Longton’s Downfall

Started by CCarl, June 08, 2023, 12:40:20 PM

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[BTW, before I get to the gist of this long post, what is with the sudden appearance of Bots on this forum? Surely all these advertising-like posts are automated. Most make little sense, and some are posted in strange places, like a comment on a learning program posted to an obituary. A real person wouldn't do that, would they? Or are they being generated by the Woke crowd who don't care about anything but themselves? Doesn't the Forum management have anyway of controlling the content? Or does any post constitute activity, and activity equals revenue? How does it work?]

I have had serious, but waning intentions of posting a dozen or so more segments of Dying Longton on the Elk County Forum. Then a week or two ago I heard something about our town that has bothered me to the core. It has made further posts senseless, and a waste of time.

Longton has a commonly seen social diversity; a few wealthy, many more poor, subsidized idlers, hard workers, druggies, alcoholics, old timers, newbies, highly educated, barely educated, unable to read or write, MAGA-hats, control freaks, land owners, renters, straights, homosexuals, young and strong, old and infirm, christian, non-christian, atheist, hillbillies, hippies, cowboys and cowgirls, inner-city escapees, Left Coast escapees, blue collar, and white collar. And the list can probably go on. I expect to find most of those social factions in every rural area in 21st century America.

Then we have one other social faction in our community, we have people with their noses in the air about how other people live their lives and care for their property. That faction, the I-know-better syndrome, apparently spreads across our social diversity. It is responsible for the judgmentalism that sparks most of the gossip aimed at many of those social factions.

Individually, each of us can lay claim to several or more of those factions. They make us unique. They also make us different. The differences and uniqueness should be admired, so I would think. That is what I was taught, and grew up believing. So it has bothered me since I moved here a dozen years back to see how much the noses in the air pass judgment on many of the social factions. I've tried to pass the finger pointing off as humor, as simply making fun of others. But it seems to more serious.

There are a little less then 300 of us cows, bulls, and calves in our 750-acre town. That's two and a half acres for each of us. We should have plenty of room to stretch our legs, graze, and find some shade to nap in. We do not live on top of each other like NYC and LA, or even Wichita.  Each of us can avoid interaction with others if we choose. So why do we seemingly step on each others' hooves so much, why all the gossipy hoof pointing? Why the mooing? Why is it bothersome what others have, or own, or what lifestyle they live, or how tall their grass gets? Why all the judgment in this little cow-town?

We have a small and overly-expensive city government, one full of the I-know-better syndrome. Governments are supposed to have two functions, 1) they protect us with policing and a court system when trouble brews; and 2) they serve us by administering commonly held property like parks and streets, and by providing us public utilities.

With time and our negligence, serving us has become obeying them (with 'for your own welfare' in parentheses). That is one hundred and eighty degrees from the course American government was designed to follow. So we have ended up with a slew of city ordinances, established around a (mis)perception of common good. Some of those ordinances conflict with both federal and state constitutional guarantees of private property rights.

[BTW, our city government has committed prosecutable misconduct and criminal misdemeanor in the last two and a half years. That I know. I had intended on dedicating a Dying Longton post strictly on that topic. First, I was going to meet with an attorney to get the precise language I needed to formally request a State investigation. I wanted to lay it all out. It is no longer worth a cent of effort after verifying what I heard about Longton.]

The City Mayor's expectations for our town are mostly wrong-headed and contrary to what is needed. City Council has, for the most part, been just as offensive. Public money, whether it is called tax, food stamps, welfare, grants, or subsidy, is responsible for the impoverishment of rural and urban communities everywhere. And our city government tosses too much of it around. That new fancy swing in City Park, paid for by a tax-funded grant, looks fun, colorful, and innocuous, but it is an economic monster that drags us all down. Our Mayor and the majority of council members do not have the wits to see it.

[To keep this post impersonal, neither did the previous Mayor, nor apparently, numerous other council members. They all admire something that helps a few, especially when they (mis)believe that public money is free. And they most certainly seek personal credit for making it happen. But they refuse to acknowledge the many others that their actions have hurt, and will hurt.]

