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Ask Slashdot: Will You Shop Local Like President Obama, Or Online? 430

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-buy-local-businesses-off-amazon dept.
theodp writes "President Obama and his daughters headed to an indie bookstore last Saturday to promote shopping local. The White House did not disclose which books were bought, but author Lauren Oliver tweeted her delight after a White House photo showed her books Delirium and Pandemonium were among the 15 children's books purchased by the Obama family for Christmas gift-giving. While it made for a nice Small Business Saturday photo op, do you suppose the President paid much more for the books at the small indie bookshop than he might have at an online retailer like Amazon, where the hardcopy edition of Pandemonium is $10.15 (44% off the $17.99 list price) and the hardcopy edition of Delirium can be had for $10.47 (42% off the $17.99 list price)? Kindle Editions of the books are also available for $7.99. And with both titles eligible for free Amazon Prime shipping, the President could've saved on gasoline and Secret Service costs, too! So, will you be following the President's lead and shop local this holiday season, or is the siren song of online shopping convenience and savings too hard to resist?"
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Ask Slashdot: Will You Shop Local Like President Obama, Or Online?

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  • Slashvertising? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deweyhewson (1323623) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @02:22AM (#42114253)

    Is this supposed to be a news story, or an excuse to get an Amazon advertisement on Slashdot? That summary only needed a © Amazon PR Department notice at the end.

    But I'll bite anyway and offer this perspective: people generally know you can find better deals online; that's not a marvel concept. B&M stores simply can't compete with low overhead online warehouses dollar to dollar. But lower prices are not why people shop local. They shop local because of in-person browsing, personalized services, and loyalty to their community, probably in that order.

  • by Kwyj1b0 (2757125) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @02:26AM (#42114279)

    The way the summary was written, the question can be condensed to: "Will you spend more money at a local retailer, or less money and buy online"?

    I'm all for supporting local retailers when they provide a valuable service - I visit my local library/store where I can chat to a librarian/store-clerk and get valuable feedback/information. But the article doesn't raise any of these issues. Instead, it focuses on the downsides of brick-and-mortar shopping, without raising any of the positives.

  • Re:Thanks Prez! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimpop (27817) * on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @02:27AM (#42114289) Homepage Journal

    ...like mandatory auto insurance regulations of the 80s....

  • by jcr (53032) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @02:30AM (#42114295) Journal

    Fuck that. I'll buy from the vendors offering the products I want at prices I agree to. This "buy local" horseshit is nothing but guilt-tripping. Customers aren't property, and if local retailers can't compete, then they shouldn't be in business.

    -jcr

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BradleyUffner (103496) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @02:36AM (#42114325) Homepage

    Well, his salary is paid out of your taxes...

    And my salary is paid out of profits from the company I work for that came from other people buying things from them. That doesn't make it their money.

  • by riverat1 (1048260) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @02:37AM (#42114327)

    Local businesses are at the core of the community. They employ my neighbors and me*. They support local activities and charities. They pay local taxes. I like dealing with them face to face. All of those things and more are worth more to me than saving a few bucks online. I do buy online for things I can't find locally or maybe if the price difference is ridiculous.

    * Actually I work for a medium sized multinational corp. but when I started it was a local business that eventually got bought out. We still are active locally.

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @02:41AM (#42114347)

    In that case, the OP is using his boss's money for his shopping. Or is it the money of the people who buy from his boss's business? Or does the money belong to the bosses of the people who buy from the OP's boss's business?

    Hmm, this is getting confusing. Can we please just agree that people, even public servants, own the money paid to them, until they pay it to someone else?

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawks5999 (588198) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @02:41AM (#42114349)
    I'm betting your company doesn't send people to jail for not spending their money there.
  • by _Ludwig (86077) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:12AM (#42114487) Journal

    Enjoy living in your desolate factory suburb then.

    Believe it or not, to some of us, concepts like “community” are more than boxes to check off in Hipster Buzzword Bingo, they mean something identifiable and concrete. I want to live among businesses run by people I know, people who are accountable to the sensibilities of their particular customers, people who interact with the neighborhood they do business in beyond dreary gray spreadsheet transactions. I want to know where my stuff comes from and how it’s produced, and all of that’s worth a few extra bucks to me.

