larger convenience economy <it had actually existed with the general store – one stop for everything – but malls took it to a new level>. Under the guise of ‘saving time’ convenience and consumption are inextricably linked.

This meant that as malls crept out of suburbia and into rural America it warped the existing attitudes & behaviors affecting the soul of what made rural America <and I could argue what actually made America> what it was – in terms of time, convenience, consumption and , unfortunately, economy.

 

Joan Didion wrote in 1979: “malls became cities in which no one lives but everyone consumes.”

 

Now?

 

Malls are almost like ancient ruins … and yet the population still lives in the ruins.

That is what happens when no one consumes but they still have to live.mall-dead-rising

 

Sprawling malls were a natural product of the post world war 2 as Americans with cars and money spread to the suburbs.

They were thrown up at a furious pace as shoppers fled cities, peaking at a few hundred per year at one point in the 1980s <Paco Underhill author of Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping>.

 

From there they naturally expanded their reach farther into rural America spreading their ‘urban wares’ to a population who could only have seen those things on tv up until that point.

 

This all came at a cost.

 

Yeah.

 

Rural America paid a price for large retail … the mom and pop small business and down town general stores lost the battle … and a part of the soul & heart of rural America was also lost to malls and large retail. Yeah. In the short term it appeared like jobs were created, tax revenue increased and the local economy improved.

 

And, yet, in gaining short term economic reasons … culture was lost, some values were lost and … well … local ideas were lost.

 

This has left us in a farther divided America as malls crashed and burned not only leaving a mall overstock in their wake but as they left <because economics writing-on-the-walls-of-the-mallsuggested they should step back from rural America> they left a ‘less grounded’ landscape behind.

 

Malls tore out the soul of middle America and never replaced it with anything worthwhile while there … and never placed anything behind when it left.

 

I have driven across the United States several times. I have seen small businesses in places I could never imagine and seen dying, or dead, shopping malls dotting the landscape most often in locations where there are severe socioeconomic shifts. I don’t know the exact numbers but the last ones I saw suggested that closings of existing malls will number somewhere between 15 to 50%.

 

It is fairly easy for me to suggest that while artificially bloating the financial economy when there  … their actual success was dependent upon the slicing, dicing and stripping away what was built up over generations.

I would suggest, on a side, note, we have been doing this to rural America for years <not just with malls>.

 

And I don’t have to suggest because it is fact … that the departure of malls from rural areas has simply exposed the obscenity of their existence. The holes they leave behind  showcase the years of neglect, exploitation, abuse, poor local government decisions, and short-sighted policy which transformed a thriving rural landscape into a hollowed out long list of small towns and cities.

 

In many of these areas their existence had masked a steady decline <which they had actually contributed to> and their departure put a spotlight on a way of Life shutting down <albeit leaving a population which doesn’t want to shut down yet>.

 

I would also say, sadly I may add, that spotlight forced a local population to face a pervasive sense of fear and loss.

terror lose meaningful

Having done it … I can say that just driving through town after town of dead malls, closed factories, shuttered stores, abandoned mines, empty schools, roads in need of repair and empty homes … and you can feel their loss.

 

If you want to get a sense of divided America explore the decline of malls.

 

Simplistically, Malls are a reflection of eating our own. Just as online shopping is making brick & mortar increasingly irrelevant the malls made the once thriving local business communities less relevant.

 

But their cost is even deeper than that.

 

The economy has fundamentally shifted because technology has decreased the costs of entry and performance by businesses. This means business models are quickly shifting because of changes coming faster than ever before.

 

For example.

 

Would you invest in a factory that made anything but it took 3 years to build the factory? …..I’m guessing no, because how would you know the thing would still be in demand?

 

Or that your method of manufacturing would still be the most cost effective way?

Or that your raw materials would be affordable to make the product at a certain price?

Or that your labor costs would allow you to hit certain price points?

 

 

What this means is that even a rural economy seeking to refind it’s ‘American mojo’ is faced with an uncertain business landscape which makes it more difficult for a rural community to rebuild a successful local economy based on what they knew, and know, is successful.

american hands

And, yeah, this is more than about money.

 

Because, yeah, rebuilding a thriving rural economy is not just about money & profits & jobs. It is also about heart & soul & the intangibles.

 

We urban/suburban folk forget that.

 

Let me be unequivocally clear <and I hope some politician reads this> … rural American prosperity is not just found in the wallet but in the soul.

 

In other words … I can place a general store in a small community and the owner doesn’t dream of wealth beyond anything he/she can dream of but rather comfortable earnings and a gathering place so that the community thrives.

 

Our ‘urban objectives’ are often different than ‘rural objective.’

 

And maybe that is part of my point on the divide in America.

 

Equality comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.

 

An urban idea, malls, stripped parts of America of its soul. And what that meant is while rural America could always stand tall with unequal, as in better, values & soul versus the high falutin’ intellectual urban/suburban folk … malls stripped them of the main portion of what permitted them to remain ‘equal’ even though incomes may not have been equal.

 

Look.

 

I disagree with some experts who suggest that retail often mirrors the natural life cycle of the surrounding community and it is about demographics.

I believe retail is an organism in and of itself driven by profit not by humanism.

 

And I believe retail, at its heart, is driven by an urban ‘heartbeat’ which is constantly trying to reapply it to rural America <it is fairly rare to have a rural idea expand to dominate urban>.

 

I say that because we don’t talk about it often but ‘progress’, which is most often associated with a healthy economic metabolism, is mostly visible in urban/suburban America and not rural America.

 

Which is … well … kind of nuts.

 

Why? Because I could easily argue that, in a stark judgement, that America’s achievements were built upon rural America … and, yet, the rising levels of material well-being, education and health actually reside in urban/suburban America.

 

Add in some fairly shocking statistics on life expectancy and social mobility and the crumbling mall retail structure in Middle America becomes symbolic for many of their woes.

 

We all know that while the economy may not be robust that wealth is certainly being generated, and often displayed in some gaudy ostentatious ways <see Trump tower as an example> and amazing technological innovations have become common in households and certainly prosperity exists, though almost exclusively in a sliver of America, all of which suggests that the economic infrastructure is visibly changing even while it is semi-working.

 

And by ‘semi-working’ I go back to malls as an example … it is mostly a system of cannibalism. It is a system and society that is devouring its own.

Urban America has been picking prosperity from the slowly decaying carcass of rural America. This carcass is symbolic of the hollowing out of rural America.

 

For some long time now, the economy has been driven by investment banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, real estate developers, insurance goliaths and a whole range of companies and industries that make nothing but rather make money off of money.

 

In the end.

 

I purposefully used ‘stripping’ and ‘cannibalism’ and ‘eating our own’ because that is what we have done to a significant portion of America … and, more significantly, a portion of America who believes they created America AND believes if anyone would ask them … they could help rebuild America.

 

I use malls, and their death, as an example of what we ‘innovators of progress’ have done. And while many of us may have acted with real best intentions … it america one heartbeatwas a failure. And, worse, we have failed a significant portion of America.

 

We don’t owe portions of America because we have taken away their malls … we owe them the assistance to let them rebuild the America they know should be built.

 

And am I suggesting going ‘back’? Only partially.

The general stores will most likely never return. The mines will never reopen. Some schools are shuttered forever. But to rebuild a community you give them their soul back first & foremost. Anything built with soul will make America great and will last for generations.

Enlightened Conflict