I wrote about the shameful behavior of many of our downtown Southern Pines merchants back on July 9: What Kind of Businessmen?
This blog entry was soon published by The Pilot
in a slightly edited version. I received a lot of good and positive feedback from a number of Southern Pines merchants and residents. All of the merchants and businessmen who communicated with me wanted to make sure they were not associated with those who would abusively use government to harm their competitors. All firmly expressed their support of free market and limited government principles. I was proud of those who spoke with me against the crony capitalism of many of our downtown Southern Pines merchants.
I will say again that we all support a prosperous and vibrant downtown community. None of us want to destroy what is widely recognized to be a small town success story. While so many small towns across NC and the nation are in decline and suffering; while so many have seen their downtown communities destroyed by suburban flight, bypasses, and unplanned mall sprawl; while others have died through suicidal rabid conservation/preservation policies that drove businesses away -- Southern Pines is undoubtedly a gem and shining town upon a hill. Our current and prior Town Councils have gone out of their way to help the downtown merchants and community to thrive and prosper.
But, it seems that too many of our downtown merchants have developed a leftist sense of entitlement and a desire for government cronyism. They now want all manner of special favors and special protections from government. They want to use government as a stick and a shield to bludgeon their competition and to thwart new competitors from coming into the area. Now that they are established, they want to use Town Council to slam the door shut on new business entrants. I really don't know if it's simply irrational fear of change or a despicable sense of entitlement and dependency that is driving their foolish and shameful behavior.
I really don't think it matters which. The behavior must stop. It is not the role of government to protect the downtown merchants from competition, to shower them with crony favors, and to determine winners and losers in the marketplace. That is precisely what is currently wrong with this nation and economy. We need to start cleaning up our own houses and back yards.
So, I want to publicize the petition that 52 of our crony capitalist businessmen signed and presented to our Southern Pines Town Council demanding the Council order an "economic impact study" before proceeding with the new proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) on the Bell family's Knollwood tract. This demand is wrong for so many reasons:
● It is a completely inappropriate request of Town Council. To repeat, it is not the role of Town Council to become involved in matters of competition among businesses.
● It is unlawful. There is nothing in the town ordinances, zoning rules, state statutes, or even federal regulations requiring such a study. For the Town Council to impose one would be an unlawful act.
● To "change the rules in the middle of the game" is both unfair and unjust. All applicants and residents are entitled to equal justice under the law. To impose new laws or restrictions on an applicant just because certain downtown businesses have an entitlement mentality is unfair and unjust.
● It is wrong to impose additional costs and delays upon the applicant simply because some downtown merchants are afraid of change. Such costs should be borne by those who desire such a study, and the onus should be on those merchants to complete their study in parallel to the development with no delays on the applicant whatsoever.
● If the downtown merchants desire consultant studies and recommendations on what competition they might anticipate in the foreseeable future and what they should do to prepare for that new competition, then the downtown merchants should hire their own consultants. It is their
job to compete -- it is not the job of either the Bell family or the Town Council to subsidize them.
You can read, print, or save a copy of the downtown merchants' petition by clicking here
Below is a list of the Southern Pines Hall of Shame merchants
who signed this petition. I have decided that I will no longer patronize any of these merchants because of their lack of principles and because their values are so contrary to my own. I will patronize their competitors instead, and I will encourage all my family and friends to do the same. I am not calling for any boycott or other such silliness. I am simply saying to Southern Pines area residents that we should support those businesses and merchants who support our own principles and values. We should not support those who do not. We should hold the businesses we patronize to a standard, and if they fail to meet our standards, we should not give them our precious dollars. The merchants below clearly fail to meet my standards, so I will take my money elsewhere. You should do the same!
Southern Pines Business Hall of Shame