    “Buy local” isn’t about guilt-tripping you into buying from a less-efficient-than-Amazon retailer, it’s about fostering values other than “the cheaper the better no matter what the external costs to society.”

  • by Grimbleton (1034446) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:12AM (#42114489)

    Just for an example, Home Depot is a multi-national corporation. They also support local activities and charities, and pay local taxes.

  • Re:Thanks Prez! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:14AM (#42114503)

    President Obama loves small businesses so much that he's driving them bankrupt with expensive mandatory health insurance regulations.

    Funny how this is suddenly all Obama's fault. Last time I checked that law passed both the House and the Senate before he was allowed to sign it into law. And don't give me that shit about a Democrat majority, the GOP could have filibustered it into the dirt and they did not.
    And fuck off when it comes to the budget, the Constitution flat out says it's up to Congress to figure that out, so I don't understand why you mental midgets keep calling it "Obama's Budget" or "Bush's Budget".

    And for the record, if you'd bothered to pay ANY attention you'd know that Romney's version was the same exact fucking thing that Obama supported- mandatory insurance. So fuck you and whatever TV show pumps you information up your ass.

  • by Shimbo (100005) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:17AM (#42114513)

    Exactly. All trade is local.

    What do people think Amazon and Walmart do with their money?

    Channel it though a string of offshore tax havens and shell companies to avoid paying tax?

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityTheatre (2427858) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:31AM (#42114591)

    You don't use roads, you drink from a stream, grow your own food using your own shit for fertilizer (because clearly you don't have a waste processing facility on your property). You generate your own electricity from that stream on your property, too, I guess, since most electrical grids were initially built by the government.

    I presume you don't mind Iraqi bombs landing on your house, while Chinese steal the IP that keeps your company going where you collect... you know.. money, whos value is protected and guaranteed by the government (regardless of your view on fiat currency, this is fact). Presumably, you expect to be taken care of if you get sick and your company goes out of business, or you are too old to work? I guess there isn't much to worry about when you get old though, because you'll die of scarlet fever or dysentery or polio or malaria or....

    You know what, nevermind....

    If you want to see what it's like without government, go visit in Mogadishu or South Sudan.

    Enjoy.

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityTheatre (2427858) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:36AM (#42114617)

    Dictatorship is WHAT HAPPENS when people are simply left alone without rules.

    If there is no police and no civic authority, the man who is willing to buy the most guns tells everyone else what to do.

    This is NOT GOOD. It has happened HUNDREDS of times throughout human history. It ALMOST ALWAYS turns out bad, with a few VERY unique exceptions (perhaps early Roman Emperors, for example).

    Human nature is not such that you can just eliminate government. Because some faction of the population loves power and will take it with force. So we implement a system where we vote.

    I don't live in the US, but the US voted, and they chose Obama, I guess. He got 53% of the vote in the US. In mock elections throughout the rest of the world, he got closer to 90%.

    Some substantial fraction of the people in the world think this is the right approach.

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityTheatre (2427858) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:37AM (#42114629)

    And if you "eliminate" government, somebody else, with guns, will take power and demand your money.

    If you're lucky, it's another George Washington.

    If you're not, it's another Stalin.

    Feel like rolling the dice?

  • Re:Thanks Prez! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:37AM (#42114633) Journal

    President Obama loves small businesses so much that he's driving them bankrupt with expensive mandatory health insurance regulations.

    Umm... ACA doesn't kick in until you have at least 50 employees. To put that in perspective, assuming your store is open 16 hours per day, multiply the number of employees you want in the store at any given moment by 2.8 to compute the number of full-time-equivalent employees. So even a fairly large restaurant with ten or twelve people in it at any given moment still falls well below the 50-employee threshold where the ACA kicks in. A typical bookstore chain falls below the threshold until it has five or six locations....

