Thursday, November 20, 2008

A bad idea even in recession 

Minnesota 2020 is back again, peddling its Made in Minnesota silliness as a recession cure:

Minnesota 2020, a St. Paul think tank, wants local consumers to buy Minnesota-made goods from area businesses and retailers, such as Mr. B. Chocolatier, to boost the state's economy.

"We would actually not be suffering the effects of the recession if people were doing it," said Matt Entenza, founder and chairman of the nonpartisan think tank Minnesota 2020.

If Minnesotans spent 25 percent of their holiday shopping budget on Minnesota-made products, it would infuse $2 billion into the state's economy, according to a 2007 report by the nonprofit.

Along with the story is a picture of chocolates made by a Willmar-based chocolatier which has a store here in St. Cloud. �I can testify the chocolates are great. I can also testify that they aren't cheap -- good chocolates seldom are. Other, larger chocolate manufacturers might learn how to lower transportation costs and permit a chance to buy great chocolates at a lower price. Am I not allowed to have that money as a local consumer? �What if I gave that money to the Salvation Army or United Way? �Or what if I used it to improve my own family's finances, or bought my child a bigger Christmas gift? �Would that be a bad thing?�

As I pointed out last year when they ran this same story, this whole idea of defining who gets our dollars and who does not strikes me at least as an example of mercantilism. �It could be in fact something more insidious, a decision that I should not do business with strangers, or people who live in different states, or people who look different than me (like those suppliers of goods to WalMart.) �It is unlikely to solve a recession for me to spend more for the same good just to be sure someone who doesn't live in Minnesota doesn't get my money. �It's also weird to think that the guy who sells me something for less doesn't�deserve�my money.

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