The Goat, The Fence, And The Myth Of Greener Grass

WILL COOK, Courier Contributor

The Goat, The Fence, And The Myth Of Greener Grass

My nearest neighbors are goats. At least once a week, I hear one bleating "bloody murder," so I look to see what all the fuss is about, The rest of the herd's already grazing 100 yards down the hillside, so I follow the fence line back to the sound, and sure enough — every time — there he is, head stuck in the fence: that goat who thinks the grass is greener on the other side.

Twenty-some acres of lush greenery behind him, and he's got to have that one flower just out of reach.

Choosing to spend your money outside of your community is just like going for that flower. Moral of the story: don't get stuck in the fence.

Here, in Cannon County, we have an abundance of resources. We are like that flourishing green hillside within the fence. Unfortunately, like that prodigal goat, we don't realize we're sitting on a gold mine, so we go looking for gratification elsewhere. The fact is, the only thing you can get in Murfreesboro or Nashville, that you can't find here, is a traffic jam.

Whatever goods or services you may want or need, someone, some place, in Cannon County, is waiting for your business. You're more likely to see them advertising with a business card and a thumb tack than a billboard or neon sign, but remember, big business doesn't mean better business. Wal-mart doesn't care if they sell you rotten strawberries, but a local farmer will make sure he offers only quality produce to his customers. He's got a reputation to uphold. Not only does he want your business, he needs it.

Quality. Convenience. Affordability. These are the factors we consider as consumers when deciding where to spend our hard-earned money. We've been seduced by mega-chains and mini-malls into believing that they've got all these bases covered. Sure, you can hop in the car, make the 30-minute drive to Wally World, fill up your buggy and your gas tank, and be done with it. You've saved a few cents here and there, got everything on your list at one place, but have you come out any better in the long run? The drive back home should give you plenty time to reflect upon how your decision, as a consumer, affects you and your community.

Those precious pennies you saved on ground-beef, sweet potatoes, and toilet paper are blown out your exhaust pipe before the speed limit turns to 65. That two dollars you saved filling your tank almost makes up for the reduced gas-mileage and poor performance you're getting from diluted, ethanol "enriched" gasoline. And spending five or 10 more dollars and an hour of your life driving to that one-stop shop is more convenient, right?

These are the obvious reasons why spending your money close to home makes more sense. Probably the most important reason, however, is the tax revenue. When you spend a dollar outside of Cannon County, the tax you pay on top of it goes to that county or city's government.

By shopping in Murfreesboro, you improve their schools, roads, and quality of life, not your own. Every dollar spent elsewhere equals a two-dollar loss for our community. This makes growth impossible and results in local businesses closing left and right. If we keep going outside of our community to find what we need, pretty soon, we'll have to leave it to find anything at all. We'll drive our kids thirty minutes every morning, over pothole- ridden roads, through ghost-towns, to  brand-new schools in other counties that we paid for.

We've got everything we need right here, at home, in Cannon County, our county. We don't have a superstore with a 10-acre parking lot, and we prefer it that way. Our gems are spread throughout the county, not consolidated into a single strip-mall. You may have to visit two or three stores, instead of one, to get everything on your list, but you'll save gas, time, money, and you'll be investing in the place you call home.

The local economy will begin to grow. Businesses will see opportunity here and move to Cannon County, creating jobs and offering more variety to consumers. Vacant buildings will return to life, and farmers won't be forced to sell the farm. Your kids will get a better education. Your roads, public buildings, and community, as a whole, will be better.

So, what can we learn from that stubborn goat? Let's face it, the grass isn't any greener on the other side of the county line. We can invest in ourselves or get caught in the fence. Our community depends on us, and it will be what we choose to make it.  As a consumer and resident of Cannon County, the choice is none but yours. Remember, your dollar is powerful.