Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pied piper in a Santa suit

Watching the mall rassling, I am not understanding why it is important to the economy for people to spend themselves silly on Christmas. The retailer watch is at the top of the business page. How long are the lines? How much are people spending? Maybe this made sense back when things were made in America, but now it's toys from China, appliances from South Korea, cars from Japan, diamonds from who knows where. Long lines do not mean job strength in Washington, or even in North America.
Retailers are not the Main Street enterprises of a dozen years ago. They’re the WalMart big boxes, warehouses full of foreign merchandise and underpaid clerks. Putting down your credit card for an Asian product in one of these stores is the allegory of our times.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to close the trade doors. (As if.) But we can buy health care, clean air, sustainable transportation, education and security first, and then fill up our garages with exercycles later. Imagining for a moment we are all together on this, Americans are no worse off for the first purchase. (The problem, of course, is that public goods are bought with taxes, and we all know that taxes are not responsible financing mechanisms, but theft by fat bureaucrats who actually eat the money.)

Hidden in all this is the benefit to business. I'm not talking about the mega-corporations that dominate the Republican Right, but the real businesses. Think about it. You may want your George Foreman grill and not your K-12 education, but a business has got to see that its demand for domestic goods is better when we buy K-12 or mass transit first. These are jobs here now. Not to mention the benefit of the goods later.
The Chamber of Commerce has got to get its head out of the sand. They seem to get the idea whenever a military base is up for closure. Otherwise they're happy to be led to their deaths by the multinational corporate interests.

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