    No, fifty full-time-equivalent employees is just short of a Wal-Mart-sized store. If you're that big, you are not a small business. Period. You're a medium-sized business. You're bringing in at least three-quarters of a million dollars in profit annually just to cover the employee salaries alone, assuming you pay everyone minimum wage, not counting your contributions to FICA, location rent, business insurance, etc. A bookstore making a million bucks a year would have to sell five or six hundred books per day at typical markups to cover those sorts of costs. That's simply not a small business, and anyone who claims that the ACA is going to cause small businesses to go bankrupt is either ill-informed or deliberately distorting reality to promote an agenda.

  • by SecurityTheatre (2427858) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:49AM (#42114675)

    Like someone else said, I specificly frequent local establishments in my neighbourhood, because I know the owners, they live down the street and I see them at the pub on weekends and on my sports teams.

    There is value in community. These people, living in the neigbourhood make substantially more money than the assistant manager at "SomeBig MegaStore", and the a huge chunk of that money doesn't end up in some gated community in Arkansas. Then they turn that money back to the community, bringing up home values, allowing other people the chance to open local businesses. In the end, it may not benefit me directly as much as shopping at "SuperCheap MegaStore", but I feel better about it.

    As far as I'm concerned, the macroeconomic value of mega-stores promotes a huge class of "factory floor" worker and a tiny fraction of Billionaires, whereas buying local ensures a large group of upper-middle class.

    I can tell you that I've known a few Billionaires and a lot of factory workers, and neither of them deserve what they have. Sure the Billionaires work hard and are smart, but often not substantially more than the local shop owner. Sure the factory workers may lack education, intelligence, drive, etc, but are much more gainfully employed at local shops, where they are subject to community standards of behaviour, living, etc.

    Other than to the Billionaire class, and people with no concern for their local community, and for the fact that I have no idea how one might equitably do it, I'm a huge proponent of preventing businesses from becoming multinational, and encouraging local investment in small business.

    How one does that, other than just one purchase at a time, I have no idea.

    Of course, you can choose to be a cog in the machine as well..... Faceless suburbs make me sad.

    If you place someone in a major intersection in the suburbs of most major cities in the USA, you simply can't tell where you are, without considering weather and what little vegetation might be visible.... and I find that a bit sad. This is absolutely not the case in most other places in the world.... I think it's a cultural deficit, honestly.

  • Re:Thanks Prez! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iserlohn (49556) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:05AM (#42114987) Homepage

    You the proved the GP's point. The plant you refer to is not a small business.

    BTW, everybody is covered in western Europe. Employers do not hire you part time to avoid their healthcare responsibilities as the responsibility is usually with government to provide care, or create a system of cheap insurance for care.

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SternisheFan (2529412) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:07AM (#42115245)
    Americans are basically a good people, most of us. People who are making the best of the situation that they were born into, like anyone in the world. They want a better life for their kids. They who can give generously to local and worldwide charities, and some travel directly to make changes in less developed parts of the world, because they WANT to. And they are a wide range of peoples from every part of the world. They don't always agree with what our government does and work to make a difference, for a better life for everbody, and that's a tall order to fill. They love, laugh and are human beings. It's a shame that this isn't always understood by some people in the world, can't please everybody all the time.
  • Re:Thanks Prez! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:17AM (#42115289)

    In Europe, we all have health coverage. We don't have to decide between keeping a finger (that we got cut off through our own inattention in the manufacturing plant) and sending our kids to college, or eating this month.

    And we spend less than half per capita what Americans spend on healthcare, partially because we have the bargaining power of an entire government, partially because we're not engaged in an all-out war between insurance providers (who make more money when they deny you care), healthcare providers (who raise their prices because they know they are going to get stiffed by the insurance company half the time) and the patients (who just hope that their treatment is covered on their plan).

    Mandatory health insurance is the watered-down weenie policy. Single-payer is the way to go. Why the hell would you enter into a contract with ANY entity that has a vested interest in you dying as quickly as possible?

