Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Does it Make Sense to "Buy Local"?

Of course it does, simply because everything is "local" to someone. Put another way, if you purchase an item made 8,000 miles away, then that item was made locally to people who live 8,000 miles away. Therefore, every purchase is local, no matter what.

So, let's rephrase the question: Does it make sense to "buy locally" only from people who happen to live near you? If the answer is "yes", then that means that someone living thousands of miles away should never buy anything from you. Or, depending on how "locally" is defined, it could mean that someone living hundreds or miles away, or a few miles away, or even on the next block, should never buy anything from you.

And if "foreign" people should not buy things from you, that means that you should not buy things from them. And if you don't buy things from them, that means that they should not sell things to you. Would you like store-owners and businesses to refuse to sell you things because you don't have the "correct" address? If you still say "yes", then you must be a big fan of public schools. But if you say "no", then you understand that "buy locally" works to no one's benefit except those who happen to have businesses located near very large markets, who want to use propaganda (instead of superior products) to eliminate competition.

And it works to the benefit of businesses near people who feel a tribal kinship towards them, while these businesses hope that foreigners don't have such feelings towards their local businesses.

So, which is better: Buying a foreign-made product from a local business, or buying a locally-made product from a foreign business?

And all of this ignores the entire issue of what is "local" anyway. With inputs from every part of the globe, it is nearly impossible to completely discern the pedigree of any product. A book might have a local author, paper from Canada, a publisher in a different state, assembly from parts made in China, and be sold in yet a different state.

In the end, we all buy local -- but really buying local is an incoherent idea and a waste of time.

1 comment:

shlemazl said...

Wow! Had I wanted to, I wouldn't have been able to refute this argument.