Perhaps you’ve seen the promotions to Shop Small this Saturday, November 30. Also known as Small Business Saturday, it has the honor (or is it ignominy?) of following Black Friday.
Two years ago in this blog, I posted some reasons why this was a good idea. In fact, I thought my idea was better: simply to promote “Buy Local.” I thought so because shopping small one day a year may raise awareness, but I feared then—as I do now—that it’s too little too late.
First, cards on the table: American Express card, that is. It’s their promotion, and while small businesses will benefit so will American Express. (At least they used their own name, instead of spinning it off as Downhome Slow Pokes.)
Second, I wish to repeat my primary argument (which American Express does emphasize) that says the money you spend at these small businesses stays local. That means jobs, spending, and especially taxes.
Finally, this is a fight we’re losing, big time. And by big time, I mean we’re losing it to big time corporations. The global giants have figured out how to cook the books to pay fewer taxes.
That may not sound like news to you, but I just saw it on the PBS World News. What these giants are doing is shifting numbers so their largest profits appear in those countries (and counties and cities, I presume) that have the lowest taxes.
Now you may not think of Starbucks as a big global giant (worth approx. 15B), but their outlets in Morocco (and dozens of other small countries) surely pay lower taxes than the stores in New York City. It just takes a little creative accounting (and clever computers) to shift those NYC profits to where it will hurt Starbucks the least.
The problem is, it also hurts New York City (which could really use those tax dollars). And it hurts you and I wherever we live. To put it bluntly, the Globals aren’t paying their fair share for where they do business. They’ll take our money, but they won’t pay their share for the roads we use to get to them or the schools that train their employees or—hell, you can fill in the rest.
So, Small Business Saturday is a nice gesture, but largely empty (except for the good will it buys American Express). Unless we buy local—as often as we can afford to—every Saturday and Sunday and Monday, etc., small businesses can expect to go the way of the buggy whip.
And the global giants? Well, they’re getting richer, but for how long? If they keep this up, roads will collapse and schools will close. Then, one day soon—maybe on a Saturday—no one will be able to afford their products. Then what?