hand madeYou can do something to help the local economy and stop the free-fall of North American employment (real employment, not the fictional government statistics that ignore the severely underemployed, struggling part-time and temporary contract workers with no benefits, and the millions that have just given up looking for work). Take the Pledge to Buy Local:

  1. Never buy anything imported if there’s an affordable locally-made alternative.
  2. When you’re shopping for gifts, buy only domestically-made goods, especially local, quality, hand-crafted goods. Or give gift certificates to local restaurants (owned and managed by local people) or other local services.
  3. Find out which businesses in your community have won awards for being excellent employers, or recognized as especially socially or environmentally conscious. Send them a note of congratulations, and go out of your way to give them your business.
  4. If you can’t find a reasonable locally-made alternative:
    1. complain to the store, especially if you know that a locally-made alternative is available but not carried by the store,
    2. try to put off buying the imported item if it’s non-essential — a huge proportion of imported products we buy are ‘impulse’ purchases — stuff so cheap we buy it because we can’t resist the deal — stuff we don’t really need and which usually doesn’t last and ends up in the landfill,
    3. identify and call local companies that might be able to produce the item locally — or consider starting a business to produce it yourself!
  5. If you can’t tell where something is made, assume it’s imported. Beware of misleading ‘assembled in..’ and ‘printed in…’ labels that make imported goods that are repackaged domestically look like domestic goods.
  6. Boycott stores that sell mostly imported goods. Let them know that they are costing local people jobs. If they say the local goods are too expensive, remind them that you get what you pay for — in more ways than one.
  7. Find out whether the major companies in your community have outsourced or exported jobs to other countries. If they have, complain to them, to the local newspaper, and to the Chamber of Commerce.
  8. Tell your local politicians you want tax laws and regulations changed to reward local employment and penalize the export of local jobs to other countries. If they support so-called ‘free’ trade agreements, work to defeat them — these agreements escalate job dislocation.
  9. Talk to the purchasing department of your organization and encourage them to Pledge to Buy Local too.
  10. And while you’re reading the labels to see where stuff was made, you can help the world at the same time by buying cruelty-free products (no animal testing) and (thanks Ted Ritzer for this link) fair-trade products.

The whole issue is finally starting to get some much-needed press. The NYT today reports on how the job exports are increasingly in high-skill, high-tech areas. Intel’s CEO Barrett offers the usual shameless excuse for lining executive pockets by depriving Americans of work:

Intel itself has maintained a fairly steady 60 percent of its employees in the United States. But in the past year or so, it has added 1,000 software engineers in China and India, doing work that in the past might have been done by people hired in the United States. “To be competitive, we have to move up the skill chain overseas,” Mr. Barrett said.

The other, equally flimsy, well-rehearsed excuses from mega-corporations are also being increasingly heard: that the export is ‘to allow us to offer 24-hour-a-day service’ or because ‘Americans don’t want to work in call centres’. These are pathetic arguments and the media and consumers must challenge them. A million American jobs have already been exported since Bush took office, and Forrester predicts that this will accelerate, with 3.3 million service jobs alone being exported by 2018.

We must not allow this to happen. It’s time to fight back against the new robber barons in the Fortune 500 who are sacrificing American jobs and launching a new wave of global wage slavery under the transparently fraudulent pretext of efficiency and competitiveness. Don’t let them do it. Pledge to buy local.

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  1. Amanda says:

    a million jobs, whoa… and it hasn’t stopped.I know HSBC bank alone is going to be cutting over 6,000 jobs, so they can go f**k themselves, because I won’t bank there now.In way it is good for other countries, I do care about other countries, mankind is mankind, no matter where you live, but right now I care about what happens here, at home.

  2. rowan says:

    While being a wise consumer in terms of labor and environmental issues is an important thing to do, the new “offshoring” is in the service sector, and generally hi-tech. It is much more difficult (with often no options) when it comes to this. What software (for example) is being offshored? What about technical support – including to non-software issues (such as on=line banking)?The middle class (and above) thought it was mostly to the good to send those “menial” jobs elsewhere. Forgetting, that those menial jobs were what created a working class making middle class earnings. Now it has advanced from the “jobs” to the “professions” and the worm turns.We have to push for global labor equity, and global environmental equity. Or perhaps, we could get legislation passed that required all businesses to indicate whether their product (including services) depended on offshore labor. Without that, it will be virtually impossible to the majority of “consumers” to integrate social conscience into their consumption choices.

