Buying local is the best way to fuel the Okanagan economy. Exercising your democratic right to choose will not only help local business people survive and thrive; it will allow you the satisfaction of occupying the brain of a billionaire.

Once upon a time, the world was full of business people who were afraid to fail. This was a good thing. The normal, oh-so human emotion of fear guided them to govern their decisions wisely by honouring their staff and management or risk losing them to competitors. A simple theory really: workers paid based on the value of the work they provide. This allowed entrepreneurs to grow their businesses into going concerns—perhaps even become millionaires. Life was good because the system was chock full of automatic checks and balances.

But money can be funny. Too much of it and fear apparently subsides or disappears completely. Today, business has morphed into large business; large businesses into corporations; and corporations have grown into global conglomerates. Their leaders have become narcissistic, psychopathic-money-loving-nerds. Their entire life’s goal is to pursue corporate self-interest regardless of who or what suffers as a result of the said corporation’s actions. This single-minded-greed (a million is not enough) is not once upon a time stuff?—?it is history repeating itself and it is just another lesson we must learn on how our brains work?…?or not!

If you could occupy the mind of a billionaire for a moment, you’d be one of 1,210  worldwide, according to Forbes. These billionaires have a total net worth north of $4.5 trillion. In an recent op-ed in the New York Times, Warren Buffett urged Washington to stop “coddling” the mega-rich and make them pay their share of taxes. Yay for #3 on the list!

Think like Warren for a few minutes and you might make a commitment to buy locally for a month, a season or a year. If you were to shop at the locally owned (fear-understood) entrepreneurial shops and boutiques in the Okanagan this Christmas, then roughly speaking, every dollar spent locally will contribute three times more to the Okanagan economy. That’s three times more income, three times more jobs and three times more tax benefits. A study of two bookstores in Austin, Texas, found that 45 per cent of the expenditures of a locally owned bookstore stayed in the local economy while only 13 per cent of the money generated by the national store stayed close to home.

This multiplier effect is not only best for the local economy, it allows each of us to take a stand against corporations that have become “too big to fail.” From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, researchers pulled out all 43,060 trans-national corporations and the share ownerships linking them. When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies.

What this means is less than one per cent of the world’s corporations control 40 per cent of it’s commerce. Corporations deemed “too big to fail” have moved our entire economic system towards a monopolistic system that will produce even larger corporate entities.

There are 9,678 businesses in the Okanagan. (We know, we mail an Okanagan Life to every one.) Many are locally owned and operated. They are ?hard-working and dedicated to the Okanagan communities that they serve. Patronize them! These entrepreneurs are our true heroes.

Let’s all shop the little guys in the Best of the Okanagan for a while and see if the billionaires brains even notice. ~John Paul Byrne