Rich Man Poor Man

There are many disturbing issues surrounding the mulit-year and harshly public debate in Salmon Arm about the Smart Centres Development.

One of which is that the circa year 2000 Council itself is said to have suggested the controversial property to the developer in the first place and voted to take the parcel out of the ALR because it flooded and was therefore no longer valuable as farming land. This action alone confirms the flood risk that so many have tried to deny.

The second is that an elected councillor was said to assist in the deal that parceled the properties for purchase. If it’s a city’s job to oversee the real property development of a community, then any realtor who serves on council is in conflict of interest.  And indeed, in other parts of Canada, realtors cannot serve on local councils for this very reason.

The third is that the developer has whipped up a cult-like us-versus-them fervency by packing meetings, encouraging silence in numbers, offering trinkets and promoting itself as the saviour of the average family. This evangelical intensity scares me. Like a propaganda campaign with no spending limits where the win is a form of financial salvation.

The fourth is that had the community groups who are unpaid and unfunded not engaged in the process, paid for studies and pointed out the irreparable damage to the sensitive ecosystem, the mall may well have already been built. The government regulatory systems have utterly failed us as a community. It’s a bit like saying you can leave your kids alone until they hurt themselves, then you really need to hire a babysitter.

But the worst and most disturbing of all is what I’ll call the rich man poor man argument because it’s not logical, rhetorical or even political. It’s emotional. Those opposed to this development have been called rich, retired, snobby elite whose own intellectual and scientific arrogance makes them unsympathetic to those whose feelings of being denied cheaper goods equates to sentence of poverty. Poverty has nothing to do with having to drive to Kamloops or Kelowna to shop at big box store to save $10 on a pair of boots. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Real poverty lines up at Second Harvest every Wednesday and Friday. Real poverty lives at the Family Resource Centre where teen moms get food and diapers for their wee babes. Real poverty lives in local schools where moms bake extra muffins to feed the kids who don’t get breakfast. And to claim this social tragedy that befalls so many people in our community as a trump card in matters of real property development and big box shopping breaks my heart.

Somewhere along the road, we’ve lost our way. We’ve forgotten that economics is the study of unlimited wants and limited resources and marketing is the study of selling the things that people need to the people who need them. Instead, we’ve become a terribly spoiled consumer culture that measures economic and marketing success by indulging every need and creating needs that don’t exist to fill them for the purpose of economic and marketing success. So viscous a circle, my head spins.

So I’ll do what I always do when my head spins and my heart hurts. I’ll do something nice for someone else to restore some balance. As a community, we are responsible for one another. I hope others will also reach out in their way. Each of us has it within ourself do so.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Henry S. Haskins




10 Responses

  1. […] post is Rich Man Poor Man (July 13 2011) and as usual is worth the read. But the worst and most disturbing of all is what […]

  2. Thank you, an excellent article ..the writing and the content.

  3. Suggest you send this toThe Province and any other paper you think of

  4. […] the original post: Rich Man Poor Man « The Blahgg Blog This entry was posted in Left Blogs, Uncategorized and tagged action, consumer, developer, […]

  5. Bravo or encore. After I read it for a second time, I tried to determine the statement or observation that I agreed the most with. Try as I might, each and every one of them was important and worth deep consideration. The only comment I’d add would echo the remarks expressed by a contributor to the AHSA blog. … And that was the inability or failure of “leadership” to respectfully and responsiby consider the will of the people and practical science before caving in to carpetbaggers – both local and distant. A majority of the council did support the project, but a majority of enlightened residents? I’d respectfully disagree with this dubious claim.

  6. Actually we just had a councillor pulled from a major project because he Dad was a developer…

  7. You have some nerve telling people where/how they can shop. You want struggling families to support local greedy merchants…but you had no problem linking your name on a non commercial site to your business, so you can make lots of $$$.You people don’t want to see much needed jobs for people, all you want is control.

    • @bbrown. Thanks for the feedback. I’m not telling you what to do and I too want to see much needed jobs. However, I really don’t believe that part time low wage retail jobs are the answer to economic prosperity. So we agree to disagree.

  8. Think of this matter as an example of what communitarianism (got to be a better handle) is all about. Perhaps one should try to set out what “community” means including what our public servants, both elected and appointed, owe the community. Also how these values should be expressed.Once such values are articulated maybe there should be a scorecard on how our public servants are “serving” the community Cheers

  9. Nine followers — I’m envious! Most bloggers, even supposedly well known ones, don’t get that!

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