  3. Leo Gomez says:

    I agree completely with the posting. However, I would guess that 66% of all consumers will *always* buy the cheapest product, even if they were aware that they were writing their own death warrant, to be realized in a few years. The only thing that will open their eyes is for them to wake up, get laid off, and notice that the only people who have jobs anymore are McJobs and CEOs.

  4. Tom Grey says:

    Sorry Dave — “How to save the World”, not overpaid US service jobs, should be the point (of your blog, too?). And the CEOs are EXTREMELY overpaid, but that’s because of the free(er) market response to overpaide managers–hostile takeover and boot the overpaid guys out. Which is now so difficult. Pigs are protected thanks to movies like “Wall Street”, with gov’t supporting poison pills and golden parachutes, and support for gov’t regulations against “hostile” takeovers.The attitude of “buy local”, too often becomes a call for gov’t protection, which quickly becomes fat gov’t bailouts to corp. friends and increasing corporate statism/crony capitalism. Bush’s fat-cat support is a prime example of what regulations and more gov’t leads too, inevitiably. Look at the whole field of “regulation capture”, where regulatory agencies become tools of the industry.[First time here; sorry if I’m not shy enough. See the Guardian’s Kick_AAS all agri subsidies].

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Rowan: You’re right, information is the key. We do need legislation that requires not only the origin of the product to be disclosed, but also the origin of the follow-up service you’ll get if you buy it.Tom: No need to be shy — all comments welcome. I see ‘buy local’ as an alternative to government subsidies, rather than a cause of them. We have no ‘buy local’ culture now, and a huge so-called ‘free’ trade push, and the subsidies are worse than they’ve ever been, and more carefully hidden. I’m not calling for more regulation (not on this subject anyway), just more information, and a grass-roots movement to save domestic jobs by exercising consumer power. I’m ambivalent on subsidies — I usually don’t like them because they’re political favoritism and often rife with abuse, but in rare cases it can make more sense to offer a clear, simple across-the-board one-time subsidy to a particular industry facing temporary difficulties and massive layoffs, than to let the industry go under and pay the money in welfare, unemployment and retraining instead.

  6. You just wrote another column for my mag. Write on!

  7. Indigo Ocean says:

    Addendum: As for the issue of serving the world, not just our own nationales, which Tom raises, I think the workers of the world will be served by anything that undermines the power of the multi-national coporate system. That system seeks to move them from their farms and into urban sweatshops. It seeks to dismantle their culture and give them coca-cola and the hope of Gucci lives to soften the blow. Just like in the drug war, we are the buyers. We must end demand if we want the suppliers to stop supplying. We will never beat it at the other end. It simply must cease to be sufficiently profitable for them to have reason to expand, gobbling up more of the world.

  8. Dave Pollard says:

    Indigo: Government leaders are not advocating ‘buy local’ because they’ve been brainwashed or bribed by the big corporate donors to believe in unrestricted free trade and globalization, and ‘buy local’ undermines this. We can’t expect government to help us in this — it has to be grassroots. It would be nice to see local governments, churches, unions, activist organizations, the media, small business organizations and consumer organizations all working together on ‘buy local’ programs. Don’t know who should coordinate this though — someone needs to.

  9. Jim Moran says:

    Rowan: “the new “offshoring” is in the service sector, and generally hi-tech”No longer the case – Only 10% of the 3.3 million jobs by 2015 will be Tech. The rest will be finance, accounting, Tax prep, legal research, medical, real estate, insurance, HR, marketing, just about any back office process or function, any service that doesn’t require face to face contact (this is being overcome now by basing outsourcing companies in the U.S. as well as India and using L-1A, L-1B, and H1-B Visa Programs), etc. I have a ton of research on all of this at – there are many other sources of info available, I think it’s time to put one page together of all that are known, I’ll get on it and start passing it around.Education is the key and grassroots alone won’t do it. It is too big and too deeply entrenched. Seattle and Silicon Valley are already feeling the pinch from a diminished tax base. US Rep. Bernie Sanders (VT I), , knows a lot already but he is just a start.

  10. Mr Pollard, I admire your work on the “Pledge to Buy Local”. It’s not every day I can read something I belive so entirely. Where I think your approach can suceed where others have failed. It’s a positive message. Shop local, keep money in the community. I’m finding in local community activism that positivity makes all the difference in the world.

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