Shop to Make America Great Again

by - Friday, February 10, 2017

Make America Great Again Flag

How we shop can change the world and change the country. When Donald Trump ran for president, he claimed that he alone could bring jobs back to America and that he alone could revive the middle class.

Trump was wrong. He can't revive all the individual communities alone. He could accomplish a lot with your help.

I am not conservative, but many of the people I love most are . My hippy dippy liberal self can't agree with a lot of what my loved ones say, but I do my darndest to listen. I know that I wish I had been more involved on a daily basis in the last presidency, and I think you can do a lot to encourage your president's positive impact by implementing some goals in your own life! I really am trying to listen, and I think we have more in common than it feels like right now (liberals, I am making a post for you too, and it's amazing that a good chunk of the advice is the same for different reasons).

I'm ready to be corrected, but it seems to me that a lot of people who voted for Trump because they were really feeling that draining of the middle class. They weren't able to make ends meet even though they were treated as if they weren't the ones really struggling. When Clinton said "America is already great," they looked at their healthcare costs or quality of life and said "not for me." This frustration to survive can take over everything. Maybe that frustration that the odds were not in their favor was new to them, while other people in American culture have always felt it (I am still hopeful it could ignite some new empathy), but that doesn't make the pain any less real or the anxiety any less scary.

Franklin Pennsylvania Parade

The small town I grew up in and love was abandoned by oil companies about 30 years ago. Last year, the coal machinery company that brought my family there in the first place abandoned the town as well (some jobs remain there, but the manufacturing jobs are gone). We hear stories of businesses closing and see for sale signs all through our former neighborhoods. We already had to leave for the chance to find jobs, and now we see even more people having to make that miserable choice. The frustration and fear are so real.

I have also noticed that since Republicans won (and Republicans won so big this election- you guys have all the power!), conservative friends and family members still seem so angry and defensive. I don't always understand why, and it seems like they should be smugly glowing in their across the board victory.

But you all aren't victory dancing. And I think for good reason. This frustration that you aren't getting by isn't getting better. And honestly, I am worried that it won't.

I am going to say something that might initially piss you off, but stick with me.

The president can't help us if we aren't willing to help ourselves. 

That would be true no matter who was president, but it might be even more true now.

Right now, our economy is incredibly divided. A very small percentage of the population (less than 1%) holds the majority of the wealth. Rather than being frustrated with them, we spend a lot of time being angry at the people on the bottom, who have even less than what we have, but this perspective is hurting us deeply.

We are effectively funding this divide, because we keep sending our hard-earned money to this 1% instead of keeping a dollar of it in our own community. We support companies that are creating the welfare problem, then we get angry about the results.

For example, if you spend a lot of time feeling frustrated that people are getting government money when we feel they don't deserve it, check where you are shopping. Walmart is actually the largest recipient of welfare in the world, because they pay their many employees so poorly that most are on food stamps, etc. They use loopholes to get out of paying taxes to fund food stamps. And they are one of the main places that food stamps are spent. In other words, they are profiting doubly on underpaying (and limiting the hours) of thousands of workers.

The Waltons hoard their money up at the top. They don't reinvest it in the communities where they have business. They don't even invest it in charities (they are one of the LEAST charitable companies in the United States). So every time you spend a dollar at Walmart, you are sending most of your money to a pot that you will never see again. You are continuing to build the divide, and you are sending your money out of your community instead of making where you live that much richer.

Let's look at another example. You want pizza, because who doesn't? I would take some right now.

You can either go to Pizza Hut or you can go to a locally-owned pizza shop. Even small towns usually have them.

If you spend 10 dollars for a pizza at a local shop, the majority of the money stays where you live. That means the owner and the employees will spend it in your hometown again, so more owners and employees can make money and more businesses can thrive.

If you spend 10 dollars at Pizza Hut, even if it is a franchise, the majority of the money you spend is headed out of town. Your town will never see it again.

