Localization Instead of Globalization

By Shawn Dell Joyce
We see the effects of globalization as local jobs are outsourced, and the recession proves that things just aren’t working. Economist and author Michael Shuman notes that “about 42 percent of our economy is ‘place based,’ or created through small, locally-owned businesses.” This means that almost half our economy depends on small independent businesses, which make up the backbone of our hometowns.

These small firms are what give our towns local color and local flavor. They are what differentiate us from every other exit on the highway that has the same six chain stores. Local concerns are also committed to their hometowns, and support the local economy by hiring people in the area, donating to support Little League and volunteer ambulance and fire services, and paying local taxes.

The key to economic recovery is localization, the reversing of globalization. Shuman estimates that we could expand our national economy to be 70 percent local or more by incorporating 10 simple steps that will actually save you money in the process.

–Localize your home! The biggest expense most of us have is our mortgage. Actually, 60 percent of our annual expenditures go for shelter. By renting from a local landlord, or buying your own home with a mortgage from a hometown bank, you can localize this expense. Local banks and credit unions typically have the best rates anyway, possibly saving you money in the process.

–Drive less! According to Shuman, Americans spend one out of every five dollars on transportation. That amounts to almost $5,000 a year! Until we can start replacing imported oil with locally produced biofuels, our best bet is to drive less.

–Using mass transit, bicycling, or walking saves money but is not very easy for us rural folks. Still, use the car sparingly. Buy gas from an independent station if you can find one, and use a local repair shop you trust.

–Eat independently! Households spend about $2,300 a year on restaurants; unfortunately most of that is spent at fast food chains. This one is a simple matter of choice with very little effort required to find a wonderful independently owned restaurant.

–Local arts and entertainment! Most people opt for a movie at a corporate multiplex at the mall. Enjoy homegrown talent! Visit the small repertory theaters to see a real play instead of a movie. Visit an art show and buy art from local artists. Buy music directly from the bands.

–Localize your health care! Get your meds from an independent pharmacy, preferably one that also uses local suppliers

–Buy locally grown! Eating locally by buying fresh vegetables, meats, and dairy products from nearby farms reduces transportation costs and vitamin loss. The closer you eat to home, the more you improve your health, your view, and your local economy.

–Localize electricity! We could save thousands a year just by increasing our energy efficiency.

–Give locally! More than 6 percent of the U.S. economy is nonprofit according to Shuman. Most of these nonprofits are in the forms of hospitals, universities, and churches, but locally we also have arts organizations, environmental groups, and many others.

–Buy local! In the time it has taken you to read this, Americans have collectively spent $23 million. Shuman says that $16 million of this figure could be spent in small locally owned stores. How far would $16 million go in your hometown today?

Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School of Art in Montgomery. www.WallkillRiverSchool.com


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