the good fight

by underswansea

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There was a time I wrote about things that burned my ass. About environmental destruction, corruption and greed. I even started a newspaper with the thought of bringing light to issues that were often swept under the rug.

The newspaper, The Pioneer, turned 10 this month. It’s now owned by a corporate chain, the very thing I loathed when I first imagined it. I was asked to write a column about the early days of the newspapers history. I wrote about the first staff, which was unmatched in talent. I kept it light. The editor thanked me for a ‘warmhearted story’. What I thought I kept to myself.

There was a time I was passionate about local issues. I believed you had to fight against what was wrong. I was naïve. Maybe even stupid.

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Here’s the thing, idealists are waging the good fight. Some are dirt poor living modesty and others have made money or inherited and have joined the fight later in life. I know a man who lives in a small cabin. He’s missing teeth. Is exceptionally smart and dedicated to preserving something greater than all of us. His allies lives down the hill in an opulent house overlooking the wetlands, his wife brings the groceries home in cotton bags and they go on three holidays a year, taking the same calendar photos of the Andes and Nepal.

They are pitted against savvy business people, some with political connections that go back generations, deep-pocketed developers and earnest and lying politicians. The latter I find the most despicable as they try to deceive people into believing, ‘it is for their own good’.

Their numbers are even and small compared to the rest of the people that don’t give a shit. And that’s what I didn’t realize 10 years ago.

In this scenario the developer and politicians always win. It’s not because the other side is bad at the game. It’s just the way it works.

I’ve seen parkland rezoned and sold by municipalities to developers for under market value. Sewer and internet/cable companies funded by government sold by individuals to large companies at hellacious profits, and a municipality set up in the backcountry to profit a politically connected developer.

It is surprising how many of the same faces are involved. It’s sickening. You would think bribery was involved. But that’s the real rub. The system works fine without greased palms.

On either side there is no benefit of the doubt. I want to turn my back on the whole mess. Which is not the same as defeated.

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