It’s election day today. I voted, as I almost always do. [Editor’s note: Zarberg wrote this article on Tuesday.]  This year my home town actually had mayor, 4 school board, and 5 town council slots up for grabs, as well as a referendum on a .25% sales tax – that’s 1/4 of a penny on every dollar. I voted for the tax increase. Groceries, gas, and a few other “necessary” items are exempt, so it shouldn’t really effect lower class people. In addition, the extra money will go to preventing layoffs in the public school system. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for raising taxes, but I do see them as something that’s necessary in a country where a lot of necessities are missing. In addition, it’s a county tax so it’s not like most of you will ever have to pay it (and if you do, stop by and say hi – I live on the northwest corner of Chapel Hill.) Regardless, I’ve heard statistics from the area that about 20% of registered voters actually voted today. Kind of depressing considering the polarization in politics – makes me think a lot of that polarization is media driven simply for the purpose of boosting revenue.

Anyway, being that it’s November and Thanksgiving is coming up, I started thinking about the holiday season and the infamous Black Friday. Your average shopper that day will go to a mall, spend hundreds – perhaps thousands – of dollars at a store that will give almost nothing back to the local economy and send its profits overseas. Those shoppers will head home after shopping and burning gas and essentially they’ll just have given a lot of money to a large, monolithic, corporatocracy. I got thinking about what people could do that day to not be part of the cattle drive but still be in the holiday spirit and/or get shopping done.

First and foremost, if at all possible, shop local. Take a few hours on the web and find out what non-chain stores are near you. Do NOT use – that’s simply a listing of what massive corporate stores are near you. is a good starting point. Gift certificates to local restaurants and venues make a great gift and give a lot more back to your community than something from Walmart or Target – same with gift certificates for local entertainment like mini-golf, ski centers, bowling alleys, and the like. Want to really stick it to big oil? Stay home that day. Have leftovers, watch football, and shop online.  is a great site for fair trade shopping. Remember, Walmart reduces employee healthcare simply to satisfy stockholders (generally the 1%) and their officers – we’re talking about a company that reported a 3.5 BILLION dollar profit in 2010, and they claim health care costs are squeezing them.

The whole point of “boycotting” is to show the companies that ship their profits and jobs offshore that we’re not going to spend our money on them any more. These are the same companies that are spending billions a year in lobbying to get government to give them more tax breaks and look the other way when they announce layoffs. These companies were built on the backs of Americans, using our roads, sewers, electricity, and now they’re putting their profit above all else. While you pure capitalist folks might be ok with that, I’m not, I call it greed by any other name.

Me? I plan to buy some bottled water, some hand warmers and drive them down to my local “Occupy” to give to the folks there. I work 40+ hours a week to support both myself and my spouse who has health issues, otherwise I’d be right there protesting with them. After that I’m coming home to eat some leftover turkey and watch some football.