You and I are paying the price for such disdain toward us from government, and we have been for years. So I ask these questions of and about our City government's recent 'service' to us, knowing I will get little response and no change.
 - Why do you want us to look like Mayberry R.F.D.? This is 2023, not 1963.
 - Why can't you see value in abandoned buildings? It's there.
 - Why can't you see value in used cars and scrap metal? It's there.
 - Why can't you respect our individual values? Why are we forced to accept yours?
 - Why are many of our streets either potholes or bumps, or both? Why not a smooth option?
 - Why do you want weed control to kill beautiful wildflowers?
 - Why do you have policies and procedures that discriminate against the poor and the small family?
 - Why do you spray glyphosate that contaminates our watershed and causes cancer?
 - Why did you take action against the property at 308 Kansas, but not against the property at 502 Kansas?
 - Why does the City have Stop signs? So the LEOs can issue us tickets? Why not four-way Yields?
 - Why do single users pay the same sewer fee as large families that dispose of much, much more waste water?
 - Why aren't taxpayers allowed to vote to approve annual City budgets? It is our money you're spending.
 - Why are you surveilling us illegally?
 - Why don't you simply get off our backs and return to serving us?

Is a government this contemptuous, unlawful, and ill-responsive worth having? What does it actually do that serves us? What does it do that we could not manage voluntarily among the 200 or so adults in town, without the government structure and taxation?

In spite of all the above, I have thought for some time that an effort to change City government is worthwhile. There is definitely room and need to do so. And in many ways it is simply a matter of course reversal. And I thought, with changes, a community might evolve that would attract new blood because the city would become attractive to the investment of more people's wealth and labor. Longton needs new blood because we have very little local, willing-to-invest wealth, and very minimally trained labor for self-improvement.

I no longer hold to those thoughts. Longton is not worth the effort. Here is why.

What I heard a week or two back utterly changed my perception. I heard there are businesses in our little town that have disinvited one or more families (who live in town) from doing business with them. I could not believe it when I heard it. But it has been confirmed. I understand a property owner has the right to say 'get off', and a business owner has the right to say 'get out'. But in a town of only about 100 families in rural Kansas? Where business struggles to survive? To turn away income? To discriminate against a neighbor? To have business owners operate on an opinion (about a family) based on bigotry? Give. Me. A. Break! That is beyond the pale. It is stereotypic 1950's Mississippi. It is heartbreaking.

But now I understand what Longton's problem is among the I-know-betters, the government intrusion and discrimination, the town gossip, the finger pointing, and the unwelcome-in-my-business attitudes. They all share a commonality. Hatred is at the core of this city's heart. It is the basis of the bigotry and judgmentalism that is directed at many of our social factions. It is by no means fostered by everybody, but given the amount of finger pointing, rumor, and gossip that float around, there is enough hate to rot this town's core value. While Longton is still a town, it is no longer a community. Maybe Longton isn't unique. Maybe there are noses in the air and disinviters in all towns. Maybe larger populations mask those symptoms of hate. I haven't seen it other places I've lived, but it has certainly been laid bare for me to see here.

That fundamental and pervasive hate is the reason Longton will not revive. The blight the Mayor emphasizes is not junk cars, scrap metal, or abandoned buildings. The blight is judgmentalism, bigotry and hate. The Mayor's 'leadership' is perpetuating a healthy dose of all three, judging from the city government's actions, especially toward the poor of this town. A majority of council members are accomplices. So are all those noses in the air.

Longton won't economically or culturally survive unless the judgmentalism ends. Public economic policy will not help Longton. The fluff proposals from the Governor's Office of Rural Prosperity will do nothing more than repaint a dented and rusted surface. Not even private investment and sweat equity can help Longton until the judgmentalism ends. Why would conscionable, community-oriented investors want to come here to begin with?

But what may increasingly come here, the eventual new blood that hate attracts, will also be haters, ones that come to extract the wee bit of wealth that is left in a dying town. They will not be real investors in community. They will truly be takers, just like government. They will invest from a distance. They are bankers and corporatists. They invest with debt, not with sweat. And their profits will leave Longton. Time to play Taps.

Here is one other short thought.

Assume Longton will be gone in fifteen years. That is all the time you have here. Fifteen years isn't far off. How old will you be? It doesn't matter how Longton ends, just assume, accept, or make believe that it will be gone in 2038. Call it a 'serious game' if you want. Call it Long-gone instead of Long-ton. How would you live out those fifteen years? As you usually do, or would you make changes, given the short time remaining? Think about it.

I'm suggesting you make just one change, live those fifteen years without judgment or hate in your heart. End your judgment of the poor, of the drug users, of the hillbilly attitudes, of those who don't care for their property the way you might, of the gays, of the hippies, of the drinkers, of the idlers. End your fear of the things you are not, of the things you have not experienced. Stop the finger pointing. Treat people the way you would like to be treated. Maybe playing this fifteen year 'serious game' could change things for the better. Maybe it isn't a game, nor make believe.
We hang the petty thieves, and appoint the great ones to public office.
 - Aesop (620 BC-560 BC)


I'm not sure who you are,but if Longton is so awful why are you still here.I don't live in Longton,but i spend plenty of my time and money in town.People have been saying for the last 80 years that Longton will be dead in 15 years.With attitudes like yours it would be.But there are plenty of others that work to keep its heart beating....the people that get involved go the the city council meetings volunteer around town for clean up.support the few small sports we have.....we do things different in small towns it aint just about hate and gossip.And just because some one don't want 6 foot weeds and trash next door it don't make them a snob


If someone doesn't want weeds and trash on their property, that is their business, Next door is not their business, just like my neighbor's junk cars are not my business, nor yours, nor city government's. Notice how people tend to get along when we all mind our own business?? Remind city government of that the next time you go to a Council meeting.

