Barely a week goes by where we don’t hear some politician rabbiting on about “cost of living pressures”, usually in an attempt to score a cheap political point. Many of them, when pressed on how to solve the problem, point at high power prices. But the fact of the matter is that the electricity bill is just one part of the household budget, a budget (many suspect) that the pollies spend little time actually worrying about.
The real problem in balancing the household budget is low national wage growth and the flow-on effect is enormous. One of the reasons for this is our changing lifestyle and a focus on being part of a global – not local – community.
Urban hipsters are thrilled when a big multi-national company like Amazon comes along, promising cheaper gizmos delivered direct to your door. But the savings we make have an indirect impact on local businesses.
You don’t have to look too far back to see small-town economies that were far healthier than they are today. You bought meat from the butcher, who in turn employed a couple of people who would buy books or cars from local businesses, who in turn employed people who spent money locally. Your $5 on sausages went around town several times and everyone benefited.
But now, unless we’re trying to buy local, we usually end up buying from someone who brought something into the region. The supply chain is changing and you only need to look at small businesses that have ceased to exist to see the impact of retail giants.
Sure, you can save a bundle on groceries by making the trip to Aldi, but how many people actually work there? Most of those profits are going straight out of our region and we’re all the poorer for it.
Our priorities have also changed, moving from sensible, long-term purchases to fads and “sugar fixes”. Think back to 10 or even 20 years ago, we weren’t buying $1000 smartphones and we certainly weren’t giving them to our kids, only to have them dropped and smashed within weeks of purchase. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to make an all-glass object that children would carry around in their pockets?
One of the things that many people don’t realise is that there’s only so much stuff to go around and if we keep sending our money out of Wagga, we’re all going to be poorer in the long run. So where you can, try to keep it local and spend your money with small businesses that employ our friends and neighbours.