Pontiac’s $50 challenge

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Fred Ryan
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist


Fred Ryan
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

During the pandemic, we’ve become accustomed to government interventions into the economy in all sorts of ways. From huge "gifts" to industry (Air Canada, the most recent) to direct support to families and essential workers, we’ve come to think of these handouts as all that’s possible. We begin criticizing governments and politicians for not doing more … everyone has a different take, different priorities, different loyalties to free enterprise … but we too-easily ignore voices reminding us that we must repay this money. Isn’t that what free enterprise means?
We could ask ourselves, since we have to pay back all these survival packages for businesses and job-creators, why not just contribute some support directly, ourselves, and not go through the government and the banking system, with fees taken at every signature or junction in the process?
This is our economy, our nation, our world – perhaps we can do more than wait for government to step in? Do we not each have some level of individual responsibility for our own futures? 
Can we not say that once this pandemic is over, or under control, we should all undertake to strengthen our local economy and local community? Before the next crisis? There is a simple way, tried elsewhere, and one that
won’t cost more than what we usually spend on our weekly budgets: if every Pontiac household or family was to commit to spend only $50 locally per week, that would inject almost $1.5 million per month – or $18 million per year – right into our local Pontiac economy.  Jobs would be created, more taxes paid locally, even summer jobs for our kids would result. Local shopping options will increase; more services will be launched.
We have to buy groceries, hardware, clothing – everything – so why not focus these purchases at home? Shopping outside the Pontiac means $18 million, minimum, leaving the Pontiac and enriching outside businesses and outside employers. 
Here’s "the $50 challenge". We’re not limited to waiting for government grants, gifts, and injections. We can commit to buy our groceries, clothing, hardware, building supplies, gifts, fuel, all the things we have to buy anyway, so why not buy them here (and aside from a few specialty items, there’s very little that you can’t get in the Pontiac)? 
This has worked elsewhere. The local newspaper in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, launched this "$50 challenge" – very successfully. They brought back into
the local economy the millions usually spent elsewhere. We can do the same thing. Put a hold on our complaining and start being pro-active: we use our shopping dollars to benefit ourselves.
The Pandemic will end. Will we return to cross-border shopping and kill what’s left of local shops and local summer jobs for our kids – or are we and our households up to the $50 challenge? Let’s call it our "$50 commitment".