THE RIVER OF WEALTH
--updated 9/10/03 before putting on website--
BY PAUL A.L. HALL
Through Claremont, New Hampshire, U.S.A., there runs a river of wealth.
This is not a physical river but an invisible one.
No one knows it’s there but it is.
In the past 200 years very few have even barely tapped into it
As in most towns, the only economic engines that have existed have been economic accidents that are now failing because they are outside of an unseen river of wealth. Or that river changed course and they were just too insensitive to notice.
This river can change and be changed by including certain mechanisms, but no one knows very much about these things, because the economic understanding we currently hold, however modernized, is still entombed in an economic stone age. Maybe you've come across that term "stone age" elsewhere in my articles. It's like trying to use flint tools instead of steel ones. What I'm saying is that there's a cessation of progress in an area, in this case, economics, that, compared to where it should be by now places it in pre history compared to something people do well, like making machines. But you see, it's not the tactile, the abstract is where it's at. You've got to be capable of abstract thinking and you are if you try. But you probably do if you've read thus far. The air-brains would have just surfed on by now.
The river of wealth might improve but there are dangers in the near future: most of all, it is in danger of getting clogged up with flotsam and drying out, as has happened so often in the past elsewhere.
Of course, the "river" I’m speaking about here isn’t an actual water flow but rather a huge conduit partly made of symbolism, partly of useful imagination and partly of an almost measurable semi-substantial quantity which I label "economic dynamitai" the plural of an economic dynamic.
Picture in your mind’s eye a large tubular 3-d river-like mist about 1/3 of a mile in diameter only half above ground running from Newport to Ascutny. Now visualize some small businesses-like mills with paddle wheels dipping into the river of wealth as it meanders along. Each small paddle-wheel increases the flow of power of the river. The flow is governed by such things as it’s tributaries or dynamitai.
Now to get out of our economic stone age: the river of wealth can be enhanced by the local government and business community (and by mere individuals even if the community refuses to take any action). This is common to mankind throughout history. If any business fails to seize the initiative it will fail. Or in my case, my small business encountered resistance from those who resented initiative. Some were incensed that I should try to sell mugs with reproductions of my artwork on them because they were drawings of their local covered bridge. Others wouldn't sell mugs with covered bridges because they imagined them to be tourist trinkets instead of fine art. Not just that, but also elitism. Unexplained reasons why most businesses failed but others didn't. Shades of slum lord empires dating back to the Civil War era and so on.
But back to our look into the phenomenon of rivers of wealth: First of all the N.A. (Newport-Ascutny) river of wealth running through Claremont is a fairly weak one. However, bit by bit, certain economic dynamics can be added to make it strong and productive. But that's up to them. They once turned down a chance to have a super highway run past town. Instead it runs twenty miles north through a town called "Lebanon". Better be careful what you do. It might show up in an article some day.
One dynamic is that of transport mechanisms. It’s best when a location has several different types of transport mechanisms in the area. Here our local river of wealth has only one: motor vehicular systems. Ideally the full dynamic of transport mechanism would be more like (1) motor vehicular, (2) rail, (3) marine (such a canal system, on the Sugar River), (4) air, and (5 to infinity) others. A transport mechanism doesn't even have to involve transport. It can be a modem connection on the internet, for example, that can transport you to a website anywhere on the globe without ever going there physically.
Concerning prosperity and wealth, however, such mechanisms must work in tandem somehow; in combination. For such combinations to work, in other words, it's as if they must meet at a common junction, one crude example of which is a crossroads of two streets.
Also concerning the basic road systems of Claremont, the link between Newport and Ascutny is barely adequate. It’s like an engine of many cylinders operating only on one cylinder. For these roadways to produce optimum wealth for their size they must converge into a crossroads and each road must connect to another major center of commerce about 30 to 50 miles away. There should be a Lebanon-Keene crossroad, but 120 from Lebanon stops abruptly at North Street, so it's easier to get to Kene on 12A from West Lebanon which misses Claremont entirely. Even easier is interstate 91, a road which I foresaw in a painting I did in New York City back in 1966.
Then there is the e.d. (economic dynamic) of interconnection. The N.A. river of wealth is off to a good start on this one by having two airports. It’s a primitive start, but the mechanism is in place. But they are barely used. They need more freight. Maybe the same company in both airports, one handling Boston to the East, and the other handling Chicago to the West.
Population concentration, zoning and demographic configuration is a very important dynamic but equally important is the local’s connection with the global population. Residential areas should be allowed to have small businesses and start-up work shops. Any dennison should be able to walk to the butcher's, the baker's, the coffee house with a small liquor license, the small convenience grocery store, the green grocer selling vegetables, the collectible shop, the artist-in-residence with studio and gallery, the potter. This is how wealth grows. First comes the tiny seed. But now there is zoning and planning. Everyone must have a car to buy a quart of milk or some eggs. The social aspect of the residential areas die. A basic law of economics is that if you interfere with the natural economic market, you kill it. The river of wealth becomes a waddi or like the vanished rivers of the Sahara, the waterless remains of which can only be seen by radar-equipped mapping satellites.
