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By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor

Generally I pay little attention to those e-mail forwards that come to me from well-meaning family and friends. You know, the prayers that you're supposed to send to 10 people or you'll experience bad luck - I love the theology behind those - or the jingoistic flag-waving stuff straight from some Dittohead.
I'm glad, though, I clicked the link in a forwarded e-mail about the 3/50 Project.
Could you spend $50 a month in three independently owned storefront businesses? People embracing this easy to reach goal are part of the 3/50 project, a new grass roots campaign started by small business consultant Cinda Baxter. In March, Baxter was inspired by a succession of news stories about small businesses to come up with a simple formula that has an impressive impact.
If half of the employed population spent $50 a month among three independent brick and mortar businesses, $42.6 billion in revenue would be generated.
According to the project's Web site, for every $100 spent in locally owned businesses, about $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. For $100 spent in chains stores, about $43 sticks around. Shop online and nothing comes back to your community.
Now, everyone knows it's almost impossible to buy many items at independent merchants because many have been driven out of business due to the type of practices of some of the chains. Baxter hopes consumers will think before they buy and plan their purchases to spread some of that money to indies.
Locally, the folks at Pioneer Valley Local First (www.pvlocalfirst.org) are trumpeting the same message. Its Web site lists locally owned businesses and reasons to shop at them.
At a time when thinking about how you spend your money is a necessity, the message of these two efforts should be part of your budgeting process.

***

I'm continually amazed at the priorities people set for themselves. At a time when we as a nation are struggling to rebuild our economy, deal with a continuing war on terrorism, seek solutions for the global environmental crisis and seek a new system of delivering health care, a growing number of people seem to be resurrecting the issue of whether or not President Obama is actually a citizen.
It doesn't matter that during 2008 Hawaiian state officials showed the legitimate and all issues-in-order document attesting to Obama's birth in these United States and the fact by birth he is a U.S. citizen.
Like Dracula refusing to die in sequel after sequel, this non-issue is capturing the attention of people who see it as a reason to invalidate the last election.
Could it be that these folks just can't handle the idea of a black man as president? Could we be seeing a new wave of in-your-face racism? Could be.
Now we already did have a little coup when the Supreme Court stepped in and imposed themselves in the 2000 election in favor of George W. Bush rather than allow all the votes in contested areas be counted. Apparently this seems to be a strategy among some people - if you can't win above board, then it's time to sling enough mud to get your way.
If you disagree with the president's stands, that is your right as an American. You should work on solutions that you believe are better for the country, rather than indulging in bogus conspiracy theories.
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to mdobbs@thereminder.com or to 280 N. Main St., E. Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.


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