published Friday, October 5th, 2012

David Tulis: Local economy will save city

By David Tulis

The business crisis that beset a Chattanooga pet supply store last week is a heart-warming illustration of the virtues of local economy. Loyal customers of Pet Care Warehouse in Hixson bought enough seed, feed and pet geegaws to rescue the family-run outlet that was facing a back-tax deadline of Thursday afternoon.

Local economy is a concept big enough to save not just one business, but a city, especially in light of the debacle coming over the national debt. The concept of local food has caught on here. The larger concept of local economy is not far behind, waiting to be consciously developed.

One reason local economy should be an idea on every local tongue is that it is not political. The closer our thoughts go toward Washington or Nashville, the more we are trapped into politics. We fall into old-fogey categories. Democrat vs. Republican, conservative vs. liberal. If politics have led to national ruin, do we expect politics to prevent it or make repairs afterward?

The solution to insolvency in national economy is not an election and a new law. It is a locally oriented free market.

Local economy rests on the premise of localism. It centers on the city. It is, for Times Free Press readers, “Noogacentric.” Human nature makes everyone, to some extent, a provincialist. In the provincialist perspective, local is better than remote. Small beats big. Personal is better than corporate. In keeping things small, one hires a neighbor or the man from church. One avoids having to use software to make hiring decisions. Self-determination we like, but rules by outsiders we don’t.

Local economy is an idea that could receive nods from all sorts of people who otherwise are rivals. Greens like local economy’s smaller carbon footprint. Libertarians love its confidence in market players. Democrats see its intimacy and community. Republicans like its distrust of government.

Local economy makes the most of Americans’ genius for service and imagination. One way I like to explain free markets is to mention Christianity, one of true capitalism’s primary sources. Christ died for his enemies; he saved the other. His putting others ahead of himself is an act of compassion and imagination. Capitalism allows for exercise of the same grace. A capitalist who fails to think first of the other — his customer — will fail.

If local economy has a slogan, it’s “love your neighbor — shop local.” The discredit of the national economy and a federal bankruptcy crisis will drive localities to their internal resources. The next meltdown will encourage people to make a deliberate choice to favor local economy over national. As Uncle Sam scales back, recipients of his generosity will rely on family and personal resources.

The Wall Street Journal says we have one of the strongest local economies in America. Its strength will help ease the return to reality during the meltdown, and bring relief amid widespread pain that, if not always intense, will be chronic — perhaps for decades.

David Tulis writes for, which covers local economy and free markets.

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librul said...

Mr. Tulis sez:

"A capitalist who fails to think first of the other — his customer — will fail."

Oh yeah - altruism is at the heart of the greatest engine of greed on the planet? ROTFLMAO. The Waltons are so very concerned about the single mothers working for peanuts in their capitals of consumption that they give out applications for food stamps and think of it as something jeebus would do - all out of concern for "the other"?

Gimme a break, David. Capitalism and christianity are both poxes on humanity.

October 5, 2012 at 6:55 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Yes librul, Mr Tulis suffers from deeply confused reasoning, but he might just have a right conclusion about re-localization. The person who can figure out how to locally source a product and be competitive will always have a job.

Rising energy costs and transportation are going to open doors of opportunity for local providers. Globalization, after nearly destroying America, has peaked. The slow process of re-localizing should become a job engine for tomorrow.

So Mr Tulis, you get low marks for comprehension of the inner workings of Christianity, capitalism and politics, but you somehow found your way to relocalization, which will become a highly important coming trend. Way to go.

October 6, 2012 at 2:06 a.m.
librul said...

Sooo .. we should look upon the presence of a Volswagen plant here as "localization"? People growing organic tomatoes in their back yards and selling them on the courthouse square are not going to bring down Monsanto and Archer-Daniels Midland.

Mr. Tulis, a christianist, might have good intentions, but the tide he seeks to hold back dwarfs his teacup. Jesus is dead and lost in the sand - deal with it.

October 6, 2012 at 10:57 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Well no, VW wouldn't be an example of localization and the big global corporations that have us by the short hairs won't easily lose their grip. Megatrends take decades to rise and fall. We are only at the beginning of the conditions that will push us to re-localize.

October 6, 2012 at 3:55 p.m.
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