The following is a letter to the editor I wrote in response for a call to “Buy Local”. The name and location have been removed:
A very interesting article appeared in the xyz News in which xyz lauds “buying locally”. He writes: “The thing is, you can’t argue with the concept – buy local and the money stays in our community.”
For sake of time, I won’t argue with that. But I wonder why he does not take it a few steps further: “Don’t buy anything at all and the money stays with your own family!” Imagine how wealthy each family would be. We would be swimming in pools of money. Of course, we would all be destitute: any attempt to limit our own sphere of trading makes us poorer to the extent of what we could have bought otherwise.
Unlike Mr Murch, real people care not about monochrome images of dead presidents, but about real goods and services.
A thought experiment: Who is richer: Fort Knox, which is wall to wall security ensuring not one ounce of gold will ever escape, or me after buying a 5 dollar strawberry shake at McDonald’s? Sure, some people might get pleasure knowing that vast amounts of bricks sit unmolested in locked rooms, but I have a shake that I actually get to drink! Money is not the end goal, maximizing well-being is. The more goods and services we buy with the same dollar, the more well-being we achieve.
The reason the public must endure these “buy-local” appeals is that families intuitively understand spending more money on the same (or inferior) product does not make them better off. In fact, it makes them poorer. Poverty is not the key to growth.