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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving and How to Save the World by Thinking



So to continue from my previous post on "The Current Economic Crisis", I am going to share my not-so-original idea.

At the start of the naughties everyone became fairly greedy, and it is our collective greed that has resulted in our current downfall. Admittedly two-thirds of the responsibility for the greed fall in the hands of: the investors, the banks and the law-makers; however, that leaves at least a third of the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of ordinary citizens. A good number of us took on loans and mortgages that were more that we ought to have, and most of us participated in the capitalist spending spree that fostered such a hyped up market place. Anyways, as I mentioned before, all the protesting in the world can hardly bring back the over-inflated economy... so we should all just relax and accept the deflating balloon (well, if you're a family with both adults made redundant you might not be so relaxed... but anyone with at least one employed adult can hopefully make ends meet and that's all we really need -remember it is thanksgiving in Canada-).

Voting has always been one form of expressing our voice... and while I'm a believer in our right to vote... I think that politics is a sticky place with a few very loud and obvious issues, and a great number of behind the scenes bureaucratic dealings that are more related to loud lobby groups than the voters.

The other area where I can firmly express my voice is with my pocket book. I read the local paper on the train yesterday and found a number of articles focusing on the same general theme, businesses (and charities) are trying to figure out how to best compete for their share in the shrunken market place. One article was promoting "staying in with your friends and donating the money saved to charity" --leading one to wonder about the financial health of the entertainment sector--, another article was discussing "how small businesses can attract more customers" (definitely worrisome as I have already witnessed the demise of a few small businesses in Maynooth, and we certainly do have our share of vacant storefronts).

I think the problem is that in a deflating economy there is generally less money to go around. You either have money to go on holidays, or go out every weekend, or buy yourself a new wardrobe... you just can't afford all three. Anyways, to bring it all to a point... my plan is to CHOOSE who I buy from and what products to buy.

This may sound silly as we always choose what we buy... but our choices are usually based on who has the best price, the best advertising or the best packaging. Instead I plan on spending my money on businesses and products that I wish to support. The idea of buying with intention is hardly novel. The Buy Irish is already a very loud campaign, and every shop is pleased to tell you which products were Irish made. And from the more extreme groups comes the Buy Nothing Day, and the Buy Nothing Christmas campaigns (don't worry everyone I've been collecting Irish goodies all year, so yew'll still be getting prezzies from us!).

However, my idea is meant to be simpler than that. For example, I could buy a loaf of packaged Batch Loaf for cheap at Tescos (a Walmart equivalent), and my money would be supporting the major corporations of Tescos; along with giant agricultural conglomerate farms; pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer companies (pointing a finger at you Monsanto, but I have to give you credit for painting such an eerily wholesome picture on your website); and a sweatshop factory where the packaging was made. As an alternative I could spend €0.10 more at the bakery on Main Street, or €0.90 more at the organic baker at the farmer's market on Saturday.

Tescos may be cheaper... but shopping there hardly supports the cluster of small businesses along Main Street. Because this blog entry is already long enough, I'm not going to continue into a discussion of the benefits of small businesses in maintaining a vibrant community... as I'm sure most people who've ever been to Europe are aware of, the charm of European cities are that they have maintained a heart of small businesses.

So for this Canadian Thanksgiving we will be familyless and Turkey/Tofurky-less... but it is hardly a homesick and somber affair. A gathering of good friends, good food, good drink, and a trio of only slightly naughty toddlers, will prevail on a Thanksgiving where we are truly thankful for the sun shining on our present, past and future.

If the new economy is going to be a deflated version of the old economy, then shop with intention and cast your vote as to what that economy is going to look like.

I've included two pictures to lighten up the blog a bit... above is on the train to Cork, and below is at Ross Castle... proving that Claire is a good photographer after all (we'll ignore all the photos with people's heads cut off for the moment)!


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