Then there's connectibility. This starts with the freight and passenger connections of any place with major urban areas. Examples for the local area of Claremont would be connections with New York and Boston from the south to Chicago, Toronto and Quebec to the North. Also connections between local sea-ports along the Atlantic coast to (as preposterous as it may seem) ports along the Pacific coast. From sea to shining sea. It's so important they made a song out of it. It's like buying a computer at the local mart and then being so willfully ignorant as to not plug it in. Just keep it on a desk in view to keep up with the status symbols.
Another example of an economic dynamic is accommodation. This is where the stilted American hospitality industry has fallen short. They charge three-star prices for standardized same-everywhere sub standard zero-star rooms. It's not the price gouging that's the worst problem but the mentally conditioned public that has come to accept it. You’re not going to get the proper mercantile operations in an area without giving the business community a tremendous bargain when it comes to accommodation. That means you’re looking at rates as much as 72% cheaper than they now are and from there getting more expensive on a sliding scale.
The accommodation industry must include a sliding scale for visitors touring the area. These must range from a variety of "hostels" on one end of the scale to hopefully a couple of tasteful and very exclusive hotels. There must also be residences for those of lesser means, which may ultimately include some who have a potential of contributing to the success of the community culturally or economically.
How many economic dynamicai, e.d.'s, are there? I don't know, there may be thousands. The quantity of types may be unlimited. I've only discussed a few examples of them here. Claremont tried to revive it's center with a "Main Street U.S.A." campaign that so far (9/10/03) hasn't worked and they're still scratching their heads wondering why. There isn't any river of wealth on either Main or Pleasant Street and hasn't been since industry went to electric power and since they tore up the tracks of the Concord-Claremont railway. If they needed an historic street it's the one they lost: it was Washington street where all the historic buildings were torn down. Tractored out by the 'cats.
And that's where our little river of wealth runs, down Washington street to North Street, and from there on out to Ascutney in neighboring Vermont. Ideally it's where that road crosses highway 12A that our prosperous crossroads could be realized in what is loosely termed West Claremont. Yet there's nothing there, unless you'd like to try. It's far closer to the airport and the one train station than Main Street. In fact, there's a possibility of a new train station built near the trestle about three hundred yards from the crossroads. Near enough to make an economic engine.
Basically, prosperity is not as chancy as it seems these days. I'm saying you can construct it just like engineers design late model cars for the auto industry. I can't go to great lengths to discuss it in this article. It's already risky for me to put a page this long on the net. Eight seconds download time if you've got a 28point8 modem. The main thing is to respect the potential of the dynamics of wealth; the usefulness. It's like the space race of the cold war: do you go to space to put a footprint on the moon and beat the Communists or do you go to space to develop the enormous economic potential of the asteroid belt? It's almost too late now. Space faring nations are sealing themselves in with space junk. A little three-inch bolt orbiting the earth hitting the leading edge of a wing could bring down a space shuttle upon re-entry.
Well, that would isolate the planet Earth from a river of wealth so big it runs through the universe. That's what happens when you send children to do adult jobs. Now they have a new toy, an international space station, fancy name for a space junk target.
But, in case you haven't noticed because you might've just visited this website, paulhallart.com, to read an article or two, I may have been trained in information back in my army days but actually I'm an artist. And the little river of wealth in Claremont, New Hampshire, was and to a very small extent, is, still there, but going, going, almost gone. Because true wealth is never measured in money, nor in a bank balance or so-called bottom line. True wealth is national treasure. Classical, museum quality, great and lasting art. And not just that but also the true measure is how long a locale of true wealth has been producing art. Fine art, sculpture, classical literature, classical music, furniture, architecture, haut couture, fine ceramics and so on.
But the little Claremont river of wealth is loosing it's true value. They lost this artist. Mostly all that remains are a few competing national giant retail marts (formerly the "Five-and-Tens" of the 1950's that mostly benefit developing nations who furnish cheap labor to produce the imported inventory) and of course the depressing franchised burger joints that constitute just another "French-Fry Alley". Oh I forgot, they now call them Liberty Fries. Give me a break. This is going on almost everywhere in the land of the liberty fry. From sea to shining sea. "For purple mountains' majesty above the fast food plain..." It must have also gotten to the river of wealth near your town by now. If so, you lost out. Big time. You lost your million dollar baby in a five and ten cent store, your historic treasure tractered out by the cats.
You may argue that you can live without art. If so, realize that I'm still addressing the other forms of wealth as well. So you can live without art. Try living without income. Now that's something I'm used to having to do.