I’ve been a supporter of local economics since high school. It simply makes sense to me that spending my meager resources at businesses that are owned in my neighborhood is going to keep that money in my neighborhood. Thus, I’ve always tried to avoid corporate chains unless their headquarters are in reasonable proximity to my home. This has become much more difficult over the years, however, as a result of my daughter returning to my life, my solidifying anarchist principals, and, of course, the growth of multi-national corporations.
In the 8 years I was separated from Z she was fed a daily dose of corporate chains: from Wal-Mart, to fast food, to convenience stores, her mother will literally go out of her way, passing independent businesses in order to spend her cash at corporate chain stores. Her mother’s ways are so set in stone that Z never really considered anything different until I started bringing the issue up. Of course, it didn’t take too long for her to start asking why I seemed to ignore my own “shop local” propaganda on many occasions. Poverty has always been my greatest excuse – a burger and fries at the locally owned joint costs three times as much as the same food at McDonald’s or Burger King, and the only local grocer we have here (actually a small regional chain headquartered in our area) charges 10%-20% more for the standard items we purchase. Still, she’s a great reminder of what is important to me and I have managed to change over to a local bank, switch to a phone/internet provider that is headquartered in our region, and always check local shops before heading to the big boxes.
The most obvious way for me to move closer to living the anarchistic life I so desire was to stop supporting the government in any way possible. Since I seldom supported the government in word or deed already, and Z’s return to my life all but requires I follow many of the bad laws I used to ignore (driver’s license, etc), the only clear step was to reduce the amount of funding I sent to government agencies. I’m already pushing my employer’s limits when it comes to reducing my payroll withholding, so the next largest tax-bill I pay is either gas tax or sales tax.
There’s little I can do about the gas tax should I want to keep my job and have access to my daughter on a regular basis, but sales tax is not too difficult to avoid these days by shopping from private parties and small businesses online. Of course, this immediately conflicts with my “shop local” philosophy since it’s only out-of-state businesses that are not required to collect sales tax with my orders. 😕 I’m not really sure how to resolve this conundrum, but am doing my best to balance my local and online shopping, essentially only going online for items that aren’t available at locally owned businesses.
The other aspect of voting with my dollars when it comes to anarchism, however, is actually pretty easy. I’m now seeking out like-minded business people (both locally and online) and supporting their businesses whenever possible. In fact, the inspiration for this blog post was Dave4RPaul’s Call for all business owners that support Ron Paul for President, in which he’s seeking to compile a list of business owners that support Ron Paul in order for consumers to literally vote wih their dollars by supporting those businesses.
Multi-National Corporations –
The continuing growth of multi-national corporations and the massive number of corporate mergers makes it harder than ever to know exactly who owns what these days. Luckily, the internet is a great research tool for finding where these corporate behemoths actually send the money from your local outlet. The other problem in this category is that small towns such as the one where I now live have been smothered by chains and the local government has spent my tax dollars subsidizing these corporations rather than helping small local businesses. Which leads me back online and to private party transactions.
So, that’s where I am at the moment. Trying to figure out how to balance starving the government beast of my taxes while still supporting my neighborhood markets. At least the internet allows me the ability to identify and financially support businesses and individuals who share my ideologies (or at least come close, as in Ron Paul’s case).