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Kansas City's Take on Wall Street


Kansas City, MO – Congress mulled over the proposed 700 billion dollar bailout this week. Here in Kansas City people were taking their own look at plan and how it would affect their pocketbooks. KCUR's Maria Carter first stopped at City Market to gather people's thoughts about the financial crisis.

It's just after daybreak here at city market and vendors have setup selling everything from peaches to peppers and other produce. Customers are just starting to trickle in but Roy McFarland says he's seen a change in how they shop.

McFarland: "Now this year I sold more vegetable plants than I ever sold before, but I think that's because a lot of people might have been putting a garden that hadn't put a garden in. All in all the economy couldn't be in much worse shape than what it is.

And all those people looking to save a few dollars with a garden means McFarland vegetable sales have dropped. McFarland is a lifelong farmer and says he gets by. His house is paid off and he's driven the same truck for more THAN three decades. He says Merril Lynch, Lehman Brothers, and AIG should have been more responsible.

McFarland: "To me a bank or anything else should never have gotten in that kind of a chaffe. I've always said if you can't stay in business, get out."

McFarland doesn't want his tax dollars going to bail out multi-billion dollar companies on Wall Street. But just a few stalls down, Rocky Romeo takes a more pragmatic view.

Romeo: "If we didn't have that bailout for company's like that it would cause a great deal of hardship for a lot of people."

Romeo has a more direct connection to the financial crisis than many in Kansas City. He works from his home backing up documents for a New York City mortgage broker. That business is down, so this summer he started a weekend job at farmers' market and gets his own help from the government food stamps.

Romeo: "That makes a lot of the bills a lot easier, having food that I don't have to pay for out of pocket.

Romeo is not alone in having to make tough financial choices. It's a half hour's drive down the interstate to Gardner, Kansas. Sam Boyajian owns Gardner Pharmacy and he says people are finding it tough to make ends meet.

Boyajian: "This isn't like well they're going to do without icing on the cake or some luxury they were going to buy. These are medications and this is vital to their health. And I see some of my patients going without their medications, and there's not a thing I can do about it and there's nothing they can do about it and it's just not right."

But down the street, Bernita Wetherington works at Ricetta Chocolates and says no one's of her customers are sacrificing.

Wetherington : "People give up other things for chocolate. We have discovered that because they'll tell you that."

The store opened earlier this summer, selling handmade truffles and peanut butter cups as big as cupcakes. Weatherington says the bailouts on Wall Street seem unfair to small family owned businesses.

Wetherington: "Small businesses just go under. Big businesses they take care of them."

For now, Wetherington says like many people she knows she's more worried about the price at the gas station than about stock prices on Wall Street.

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