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Buy Nothing Day: A Holiday From Thinking

I meant to post a link to an idiotic flame war I got involved with on the so-called ‘Buy Nothing Day’ alternative to Black Friday’s equally stupid activities, but I got sidetracked. With buying things.

Neener neener.

I’m told that this makes me a bad person. Better to sit on my money so that… the Credit Union accumulates interest.

Well, ok. That’s not so bad; they are a credit union, not a bank.

Still, it astounds me the number of different low information strategies far left organizations (more accurately described as hippies, I suppose) will employ to make their followers feel better about being morons.

In this case, rather than tell your followers that consumer purchases, properly harnassed, can be an incredibly useful tool (witness economic boycotts during the Civil Rights movement, or against ultra-right talkers like Glenn Beck, for example), that in a world of complicated globalized industries and economies you have to spend a considerable amount of time and effort learning where things come from, who makes them and how.. these people advocate a one-size-fits-all, no thinking required solution: a day without buying stuff.

I’m sure that 0.005% or so decrease in retail sales really hurts.

*rolls eyes*

Another great example is the Locavore movement, head whackaloon in good standing Michael Pollan presiding. A long time ago, someone figured out a quick and dirty rule of thumb: all other things being equal, the farther food travels, the greater its transportation costs and pollution. Ergo, shorter travel is good, *all else being equal*.

The problem is, of course, that in the real world, all else rarely is. Maybe you live in a climate with a very short growing season (ahem, Wisconsin), or inhospitable soil, or you live in an area that can’t do any meaningful farming at all (Las Vegas). Perhaps you live in a place that, like Southern California, grows an enormous abundance of food, but does so with stolen water in an ecologically unsustainable way.

Then there’s the fact that not all forms of transit are equally dirty. A famous recent National Geographic piece on the carbon cost of wine put a great big hole in the locavore movement’s hull by pointing out that in many cases it’s better to buy products that come thousands of extra miles, so long as they come by far less polluting boats, rather than semis or planes. (though it seems that National Geographic has pulled this graphic under pressure from SoCal winemakers). (A detailed look by LiveScience is here)

Fortunately, some cracks are beginning to appear in the locavore movement’s single-minded approach.

The point here is that, well, these people are mouthbreathing idiots, looking for a shortcut to avoid the challenge of thinking. I pledge in future to always ‘celebrate’ Buy Nothing Day by spending as much cash as possible on whatever I would have gotten around that time anyway. American Apparel t-shirts were a big one this year. Who knows what it will be next year?

See, I’ll take up the challenge of investigating and learning, to make not just the quick and dirty decision, but the right one. Maybe some day they’ll join me.

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