Friday, November 2, 2012

Step 11 - Vote With Your Dollar

This step couldn't have come at a more opportune time. On Tuesday Americans will go out to vote for our next President. Right now our brains are filled with facts and fiction from advertisements selling us on one candidate or another. The two-thirds of Americans who will vote on November 6th will have done their research, to a degree, in order to vote for the candidates and ballot questions that best suit their wants and desires. Not many of us will enter the voting booth with no knowledge of anyone or anything on the paper in front of us because we understand the responsibility of using our voice to affect the direction of the political spectrum. Those who vote, do so with a belief in their civic duty.

There are other ways, however, that we vote, on a daily basis, that we don’t give that much respect to. Every single dollar that is spent is a vote because money is the most powerful part of the system in place in the United States of America. Yet how much research goes into how and why we spend our money? When you go to a store, are you sure that you want to give your money to that business, do you want to tell them that you understand how they will use your money, you have done your research, and you are in support of it? Most of us don’t think about spending money in this way. It’s simply a means to supplying us with our needs, wants and desires. The cheaper you can get it, usually the better. And that may be true for our wallets, at the moment. When you pull up to the register at Box Store A, you are most likely going to spend less money than elsewhere. But what we have learned over these past 11 steps is that there are other ways our money is being pulled from our wallets.

Businesses within our community’s take the money they earn from selling us their goods and spend them on services and employees. According to several economic impact analyses, for every $100 spent at a local independent business, around two-thirds of that money will stay in the local community. For the same amount of money spent at box stores and retailers, only about one-third of that stays. National retailers will use in house services at headquarters, from printing, to banking whereas a local business will use other local services and banks. When we shop, and spend our money, we are voting on where we want our money to go.

Not only is that vote for the supplier of the goods and services we receive, but also the product. This becomes tricky because the supply system for goods has been mostly outsourced overseas, and the goods you receive at a box store may very well be the same as at a local retailer. However, we can still vote with our dollar within that, by choosing items that are made with eco-friendly and sustainable materials. With food, we can choose to give our money to local farmers instead of industrial food corporations. We may be limited in our access to good local products, but whenever we spend our money on them, we are voting that as a consumer we want more goods like that. Our system is built on supply and demand, and it is time that the people vote with their dollar and demand companies to supply us with what is beneficial to our communities, and the planet.