Box Stores and Two Party Amerika

Baby boomers like myself remember urban Main Street America. In our neighborhoods of Brooklyn N.Y., we had the appearance of little villages. The main shopping avenues were lined with Mom and Pop retail stores. You wanted bread, we had Italian, Jewish and German bakeries. You wanted fruit, you went to the neighborhood fruit and produce store. Needed women’s wear — a ladies shop. We had men’s shops, tailors to fit you for a suit or pants, handbag stores, leather shops, jewelry shops, hardware stores, paint stores, neighborhood pharmacies, where they delivered your medicine, coffee shops, pizza parlors, Jewish delis, German delis, Italian pork stores. Anything you wanted you could get on Main Street.

Some entrepreneurs came up with an idea, after WW2, to house many different types of purveyors under one roof — a Super Market. My mom would take me along with her as she shopped, and the Bohack or A & P was definitely on her list. She would buy her dry and canned foods, and other non perishable essentials at these stores, but she also stopped into the local fish store, produce store, Italian bakery, pork store and butcher shop as well. You see, the Super Markets were important, but not exclusive for the very best of food items. So, what happened that we now find ourselves in this current state of Box Store USA?

Wal-Mart was able to house countless types of products under one giant roof, at great discounts for many items but not all. Soon after, other entrepreneurs opened a slew of mega stores like BJs, Home Depot, Lowes, Target, K- Mart, Staples, Office Depot causing many local Mom and Pop retailers to fade away. ‘Progress’ they called it. “One Stop shopping is easy and convenient” they argued “Saves you money too!”. Of course, quality and service consistently got worse and worse. Ask anyone over 50 years of age about the differences between the local food and dry goods stores of their youth, compared with today’s mega markets and box stores. For a few hundred bucks a year in savings Americans have followed the piper over the cliff. The box stores are … God!

Politics has taken the same route as the box store revolution. The only difference is that this 2 Party Scam has been going on for well over 150 years. It seems each time a new and interesting 3rd Party movement begins in America the two party monster swallows it up or subverts it completely. In the early 20th century, after the Gilded Age’s corruption and greed transformed America into a two tier economic system (sound familiar?) the Socialist and Communist movements gathered steam. They were outspoken about the U.S not entering into the phony WW 1, which was basically a battle amongst the rich of Europe (with the poor doing most of the fighting and dying). Both major political parties stood silently by as protest leaders were arrested for treason, jailed and even deported.

Then we had the Palmer Raids during the 1920s, after the Russian Revolution. This was the forerunner of the McCarthy Red Scare period of the late 40s and early 50s which was the forerunner of the assault on civil liberties by the Bush gang after 9/11 and during the Iraq invasion. Remember, it wasn’t just the right-wing Republicans who were following Bush and Cheney while waving their flags. The majority of Democrats bought into the lies and jingoism as well, voting to give the Bush/Cheney gang the right to preemptive war. Make no bones about it, the Democrats acquiesced due to political expediency. The karma those fakers and cowards now carry, from the myriad dead soldiers and civilians… to those countless torn bodies limping around Iraq, Afghanistan and Walter Reade hospital, is a sad testament indeed.

How can things change? Many progressive thinkers sound the trumpet to ‘Educate, Educate, Educate‘. Yet, the deck is stacked against any sort of progressive 3rd Party movement, as it is against those Mom and Pop retailers who attempt to stand tall vs. the box stores. Perhaps it is time to become more proactive. It is time to initiate mass boycotts of the 2 Party System, by running candidates as Independents until third Parties can get on the ballots more easily. Perhaps it is time to boycott the box stores more and more. Shouldn’t we who care also boycott the corrupt banks, as well as the corporations who make money from war? How about this: Boycott the corporations who give great sums of money to politicians from both major parties. Maybe then some sense of sanity will return to America. Maybe then we can finally get money totally out of our electoral process, allowing the other dominoes to tumble as well.

Philip A Farruggio is a contributing editor for the Greanville Post and the son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen as well as a graduate of Brooklyn College, class of 1974. Since the 2000 election debacle Philip has written over 300 columns on the Military Industrial Empire and other facets of life in an upside down America. He is also host of the It’s the Empire… Stupid radio show, co-produced by Chuck Gregory. Philip can be reached at paf1222@bellsouth.net. Read other articles by Philip.