Friday, August 26, 2005

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Fleeced

I've spilled yet more ink on the pages of the paper today. Here's what I submitted before yesterday's deadline:
Let’s get this straight: Londoners are being stuck with a billion-dollar bill to repair the city’s sewers barely six years after committing to spend $500 million over the next 20 years. Since then, sewer rates have jumped 43 per cent, with residents paying double, triple, and even quadruple what big box stores pay.

Call me a sheep, because I’m feeling fleeced.

It bugs me to see big box stores getting bigger and richer on my taxpayer dime. Bad enough they drive urban sprawl and suck the lifeblood out of our cities: now we learn they’re not paying their fair share.

Our helpful civic leaders shift the burden onto taxpayers by giving these leviathans sweetheart deals on service costs and building wider roads to accommodate them. One wonders what else the big boxers get away with, and what it’ll cost us in the years to come.

Something smells, but it isn’t the sewers. Look to the corner of Dufferin and Wellington.

Me again: For the record, Dufferin & Wellington is where City Hall is located.

Your turn: So are today's cities laying down and giving the keys to the kingdom away to soulless big box operators? Are we being paved out of existence?

14 comments:

A Woman Changed said...

It's so odd to read such caustic and critical words coming out of you, Carmi! I'm used to your softer, appreciative side that highlights the goodness in life. I have to get used to this! Oh, and FYI, I still enjoy your writing very, very much.

Cori said...

So how would you solve this? I love you carmi but I want to hear a solved problem instead so what would you do to a demand vs. a need?

-E said...

Michele sent me.

Interesting you say this. In Texas they are negotiating over legistlation that would allow the state to make deals to make it more appealing to get companies to move here. Some things make sense, but some are entirely out of left field!

Cori said...

Thank you for your honesty1

yellojkt said...

Free roads are a huge hidden business subsidy. That's why mass transit never pays for itself. If everyplace had to be accessible by rail there would be a lot less sprawl.

yellojkt said...

Oh, and Michele sent me.

Kimberly said...

Today's cities are highly variable in their approach to such things. Sadly, many cities see the anticipated sales tax revenue from big box stores as good enough reason to give those businesses a break on rates for utilities and other development costs. Of course, those utilities still have to cover their operating expenses, and we pay for it.

While big boxes have contributed to the decay of many cities, and even more small towns, I don't think that they are the primary drivers of urban sprawl. Without the successful marketing by real-estate developers of a super-sized "American dream" (a McMansion on a 1/3- 1/2-acre lot, with the two SUV's needed to get you and your family from there to anywhere else), and all of the attendant, wasteful infrastructure required, there would be no place for the big box or mega-mall. The American dream until shortly after WWII - as evidenced in my early 1900's neighborhood and many others - was a 1200-1800 square foot house on an 1/8 acre lot. This density supports smaller local retail much more easily than any modern suburb can.

I'll stop here, before I build up to a full-blown rant in your comments. You've touched on a subject about which this architect feels very strongly.

Carmi, you are less a sheep than the many who unwittingly allow themselves to be herded into the big boxes that are participating in their fleecing. And your writing is so much better than that of the average sheep.

Kevin said...

I don't know if we're being "paved out of existence," but I've certainly seen enough asphalt to last a lifetime. As soon as it's affordable, I'm hightailing it to cottage country. As long as the cottage has a covered deck, good plumbing, a big screen TV, a satellite dish, broadband...

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Isn't there a small sporting event in 2012 as well?

Here via Michele.

Star said...

Strip malls are quickly overtaking every inch of available space, Everytime I see one go up I wonder how it can be supported without more housing being built for people to move into the area. THe newest area mall seems quite busy which makes me wonder where these people went before, and are those stores losing out? Michele sent me today.

Anonymous said...

i'm torn. i love to shopw. big box stores, little not box stores and all the lovelt stores in between. but i don't want big box stores to take over the world (too late?). i want me to take over the world. i would make it very very lovely. i assure you. there would be food for everyone and lots of candy for ME!

honestyrain said...

oops. that anonymous post is me.

moonbatty said...

This happens a lot in my hometown up in Massachusetts. Big companies (especially stores like Walmart) blast into town on the promise of tax breaks, require that the town foot the bill for additional highway infrastructure to accomodate the increase of traffic, and then put all sorts of smaller businesses out of business while only providing low-paying no-benefits jobs. The taxpayers then have to pay off the infrastructure for the new companies, as well as deal with the increase of traffic and the decrease in the variety of local stores (and often the decrease in quality of merchadise and even food).

It sucks. It's supposed to bring in revenue, and instead it sucks taxpayer money. It's supposed to create jobs--and it does, but fewer than it kills off, and lower paying with lower benefits. It's supposed to offer the area-people cheaper opportunities to shop, and instead it seems to make them _dependant_ on the cheaper areas, as businesses go out and jobs are lost and people can't afford to shop anywhere but.

AND most of the merchadise is made in foreign countries, further ensuring that no new jobs are being created.

I dislike supermegastores. :p

Here via Michele. I now live permanently on your blog. ;)

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