Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Theme - Corporate Statism - Eminent Domain

I once spent the day in a very small town in Ukraine. I had a long wait and went for a stroll along the center Boulevard that ran through town. It was kind of like a long mini-park lined with benches and shade trees. I met a man at an intersection there who said something I didn’t quite understand. The words were slurred by the vodka. So in Russian I told him that I didn’t understand. Now, for him that was very confusing…because I had just spoken in Russian to him. We ended up having some discussion anyway. He liked Putin. He was Russian but found work in this town in Ukraine. Honestly, he presented himself to be more of an ex-con than a citizen. But I learned something from our exchange. Looking back, towards the end of my stay there my Russian had gotten strangely functional and utilitarian.

     “Do you have taxes here?” I asked.
     “Yes, of course.”
     I spread my hands out pointing to the scene around me. Everything was broken at some level; roads, lights, benches, windows, chipped paint on everything, and no lawn care. My new friend smiled and with his hands he pretended to grab money from the air and then shoved both hands into his pockets.
     “Oh,” I replied.
     I then grabbed at the air with both of my hands but only placed one hand in my pocket.
     “In my country they only use one hand. We demand nice roads, power, central heat and air everywhere, nice lawn care – even our gas stations must come up to code.”
     My friend nodded that he understood. He invited me, almost insisted of me, to follow him to a bar for a drink. It was about 1:00 in the afternoon so I declined. Oh, and he might have killed me, so I declined.
     Anyhow, this just to say that there is a reality of ‘corporate-statism’ in our country today. At a certain level, while we are not controlled by the state here, we are ‘managed’ by a syndicate that includes the state and corporations. In this I am not being ‘political’, it is just where we are today. Life is more nuanced in the West. We are not told where to shop, live, work, or what to purchase. Instead we are told where and how we ‘should’ do those things…to the point of conformity of opinion. In the novel Land Run you will also find some interesting counter-cultural characters breaking ranks with conformity. Sometimes this will cause society to label them freaks. But in the case of one character, the freak eats real food.;-)

So I just want to throw out a hint that this theme is unavoidably displayed in the novel Land Run. Not to be political in any way…but life here simply plays this out before our eyes. In the small scale of the local community of Willow Springs the bank, business, and government do work together for the betterment of the community…but it always costs someone. And while we have laws, sometimes those laws are misused - eminent domain.