Buy local

People who live in Northern Nevada don’t have to look very far to see the victims of the screwed economy. There are closed storefronts in every direction, foreclosed-upon homes on most streets. Look on the corners downtown. Doesn’t it seem odd that families with children are panhandling during school hours? Last week, the line for a free Thanksgiving meal stretched down the block.

And you know what? You can’t look into the eyes of your neighbors and say, “You who gambled your families’ safety on your ability to pay a ballooning variable rate mortgage, or you who were offered a zero percent credit card for a year, or you who gambled your retirement on a second home with the hope of a quick turnaround sale are the cause of this screwed economy.”

The cause of this screwed economy—the one right here in Northern Nevada—is the federal government regulators and the greedy and fraudulent national and international financial institutions. You don’t have to take our word for it, but that’s the opinion of this newspaper’s editorial staff.

Now that the damage is done and banks are withholding credit and inflating interest rates on those who managed to keep their own credit intact, we—the victims of lying liars and thieves—get to clean up the mess. Again. And our children will also get to socialize the debt created by the private profiteers. (Too big to fail? Bullshit. Too big to exist without timely government regulation, intervention and breakup.)

The Reno News & Review started our Buy Local campaign more than a year ago. The concept of shopping in locally owned, independent shops, drinking in locally owned, independent bars, eating in locally owned, independent restaurants is a core value with us. It’s what we are. It’s who we are.

We’ve written stories after articles after editorials explaining the benefit that shopping at local businesses has on the people who live in this city. Eating at a locally owned restaurant has a greater positive impact on the community than eating in a chain restaurant—even if the chain restaurant has a larger number of employees. One study showed that the dollar spent at a local bookstore has three times the local impact that a dollar spent at a chain bookstore has. It’s simple: Money spent locally stays here to a larger degree. Money spent in chainstores is shipped out.

Many people are looking to spend less this Christmas season. Many of us have learned to finance our Christmas and other holiday shopping with low-interest credit lines that the banks have now withdrawn in order to further please their corporate taskmasters. We’re going to buy fewer gifts, we’re going to spend less, we’re going to use less credit. So, we’re going to make it real simple: We’re going to commit to spending what money we do spend at local businesses. Plainly, we’ll make exceptions to this when the environment is better served by making a phone call for a delivery to our friends and family out of town, but the bulk of our spending is going to stay right here in Northern Nevada.

Let’s be real. Most of us are going to spend some money and most of us have a commitment to the local economy and our friends and neighbors. Let’s be aware of where our money comes from and where it’s going. Above all, let’s be cognizant of the families whose faces we may not know but whom we don’t want to begin to recognize from their time on the freeway offramps.