Local economy is an idea whose time is come. It sees the beauty of the local marketplace not just in terms of buying and selling, gross revenues and Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce civic luncheons in the boroughs, but in terms of human poetry and private destiny.
Local economy is confident in neighborhood shops and businesses that otherwise tend to be overlooked by conversationalists, media and shoppers alike. One easily overlooks the small shop because of a cultural background noise.
This humming sound makes us intelligent national and global citizens and somehow keeps us from becoming lococentric people. Chattanoogans, I believe, by virtue of their modesty and circumspection are ready for the arguments of local economy.
Consider the alternative
The national economy, controlled by government and its big business allies, has turned the local consumer into a pawn, into a sort of consumptive, highly absorptive material, a nonindividuated mass. It shows many signs of collapse, of a sort of febrile paralysis in its excess of coherence and uniformity. The Internet mirrors the conflict that interests us. The Web is a terrific power for decentralization — and for centralization. Local economy flows from the first — decentralization. Big business and our District of Columbia masters excel in the latter — centralization. The Web is liberating. But the Web turns us simpletons, fools for the behaviorist enterprise of tracking, global marketing and personal surveillance.
President Obama in March reaffirmed the government ownership of all means of production in his National Defense Resources Preparedness executive order. Feel free to click the link, but make sure you don’t fall asleep once your eyes glaze over; come back and finish up with us. What can red-blooded Americans feel beyond revulsion, a sense of alienation at considering such humdrummery?
Local economy minds little such depradations as the president’s, whose executive orders we have heard about for decades. Local economy cannot prevent such mighty acts of hubris or their periodic reaffirmation by the U.S. Code. Instead, in a bypassing motion, local economy finds salvation in terms of local people. It views suspiciously people far away who buzz in with their solutions. Local economy looks at them askance because they are, too, abstractions.
They lack any center in any hometown, they lack of history in any given county and any given city. They are marked by FROMLESSNESS — and are proud of it. Local economy is skeptical of their Harvard doctorates and their wealthy 501(c)3s, their ties to Republicans, Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
Local economy posits a free market and is dismayed to find that local producers, shops, innovators and service providers are not, in fact, free. They are ensnared in chains of paper from the lalaland of the federal district, and some from Deaderick Sreet and other boulevards in Nashville, where the tax police drink their coffees and comb through databases for aberrant filings. Local economy is uneasy about the government school, but its users have been deprived of capital with which to exercise free choice and are stuck in a malformed educational marketplace.
But even if Tennesseans’ ancient liberties are gone and only a few thin civil rights are left, ample space remains legally and economically for imaginative service to others and for financial advancement of family and business. We believe there exist liberties so numerous that much of the reforms of local economy and the power of the Christian gospel can be brought into effect regardless of snares from afar and continuing diminution of the capital base.
What important people do doesn’t matter
Will the Chamber take up the local economy idea?
“Does it matter?” is our rebuttal query. The Chamber’s brightest minds are angling to lure giant factories and supply chain outfits to Chattanooga. If our ideas of local economy bear fruit, few tears need be shed over the proceedings of giant players and their boosters.
Local economy is decentralized in concept. It doesn’t need managers and organizers. It doesn’t need important people on payroll or another commission post in the Gov. Bill Haslam administration. It just needs ideas.
Local economy is an everyman concept.
This text was first published here in March.