Thursday, 01 December 2011 18:26
By Joe Romano,
There's no place like home.
— Dorothy, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1900
Last month's article ended with the invitation to occupy your own Main Street by buying local and building a strong and living local economy. Let's begin this month by occupying that most local of all places, our minds.
You are walking through your favorite store, perhaps your fantasy store. All around you are items that you have seen or heard of before and have wanted for yourself or for your loved ones. As you walk through this store filled with items that will entertain, uplift, ease or even sustain you, you realize that you can have just about anything in the place. How do you feel? For many, this thought would be accompanied by a feeling of elation, a distinct sense of well-being. However, this is not a dream or even a fantasy. This happens every day. Yes, it is tempered by the feeling you may have had as you imagined this scenario, the nagging worry that it was all too good to be true and even, somehow, constituted a danger. This, too, happens every day. Such is the experience of a shopper with a pocket full of credit cards in almost every store they enter.
Thursday, 03 November 2011 02:41
By Joe Romano,
There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
— Sam Walton, founder of WalMart
GreenStar is an example of a local economy at work. When members of our community had a need for natural food that was not being supplied by supermarkets and national chains, we took it into our own hands to pool our resources, buy what we wanted and get it to the people who wanted it. We formed a cooperative that is owned by our community, that has grown to serve an ever-larger segment of that community and that serves as a focus and resource for more of our local needs every day. We serve a social function, but we operate primarily as an economic entity.
When economics started in human civilizations, there were no credit cards, coins or bills or even means of barter. The earliest economies were gift economies in which people did not expect any immediate or even future recompense for items given to others. People simply gave food and things to one other, and thus everybody always had what they needed. If there was any form of status in these societies, it could only be garnered by giving away the most stuff. Moving forward in history, we have traded commodities like grain or cattle, metals and coins until, seeking increasingly convenient currency, we developed paper money that represented a certain amount of gold or silver for which it could be redeemed at any time.
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