How Americans are undermining their own economy

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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Middle Tennessee was devastated by flooding in May from which it will take months—in some cases, years—to recover. Please join the recovery effort by contacting Hands on Nashville at Hon.org or by calling (in Nashville) 211. Otherwise, please call 800-318-9355. You can also support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts by going to Salarmy-Nashville.org of calling 800-725-2769.  Thank you.

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How Americans are undermining their own economy

By Dave Carew

I have a pet hypothesis that I think explains part of why the U.S. economy is so tanked right now. It has nothing to do with tax rates or regulations or the efficacy of stimulus packages.  It has to do—shocker of shockers—with our personal character, or lack thereof, and how that translates into bad business practices.

Case in point: I recently had to buy a new (for me) car.  This was the actual experience I had while dealing with various new and car dealerships around town:

* Called the brother-in-law of a friend of mine, who sells new and used cars. Left two voice mail messages. The guy never returned my call. Couldn’t be bothered.

* Went to  Crowne Ford in Nashville, told them the type of car I was looking for and the price range . . . whereupon the salesman immediately showed me a car costing FOUR TIMES the price range I’d just quoted him.

* Called Carnival Kia in Hickory Hollow, so desperate for a new vehicle that I would have bought virtually anything they showed me. The salesman never returned my call.

This kind of shameful incompetence does not arise out of the physical inability of someone to make a phone call or listen to what a customer wants.  It arises out of a lack of personal character—and the lack of caring for others that goes with it—which acts like a cancer within any business environment, stripping away customers and chasing away prospects.  Couple this with everything else big government and big business have done to participate in the Poor Character Follies, and no wonder the U.S. isn’t nearly what it used to be.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

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