How to Put Half Your Neighborhood on the Unemployment Line

A recent news article from the Associated Press tells the story of an Ohio restaurant going out of business after 70 years. Another failed business is not a new story these days, and the reason, in general, is because the U.S. economy is not doing well right now. The reasons for this can be found aplenty in any number of newspapers and books written by economists from every point of the political spectrum, but I won’t go into any of that here.

What I want to talk about is how our saying the economy is bad somewhat obscures the element of individual human suffering that has quickly become a part of the lives of everyday Americans like you and me, especially in the last two years or so. We stand in the supermarket aisle gasping at the price of food, wondering if the children can get by with a little less protein or fewer vegetables. The companies we work for have had to make cuts, and we’re standing in line at the unemployment office wondering how we’re going to pay the mortgage this month.

In hard times, our parents and grand-parents did something simple and effective to combat rising food prices, sky-rocketing gas prices, and job loss: they stuck together. They joined with their neighbors, offering help and services, sharing what they had, and giving their business to the struggling shopkeepers in their own neighborhoods. In this way they hoped to keep everyone afloat—because everyone floating on a rickety homemade raft is better than most everyone drowning.

America is a great land populated by great people. We are like a neighborhood, where families live and work, stopping off at the neighborhood bakery after church on Sunday, or grabbing a couple of burgers at the neighborhood joint after a Saturday at the ball field with the kiddies.

But what happens to that neighborhood bakery and burger joint when we decide to pay for food at the larger fast-food chains? What happens to the florist down the street, or that cozy little book store on the corner when we buy from the “big guys” who import inferior—and therefore cheaper—products from overseas?

And this problem is not seen only on your street or just in your town. Online businesses run by Americans also suffer. For instance, fine linens sold online by American small businesses have a hard time competing with inferior linens imported from sweatshops overseas and then sold in major discount chains. When we buy foreign goods from overseas companies, we are “leaving the neighborhood.”  We are chasing each other to the welfare offices and helping to put each other “on the dole.”

Let’s keep our neighborhood businesses running. Let’s keep our Country running. Let’s buy American.

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