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:08AM (#42115525) Journal

    How in the world did everyone survive before 1970 when the EPA started regulating things?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuyahoga_River [wikipedia.org]

    Sure people survived. You know, rivers caught fire and all, but people didn't die instantly. Or to pick another example from another part of the world http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Smog_of_1952 [wikipedia.org]. Well, OK, people did drop dead.

    So, no, everyone in the world didn't survive. Enough people survived to have a sustainable population (duh) but many people did die and many more had sever health problems.

    So basically, your premise is that because business didn't kill absoloutely everyone then their self regulation is sufficient?

    You are completely mad.

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snarkh (118018) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:09AM (#42115529)

    The point is that you cannot live in a modern society without using certain government services (at the federal, state or local levels) paid by taxes.
    To say that every service can be provided by a commercial enterprise is plainly ridiculous.

      There are certainly alternatives to the income tax, e.g., sales tax, property tax, etc. Each one of them has advantages and disadvantages.

  • Re:Like Obama? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by demonlapin (527802) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:16AM (#42115561) Homepage Journal
    This is as insightful as saying "If you want to see what it's like with a big government, visit North Korea."
  • Re:Slashvertising? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:55AM (#42115829) Journal

    But lower prices are not why people shop local. They shop local because of in-person browsing, personalized services, and loyalty to their community, probably in that order.

    People have this odd conception that shopping local somehow is better for the economy, too. It's probably better for the local economy, in the same way that high interest rates on over-valued houses are better for banks: concentrates money in a certain place, in a way that's actually harmful economically but is good for a certain specific entity at the cost of everyone else.

    Parable of the broken window again and again and again. In this case, you could buy a book for $19 locally; or you could buy that book for $8 on Amazon Kindle, and spend $11 at your local farmer's market. In the former case, "your community" is richer--where "your community" is a book store. In the latter case, *you* are richer: you have a book *and* you have food, for the same money as just the book; on top of that, the farmer's market has some of your money, instead of the book store having it.

    If the book store goes away but the local farmer's market grows, tough beans for the book store. You don't need a local book store--everybody is getting their books cheaper on Amazon and it's the same shit. What you do need is fresh, locally-grown produce that hasn't been picked unripe, gassed, shipped across the entire country, etc. How do I know this? Because nobody's buying books locally and everyone's buying local produce, that's why the farmer's market got bigger and the book store went bankrupt! If you'd all just buy books locally and cut back on the farmer's market spending, a bunch of people would be sitting around reading their expensive books going, "Gee, I wish we could afford good quality fruits and vegetables and fresh meats from a local farmer's market, but we don't have one and I spend all my money on books..."

    Looks ridiculous on a small scale, but when you build it out this is exactly what happens. Arbitrarily subsidizing businesses has a cost.

  • No, I don't. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by raehl (609729) <raehl311@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @11:34AM (#42118179) Homepage

    No, I don't get it.

    A socialist can point to successful models of socialism. A libertarian can not point to successful models of no government. Your options are democracies of varying degrees of socialism, totalitarian regimes, or, as you put it, local control.

    That's not a straw man argument.

    BTW, local control doesn't mean no taxes. The warlords want their money too. Probably less likely to build roads with it though.

  • Re:Thanks Prez! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:06PM (#42121475) Journal

    The vendor a business owner I know buys from has 200 employees (and according to the government qualifies as a small business), and his costs are going up because of the ACA. Guess what happens to the prices of the goods he buys from that vendor?

    They go up. But it goes up just as much for that business owner's competition, and since people on the average should have more money in their pockets because of more people with health insurance, it should be roughly a wash, at least in the medium to long term.

    And even though he only employs 20 people, he does provide health insurance, and those costs are going sharply up as insurance companies seek income to pay for the increased costs forced on them by the ACA.

    Funny, that. The insurance companies kept telling everyone that if you required everyone to have insurance, the costs should go down. Instead, they're using it as an excuse to profit. And this is why for-profit healthcare is a bad idea. None of this would be happening if the Republicans had allowed the Democrats' original proposal to pass (single-payer with a public option). But no. They insisted on an individual mandate with for-profit insurance companies. And then immediately started campaigning against it. But I digress.

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