I have always thought it was a delicate proposition to be critical of how people choose to spend their money. I think that the person who actually works for their money should be completely free to spend it however they choose. However, when one spends their money they are providing direct support to a company. This essay is not about being smug or feeling superior. The point that I am trying to make is that money has power. When we spend our money we help someone else financially. The recent remarks made by Chik Fil A demonstrate this point. Why would a progressive spend their money at a company that is clearly against progressive ideas? In this essay I will try to offer some ideas that will give your money more power.
I pay my bills and support my family by earning a living as a professional. However, I have not purchased new clothes in about 15 years. Whenever I need a new shirt, tie or pair of pants I will visit the local resale shops, until I find what I need. The reason I do this is because I cannot in good conscious take part in the purchasing of clothes that were probably manufactured in sweat shop conditions. By removing myself from the first line of purchase I am no longer providing direct financial support to an industry which is based on the exploitation of workers. Another benefit to resale shops is that most of them are non-profit organizations which use their revenue to support charities within the local community. For me shoes are particularly problematic. I have not found a satisfactory solution to the problem of buying new shoes, so I do admit that once my shoes are no longer presentable I buy a new pair.
Now think about the idea of buying locally vs. buying globally. I am able to buy my eggs from a very small local farmer who raises her chickens in a cage free setting. The color of the eggs is more vibrant than those found in the local grocery store, and in my opinion, the taste is superior. She charges about twice what the store charges, but I like how she treats her animals and I do not mind spending the extra money for a better tasting egg produced in more humane conditions.
Unfortunately, I am not able to buy the vast majority of my groceries locally. The manner in which our country chooses to produce food makes it impossible to buy all of one’s food locally. So, that leaves the consumer with the choice of buying locally when possible and supporting those companies that produce their products in more humane/environmentally friendly conditions. My daughters are strict vegetarians and find the idea of raising animals for meat obscene. While I support the ideas of vegetarianism, I do believe it is possible to raise livestock in humane conditions. The following links provide more information on how to buy humanely raised food.
In keeping with the idea of spending money locally I try to buy American made products when possible. Again, due to the changes in our economy it is simply not possible to buy everything from a domestic company; however, when possible I think it is worth the extra money. I have found that most domestically produced products (tools, lawn mowers, etc.) are superior to the cheaper imported version. Yes, the product will almost always cost more, but it usually is of a higher quality and will last longer. The worker abuses that take place in factories around the world are extremely well documented. Women suffer both physical and sexual abuse, young children are forced to work instead of attending school and prison labor is even used to produce the goods that end up on the shelves of American stores. If spending a few dollars more means that I can avoid taking part in that process then that is how I want to spend my money. Whether it is tools, clothes, shoes or bicycles there are many domestic companies producing high quality products. The following links deal specifically with finding domestically produced products.
I hope that this essay came across as intended. How one spends their money is extremely personal. However, I think that our money has real power. I believe that a realistic argument can be made that in modern America our money has more power than our vote. Spend your money however you choose, but remember that your money has real power.