What Can We Do?

Yesterday, when I should have been writing a cheery holiday post, I instead wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Albany Times Union. They had printed a recent headline in the business section which sent chills up my spine. At the risk of plagiarizing myself, I’ll give you a recap.

The article was about  Amazon’s promotion of a new app, Price Check, which allows customers to go into a store, examine the merchandise and then scan the barcode into their smart phone- directly into Amazon’s website, where they can order the same item at a cheaper price than the actual store offers. When I mentioned this app to my teenage children, who love their apps, even they recognized the problems this could cause. They said this qualified as “cheating”. While I explained the app was not illegal, they insisted there was something not fair about it- kind of like using a calculator on a math exam.

In today’s economic crisis, everyone is trying to find ways to save money. But now is not the time to fall into the trap of what is good in the short run, ignoring that it could be devastating for the long term. The Occupy protesters have demonstrated the extreme differences in income between the rich and poor and the need for a more balanced economy. I am not sure how much they can accomplish other than to raise awareness. I do have a suggestion for what we can do as individuals, though. If we have the funds for discretionary spending, we should be mindful as to how and where we make our purchases. Instead of buying online and sending our money to a few big corporations, we should keep our money local and not even consider using Amazon’s app.

By using the power of our wallets, we can make a difference in the success of our local businesses, which also provide jobs in the area. We can not allow a few companies to grow so large that they monopolize our choices by eliminating the competition. With the new year ahead, I suggest we all make a resolution to support our local businesses as much as possible. Even if their products are slightly more expensive, it is a choice that should make us feel patriotic. We will be doing our part to boost the economy in ways no federal mandate can. It is up to us to resist corporate greed and return business to the hands of the people.

If you had the patience to read this, thanks for bearing with me and letting me get that off my chest. I’ll be back to more cheerful topics tomorrow.