Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Buy local? not so fast...

Locally-contrarian food for thought (link) -
"When country A enacts a blockade or economic sanctions against country B, does country B become more prosperous or less? Does country B thank country A for the good fortune of being forced to “buy local,” or does it claim that country A has committed an act of war?

Free Banking – The Folly that is “Local” Currency: “More importantly, the object that the local currency movement would achieve if it could—that of of “keeping trade within the community”–is, like all forms of protectionism, a highly dubious one: As Tim Harford succinctly puts it, “the gains from more trade with locals are more than offset by the losses from less trade with strangers. Otherwise economic sanctions would be a blessing.”"


Don Pelton said...

Context is everything.

Many arguments for globalism and against localism (including local currencies) use straw-man arguments, as your local-contrarian source does in postulating a locally-produced and marketed automobile!

The most compelling argument I've seen for local economies and local currencies is made in the context of the expectation of civilizational breakdown following peak oil.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that many if not most of the people in our community who are working toward local sustainability are driven precisely by that concern. That was in fact the primary motive for founding APPLE.

The peak oil concept is becoming less fringe and more mainstream every day (see the writings of Professor Michael Klare ("Resource Wars," "Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet," etc.).

So, a deep critique of localism would have to include a deep critique of the peak oil concept.

Only time -- not theory -- will tell whether the adherents of the peak oil concept are right.

And a good antidote to global boosterism is "Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism" by Ha-Joon Chang:


Here's Chang's tongue-in-cheek mocking of globalism:

"I have a six-year-old son. His name is Jin-Gyu. He lives off me, yet is quite capable of making a living. I pay for his lodging, food, education and health care. But millions of children of his age already have jobs. Daniel Defoe, in the 18th century, thought that children could earn a living from the age of four. Moreover, working might do Jin-Gyu's character a world of good. Right now he lives in an economic bubble with no sense of the value of money. He has zero appreciation of the efforts his mother and I make on his behalf, subsidizing this idle existence and cocooning him from harsh reality. He is over-protected and needs to be exposed to competition, so that he can become a more productive person. Thinking about it, the more competition he is exposed to and the sooner this done, the better it will be for his future development. It will whip him into a mentality that is ready for hard work. I should make him quit school and get a job. Perhaps I could move to a country where child labour is still tolerated, if not legal, to give him more choice in employment"

Don Pelton said...

Moreover, I've asked local leaders in the sustainability/localization/peak-oil-preparation movement whether they shouldn't consider looking into a local currency.

They responded that it is too soon for that, since we all still rely on the global market.

Anna Haynes said...

Thanks Don; to get reasoned-disagreement pushback is a treat.

(and sorry for responding emotionally rather than substantively, but 98% of my brain is engaged elsewhere at present)