Letter to the Editor

A lesson on capitalism and competition in small-town America

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dear Editor,

The City of McCook is very fortunate to have two new mainstream businesses under construction downtown. I have heard comments in the community expressing the opinion that these new businesses are not needed because we already have providers of like services and or products in our town. This mindset is very unfortunate and troubling in capitalistic America and does little to benefit the consumer.

The benefits of capitalism and competition have been well documented. In general, capitalism provides more wealth. Capitalism rewards positive traits like hard work and ingenuity and similarly punishes negative traits like laziness and theft. Capitalism is more compatible with democracy and Christianity than other systems. Capitalism encourages competition, which indirectly forces the offering of better products, services, and pricing for the consumer and sometimes forces poor providers of products and services out of business. That is the way the system is intended to work.

Yes, some of the products and services offered by these two new businesses will be duplicative of current offerings, but many will not and will give the consumer (all of us) new and varied alternatives to what is currently available. The notion that is conveyed with the statement that “these new businesses are not needed because we already have providers of like services and or products” diminishes the core tenet of a free enterprise system which is purposely designed to benefit consumers and reward the risk-takers.

Instead, we should be grateful that these two national business franchises find our market attractive enough to take the business risk of setting up shop downtown, which not only brings new products and services to our area, but creates new jobs, encourages more spending in McCook, creates new excitement downtown, and generates more tax revenue to support all of the services that our government provides to each and every one of us…the consumers.

Steve Shaner

McCook, Neb.

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  • And yet ANOTHER large corner building will be sitting empty. Wells Fargo. These two other "new" businesses are NOT bringing in "new" revenue nor "new" people to the community. They are actually spreading out the competition making it tougher for the existing to succeed. We need industrial, we need to think "out of the box", we need to help existing business thrive and expand helping the community and keeping SW Nebraska money at home. All we are doing is making it easier for people to spend elsewhere. McCook needs to try harder for industrial and support our already local. Say NO to "like kind" businesses and think out of the box.

    -- Posted by Rural Citizen on Thu, Dec 14, 2017, at 1:53 PM
  • I agree and disagree Rural.

    I agree that we must "create" something in the area that those outside the area will export, this is how money is brought into the area, insted of just changing hands. I disagree that duplicating business is bad, it forces sub par companies to pick up their level of quality of services and products. If there is no competition, there is no need to shine, this results in a stale product and service line and further a stale economy. The competition either creates more opportunities or weeds out those unwilling to up their game for their clientele.

    I have competition in my business, and it requires me to offer more to my customers.

    To make a long story endless..... welcome EVERY business that wishes to set up shop, and strive for that company that can "create" a product to bring money IN to the community, and we get get better service AND increased revenue.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Thu, Dec 14, 2017, at 6:52 PM
  • Completely understand Nick and respect that view point. Our City leaders need to push forward on that idea of bringing money into the community by finding those larger employers. Merry Christmas!

    -- Posted by Rural Citizen on Fri, Dec 15, 2017, at 8:28 AM
  • Capitalism and Competition in SW Nebraska

    Dear Editor,

    Not being a permanent resident in the region but a person with significant investment interest in the region I would like to expand the conversation Steve Shaner opened with his letter to the editor recently. His letter as well as follow up comments by Rural Citizen and Nick Mercy all warrant attention.

    What is happening in McCook is not unique as far as the retail dynamics have shifted in favor of businesses that can provide services and products at comparable quality and lower prices than the traditional “local outlet”. McCook has experienced it over and over especially with Walmart’s introduction and most recently Tractor Supply Company.

    Strictly from an investors point of view the current business landscape I would say the following areas are currently crowed; Financial Services (Banks, Insurance, Brokerages, Credit Unions), Auto Dealerships, Hospitality/Fast Food and Hardware/Lumber. Sectors that are under serviced are Home Care Services, Eco/Agriculture Tourism, Transportation Services and promotion of local produced products.

    The closing of the local Wells Fargo Branch most likely is a result of a “trickle down” effect from significant mistakes made at the highest levels in that company over the past couple years. I’m confident having worked in this sector for 18 years at a predominant firm in the sector cost cutting is rapid with the legal actions against the parent company. This is a perfect example of “be careful of what you wish for”. To address Rural Citizen in his desire to have large companies come into the area. I have found large companies are much quicker to lay off employees when things go sour and are much more susceptible to economic down turns compared to locally owned companies.

    McCook as a community and the region definitely has significant challenges before it. Prior to efficient agriculture production becoming world wide, internet commerce and change in demographics things were fairly stable in the area. Those factors have all changed.

    McCook is fortunate in having individuals that have made very correct decisions in focusing on medical/health care, long term care, light industrial, education with the college, and the Kiplinger Arena.

    I would suggest to the economic leaders in the area to look at expansion in the following areas; Corrections/Rehab (Crime can pay), Call Centers for National Corporations (Central Time Zone is a perfect situation) and Nursing Education.

    The economic leaders of the areas I’m sure will slice and dice my comments as they see things. I would just like to see McCook and the regions thrive going forward.


    Darrell Meister

    McCook Area Bison Rancher

    -- Posted by dameister on Sat, Dec 16, 2017, at 10:41 PM
  • Darrell,

    I don't believe the local government would disagree with your suggestions, contrary to what you might read in the local media, they are by and large level headed albeit realists. It takes much to attract potential investors, but prior to contacting industry, the infrastructure and general services must be available.

    For industry to be interested, employees must be available. This isn't to say the employees have to be waiting in the lurch, but the conditions have to be right to move a workforce in.

    Housing, medical and education needs to be top shelf to draw people and their families in to work.... this doesn't happen over night, nor does it happen within a year. In order to make these things happen, often times, additional taxes are required. I can tell by your intelligent comment above that this is not news to you, but for some, it would appear that the local government is anti-progressive or just raising taxes to pad their pockets, which isn't the case, there are auditors to make sure there are no improprieties occurring, these auditors have given high ratings to the City of McCook for several years running.

    It may come as a surprise to you, however, that several of your suggestions are being persued, a third suggestion of yours intrigues me.

    Good comment Darrell.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Wed, Dec 20, 2017, at 11:32 PM
  • Nick,

    Appreciate your comments, especially since my words are not evidently falling on deaf ears and may take root going forward to help the SW Nebraska economy and thus the residences.

    The area seems to be in a situation of what comes first " the chicken or the egg". It's extremely difficult to ask residence to pay more in taxes when I'm assuming the demographics suggest a larger percentage on fixed income. This suggests that the area could significantly benefit from people having funds to invest looking for a rural atmosphere to come into the region.

    Not to get too far off subject but the significant decline in commodity prices in the area since 2013 (corn, wheat and soybeans) on average 10.5%/year or 42% and cattle prices being down around 30% since 2015 doesn't help. Input costs sure haven't followed selling prices down equally. The bright spot is land prices have held up fairly well in comparison, but how long can that last ?

    All I hope for is that the folks who are in position to make things "happen" for the good of the region can come together with the essentials to retain and attract the businesses the laborers, vocational trained and professionals for the area to thrive in a competitive world economy.


    -- Posted by dameister on Thu, Dec 21, 2017, at 11:12 PM
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