Nice timing on your post, Upoladeb. See these fun links on grass and yard alternatives for the snobs, as you say.


Here's a plan for us city dwellers. Eliminate all the grass in our yards and plant them to 100% wildflowers. Then stop mowing and enjoy the beauty. Will the City enforce its lawn ordinance on us? Should we send the City a notarized and recorded Letter of Intent to Sue if it mows our yard, our lawn of wildflowers? Would Council be so silly to pass an ordinance saying wildflowers must be mown unless they are inside defined flowerbeds? Don't answer that question! Will the noses-in-the-air bellyache? Of course. Will all the honeybees that follow the bloom periods be declared a health hazard by the City? After-all someone might get stung! Don't answer that question either! Anyone else want a yard of beautiful flowers kept by mother nature, no mowing, no raking, no herbicides, no pruning, no maintenance, but lots of pollinators and colors? Be a trend setter, make a difference, be the first on your block . . . .

Myself and others are trying to help Longton, in case you missed it. We believe freedom and creativity are more important than obedience. We also believe conscience dictates that hate and constraint be pointed out, and be challenged. Believe me, I am not imagining the hate. I talked to the previous Longton mayor for years about it. He felt the hate in town, on several fronts. He heard the words spoken behind his and his family's backs, and openly directed at his kids and grandkids. It's real, the poor in our town feel it, too.

If you don't want hate's influence in your community, volunteer to boycott the pub and the restaurant for, say, three months. Spread the word to stay away from all businesses that disinvite residents. Let steak night serve less than six steaks. Let Cadillac Jack's cash register have so little money in it, it isn't worth robbing again. Let them know you do not support their hate. Maybe people will apologize and re-invite. Money is as strong an incentive as hate (and sometimes just as destructive).

You're right, Longton does do things that aren't just hate and gossip (but, thanks for agreeing it does do those two things!). Lately Longton is pretty good at doing crime, too. It's a shame the Sheriff's Dept. won't publish (or would it, if asked?) a list of the homes broken into, the petty theft, the grand theft, the business(es) that has/have been robbed, the mail fraud and theft, and the bank card theft and check forgery. Now won't that be a list for potential home buyers and start-up businesses to see!

Yep, I know, crime is everywhere. That's today's world of hate, and disrespect for others and their property. It would be 'fun' to see where Longton's crime rate ranks in the State, wouldn't it? No? You'd rather sweep what's happening under the rug? Sorry, hiding it will not make it go away.

If you look back at some earlier posts, you will see it isn't 'attitude' that is killing Longton. It has had a declining population for nearly 100 years. You will see a marked decline in its businesses the last 50 years. Longton has been in a coffin for quite a while, as you inferred. That decline is due to government centralization that has built the corporate business world to replace the old, family-owned business world. Centralization has taken wealth from us and subjugated us. That is why government, even local government, is the problem not the answer. That is why self-responsibility and individual action are the only positive answers. That is why private property rights are so important. At this stage in Longton's decline, hate and crime are just two more nails in the coffin. Baseball games, pig mud wrestling, turtle races, and blue ribbons for home canned goods, while fun for a few, aren't going to save Longton.

In a bigger picture, what are the folks of Longton going to do with the underlying hate when we have homeless living, sleeping, and defecating in City Park? Don't think that isn't coming, don't sweep that under the rug. Homeless are in Independence now. Homeless are occupying abandoned properties in that town, how many I don't know. There are businesses allowing use of their bathrooms. One conversation I had said Independence is/will be looking for a grant to build a public facility where homeless can bathe and use toilets. In other words, homelessness in our part of the world is not going away, it is being planned for. They will eventually come to Longton. People in this town, not the government, better talk among themselves and make some decisions about the future. We best address the hate ahead of time. And we do not need city government constraining and controlling the dialog, nor dictating the choices we make or the actions we take.

We hang the petty thieves, and appoint the great ones to public office.
 - Aesop (620 BC-560 BC)


We hang the petty thieves, and appoint the great ones to public office.
 - Aesop (620 BC-560 BC)

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