Monday, October 31, 2011

Local Sabor pt 2

The reasons for buying local are growing by the day - or maybe they've always been there and we just didn't know it. As I've been arguing on this site and at Facebook, the way society does business is going to have to fundamentally change. It is going to have to change from a multinational, centralized plutocracy - where most of the power and resources of the world are held in a few hands - to localized, people-centered democracies. Concentrating on buying locally is an important first step in this process. This is further expanded by the fact that buying local helps the local economy and keeps profits generating in the area. Multinationals centralize their profits - some for investing, some for saving, some for keepsies. But very little - besides some charitable work that disguises this grand theft - actively gos back to the local areas from which the profits were extracted.

As we noted earlier, buying from local independents recirculates money used by local producers for local business. An independent grocer is more likely to staff its store with local workers, to use local vendors, to advertise using local talent and on local-based media. This is currency that is self-generating. This is jobs.

For small businesses struggling to make ends meet - not because their products, vision, or service is inferior, but because they're unfairly crowded out - buying local gives them a chance they may otherwise not have. And it brings us a few steps closer between goods and their consumers and between clients, owners and workers. This in turn makes the company more likely to be ethical and follow ethical practices - not least of which because it is not a faceless, money-first multinational.

Now, the arguments made against buying local are legion. They are not without merit on the face, but they're deceptive and evil in practicality. The main reason to support the global economy, or so we've been told since the days of NAFTA, is that it supports and gives jobs and infrastructure to those who would not otherwise have money or access to resources.

But then we realize that those same people were better off before the multinationals came in and convinced them of their need for international commerce anyway. The emperors of the multinationals - with the aid of the mad men on Madison Ave - have convinced the world that having enough is no longer adequate. In doing so, they have traded in the economy of need and joy to that of excess and leisure. Yet since most of the world's citizens cannot possibly achieve that level of excess and leisure*, they are left hungry and overburdened. Even those of us who have the good luck to be in a part of the world and have access to jobs and resources that give us this E&L are finding ourselves fundamentally unsatisfied. (Picture the emptiness and sorrow that inspired this raving piece of antisocial anger of the Wall St leafletteer.

In the two-thirds world, the main resource, the main source of revenue, the main capital is human slavery. So although the PR firms and think-tanks can try to convince us that buying clothes from the Gap and Nike is supporting the Vietnamese and Laotians who make the clothes, those laborers are certainly not getting the wages appropriate for their work. To understate.

The systemic oppression of people within the third world - and largely though not at all exclusively non-white folks in the first world - is the price we pay for the nice stuff we get through globalism. Globalism, by the way, is just a nice-sounding way of saying that a few people have rigged the entire world into an intricate, overly-complex, centralized web in which those few people themselves profit immensely, a few more of us profit well enough to not rise against the system substantially (although thank heavens for the Spring and Occupy movements, largely organized by the richest third of the world - ones who can largely afford higher education and technological devices to spread word and message), but most of the world workers are in all actuality slaves. At a dollar per twelve hour day.

Buy and support local. It just tastes better.

Quote attributed to Gandhi. Picture stolen from Goodnighmoonlight.

pt 1 is here

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