Friday, September 11, 2009
In a surprising move, Spartanburg City Council imposed sales taxes and book keeping regulations on local flea market vendors. Spartanburg Flea Market was once known as the Thunderbird, and a drive-in movie theater before that. The vendors are very upset and some have joined together in taking on City Council to keep their flea market a free market.
"This will hardly make it worth setting up shop." complains Tim Conners, a long time vendor of collectible cassette tapes, velvet Elvis paintings, and personalized air brushed T-shirts. "I'm out here barely scraping by as it is, they'll wipe me out with taxes by the end of the first quarter, how will I be able to afford to restock my Elvis art, or my tapes? I'm ruined if this thing goes through."
Matt Carter over at the removable tattoo parlor and peanut shack is worried this spells the end of the flea market itself. "No one will survive this transition. They expect us to get licensed and file paperwork, even if I could read I'd still be opposed to it."
Many of the vendors are rising to the challenge presented by the city and proposing just as drastic measures on the Council as are being imposed upon themselves. "We're forcing a vote for peaceful anarchy to be in effect immediately in the city." said Susan Bowers, a long time seller of porcelain nick-nacks and live chickens. "It's doubtful the Council will vote in favor of the change, but it shows them the extremes of the position they are putting us in, only reversed basically."
Catching up with Sarah Blanchard, a Spartanburg City Council board member, "Of course we'll vote against it. You really think we'd vote ourselves out of power? We'd have to, ya know, find real jobs like everybody else if that were the case." she said just before hopping in her sporty new Maserati and speeding off.
What the proposal does though is buy the vendors a little more time. The Councils regulations can't take effect until the counter proposal is addressed, and it's sure to bring some light to the destruction of what is possibly the last working example of a truly localized free market. The city is in a desperate attempt to gain slightly more revenue, but this is only bringing them unexpected opposition.
"I see the government as a kind of Robinhood," remarked a rollerskating dwarf named Bongo who often break dances and juggles for the shoppers while passing around the hat. "except where Robinhood steals from the rich and gives to the poor, the government steals from the poor too. Keep the flea market a free market enterprise or I won't be able to do this anymore." he said just before twirling around on one skate and flipping into a handstand to the applause of the crowd that had gathered.
It would be a shame to lose the only place in town where you can buy an old ice cream churn, original 16-bit Nintendo games, and live poultry all in one convenient stop on an early Saturday morning. The peaceful anarchy proposal will hopefully be addressed in the City Council meeting next week, but until then all the vendors, and the future of the free market flea market, is up in the air.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Spartanburg lately, and the rest of the nation for that matter, has been politically polarized more then ever before. The freshest debate of controversy is president Obama addressing school children directly in a televised speech, so Spartanburg's PPP News went to Pine Street Elementary School to get the scoop from parents, teachers, and students alike.
"I would rather watch TV then do work in class any day." said little Tommy Saunders in Mrs. Krinkle's fourth grade class. "The grownups have been arguing about writing something about it afterwords, which I hope we don't have to do." When I asked Tommy to tell me what else he has heard about the speech he said, "Mrs. Krinkle told us at first we might watch it, then the other day she said we wouldn't. I think it has to do with all the parents yelling, and maybe with some kids dads beating up each other in the parking lot after school the other day, it was scary."
"It would do the students some good to think about what role the president plays in government," Mrs. Krinkle remarked, "but parents on both sides of the issue have expressed their concerns to me with extremely high emotions. It's like I've been stuck in the middle, forced to be a mediator between two insane groups of screaming, violent mobs." Mrs. Krinkle continued to explain, "The local school officials decided they wouldn't broadcast the speech after the hardcore conservative parents said they would keep their children home that day, but now the hardcore liberal parents are keeping their kids home to watch the speech live. The rest of the teachers and I are trying our best to just stay out of this whole mess and hope this thing just quickly goes away. That days curriculum is lost either way."
Things seem very tense between some parents while picking up their children after school. Two arrests have been made for assault this past week on school property after an altercation in the parking lot occurred last Wednesday between two fathers. They were unavailable for comment.
"My mom screamed at this other mom for a whole hour after school yesterday." young Susan Easler from the 3rd grade told me. "Sponge Bob was going off by the time I got home. Poo on Obama."
"My dad says he's really social, like some guy named Hitler, and he doesn't like him." said little Franky Wallace from the 4th grade. His classmate Jimmy was standing there and added, "Well my mom says he's giving change to everybody, but I wish he was giving dollars so my mom could afford to buy me a Nintendo Wii."
Mary Fletcher, a furious mother whom I met after school, was eager to let me know why this controversy was so important. "We need to do everything we can for these children," she exclaimed, "if it means putting them in the middle of a political controversy at the risk of alienating themselves from some of their peers, forcing them to watch CNN or FOX news rather then doing their homework or playing outside, it's what has to be done for our side to win."
She went on and on about her political views, but honestly my mind drifted off and I even forgot to have my tape recorder on at that point. I didn't even understand which side of the controversy she was on, but it's all the same emotional hyperbole on both sides anyway, so it doesn't really matter. Her child waiting impatiently by the car was really the one loosing out on this I thought. Seeing an enraged parent and not understanding fully why some guy on TV creates such a fuss. They just wanna be kids and have fun, they don't care about any of this political crap, and they're being thrown in the middle of it by everyone. Until they get older and are able to form their own prejudices and bias' themselves they can't help but be easily manipulated political pawns on the chessboard of politics.