Be a local patriot

Be a local patriot

By Frank Schier

By Frank Schier

Editor & Publisher

As we celebrate the 226th anniversary of our nation and the 150th anniversary of our city, the phrase “Buy American” growls like an empty belly.

Nationally, the stock market tastes good to the bear, and the dollar is on a poor diet to the rest of the world. This economic indigestion bubbles due to the heartburn of unaccountable corporate poison.

Like the S&L scandals of the 1980s

(Remember that George W. Bush, Jr., has a brother Neil.), the turn of the new screw, er, corrupt corporate century has

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also turned the public’s stomach and pocketbooks inside out. In both scandals, the resulting looting of the public trust has ruined the recipe of essential entrees on the security menu for too many people: personal savings, good jobs and protected pensions.

For real botulism, we have the outright crooks, Enron, Arthur Andersen, Global Crossings and MCI WorldCom. Pity those who worked for, or bought stock from such supposedly fine, outstanding corporate citizens.

Locally, we have tasted the next delicious serving off the disposable plates of corporate America—downsizing, mega-merger acquisitions and bankruptcies. Motorola milked the City of Harvard for tax concessions, infrastructure and corporate welfare and then closed the plant, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs. Downsize that lifestyle and that gallon of moo!

Sundstrand and Pioneer Life were acquired and turned into Hamilton-Sundstrand and Conseco, respectively. Hamilton-Sundstrand moved their corporate headquarters and so many jobs to Connecticut. Even though the city built them a nifty parking deck, Conseco moved jobs to Indiana and Texas and closed the company’s offices here. That’s real values of technology and insurance. Acquire the ability to grab your wallet when you hear “merger.”

Don’t look for a deal in K-mart on the west side of Rockford; K-mart’s not there. Anymore, everybody has to drive 15 minutes or more out to Happy Land for any kind of discount retail purchase. Where’s the discount on our time and gas money? Look out, little local gas stations; Malwart (as folk singer/songwriter Patty Larkin calls it) will be pumping gas soon and pumping the local stations out of business.

If I have to swallow one more remark about the greatness of corporations, oil, national security, NAFTA, GATT and globalization, I have only one request, “Pump my stomach.”

Yet, all the politicians wax glorious in that addictive vein as the “big boys” pump corporate campaign contributions into their flapping mouths, and all the job and corporate headquarters get pumped right out of the country. (See pages 5 & 6)

For God’s sake (sorry, Supreme Court), even the “Made in America” stamp on Stanley Tools is baloney. They’re moving their headquarters out of the country.

Tax dodgers are good for the economy because they beef up those quarter-pounder earning statements that make the first-time fools who invest in the stock market grin insipidly. Supersize that ’90s Nasdaq!

Really, if everyone knew the real country-of-origin recipe of many products stamped with that patriotic, flag-waving “Made in America,” stomach pumps would be a big mover at Malwart.

Look for the locally owned business. If you don’t support and fight for local business person, that business, the jobs provided, and the money that stays in our local economy will be gone, pumped out to some corporate HQ! The same goes for our local farmers—support them. All of our farms owned by, and all of our food being supplied by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) should make any rational person genetically nervous. Urban sprawl looks good in comparison. What has Archer Daniels Midland done for you, lately? Remember their price-fixing scandal?

Speaking of prices, Blake Company awnings, a long-time local business located at 1135 Charles, 962-3852, responded to a call from the offices of The Rock River Times the other day. Our awning mechanism was on the fritz, and we were having a hard time cranking it up at night.

The fellows from Blake showed up, fixed a sprocket, greased the crank mechanism, and repaired a lock gear. They didn’t charge us a dime. They just said, “You’ll have to replace that mechanism in a few years; call us then.”

Not so oddly, we had bought the canvas awning itself from Blake Company, when we moved into 128 N. Church St., seven years ago. Then the IRS was sicked on us, and we took about four years to recover. We sent Blake Company $50, about four times a year, until the bill was paid; but the bill got paid, very slowly.

Oddly, when we called this time, Blake Company showed up, after all that. Then they didn’t charge us! Blake Company, thank you. Thank you for your understanding, your graciousness and your fine work. That baby cranks up like a new one, even though it’s as old as this 1920s building.

Since 1889, Blake Company has been family owned, providing custom canvas awnings and canopies, canvas porch curtains, retractable awnings, boat and truck covers, and flags—foreign, Illinois and U.S.

Some might say, “What’s the big deal?” The answer is, “Would a corporation extend such a courtesy?” Although some might think the gesture is a small one, Blake Company won our business permanently and offered us the compliment of acknowledging that we’d be in business when our awning mechanism wore out. That’s why they’ve been in business since 1889; they have values and recognize value in a very personal way. What national or international corporation has the same personal character and ability to be loyal and build loyalty?

Blake Company is not merging, not downsizing, not moving. They stand as truly good corporate, business citizens. Their jobs and money stay in Rockford. Patronize and support them and all others like them—the local patriots—the real, honest, hard-working Americans you can talk to and count on, face to face.

Give your mind a taste of those faces as you enjoy the backyard barbecue, Mom, apple pie, our city, our flag, fireworks and the Fourth of July. All that should fill you right up, with pride about the real America, the real Rockford.

(See page 25)

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