Two stories this week in the national media caught my attention about Mount Airy, North Carolina, and Martinsville, Virginia, that are similar in tone and bias making both local communities seem doomed to economic collapse. On Wednesday, the USA Today published a story on the front page about Mount Airy titled “When the textile mill goes away, so does a way of life.”
There are the usual Mayberry related photos, but the comments section is revealing. http://content.usatoday.com/community/comments.aspx?id=37795242.story&p=2
One that caught my eye was “This didn’t happen overnight.” The usual story is that when a small group of people control business and keep new business out to keep wages low and unions out, the world falls apart when those same business leaders decide to move to other places where the wages are lower. It is almost a feudal system with masters and slaves.
In Patrick County as everyone argues over rail trails and tourism as their world crumbles around them the thought of Nero fiddling on the Crooked Road as Rome burns around him or the idea that ignorance is bliss come to mind. When no new ideas are welcome, the children leave and no matter how many trails you build or brochures you hand out, they and the new jobs that keep them home find their ways to other more farsighted communities, where freedom of speech is welcome and people have thicker skins that don’t mind a little criticism.
This month the very elitist New Yorker Magazine published an article titled “Obama’s Lost Year — The President’s failure to connect with ordinary Americans” that includes http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/03/15/100315fa_fact_packer
Here is a link to the a story about the New Yorker article in the Martinsville Bulletin that ignores the negative image it portrays Martinsville focusing on new energy and their favorite soon to be one terms Congressman "Pinkiello."
There is a slide show of photos from downtown Martinsville that goes with the article online titled “George Packer on how the Great Recession is still shaking Martinsville, Virginia.”
Here are some comments from the New Yorker article.
My grandfather came to Mount Airy in the 1940s for a job in a textile mill. My mother worked thirty-eight years in a textile mill. My father and I both worked in several different textile mills before, during and after we went to college. I think both of these stories are about the same thing and that is when a small clique with no vision control everything, you should not be surprised when the world they control falls apart around them and all of us.