Sunday, August 8, 2010

a not-so-easy target

A couple weeks ago, word leaked out that Target Corporation (headquartered two blocks from where I live in downtown Minneapolis) had donated $150,000 to a candidate for governor of Minnesota, using the reasoning that this candidate was "pro-business". The problem for Target, a company that generally has had a reputation for giving back to communities and for being very tolerant and supportive of its diverse employees, is that this candidate is also a right-wing nut case. He, for instance, has had ties to a "Christian" organization that has advocated for the extermination of gays.

This endorsement from Target created howls of protest from its employees and customers. A boycott of Target was organized and started, both in Minnesota and across the country. Finally, Target apologized for the contribution, although some issues related to the company's intent still remain.

Several things came to my mind during the Target mess, especially the question of, If you boycott Target, where do you shop? WalMart is obviously an unacceptable choice. K-Mart/Sears, are they any better? The sad eventual realization is how little shopping choices we have outside the "big-box" stores, all owned directly or indirectly by mega-corporations. There are hardly any local stores anymore -- the "mom-and-pop" stores -- that used to be plentiful all across the U.S., and the ones that are left are struggling to compete because the big stores can charge less for similar items, and the American consumer will go for the deal that costs three cents less.

If we wanted to do all our shopping at independently-owned stores, is that even possible? Even in a large city like ours?

And when Target and Best Buy and the other guilty corporations try to impose governors on us that are "pro-business", how pathetic it is that they want elected officials who are "pro-" businesses like theirs and not for the small-business owner and entrepreneur. Competition used to be a good thing. Eventually there will be one store to choose from, since all mergers and consolidations get approved these days, and fears of monopolies are never voiced. The Soviets would have loved it.

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