Democracy is at it’s best when we are active at the local level. Whether we run for a local board or support progressives running for the school committee. Either way, if we want to have the best control over our government and public policies we must start with local politics. I understand that the zoning board or the school committee are not as “interesting” as national economic policies or foreign policies, but local politics are the bedrock of democracy.
Look at the havoc being brought upon by right wing ideological zealots at state levels across this country. Progressives need to focus more of their energy locally if we want to fundamentally change the direction of our government.
In the same aspect, our economy is locally driven. As more of our communities are flooded with the big box stores and less and less community businesses, the connection between community and business owners are lost. Years ago if a family business made decisions the customers didn’t like, the customers would let the owners know that day or week. Today, if a big box store or chain does something that the community does not like, how often are your complaints heard by the owner. In some cases the owners are on Wall Street and around the globe if it is a publicly traded company.
Local politics and the local economy go hand in hand. If we want to support our community businesses and keep the chains and big box stores out, this is a local policy decision. On November 5th 2011 there was a national movement to move your money in local community banks, regional banks and credit unions. This is a start, a beginning of the progressive, locally based businesses.
A local business is more likely to support the community and their neighbors, especially in a percentage of their income going to local charities. If we continue to elect the neo liberal, Milton Friedman philosophy of the deregulated capitalism, where communities allow huge discount stores in we will lose more small businesses to semi monopolies. All it takes is for 2 or 3 big box stores to come into your town or city to drive out 50 local businesses. Now add on tax breaks for specific companies that small businesses do not get and you have a government giving advantages to multinational or national companies over their smaller competitors.
Remember community business will not dump toxins into a river the owner gets his drinking water from, a community business will not push to deregulate air pollution he and his family have to breath. A local owner is more likely to run into his customers at the grocery store and if that owner “wronged” them, the word will get around town fast and he will be ashamed. A CEO of a multinational or national corporation doesn’t have that threat, especially if he travels in private jets, limos and lives in a secluded part of the country.
So as we come out of the “move your money” weekend let’s continue this movement this holiday season and support local businesses over the big corporations and support and get involved in local politics, because it is where you live!