SMALL-MART, NOT WAL-MART
By Grace Lee Boggs
February 11-17, 2007
Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses are beating the Global Competition by Michael Shuman (Berrett-Koehler, 2006) is a godsend in these worst and best of times when big corporations like Ford, GM, Pfizer are laying off employees by the tens of thousands and abandoning countless communities and cities, leaving behind massive unemployment, shrinking property values, lower tax collections, deep cuts in schools, police and other services -- and a widespread unease and anxiety about the future.
Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s are so many Americans losing faith in the dynamics of traditional capitalism.
The 30s was a decade of great despair. But the Great Depression also inspired workers and their allies to create the labor movement which established the dignity of labor, seniority, health insurance, and other benefits now under assault by corporations who have gone global.
In the same spirit, we now urgently need to begin creating new economic institutions that will give our communities and cities more control over the ways in which we make our livings.
Michael Shuman is an attorney, economist and co-founder of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.
In his 1998 book Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age, he described three strategies by which communities are regaining control over their economies:
*Investing not in outsiders but in locally-owned businesses like credit unions, coops, community land trusts, municipally-owned utilities, small worker-owned farms, community development corporations, and local shareholder-owned firms like the Green Bay Packers,
*Focusing on Import-substitution rather than Export-led development and reducing dependence on distant sources of energy, water, food and basic materials.
*Asking the federal government for more power, not more pork, by eliminating many subsidies and changing tax and trade laws that disempower communities.
The benefits to cities and communities of Locally-Owned, Import-Substituting (LOIS) enterprises are many.
* LOIS communities are less likely to experience the trauma of sudden, catastrophic and costly departures because LOIS businesses tend to remain put instead of moving to locations where they can make more profit with cheaper labor, Communities can set reasonable labor and environmental standards with confidence that these enterprises will adapt rather than flee.
* Money spent at LOIS enterprises are more likely to remain in the community, city or region to promote local prosperity. Studies show that the multiplier effect of LOIS businesses is 2-4 times that of non-locally owned, businesses, chains and big boxes.
∑Cities and communities with LOIS businesses are more likely to be vibrant and neighborly because they encourage people to walk rather than drive and to make their friends close to home. /x-tad-bigger>They also attract “cultural creatives.”
*LOIS communities and cities help slow down global warming because they are less dependent on trucks bringing in goods and produce from distant locations.
Despite these benefits, many of us still shop at Wal-Mart because we believe its claim that its low prices save us money.
To help free us from this illusion, Shuman tells a personal story in which we can recognize ourselves. One day, to replace a pair of $15 gym shoes, he gets in his car and drives 16 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart. After finding the gym shoes, he wends his way to the exit, picking up, as he goes, other items (cereals, toys, books, extension cords etc.) that he had not planned to buy but that he and family members could use. So by the time he reaches the checkout counter his bill is over $200.
Wal-Mart makes its high profits by incorporating this “impulse buying” in its business plan. It couldn’t care less that it maxes out our credit cards and keeps us in debt.
Making the Small-Mart revolution is also a way that we can each play a role in reducing the dangers of terrorism. One of the main reasons why Osama bin laden is able to recruit jihadists is that millions of people in the Global South resent the way that global corporations have destroyed local economies, communities and environments, broken the backs of farmers by importing food, and created sweatshops in which women and children labor to produce the ”bargains” offered by Wal-Mart.
For more on the Smallmart Revolution, see www.smallmart.org/Hodges.pdf
THINKING FOR OURSELVES
By Shea Howell
Michigan Citizen, Feb. 11-17, 2007
The Bush administration is slowly but surely shifting the public attention away from Iraq and on to Iran. Despite the general incompetence of this administration, the one thing they have done well is follow the hawkish, neoconservative line aimed at increasing the U.S. military presence throughout the Middle East. We need to confront this new drumbeat to war in Iran before it gets any louder.
The drumbeat is following an all too familiar pattern. More than four years ago, as U. S. troops were fighting in Afghanistan, well-orchestrated bits of unconnected and unproven pieces of information began appearing in the media. This information was intended to shift our attention away from the growing difficulties in Afghanistan and on to Iraq. Over time these carefully-released pieces of evidence were pulled together by the administration to provide a coherent justification for war, exemplified by Colin Powell’s tragic and fraudulent presentation to the United Nations on the eve of the U.S. attack.
We are now facing a situation similar to the one we faced before the invasion of Iraq. To effectively resist this new effort at manipulation, it is important to understand the tactics Bush is using.
The first step is to eradicate from public memory the administration’s reasons for invading Iraq in the first place. The invasion rested on three arguments, all of which have turned out to be groundless. The American people were told (1) that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, (2) that it was likely to use these weapons, and (3) that Iraq was linked to the attacks of 9/11.
The administration’s refusal to acknowledge the falsehood of these claims is not accidental. Rather, it is an essential tool of manipulation. Memory must be erased or the tactic will lose its effectiveness. Every effort to talk about this earlier justification is swept aside by the claim that the world is better off without Saddam.
This eradication of memory is augmented with new arguments against Iran. We are being told by credible news sources that Iran is supporting Shiite militias inside Iraq by giving them guidance and weapons. In January ABC, CBS and the New York Times all began reporting highly un-credible stories, all relying on unnamed sources and “hard evidence” that has yet to be produced. What has been produced is a subtle link in the public mind between Iran and our failures in Iraq.
On January 29, CBS Evening News told listeners “the U.S. military says it has proof positive” that Iran is supporting Iraqi militias. The CBS Pentagon correspondent went on to report that U.S. forces are “already fighting a proxy war inside Iraq.” The evidence for this proxy rests on weapons that “bear Iranian factory markings” and serial numbers. So far, now nearly three weeks since that claim, no real evidence has emerged.
The claim of weapons has been embellished with a report about Iranian training camps inside Iraq. “U.S. officials say the mounting evidence against Iran includes photographs of Iranian training camps on Iraqi soil,” according to a ABC World News correspondent
NCB told a similar story and attributed the ambush of U.S. soldiers to Iranian leadership. The claim was based on “secret U.S. military reports.”
Television news was supported by an astonishing story in the New York Times that relied exclusively on anonymous sources.
These claims are not accidental. They are the direct attempt of the Bush administration to create a clear line of argument. They want us to believe that success in Iraq will depend on an invasion of Iran. So far such arguments are having little effect on a public grown weary of unnamed sources.
如需了解更多关于小商场革新的信息，请登陆www.smallmart.org / hodges.pdf
第一步就是要消除公众头脑中入侵伊拉克时最初的三大理由。入侵基于最终都毫无根据3个论点：（ 1 ）伊拉克拥有大规模杀伤性武器， （ 2 ） 他们有可能会使用这些武器（ 3 ）伊拉克与9 / 11 事件脱不开干系。
1月29日， 据CBS晚间新闻报道： “美国军方称，它已找到有利的证据”证明伊朗支持伊拉克的民兵。美国哥伦比亚广播公司在五角大楼的通讯员接着就报告说，美国部队“正在伊拉克境内打一场代理仗”。而对于这个代理的证据是有着“伊朗工厂制造”字样及编号的武器。到目前为止，距离那个宣布已有近三个星期，可这种说法都没有可靠的证据。