Madison County Opinion...

FEBRUARY 18, 2004


Column
By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
February 18, 2004

Frankly Speaking

The destruction of American values and culture
“Come here Watson, the game is afoot,” Sherlock Holmes.
The game is the destruction of American values and culture. Are we to continue to be a nation made up of people who are willing to take responsibility for our own and our children’s conduct? Or are we simply going to step aside and let our nation dissolve into anarchy?
February has seen both sides of this question. I urge you to compare the Superbowl halftime program with the opening ceremony for the Daytona 500 auto race. In the first, you saw vulgarity, abusive lyrics, the nation’s flag insulted and of course, the famous “wardrobe malfunction.” At the second, we had clean cut singers, patriotic songs, an opening prayer, and the flag being treated with honor and respect.
I hold that this dichotomy is not an accident. There are those in our nation who have decided, for some reason, to attack and destroy every fundamental value in our culture. They are trying to deny our history, our faith, our music and literature, and all other values that make us Americans.
Why are they doing this? They have realized that the best way to destroy anything is to do it from the inside. Consider the great oak tree. From the outside it appears to be solid. Its trunk is so wide that several of us together cannot reach around it. To look at it, you would think that it would stand for centuries. But the heart of the tree may already be dead.
It had rotted from the inside out. Soon, a modest wind can blow it over and the tree is destroyed.
Those who would destroy America are taking just that route. They have seized our arts and are using them to rot away the heart of our nation. They flood the airwaves with smut, the theatre screens with pornography and the televisions with mindless trash.
They promote the latest expensive “consumer products,” convincing us that we just have to have them. Our “quality of life” is bad if we do not have the latest game cube, DVD player, technically advanced automobiles and shoes that light up as we walk. Adding to the pressure is the massive tax burden government collects for their cultural engineering projects.
All this stuff costs so much that we have to spend all our time earning money to buy them for ourselves and our children. It is impossible for one parent to earn enough. Both mother and father, when they are present, have to work a couple of jobs each in order to meet the financial demands.
Meanwhile, the children are left on their own where the smut peddlers can easily fill their minds with garbage. They make every effort to prevent them from encountering the benefits of faith. They see violence as a way to achieve their goals. Our culture is becoming rotten to the core, and soon, if nothing is done, it will collapse.
Meanwhile, a few groups are fighting back. Some local legislators are trying to protect the right of our courts to display the first law code, the Ten Commandments, on the courtroom walls. They are offering quality entertainment free of the garbage so prevalent today. Others are actively preserving our history, including the values for which so many of our fighting men and women have sacrificed.
The battle for Western culture is not just in the Middle East. It is right here at home, on our TV screens, our radio stations, our newspapers and magazines, our athletic events, and our churches.
The game is afoot. The battle is underway. The bad guys are trying to rot our culture from the inside out. The good guys are trying to preserve and strengthen our values. None of us can escape the conflict. Either we defend our way of life, or it will soon be lost.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie@charter.net.

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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
February 18, 2004

In the Meantime

Don’t forget the tradeoff
I squeezed the huge nose of the stuffed puppy dog and thought about Wal-Mart as I stood in the enormous store recently.
I simply wanted a human cashier, not one of the automated ones. But there were four long lines, three automated checkout machines and just one real cashier.
I remembered that Wal-Mart is the biggest business in the world and recalled the astonishing stats I recently heard about the company.
For instance, did you know that Wal-Mart is on the economic scale of Switzerland, with $245 billion in sales in 2002, compared to Switzerland’s $231 billion gross domestic product for that year?
Did you know that there are approximately 4,300 Wal-Marts worldwide, employing about 1.3 million people?
Standing in that line the other day, I thought about the vast scale of the company and wondered, “Can’t they afford to pay a little extra so I can see a human smile and human hand that will take my cash for this cute little stuffed toy? Then I can resume being a man without a stuffed toy in his hand.”
Then I reminded myself, “well this stuffed toy is pretty cheap, and you knew the tradeoff when you came in here. You knew it. Don’t act like you didn’t. Don’t stand in this line and act like you’ve got a right to be self-righteous.”
We all know the tradeoff.
We just don’t like to be reminded of it.
We see local economies yield to the lions: the Wal-Marts, Home Depots and other mega chains. Mostly, there is a sense of satisfaction by consumers, glad to pay lower prices than at the smaller stores that can’t buy in bulk.
We want that deal. We like it.
I like it, I admit. I want to pay less.
And when I’m standing in that line in any mega-store, not just Wal-Mart, I don’t want to think of this vast shopping center or bookstore as anything other than a candyland of consumption for me at a low cost.
But I am cheapened too, if I act as if there’s not a very real cost in this convenience, if I forget about the smaller businesses that are undercut by the enormous ones, if I dismiss the store on the square that can’t buy in bulk as unworthy of my visit, my dollar.
There are some old feel-good ideals that must be muffled in our low-cost, mega-store spending glee.
For instance, that old slogan, “Buy American,” may fire up some with feelings of patriotism, but you’d be hard-pressed to keep that commitment today in this culture.
In reality, “buy American” or “buy local” is overshadowed with “buy cheap and don’t ask where it was made.”
That’s the truth of business. Many of our products are made overseas and this is not discouraged, but actually encouraged by our government. Big businesses receive tax breaks for taking jobs out of America.
That stuffed animal, of course, was not made in America.
I wondered about the hourly wage of the person who stitched that toy. I wondered about the wages of Wal-Mart workers I saw. Actually, those workers make about $2 less an hour than unionized employees in comparable jobs.
Fair or not, the “Saving Place” has become the symbol of the modern day Mom-and-Pop surrender to big business.
Ultimately, Wal-Mart and other mega- stores are the efficient carnivores of pure survival-of-the-fittest economics.
They bring us the benefits of low costs.
They bring us the quiet death of older, smaller businesses.
They bring us a tradeoff that we too readily ignore.
And they bring some people in the automated checkout lines to a point of irrational anger as the computer voice tells them to “please place the item in the bag.”
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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