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Old 07-29-2008, 02:53 PM   #21
Tom Rawls
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 152

Originally Posted by Neal Winkler View Post
Tom, let's say the multiplier is real (I don't believe it is). If I spend $100 dollars on produce from a non-local community then that will generate income for them to return the favor. So long as my community is producing goods that other communities want, it all comes back around anyway.

As to your point about the plight of local farmers, if you don't buy local produce they won't be out of a job, they just won't be farming. What will happen is that the money saved by buying non-local will be spent on something else and create jobs in whatever else instead.

What you have fallen prey to is looking only at what is seen, and not at what is unseen. Bastiat wrote a beautiful essay on this that you should read if you are so inclined.

So, like I said, what you can see is that by buying local produce you are helping make a living for the local farmers. But what you do not see is that if you bought non-local then those farmers would still make a living just not at farming. Therefore, in the end you needn't be concerned about their well-being.


I haven't read the essay yet, but I will. Thank you.

Meantime, you appear to be suggesting a benign global economy is at work.

And I think you are describing a somewhat utopian view of how things work locally. If you were to visit Midwestern towns w/ empty storefronts, you might have a different view. Some will argue that this situation is the natural result of more efficient agriculture, etc.

In my corner of the world, I know one farmer up the road who now happily runs a golf course on what was hilly pasture, while a neighboring farmer went bankrupt, and another neighbor has added cows, keeps them inside on concrete, brings the feed to them, and by the way, docks their tails. He's doing okay.

Everything changes, but all changes are not desirable. Jobs that provide equal pay do not necessarily provide equal personal satisfaction.

Whenever discussing such matters, I am always reminded of what Robertson Davies, the wonderful Canadian writer said of "economics": "I prefer my astrology without water."
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:28 PM   #22
Neal Winkler
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 326


I guess my view would be utopian if I was saying that when consumer preferences shift, causing a reallocation of resources away from a particular industry, and thus a loss of jobs, that the people who lose their jobs are painlessly re-assimilated into the work force at equally satisfying and paying jobs in a very short period of time.

But that's not what I'm saying. What you described was a transition period as the labor and materials from the local farms are re-allocated. Some of he farms will choose to hang on longer than others and suffer greater losses. This is their choice. Others will adapt and make out just fine as you described. This is life, but there is no reason why local people are more deserving of my money than anyone else, per say.

If you believe that you can keep everyone from losing their jobs and simultaneously enjoy a high standard of living by buying local, then I am not the one with a utopian view.

"If you were to visit Midwestern towns w/ empty storefronts, you might have a different view."

No, I wouldn't. I would just say what I said above, that this is what happens when consumer preferences are shifted. I would tell the people to use their entreprenuerial abilities to come up with a product/service that consumers want or to move away if their current situation is not to their liking.

Something that was said in the original article was, "how local is local?"

Maybe I should only spend money in my neighborhood? City? County? Congressional district? Arbitrary radius of 25 miles? State? Country? Continent? Hemisphere? Maybe if aliens from alpha centary came to visit us we could have calls only to buy produce from Earth and not from the aliens planet. Then earth would be thought of as local.

When you spoke of the mutiplier effect are you saying that it somehow makes a local community richer because it "senses" that it is working in a totally arbitrary boundry known as "local?"

By the way, moderators, if this discussion is too political just tell me to cease and I will.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:14 PM   #23
Neal Winkler
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 326

Actually, let me say something about the comment that I just made about local farmers not deserving my money more than anyone else. While I do believe this is true, I'm NOT trying to say that anyone else shouldn't have their own individual reasons to prefer local (whatever that means, i.e. nothing) to non-local produce. If you just want to buy local because it makes you feel good to buy produce from a close proximity, then that's your business.

I think I'm obscurring what I'm trying to argue by making such assertions. I'm not trying to argue that you shouldn't buy local because local farmers are no better than non-local.

The ONLY thing I'm trying to argue is that buying local doesn't make the local community more wealthy, and therefore that particular reason to buy local does not acheive it's objective.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:20 PM   #24
Tom Rawls
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 152


Most of what you say makes sense, but I think humans tend to more comfortable in "tribal" settings. "Local" is one of those settings. The definition of local and tribal identity will vary with individuals, and with circumstances, but we like to see our own thrive.

As you note, we also need to be able to adapt, seemingly more so today than a generation or two ago.

I like to buy local because I like to buy from people I know. Buying local is a way to "integrate" life. Economic transactions are also social, emotional, and informational. If you buy at big box stores, for example, the transactions are more purely business, and perhaps more "efficient", but life and society are "dis-integrated."

It's just life. People make choices about what values they wish to support, sometimes knowingly, often not.
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