The same is true on a national level. For example-

Overseas T shirt Revenue
from ecotourre

If you spend 20 dollars on a t-shirt made in China and sold at Walmart, 1 dollar of that stays in your community, 10 dollars go to the Waltons' money hoard, and 8 dollars head off to china and the transport costs. 1 dollar stays moving in the US economy! No wonder we feel so helpless. The money we spend is working against us.

If you spend 20 dollars on a t-shirt made in the US (this one is only 12, but you get the idea and IT IS POSSIBLE), the manufacturer, the retailer, and the worker all keep their money working in the US, paying it forward to more American businesses.

In short, if you want to make your community and your country great again, you have to put shopping local first. 

No, not in theory or on occasion. You have to do it all the time. 

Nope, it isn't the easiest or the cheapest, but it is always worth it. You have to try the local grocery stores BEFORE you stop at Walmart. You have to stop shopping at Home Depot already and just go to a local hardware store. You can maybe not buy things that are made in China, because better options almost always exist! Check this list and you might just find it!

When you are facing down a birthday or the beginning of school or a project for your home, think about what you could buy from someone in your community instead of from a big store. Maybe you will buy less, but it will feel better because you are helping someone where you live (and Americans in general have too much stuff anyway- over 300,000 items per home!).

Every dollar you spend is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. Don't you want to live in a community that is thriving? Then vote with your money. Everytime you spend locally, you create the opportunity for more jobs where you live. Every time you buy something made in America (even if it is more expensive) you send businesses the message that it IS important to you to do the right thing. You can send thousands of these messages to them in a year. THINK of how many jobs your town could start if everyone even put half of their spent cash toward the businesses their neighbors own instead of big businesses that will frankly never care about them.

Buy American, Buy Local, and to Save Money, Buy Used

Now, you might be thinking to yourself "If I am having trouble buying health insurance how the hell do you expect me to resist the cheap prices and ease of a Walmart?"

Because you have to. Because if you think a magic wand will come in to make things better, while you constantly fund the problem, you are wrong. If you are worried about getting everything you need, my best advice (that we use in my own family all the time) is to start finding everything that you can used.

The generation that came before us treated consignment and pre-used items like a shameful thing, a thing you only did when you were at rock bottom, but that is crazy. Why do you need a brand new set of wooden chairs when thousands of them already exist collecting dust? Why buy an expensive new winter coat when I guarantee you can find a great one at a local Goodwill or on Thred Up? And if you have children under 5 and are buying all of their clothes new, you are robbing yourself. You can find almost everything your children need (from clothes to toys to bouncer seats) still beautiful and only slightly used.

Keep a list of what you need, and start checking yard sales and Goodwills. I will say it until my face turns blue- join a local Buy Nothing or Freecycle group. If you don't have one where you live, start one! We saved (no exaggeration) thousands of dollars last year by checking there first. People want to help each other, so go in a space where it is safe to ask.

Am I saying this will solve every problem? No, of course not. The government has to get involved to encourage job growth and to deal with the exorbitantly rich who hoard their money at the top, avoiding trickling it down at all costs.

But the next time you feel yourself thinking "Someone needs to do something..." about your small town, just remember that person can be you. You don't have to run for office, or make a big stink, or otherwise make a huge change in your life. Just try stopping at a local grocery store to check out what they have. Or resolve to buy all of your valentine's gifts in little downtown shops and from a local florist. And for goodness sakes, start eating at your locally-owned restaurants!

You can do this, and you can start making your community that much greater again. I honest to goodness believe that, and I have loads of info on this blog to help you find what you need. If you have something and can't find a local or American option, just ask me! Why wait?

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  1. Since reading your blog, I have gotten better and better at skipping Walmart- we have the nicest local grocery store here, and it has been months since I went anywhere else. Mom puts it perfectly- the extra dollars spent there are still less than what I would pay a month to make sure it stays in business! Instead of a membership to Sam's Club, I am just using that money to make sure D'Onofrios stays put!



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