Muncie: Back to the Basics in 2022

I need to set up the framework or narrative for future discussions. First, you need to understand the recommendations are coming from basic terminology. The articles will be brief and to the point. Many will point back to this one to ground themselves in reality because those getting ready to take from your pocket will require lots of rationalization and justification. This is the playbook of con artists. They have to grease you up for the sale. The truth requires very few words.

When the new planner’s report gets approved by the people who paid for it, those folks will be sharing it with the newspaper and other propaganda sheets. As Noam Chomsky would say, their role is to manufacture consent. Consent for what you may ask?

Where your tax dollars get invested.

The idea the planners created from listening to a few Munsonians who like gathering with others to give their input is that “Muncie needs to get back to the basics.” They will also tell us that Muncie “has been shrinking” in size and brainpower even though we have a beautiful community college campus, a major university, a maker’s lab, an incubator to help entrepreneurs cultivate their ideas into reality.

We also have incredible outdoor assets, including a trail system. One that brings our neighbors together to exercise and walk their dogs. We need more of that for the 21st and 22nd centuries, but some people resist trails or any kinds of changes because of fears.

We should allow them to share their fears publicly without ridicule. Then, if they still don’t want a bicycle trail, let’s build them a house where they would be more comfortable. Let them relocate to a place where they feel less threatened. Let those who want to feel the energy of moving and thriving people relocate into these houses along the trail. Put up water stations or arrange patio furniture to watch them move about.

When I read the plan last week, my first thought was they captured some of Muncie’s past. Not the whole history because the historians weren’t allowed to speak the entire truth. It was doctored up to make the Ball family look like the perfect omnipotent and benevolent oligarchs. We’re humans, and nobody is perfect – not even the five original Ball brothers or their children. By the way, the plan accentuates our history of entrepreneurship – only the good parts.

They were gifted with a business mind from the 19th century and grew the City of Muncie.

Muncie’s History

Back to the basics.

In 1888, when the Ball family moved their business here, the factory was located in our south industrial neighborhood. We have great mapping people who could put up old pictures to show how the community has grown over the years. Even if we don’t have the actual photos, I can imagine a video of a drone capturing the city’s growth over the next few hundred years.

A little less known is the sorting process or the neighborhood restrictions – codification and otherwise uncoded systems. We are not very proud of them, but like many communities across the country, we let fear rule over our love for each other.

Therefore, Muncie grew unevenly because we sorted each other out, and we began to divide ourselves based on the money we were making and the color of our skin, religion. All the other identifiers our egos use to separate from others. Love thy neighbor as thy self is mostly a term from religious books.

Some people even thought money and status were everything (ego), while others didn’t care much. We had some white people who agreed that Negroes, Chinese, and Jews had to be restricted to certain areas in Muncie.

As I said, we did this through written codes and many unwritten codes. The bankers, developers, and real estate agents worked together, steering families toward one area or another based on their color, employer, and size of their paycheck. We sorted based on prejudices and biases. Not because we were terrible people, but because we were frightened.

This sorting process takes place consciously and unconsciously even still today. Our media pushes it because it sells newspapers. It’s called sensationalism. “Illegal migrants are coming with illegal drugs, and they want to rape your women!”

The stories concocted are incredible but believed.

Workers Unionize

Back to the basics.

Within the scenario presented above, workers got tired of being taken advantage of with long hours in hot and nasty conditions with little or no benefits. So, they would vent to each other during breaks and at lunch. Then, they’d gather after work and have beers and get real loud.

The workers were doing all this hard work while the bosses were buying bigger houses and new cars. Your grandfather would drive by the golf course where Muncie Central is now. All the Ball family would gather to play golf during their leisure time while the workers sweated (rent-seeking), working 10-12 hours a day to pay the bills.

Everybody thinks I’m tough on Jud Fisher because of his inheritance, but I’ve never met the man. I’ve asked about him and even tried to shake his hand once, but he refused. I was rude and an asshole when I was younger, so I probably offended him. That happens, but we take responsibility for it and move on.

Can you imagine how hard our great grandfathers worked? Do you know why the Southern Plantation owners used slaves? Clearing the swamps and low grounds was extremely difficult. No man would do it for any amount of money. Therefore, these wealthy oligarchs would buy men from Africa to do it. From our European ancestors – the British monarchs – the great colonizers, We learned that.

Do you wonder why workers want to form unions? Under the rules of capitalism, if men didn’t want to do the work for pay, you’d force them into being slaves. Aren’t we doing that now with migrants and prison folk?

I digress, back to the basics.

Our ancestors were hard-working men who wanted to be treated fairly for a hard day’s work. Some of them would come home and hear their wives complain about why they hadn’t got that promotion so they could move into a bigger house and start a family. I am sure the pressure was immense. Workers communicated with others and started talking about conditions. They used their brains to solve a problem they all were having. They discovered that the oligarchs playing golf would get cranky if they stopped working if they stuck together. If the line they worked on didn’t produce widgets, the fat cats wouldn’t make any profits. These workers realized that profits were unpaid wages and benefits denied.

