Is ‘Buy American’ A Redneck Refrain? What of Cash-Mobs?

It seems that we often snicker at the uneducated or ill-informed who refuse to buy a Japanese car, Korean appliance, or Chinese widget.

But consider the “buy local” movement. Isn’t that the exact same concept on steroids? If “buy American” is an error-filled notion, “buy local” seems much much worse.

I was considering this after reading about some recent stories about so-called “cash mobs.” Apparently the idea is to get everyone whipped into a “buy local” frenzy spending money locally (define ‘local’ as you wish) in one day that they might otherwise have not.

My first thought is that this is somewhat like the cash-for-clunkers program that really just moved many purchasing decisions from the future to the near future. But after more consideration it seems more like a natural outgrowth of the mindset of ‘buying local.’ And I suspect that some people are over-spending/consuming out of some belief that it’s good intrinsically. That we can somehow spend or consume our way into prosperity, locally or otherwise.

‘Cash Mob’ Events Seek to Help Small Businesses – WSJ.com: At 6:30 p.m. last Tuesday, Michelle Murrain showed up at a downtown Oakland, Calif., street corner to meet with 15 strangers who had organized themselves over Facebook. Many showed up with $20 bills. Their mission was to descend on Marion & Rose’s Workshop, a gifts boutique, to spend money. Ms. Murrain and her compatriots are among hundreds of devotees of the “cash mob,” a new social-networking-and-shopping movement aimed at increasing sales at selected small businesses. Similar cash mobs have materialized in more than 20 cities from Norman, Okla., to Muskegon, Mich., most arranged by individuals who establish followings on Facebook and Twitter. The cash-mob organizers don’t get any benefit in return.

Related links:
Local woman introduces Rochester to cash mobs – Democrat and Chronicle
Cash mob hits Rochester on Thursday

  • Wintercow20

    Maybe we’re just envious that the cash mobs don’t surprise me and you at our places of business?  Ironically perhaps I think Hayek may have liked this sort of a cash mob idea – in the Constitution of Liberty he famously advocated for a random sample of people to rewarded with massive sums of funds so that they could experiment, take risks and innovate without worrying about where their next meal was coming from. Maybe the cash-mobsters are all channeling Hayek in a small way? 

    • http://pretenseofknowledge.com/ speedmaster

      >> “Maybe the cash-mobsters are all channeling Hayek in a small way?”

      You’re much more optimistic than I am.  ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/pearlbear Michelle Murrain

    As the person quoted above, I can tell you that I, at least, didn’t spend money I wouldn’t have spent otherwise. I’m not sure why you think the idea is flawed. For me, it’s not quite the “local” part that matters the most (although that does matter a bit – less carbon involved in getting an item from where it is made to where it will live.) What matters most to me is that I know that the money is going to people who are either artisans themselves, or pay their workers living wages. 

    • http://pretenseofknowledge.com/ speedmaster

      Wow, thanks for jumping in here to comment, Michelle. I appreciate it! ;-)

    • Anonymous

      Michelle, it’s not the employers who pay a “living wage,” it is the workers who prove productive enough to earn the amount they do.  The “living wage” movement is barely disguised socialism that unions and the gov’t propose and support.  No one deserves a “living wage” simply for exerting some effort for their employer; they have to provide enough value in their efforts to make wages that give them overall comfort.

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