Who Knows Best?

We were in Belmond for a doctor’s appointment. Dawn walked around town with Darby, our granddaughter, while I went for the good news, then we met at a bakery. We see the word “bakery” and remember Jane and Cliff’s in Hampton. I doubt we’ll ever get another chocolate-iced and cream-filled work of art like at the Korner Bakery again, but we gave it a shot.

The bakery in Belmond is 70% restaurant. It looks like another husband and wife operation. Darby had an apple turnover. It was a lot different from the “new product” I sold at McDonald’s in 1966. She didn’t like it at first but with a little effort found the innards and wolfed it down with a smile. Dawn had a blueberry scone that was better than any other recent fare. My cream cheese/chocolate danish, wow! It didn’t have to be Clifford’s doughnut.

These people make life better for the people of Belmond and visitors like us. Watching them work together and greet customers was pure Frank Capra (director of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and others).

Still fresh in my mind was a funeral we attended for a good friend’s brother. I may have met the man a couple of times over the years but as is the case so often, got to know him better when he was gone.

Fred was a farm boy who worked his way up from bank teller to owning three banks. The talk painted him as a guy who was as busy as three people. Bankers have been painted in a negative light because of foreclosures or earning interest while sitting comfortably behind big desks. But as I have mentioned, bankers are the link between a need to grow savings, and borrow to accumulate them. Essential indeed.

In the current political rhetoric, Fred would be branded exploitative or an oppressor, just the sort of person that needs to be taxed to the point that he can still survive to pay more taxes. But wait. Fred was the ultimate example of how charity works.

His work with church, Lions Club, a sports complex, the fair board, a clinic, and even buying a small town grocery at a time when they are losing ground to Dollar Generals all over, doesn’t take a genius to see the foolishness of taxing this man. An often unrecognized benefit of leaving Fred unleashed is the fact that he employed people. The businesses and the 300 head of stock cows don’t take care of themselves. How many families were rewarded for their work thanks to Fred’s work?

Meanwhile, back in Belmond, five parties came to the bakery for lunch. They were cheerfully welcomed by the owners. One lady was obviously surprised to meet an old friend she hadn’t seen for a long time. Rent and raw materials looked to be a way bigger expense than the wages these owners allowed themselves. Their dedication to pleasing customers was a world apart from the wacko ambition of Fred yet so much alike.

These stories are not rare. They are repeated all over the world. These people have a common enemy, those who believe an election or committee can better direct their lives, as if there is a class of idiots and a class of the enlightened to rule them. What is missing is that we each know what’s best for us. And in a free society the apparent chaos is actually an insulator against our relatively small mistakes.

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