This post inspired by a conversation I had with my mother this morning.
My mom has been self-employed for decades via a small business she runs. Unfortunately her industry has been all but obliterated by the usual "faster/cheaper" competitive model. She refuses to acknowledge that the American consumer is driven almost exclusively by money. She longs for, as do I, altruistic motives on the consumer's part, and moral high-ground. Specifically she's saddened by the decimation of local (state and smaller) government tax revenues, and the fact that consumers choose cheaper products over her more expensive, higher-quality, products.
The conversation led to "buy local" as the solution to the problem. While I generally agree, and do buy local all the time (spending more than many of my peers do; for better and worse), I realized long ago that a perspective counter to the one I'm surrounded by is significant. Namely, if you want to really affect global change, go work for Walmart.
Activists constantly fight "the man" in the form of Walmart, when in fact what they should do is go work for Walmart, and change things from the inside. Identifying processes that save Walmart money, and implementing them, will have more reach than me diligently buying produce at my local farmer's market ever will. For some perspective, checkout some generally recognized facts about Walmart, the largest company in the world.
When Walmart says "jump" every one of its vendors says "how high." If Walmart said "go green" every one of its vendors would do so overnight. Go figure out how to get Walmart to say "go green" or "create local, high-paying, jobs."
Oh yea, and if you don't like what Walmart does to your local economy, don't shop there.