Thursday, December 1, 2011

You Get What You Give

How many refrigerators does it take to light an intersection? How many CDs does it take to fill a pothole? How many new cars does it take to buy a cop or a firefighter? I can’t help but wonder but am too lazy to research the concept of what we lose in government services when we are beckoned by the bony finger of “Cyber Monday” to shop on the interwebs.

I’m not immune; I’ve done my share of shopping online for un-obtainables but, as I’ve become more aware of the loss of government services I’ve come to realize that many of these items are more easily obtained than they appear. For example, for a recent birthday gift for a family member, I wanted a specific book. With the closing of Borders, we don’t have a new bookstore in Eureka. There is Northtown Books in Arcata but I live in Eureka and prefer to keep my money here when possible. This is an obscure book, not one even Borders would have had on the shelf, I’m sure. I looked it up on Amazon and could have put it right in my cart then and there but decided to check out local used book emporium, Booklegger in Old Town Eureka. They didn’t have a used copy but were more than happy to order it new. It arrived in a week and I was able to give love one a requested book while keeping my money where I live. Music? Same thing. I learned that Carole King has a new CD of Christmas music. The Works didn’t have it, but they've ordered it for me. I do this fairly regularly. Loss of instant gratification? A little. Would it be cheaper at Target, assuming they have it? Probably. But, think what you will about Larry Glass and his politics, the tax revenues will remain in MY town. I’m OK with that. I don’t have to grab the “No-Arkleyville” or “Dump Dave” buttons off the counter if I don’t want to.

I’m surprised by the people I know who work at government jobs that don’t get this concept. While fretting about “THE ECONOMY” (duh duh DAH!) they will drive to Santa Rosa or worse, Oregon, to buy big-ticket items. No offense to Oregon but it amazes me that the residents there are OK with paying higher income and property taxes while the residents of neighboring states come in to shop tax-free. Seems backasswards to me. At least shopping in Santa Rosa keeps the state portion of our sales tax in state but, shop in Oregon, California gets nothing. And, coincidentally, Humboldt gets nothing. And Humboldt has less to pay for roads, and lights and cops. And we can continue to complain about the lack of services “our government” isn’t giving us. What the heck? What am I missing here?!

Why bitch about WalMart if no one forces you to shop there? Why hate the big-box when you can simply shop at the business of a neighbor? Or buy the creations of our talented lot of local crafters. Or gift certificates to local restaurants. Big boxes won’t come if we prefer to shop elsewhere. In the grand scheme of things, we may save a little money shopping on the internet, but look at what we lose.