The Ball family and their fellow oligarchs didn’t offer these things; workers organized and used their collective power to make demands. Don’t forget; capitalism was built on slavery and worker exploitation – mainly European immigrants. Unfortunately, this story is seldom told or seldom told correctly. Martin Luther King, Jr. learned about it in the 60s and started telling blacks and poor whites about it (Poor Mans Campaign). President Lyndon Johnson didn’t like it, and neither did the CIA in the 60s.

All the oligarchs, including the Ball family, exploited their workers. That’s how money is made under capitalism. So when the oligarchs discovered they could move factories to underdeveloped countries like China, Vietnam, or Mexico to take advantage of their workers and keep more money for themselves, that’s what they did.

When our historians look closer at our military history with the book writers and journalists, they will see how our military and intelligence apparatus was used to further capitalism worldwide so our oligarchy could make money. As our history showed, we could pay people enough to do the hard work, so we’d have to force them at gunpoint. However, we couldn’t convince the good people of the US to go along, so these new masters would use press, radio, and films to tell us stories about spreading democracy to the world.

Once again, I digress. However, if we look closely across the globe, we are at this point again where workers are standing up to oppression because they are learning about their collective power. It can’t be some of the workers this time – it has to be all workers. It has to be global solidarity to lift all workers. Anyone not represented is exploited. This will become evident as time progresses.

Our Government

Back to the basics.

Our formation was based on a written constitution with a republic meaning “a form of government in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives.”

We are also a democracy, which means “a form of government in which the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation or choose governing officials to do so.”

Notice they mean the same thing. Notice that both definitions mention the people. It’s from the people where the power originates, or the power derives from the people. We’re going to talk about power a lot in 2022, especially the separation of power:

Separation of powers is a political doctrine originating in the writings of Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu in The Spirit of the Laws, in which he argued for a constitutional government with three separate branches, each of which would have defined abilities to check the powers of the others. This philosophy heavily influenced the writing of the United States Constitution, according to which the LegislativeExecutive, and Judicial branches of the United States government are kept distinct in order to prevent abuse of power. This United States form of separation of powers is associated with a system of checks and balances.

Notice in the above example about workers. When they realize they had all the power (which they do – it’s called the means of production measured by productivity), they can participate more fully in the profits or outcome of their show. However, if something interferes with the power or gets cut off, what happens to that power?

Think of a dam along a river. What does blocking the flow of the river create? Energy. Massive amounts of power result from restricting the free flow of energy.

Freedom of the Press

Back to the basics. As mentioned in the tripartite description of powers, the press sits outside the three and becomes the fourth estate.

As I’ve written about countless times, most recently here, what we are inundated with twenty-four hours a day is propaganda layered with consumerism telling us to buy more of this or that to be fulfilled. Ads attack our unconscious mind telling us we are unhappy or have this unsatisfied want or need. It triggers the need to be happy in our brain by buying more.

However, when the press was established by our Founders, it was considered the fourth branch of government; serve the people by holding the powerful in government accountable. One of the primary roles of government was to keep the powerful in industry accountable (the Robber Barons up until the 30s). Thomas Jefferson was afraid that once those in government positions of power realized what they had, they would abuse it like the “economic wolves.”

He also knew humankind very well, just like Einstein in the 30s. Jefferson said the power of the free press would keep government officials from abusing their power. The free press was known as the Fourth Estate for a while, with the first three societal states being: the clergy, nobility, and the commoners.

Muncie: The Basics in Summary

I’ve touched on a few of the basics in Muncie, or our microcosm of Middletown, USA. My goal in 2022 is to weave a story of the basics. It will be different than what our out-of-town planners come up with because my account is not tailored for those who paid for their services. No oligarch yesterday, today, or tomorrow influenced my story. No union organizer influenced it either. No college professor or editor will tell me what to write. It will be the truth as the observer who watches egos. It will be a journalist’s perspective who isn’t worried about your thoughts or whether advertisers will yank their massive advertising campaign.

The truth. Based on the last city council meeting, the firefighters want to keep their wages even though Muncie is shrinking. They should keep their wages. Have you ever wondered why teaching, firefighting, and policing weren’t privatized with other government services and why they still have unions?

Well, before the next council meeting in January, we’ll continue asking questions and see if we can’t offer solutions. It wouldn’t be right for journalists to point out the problems without answers. Maybe the county assessor can help as well. I can tell you right now; there will be a problem with the calculations we perform. Why?

Let’s look at the basics again; what is the fire department’s role? Protect property? How many square footages of property do we need to protect? Why don’t we charge those with the most square footage more to cover their property? Seems logical to me. But, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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