Volume 13, Issue 48 ~ December 1 - December 7, 2005


Shopping as Citizens, Not Just Consumers

He wore an American flag jacket, and he and his daughter had just completed an American ritual the weekend after Thanksgiving: Buying the family Christmas tree.

As they departed a big box store, we got an up-close look at their selection.

Spruce? Pine?


It was an artificial pre-lit unit, with lettering that declared MADE IN CHINA.

If it’s December, it must be time for our annual consumption frenzy. It’s also time for our annual editorial gently urging spending in ways that benefit our local communities.

All of us have the right to spend our hard-earned money as we wish — and to buy a real tree, an artificial tree or no Christmas tree at all. But it doesn’t hurt on occasion to look at the big picture — and the small picture.

In the big picture, the United States expects to run a record-shattering $200 billion trade deficit with China this year. That’s $200 billion of our wealth and thousands of American jobs being shipped off-shore, never to return.

We’ve heard people, even neighbors, bragging about the benefits of globalization and how well they’ve done buying Chinese stocks.

Something about that mindset strikes us as perverse, especially when you consider the economic multiplying effect of buying here at home — from local Christmas tree farms, local craftspeople and locally owned stores.

Which brings us to the small picture. As Bay Weekly’s much-in-demand Local Bounty special edition described last week, Anne Arundel and Calvert counties offer a wealth of locally produced gifts and services ranging from art to antiques to gift certificates for a host of pleasures.

Follow Bay Gardener Dr. Gouin’s advice and give your sweetie a three-cubic-yard load of Leafgro, delivered for under $100 from Tilden Lawn in Davidsonville. Doesn’t cut it? How about The Bay Bracelet from Maertens Fine Jewelry in Solomons? Or hours of relaxation at your local spa?

Why fight the mall madness to bring home more Chinese-made junk?

Why send money — and your credit history — into public space to shop on-line, where who know’s who (maybe nobody) is at the other end?

That said, we’re hoping that the family of the fellow in the American flag jacket has a wonderful holiday.

We’re just glad that the Agriculture Department banned import this year of the Chinese Christmas trees with the real-bark trunks — the ones that left wood-boring beetles scurrying around over people’s hardwood floors into their joists and siding.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.