Daily Bread for 10.18.23: ‘Gradually and Then Suddenly’

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 64. Sunrise is 7:12 and sunset 6:07 PM for 10h 54m 35s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 13.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

There will be a meet and greet with Whitewater’s new parks director, Kevin Boehm, at 5:30 PM.

  On this day in 1945, the USSR‘s nuclear program receives plans for the United States plutonium bomb from Klaus Fuchs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

I’ve written before about Whitewater’s probable near-future. See The Shape of Decline to Come (and How to Carry On). This morning, a few more thoughts about the near-future, a time that will stretch between ten and fifteen years. (The estimate of this period’s length is a cautious one based on how long Whitewater has been stagnant; it may last longer.)

A reminder: Whitewater deserves better from its common council majority; this city is better than its council majority. Whitewater deserves better from its community development authority’s majority; this city is better than that authority’s majority.

What is this conflict about? For a year, Whitewater’s special interests, using their operatives and stooges, have embarked on a campaign to ensure that they continue to control economic development in Whitewater. They view a public institution like the Whitewater Community Development Authority as their private property and will not accept the direction of the current city administration to establish professional, public development as other communities do. A few landlords and bankers in Whitewater will not accept a city that is not under their thumb. That’s what this conflict is about. All the rest is pretext and lies. 

What comes next? These special interests (a few landlords and bankers) will use the council majority to fire or force out this city manager, after which they will hand-pick a new city manager and an economic development director who will take direction only from them. 

Gradually and then Suddenly. Hemingway’s observation about calamity from The Sun Also Rises is oft-quoted for its insight into decline:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

Whitewater has seen the gradual through many years of stagnation. She will now see the sudden, in which over two or three years there will be a steep decline, leaving the city in an inferior position for many years thereafter.  In that two to three-year period, public employees and small private businesses will head for the door, if they can. For public employees in the city, but also school district and university, it will prove true that “Whitewater (including the already execrable CDA) will never be able to hire good employees. Losers, liars, layabouts, and liquor pigs are all we will be able to attract.” 

Whitewater will become the undoubted sick person of the area, and other towns will capitalize on Whitewater’s coming infirmity to attract those who can relocate elsewhere. Obvious point: While I respect the right and need of people & businesses to leave for their own well-being, there is no circumstance whatever in which I would leave Whitewater. Whitewater is for me, as I have mentioned, the work of a lifetime. One’s own perspective cannot, however, obscure this local truth: the cronyism and self-dealing of a few local men will leave thousands of residents worse off. 

The Limits of Speech. Free speech only influences those who care to listen. By definition, special interests care for themselves at the expense of the common good. For these types, Whitewater is not a city of 14,889, but rather about two dozen or so. This libertarian blogger has never written to persuade Whitewater’s special interests. Of course not: If they cared about others, they wouldn’t have kept the town stagnant nor would they be acting to overturn its city administration. They don’t care; they speak only enough platitudes to deceive. They are liars by habit if not by nature. They accuse others of the very transgressions that they commit each day. One writes not for them but to affirm what one believes to be true even in surrounding conditions of dishonesty and corruption.

Mutual Aid. Mutual aid is a term often applied between emergency services and police departments to support each other in a crisis. Whitewater will need to encourage private residents who can provide mutual aid to each other in coming times of empty small stores, increased poverty, addiction, crime, and social disorder.  It’s not enough to provide financial assistance (although that matters); residents will have to bolster programs that encourage residents to support each other as they overcome social disadvantages and disorders. Top-down, paternalistic approaches will not be enough in this approaching time of sudden decline.

There’s an irony that one who by nature and nurture is distant and detached writes about the need for mutual association. There are, it seems, occasional ironies to be found in unfolding community tragedies. Each person plays a role in a larger community. Sometimes a person can prescribe the right medication without being able to manufacture that medicine himself.  

And so, and so: “There is a way out for the community, itself, however, as this libertarian blogger has written repeatedly: turn away from this inadequate and addled band on council, and work to build a better city apart from them. They represent the bottom of Whitewater; look elsewhere for the top. There is no better community in which to be, embarrassment and inadequacy of this common council notwithstanding. I’ve written this way for years; it’s never been more true than now.”

See Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day, Something Transcendent, and in the MeantimeAn Oasis Strategy, The Community Space, People Bring Color. From Government, Failure is Both Loss and Distraction, and The Shape of Decline to Come (and How to Carry On).

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1 month ago

Extremely bleak but honest. Guess this seems about right. How soon until you think they force the city manager out?

careful observer
1 month ago

so you don’t think that public comment will matter?

careful observer
1 month ago

so if whitewater might maybe go into sudden decline why would thet take the risk?

1 month ago

And is there any chance to be wrong(change) this incredibly bleak forecasting?