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COMMENTARY ARCHVES
   

DECEMBER COMMENTARY
by Share Brandt

It Only Takes One

It only takes one person to start a movement. One person using social-media networks can start a revolution. Just this past year governments where overthrown by revolutions started on Facebook and spurred by Twitter.

A Saturday in November marked the first “Bank Transfer Day,” an effort fueled by discontent with big banks and large corporations. When Bank of America announced the new fee to use your BOA debit card it was like adding gasoline to a smoldering fire. It only takes one person to post an idea on his or her social media site, but then friends pick it up. Those friends have more friends and the social buzz begins to spin out of control.

The “Bank Transfer Day” was driven by a social-media campaign asking people who are fed up with bank fees to leave their banks for credit unions. In the four weeks leading up to "Bank Transfer Day," 14,700 Wisconsin residents had already joined credit unions, bringing in $102 million in new deposits. Nationwide, 650,000 new members were added, with $4.5 billion in deposits. The final results of the “Bank Transfer Day” were unknown at the time I wrote this.

Co-op Alternative

I like this story because a credit union is a cooperative. Cooperatives offer an alternative to doing business with for-profit entities. Cooperatives are local, not-for-profit businesses where decisions are made by people locally. Look around in your community. With 650 co-ops in Wisconsin you are likely to find several to provide the goods and services you need from electricity to a home for your money. When you spend your money locally, it grows local jobs and generates more local spending. Wisconsin co-ops employ about 19,000 people, paying nearly $780 million in wages and benefits.

I don’t know about you, but my patience is wearing thin with excuses and finger pointing coming out of Washington, D.C., and little being done to jump-start the economy. Yes, there are a myriad of problems to solve and a wide variety of opinions as to the best way to proceed. So far the folks tasked with finding solutions are locked in a partisan battle over political wills.

Look Homeward

Maybe the best way to help the U.S. economy is for each one of us to make an effort to shop local for American-made products and do business with local co-ops. I was surprised when an Internet search turned up hundreds of products made in America. One link led to ABC World News reporter Diane Sawyer’s site that identifies American products state by state. I counted 28 manufacturers in Wisconsin featuring everything from Kleenex tissue to Sub-Zero refrigerators. In Wisconsin it’s easy to find local American-made products in the local co-op creamery or the dairy isle at your grocery store. During the holidays, I like to send Wisconsin cheese and sausage gift boxes to relatives far away.

The Buy American campaign has been around a long time. It just needs a little fuel to restart the revolution. Let your 2012 New Year’s resolutions include “buy American” and do business with a cooperative. Tell all your friends on your Facebook page. See how one person can make a difference. Let’s get the U.S. economy going!

 

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