Michael Tuggle - LS Board of Directors
The outline of the plan is this: we create a Political Action Committee in each state to defend small businesses and local farmers from nationally owned agribusiness and chain stores. In each community, we will organize a Farmer-Small Business Alliance. The state Small Business Defense PAC will provide legal, organizational, and business advice to the local alliances, which will be composed of a cross-section of community activists, small business owners, local food producers,clergy, and ordinary citizens. This makes the local organization more representative, more believable, and able to connect with a wider section of the community.
These local organizers will respond to threats against local business, as well as promoting community-based trade, especially focusing on mutually beneficial commerce between local food producers, local retailers, and the local community. These alliances will also serve as repositories of information about family-owned businesses and making that information available to community members seeking specific goods and services.
When a big box targets a community, these local alliances will alert their neighbors, elected officials, and other local business owners of the threat their community environment and economy face. Working from voting lists and business directories, they can urge citizens to call their elected officials, attend city council and/or county commission, and zoning council meetings, and to write letters to the editor.
When not organizing citizen opposition to national chains, these alliances will work to enact laws and policies supportive of environmentally sustainable, small-scale local commerce and food production, thus continually working to renew local commerce and local production,even in communities where the big boxes already predominate. The primary activities of these local community organizations will include:
End all expenditures of taxpayer dollars for private use. Corporate welfare for politically connected Big Business takes money from the people and from small business owners to subsidize wealthy, powerful firms who use their unfair advantages against smaller competitors. All forms of government-financed corporate welfare are unfair, including reduced prices for land, reduced or rebated property and sales tax for large chains, free infrastructure upgrades, special rates for subsidized loans, and job training credits, none of which are given to small, family-owned businesses.
Petition counties and municipalities to protect local business by modifying their masterplans and zoning codes to prohibit retail floor space from exceeding 40 thousand square feet.
Work to restore local control over local issues. Citizen empowerment is the best means for understanding, protecting, and promoting local economies,local environments, and local traditions. The most effective way of making intelligent decisions in these vital areas is to put local knowledge and local pride to work. Municipalities and counties should not be disempowered by the state, and the state should not be disempowered by Washington, DC, which is biased toward centralized, large-scale, one-size-fits-all solutions.
Enact legislation to stop the growing use of eminent domain to take private property for the benefit of government-subsidized corporations.
Ban the use of variances of local zone regulations awarding unfair exceptions to national chain stores,which allow them to impose their big boxes in residential or agricultural areas.
Work to preserve historic buildings, monuments, and local traditions in order to promote local identity and loyalty. Our goal is to make people aware of their role as citizens and stewards who identify with and care for a living, historical community, as opposed to unconnected, rootless consumers motivated purely by low prices.
Restore tax-increment financing to its original purpose of revitalizing older urban areas. Bonds sold for TIF areas should be used only for small, local businesses, not for national corporations.
Guarantee an equitable system of income taxation. National chains currently enjoy an exemption from state corporate taxes, forcing small businesses to compensate disproportionately (the“Geoffrey Loophole”). Any profits made in-state by an out-of-state subsidiary should be taxed through combined revenue reporting. Small local businesses must make up for these lost revenues, again giving the national chains an unfair advantage.
Eliminate accelerated and front-loaded depreciation for new shopping centers, which puts established shopping centers and small downtown business districts at a disadvantage by making the construction of quickly built, new shopping centers more profitable than renovating established shopping centers.
Enact graduated business license fees that increase according to the number of outlets operated.
Require insurance companies to allow policy holders to use local pharmacies rather than forcing them to use national, mail-order pharmacies.
Petition local and state officials to reduce burdensome regulations on local and regional farm products, which are imposed by big, politically connected agribusiness to restrict competition, rather than protecting consumers.
To work as a community to remove barriers and provide support for local food, creating close ties between our farming neighbors and local businesses, restaurants, and citizens. We can best support local food producers through alternative marketing, including Farmers Markets, member-run food cooperatives, and Community Supported Agriculture, an ongoing relationship between community members and a particular local farm. In a CSA farm, consumers can purchase seasonal shares which entitle them to weekly food allowances. Shareholders visit the farm or another pickup location at a scheduled time. Church groups, co-workers, and neighborhood associations can participate in CSAs to build strong, enduring social and commercial ties within their communities.
Elect representatives who will repeal North Carolina’s forced annexation law, which has destroyed countless rural communities and thousands of acres of small family farms.
These are small-scale, doable goals. And the mechanism to instigate forward action toward these goals is clearly within reach.
The local business owners will provide donations to the state PAC, which will assist the local Farmer-Small Business Alliances in local communities in protecting small businesses and food producers from the national chains and agribusiness. Once these are operational, we will have a self-sustaining and self-replicating political movement. Eventually, this can coalesce into a vibrant political party representing communities and producers.
A number of present trends make such a program especially attractive. With the price of oil skyrocketing out of sight, people are more concerned about food security. With goods, services, and food being created and used within the local bio region, there will be less need for long-distance transport, which will encourage even more small-scale commerce and food production, which will then create incentives to take increased responsibility for the land, since residents will have to live with the environmental consequences of their land-use decisions.
Further, the reawakening of local identity and pride will deepen and widen interactions within the community, producing closer relationships that will build thetrust and good will needed to endure bad times and resist the slide into crime and apathy.
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