If you look around the various small towns and rural areas that are in decline, you not only discover that the major industry that used to sustain the area is gone, but that locally owned industries have also disappeared. This country is filled with “Main Streets” with abandoned buildings and decaying downtowns. The locally owned businesses were also a vital link in promoting a sound economy as dollars passed through many hands rather than scampering off to Bentonville or China. And it’s not just all the retail shops that have been replaced by Walmart and Amazon. For just one example: Go to any small town and you’ll find that the number of car dealers have drastically decreased or just plain vanished. Local banks have practically disappeared as well.
Looking towards the future, things look bright for smaller businesses, as the economies of scale that created enormous corporations, factories, and governments and the entire support system geared to the needs of giant enterprises are likely to fade away. The rate of change will become so rapid that large capital investments will seem foolish if they are just going to become quickly obsolete.
The future is going to just happen, the world is a changing place and the economic conditions that the world’s economy will dictate are quite out of our hands. Regardless of what we believe, there are a number of forces that weren’t a factor as our system evolved: big changes in the environment, energy sources, population growth, aging demographics and automation, just to start with, and they are all going to have way more impact than any government officials are going to be able to have.The United States has thrived because we adapted better and faster to industrialization: we took advantage of the changes in economic realities as our main rivals made vain attempts to stay in the 19th century. 20 years from now, we’ll be able to see which countries adapted to the new realities, and which ones were left behind trying to recreate the 20th century.There are voices talking about “sustainable local economies”, and I encourage you to explore them and see what they have to say. Looking at all the factors that made America Great during the period between 1946 and 1975, one should note of the fact that those conditions are NOT ever going to return. But, we also need to note that we do have control of what happens within our boarders, and doing what we can to encourage local economies that can stand on their own is certainly one way we can control our own destiny.