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Letter to the editor: We need to re-define notion of 'buying local'

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Posted on May 3, 2018 |
By Jim Morisseau



I was pleasantly surprised to see names like Ames and Montgomery Ward mentioned in a recent letter, as I used to love those stores. I am a bit confused, however, about also seeing the need for buying local attached, as Montgomery Ward was once the Amazon of its day. As Wikipedia describes the once-popular catalogue business, it was designed to provide access to goods that people could not buy locally, and “in the first few years, the business was not well received by local retailers. Considering Mo Ward a threat, they sometimes publicly burned his catalog.”

Well.

This is not to say I disagree with buying local, but I think much of the blame is misplaced. American capitalism trends toward concentration through our financial structure of public offering (stock) as well as our tax structure, along with regular economy of scale. We’ve seen horrendous income inequality as our financial system has skewed free enterprise through “growth” that is really just inflation, which, coupled with our tax structure, allows wealth to concentrate.

I like to use the analogy of the price of Super Bowl tickets, which were less than $10 for the first game, but now run into the multiple thousands today, all for what is essentially the same game, but it is the larger buying power of concentrated wealth that allows chain stores to pay the huge advertising costs that result in the higher salaries for athletes and values of sports franchises, that in turn jack ticket costs sky-high.

Consider that a local pizza joint will only advertise locally, but a giant like Dominos or Little Caesar’s can pay for national advertising. Wiki also notes that Little Caesar’s revenues exploded with its “first national advertising campaign in the mid 1980s,” right after supply side economics had begun and the owner, Mike Ilitch, became a billionaire, owning the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings.

This is nothing new in America. It has happened before and it is important that people start seeing the history here in order to change it.

Jim Morisseau

Cornwall

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