Jul. 3, 2011 at 5:39pm
Give thanks, yes, but also ask what you can do for your country
This Fourth of July, I find myself thinking not about fireworks, air shows, BBQ's and blind pride in red, white and blue. Instead I'm thinking but about how we as individuals can contribute to a better America. One that truly has freedom and justice for all regardless of economics. Sure, we should celebrate how far we've come, but also lets take off the blinders of apathy and become more active in the formation of our future.
Maybe being a better American starts by being a better Tacoman. You can more wisely use your purchasing power. Many people don't fully realize that they vote with their dollars. Maybe its time to look at what you're buying, where it came from, who benefits when you buy it and how is that purchase benefiting the health and wellbeing of your family and your community.
I try to shop at locally owned businesses whenever possible because that money is then filtered back into the local economy. Here are a list of reasons why you should shop local:
1. Buy Local -- Support yourself: Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms -- continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.(a variety of economic impact studiesinclude case studies showing that locally-owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the community and our tax base.)
2. Support community groups: Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.
3. Keep our community unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun -- all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit. �When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.� ~ Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust
4. Reduce environmental impact: Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
5. Create more good jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, provide the most jobs to residents.
6. Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.
7. Invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community�s future.
8. Put your taxes to good use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.
9. Buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
10. Encourage local prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character. Source: http://sustainableconnections.org/thinklocal/why/
You really do vote with your dollars
Take food for example. If people boycotted foods that were made from questionable ingredients, supply and demand would self regulate the system and healthy whole foods would be more prevalent in the market. Americans would be healthier and need less medical care. Do you want to eat pesticides? Do you know that meat in the US is cloned and they aren't even required to label it? Do you know that a lot of hamburger is left over run-off material cleaned with ammonia and cut with other non-food material like paper? Do you really know what your eating and where it came from?
Take the environment as another example. If people gave up their fuel-powered cars and instead invested the $1000 or so they spend a month on cars into solar power for their homes and businesses, tried to never purchase products that were trucked in and did everything in their power to stop using fossil fuels, in time we would naturally be less worried about who controls the oil - can you imagine what a different state our country would be in now if we could care less about oil?
Politics. We complain that big businesses control our government by funding candidates and strong arming decisions. Guess who votes for those corporations? You do with your spending. They are rich because you give them your money. You do it when you shop and you do it when you deposit your earnings into banks.
The power of the poor
Who shops at big box discount stores? Who buys the majority of those cheap foods made of poisonous chemicals? Who drives old gas guzzling cars? THE POOR! And why are they poor? They are people who the system has already crushed. They are the slaves of the machine and they keep voting over and over with their dollars for the exact thing that put them where they are today. Do they have to keep doing that? No! The farmers markets now accept food stamp cards. They can buy local food that is healthy and organic and completely change the way their body functions! Local Credit Unions have less fees and BETTER customer service! Most thrift stores are locally owned. We have amazing second hand clothing stores in Tacoma. You can find ANYTHING on craigslist! Buying second hand goods from local sources is one of the best things you can do for your wallet and your environment. Even the poor have choices and since they outnumber the rich, a shift from them could change everything. If you look at it this way, the POOR are the most powerful Americans of all.
I'm not trying to be depressing, I'm just saying that while you are celebrating your country, try to also think about how you can better serve it. Each and every one of us has power to make change. It's just that no one told you!
I thank my country for the freedom to express my opinions today.
The Story of Stuff - From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our
lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is
hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced,
fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption
patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge
number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to
create a more sustainable and just world.
Money As Debt - Money As Debt is a fast-paced and highly entertaining animated feature
by artist & videographer, Paul Grignon. It explains today's
magically perverse DEBT-MONEY SYSTEM in terms that are easy to
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution - Jamie Oliver is here to start a revolution. The impassioned chef, TV personality and best-selling author is determined to take on the high statistics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in this country, where our nation's children are the first generation not expected to live as long as their parents. Oliver is inviting viewers to take a stand and change the way America eats, in our home kitchens, schools and workplaces, with this thought-provoking new series.
Abolishing Corporate Personhood - Proponents of corporate personhood believe that corporations, as associations of shareholders, were intended by the founders and framers to enjoy many, if not all, of the same rights as would the shareholders acting individually, such as the right to lobby the government.