invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
[personal profile] invisionary
I want to do exactly this. I've been taught as an activist it's what one should do. Faith without works is dead is a mantra we've all been taught. We don't just appeal to deity to make the changes in the world we think should happen. We make them happen. A friend of mine inspired me with a quote recently.

"Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid He just might ask me the same question."

But I'm frustrated. Part of how I try to do this is through how I use my money. Now I won't pretend to be some scrupulously ethical penny-pincher because I'm not. In fact, I'd argue those people who are ostentatiously "ethical" about how they spend their money are engaging in another sort of conspicuous consumption. My primary means of putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, is to support local businesses whenever I can. Sometimes this doesn't work and that's the main point of this entry.

Local businesses are what make places unique. You can go almost anywhere, sometimes anywhere in the world, and find certain establishments that will offer a comfortably predicable selection of goods and services. Yet if what I want is an inexpensive bite to eat and a place for my girls to run around and play while I talk to my spouse or to other adults, I may very well want that place to be something other than McDonald's or Chuck E Cheese. That doesn't mean it exists, or that even if it does that I may know about it without knowing the area well or having a local guide.

As another more serious but contrasting example, for years I've made it a point to use small local pharmacies for my medications. Big Pharma gets enough money and any share of it I can keep in my community makes me happy. Nonetheless though I've had to return to a major national pharmacy. I am on a specific medication where not all generics are created equal and the independent pharmacies are at the mercy of their distributors. Those distributors will change manufacturers based on who will save them a few pennies per thousand pills. I can't afford two weeks of readjustment to a new medication dosage, possibly as often as every 90 days. It saddens me in this case, yet makes me even more furious at the corporatocracy that has the nerve of small businesses under its control.

And yet not always. I am still on the fence about how to handle the credit union I'm currently doing business with. I'm starting a new small business myself and have had less than stellar service from them. Now I don't have a whole lot of banking needs, but I obviously have some as any business does. I want to keep my money in my local community, as I do with my purchases, but my needs are a little more demanding as a small business owner. I need to know as I travel that I can get my money when I need it. I need to count on money being processed predictably, both in and out. Banks generally get this right. Right now I don't intend to take out loans, but when it comes to that, both private persons and businesses have to take loans from those who will give them and for the best rates available.

Local businesses have to be able to meet the needs of their customers or there's no reason for them to survive. Sentiments are nice, but business is business. Activism is nice, but we have to eat, and no amount of prayer is going to feed us unless we get up and earn our daily bread.
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invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
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December 2011

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