There are many types of voting. We are typically focused on the political vote where we go into the booth and cast a ballot. That is important! It truly is. However, we must never forget the other types of voting that we engage in much more frequently, and which are equally important. In fact, for as long as money from corporations and the uber-wealthy can play an unlimited role, then other types of voting are more important.
Our economic vote is the most important. Ask yourself this question. Where do the corporations get the money to influence the campaigns and the elections the way that they do? They get it from us.
We have some fundamental realities to deal with. Most of us are frequently faced with a situation where a choice must be made and the deciding factor is “Which can I afford?”. This is our economic need potentially outweighing our principles.
Another issue is that it is often difficult for the average consumer to identify where their dollars are going. Who are they going to be supporting when they buy this particular item? However, it is important to be as aware as possible.
Let’s take a few real examples. From those examples, we can extrapolate out. And, let me be clear, though it should be by now. I support buying from small businesses whenever possible, but the same principles apply. If you know that a small business or its owner violates the principles that you support, then you have the responsibility to shop elsewhere. As an individual, you’re unlikely to make much impact on your own. However, if we all do this, then the power of the group boycott comes into play and the impact can be quite large! (Look for examples throughout history at the Montgomery Bus Boycott that really launched the Civil rights movement of the 50s & 60s, or the Grape Boycott of the 60s and 70s. or others.)
The Koch Brothers , David and Charles, are well known ultra right wing activists. They are ridiculously wealthy having fortunes tied to manufacturing, trading, and investments. Their primary activism has been in funding the astroturf Tea Party movement, PACs and in funding SuperPACs. But, how would one, as an individual consumer, avoid contributing to them? A lot of their products are industrial products and very hard to trace. However, their paper products and a few other products are more readily identifiable and therefore avoidable. You can easily vote with your dollars and keep some of your dollars out of their pockets, and thus start to defund some of their activities. So, what products do the Koch brothers continue to make their billions off at the retail level? Some very well known names. Brands like AngelSoft, Quilted Northern, Brawnie and Dixie, for example. A longer list can be found here.
Chick-Fil-A with those oh so yummy, and yet, really unhealthy original chicken sandwiches. Personally, I can’t shop there. I refuse to support a business which is so openly bigoted. I do not have an issue with them being true to their Christian founding and thus choosing to not be open on Sundays. I found that frustrating a few times since I really wanted a sandwich or their nuggets, but I could respect that choice. However, upon learning that they openly discriminate against gays, I must choose to vote economically against them, by not giving them my dollars.
Zynga Games makes a lot of games that are very popular. Even some that look like they might be fun to play with my friends. And, they’re free! w00t! They’ve developed almost every game on Facebook these days, haven’t they? Castleville, Cityville, Farmville, and their latest big hit Words with Friends. I enjoy Scrabble ®. However, because I find the business practices of Zynga to be offensive, I won’t play any of their games. Why? Because, when trying to build their business up, in order to attract and retain talent, they gave stock out in lieu of better pay. Then, when preparing to go public, they demanded that stock back and threatened to fire the employees if they failed to comply. Because, they didn’t want to create a “Google chef” situation. I find that to be a deplorable example of greed and an unacceptable abuse of their employees, and will not support them in any way. Particularly, when if I am going to play games, there are many free alternatives.
These are just some examples. It is important though to be aware of who and what we are supporting with our dollars. Pay attention to the companies where you shop. Always shop locally when possible. Always avoid the mega-super big box stores when possible! Always share information with others to make sure that they know about the evils of the businesses that you’re aware of, so that they too can stop contributing to the madness.
The contrary is true also. When you find out about businesses that are exhibiting the kinds of policies that you expect from a business, then take your dollars there, and spread the word. We must use our economic vote and social networking as a tool to change the world in which we live.
We have to get the money out of politics, and we have to act directly to achieve that. However, we have to act indirectly to achieve that also. This is one of those ways.
Whatever others do, be the change you want to see in the world.