On par with the stupidity that was the "Let's Boycott Big Oil" (for one day and then everybody buy twice the amount of gas the next) is the Gen X-inspired, Millennial-endorsed "Buy Local" economic strategy.
With data that is as spurious as a research paper written by a women's studies professor who hates her father, meaningless and unfounded data is thrown around claiming "if just everybody spent $100 locally it would benefit our economy by $3 million!" Perhaps "$4 million!" Heck, why not "$1 billion?"
But for saner heads and those who are GENUINELY interested in enacting economic policies that raise everybody's standard of living, and not just 20 something college kids masturbating their political egos, it is time for the Ole Captain to brush off the dust, put on his ole economist hat, and explain to you how "buying local" is not only stupid, but actually HARMS people economically.
At the heart of these naive people's economic strategy is the utopian idea that if you buy locally then the "money is kept in the local economy" and thus benefits those locally. So instead of going to Wal-Mart and buying everything, you go to the Ma and Pa's store in town, thereby helping them AND their local employees. And while on the face of it this may sound logical and simple, it is. So simple it fails miserably to account for the real world.
First, in order for this to work, EVERYBODY, and I mean EVERYBODY would have to be forced BY LAW to re-spend the money locally until death do us part. Not only would you have to buy from the local ma and pa dime store, THEY would have to buy all of their wares locally as well. Additionally (and I'm sure the economic masterminds behind the "buy local" strategy accounted for this too), they would have to reinvest ONLY LOCALLY to keep the money local. Ergo, not only would all goods and services be bought locally, but all sources of financing and investment would be local AND could only go to local companies. Already you can intuitively see some problems with this as it sounds totalitarian and restrictive.
Second, which is closely related to the first, is the lack of competition and choice.
What if I don't like the Ma and Pa store?
What if I don't like the local ice cream parlour?
What if the clothier does not have the fashion you want?
What if I don't want to invest in the local bean plant?
Well, tough cookies for you. You HAVE TO buy local.
The irony is that the people who typically clamor for "buying local" are usually the same ones who protest against monopolies. However, to a certian level, that is precisely what they're advocating. A monopolistic market. The only difference is merely who is the monopolist?
An "evil" big corporation from out of state that has lower prices and a better product?
A "good" local company, owned by Herb and Bethel in Bisbee, Arizona who charges $14 for a "local organic burger" that tastes like crap?
It belies their true political leanings - they're Nazis, but "for the small people," which I guess in their warped and inferior minds makes it all good.
In limiting competition and choice, you by default lower quality. Both in terms of allowing people to enjoy specialized products, as well as the benefits that come with having variety. Soon, you WILL get sick of Bisbee's 5 local-only coffee stores. You'll also get sick of the decor and the washed up hippie staff. And you will yearn to have a Starbucks or a Caribou or a Dunn Brothers coffee. But no, not if they can pass an ordinance in town banning any of those "evil, nasty, chain store" coffee shops. So you're stuck looking at an algae infested fish tank that they use to brew their kombucha, not to mention listening to the latest in "indie" music out of Tuscon, when all you wanted was a quality cup of Joe.
Fourth and finally, prices. Specifically, standards of living.
As much as you hate those "national chain stores" or those "eeeevil" multi-billion dollar corporations, the sad truth is that big is beautiful. And by beautiful, I mean cheap.
See, back in the day they had this thing called the "industrial revolution" which among many other wonderous things, automated a lot of processes previously done by humans. This allowed us to mass produce the same goods at a fraction of the time, cost, resources, and on-the-job-deaths than before. However, also key to this was SCALE.
Instead of having everybody make their own cars in their own garages, it paid to make a lot MORE cars for a fraction of the per unit cost in these things called "factories." Additionally, instead of selling a little bit of everything at the small Ma and Pa dime store, where customers would have to pay a hefty premium for square footage, it made immense economic sense to create super stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and malls where the retailing costs were a fraction of what was once before. And so now, not only were goods being mass-produced by these large "evil" national chains or multi-billion dollar corporations, but because they were being made on scale, their costs dropped dramatically. And when costs drop dramatically, that increases people's standards of living dramatically which is the WHOLE POINT OF ECONOMICS.
In short, these large, multi-billion dollar, "chain" stores and corporations like Wal-Mart have done more to PERMANENTLY help out the poor by boosting their purchasing power than any government program or pot-induced "buy local" dipshittery ever did.
The truth is "buying local" is a euphemism for "undeserved charity." If you buy local you are usually paying a premium for a less efficiently made product or service out of political or charitable leanings. Additionally, in insisting on "buying local" you also deny yourself the BEST possible goods and services that world has to offer.
Swiss chocolates? No, not local.
Cuban cigars? No, not local.
Saudi oil? No, none for us, thank you. Not local! We're from Bisbee!
Just what kind of a life would you lead?
And finally what if everybody only "bought local?" Like tourism, you are merely taking away business from one group of people to benefit another group of people who just happen to live in your town. There is no net economic gain in such a strategy for the nation as a whole. But it's even WORSE than tourism. Tourism is a net-zero effect and does not adversely affect any particularly industry. If you insisted on "buying local" only you would wipe out all of the nation's industries and along with it their ability to mass produce and sell on scale. Prices would sky rocket, quality would tank, and you'd be stuck with what meager goods and services your "local" economy could produce.
So please, to all the restaurants, bars, waitresses, college students, city council members professors, and other varied sorts of wanna-be economists who advocate the "buy local" economic strategy, shut up. Just please shut up. You don't know what you're talking about, you're going to hurt your community more than help. Just please shut up and leave economics, production, and standards of living to free people making free choices. I know telling people to "shut up" is not a legitimate argument, perhaps an admission of defeat. But not in your case. You're so ignorant and stupid about economics "shut up" is not only the response you deserve, it's the only one you'd understand.