Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Who you selling to? 

Another cockamamie scheme going around Minnesota is proposed by Minnesota 2020, called the Made in MN program. A column in the local paper explains:

The typical holiday meal travels about 1,200 miles from farm to Minnesota dinner table. A large percentage of holiday gifts go at least that far, with many arriving on a fast boat from China. And all those miles take a lot of increasingly expensive energy to fuel the food chain.

There is a better way: Buy local. Support our own economy this year by giving high-quality Minnesota-made gifts.

Minnesota entrepreneurs offer products that could fill stockings, provide a holiday feast and give far-flung friends and relatives a taste and touch of Minnesota.

With Minnesota�s 2 percent share of the national retail market, an estimated $9.49 billion will fill our state�s retail holiday season cash registers.

That means just a one-tenth share going to local products would add up to almost $1 billion, boosting businesses, adding jobs and creating a statewide economic multiplier effect for manufacturers and retailers.

Those options, of course, are always there. Buy American is a common refrain. So we should also be sure that Minnesota firms only sell to Minnesotans. Why? Because if they sell to consumers in other states, they are letting furrners buy OUR products, competing with Minnesotans, pushing UP the price WE have to pay! That's an outrage, isn't it? But of course they won't do this. They must permit Minnesota firms to sell abroad.

That's probably not the case, but it seems interesting that somehow we should worry about our trade surplus or deficit with Wisconsin as much as we worry about our deficit with China.

MN 2020 has put out a report in which it takes that $9.49 billion figure (just taking 2% of a national forecast) and argues that we should buy local to get fresh goods. Are we to assume people are too stupid to figure out what is fresh? People pay for transportation; if they want to pay for something to travel 1200 miles to their dinner plate, who are these people to stop them? But, MN 2020 answers, buying local saves carbon. I refer you to the post of the week, from Russ Roberts.
Here's a secret. Don't tell anybody. Living uses electricity and water and it's worth it, most of the time. Here's another secret. Civilization uses electricity and water. I guess we need more people living naked in caves.

If you don't like how much electicity and water we use, explain to me why it's the wrong amount. Then change the prices.

As to the question of more money circulating when buying from an independent local business than from WalMart, understand the number calculated. They tell us that 43 cents of a dollar spent at a national chain "stays in the local economy" versus 68 cents "staying" when spent at the local business. I put staying in quotes because I'm not sure what that means. Is it that 68 cents of a dollar of spending at the local store is income to someone living in the town? If so, would that argue that the store should not hire people living outside of town?

Suppose my dollar goes further at Home Depot than at Fred's Ace Hardware. Suppose the prices there were cheaper? Isn't that why people flock to HD and WMT? The size of the discount may not be enough to cover the full difference, but the few dollars left over when I leave the store might get put in the Salvation Army kettle rather than in the independent business owner's hands. Is this what MN 2020 intends?

I'm lead to conclude that Minnesota 2020 has been overrun by mercantilists. In this and another post in a few minutes, I will show you that what liberals want is nothing less than full state control, to tell you who you may exchange values with and who you may not. MN 2020 does not want you to exchange with people living outside the state. Funny enough, that doesn't extend to higher education.