boycotts, buycotts, and speaking out

In recent days, I’ve received several e-mails urging people to keep their wallets closed on Inauguration Day (January 20th). You may have received this message, too — entitled “Not One Damn Dime Day.” The idea, according to the e-mail is that “our government will wake up and listen if they are hit economically.”

I have participated in such single-day consumer boycotts — “buycotts” — in recent years, and I have to say that I doubt their effectiveness. Often, whatever people don’t buy on the day of the buycott, they buy instead the next day, along with everything else they normally consume. So while there might be a slight dip in sales for that single 24-hour period, any losses are usually made up (and sometimes are even exceeded) the very next day. Also, a buycott doesn’t hurt the government — at least, not directly. A buycott impacts businesses, who do indeed make contributions to political campaigns and causes, but who also have employees who depend upon their paychecks.

Snopes.com has offered a good analysis of consumer boycotts here:

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (Not One Damn Dime Day)

If you want to participate in the buycott, that’s great — more power to you. But may I also suggest a few other ways to make your voice heard, in addition to “Not One Damn Dime Day”?

  1. Writing simple letters and e-mails and making telephone calls of protest to the White House and our representatives in government — even something as terse as “I didn’t vote for this guy, I’m not alone, and I’ll be voting again in upcoming elections. Please remember this” — can have an impact, especially when such communications are received in volume from voters all over the country.

  2. A group (small or large) gathering in a public square with lit candles and conducting a prayer vigil or observing a moment of silence at the time of the inauguration, with posters clearing indicating displeasure over the event, would get this out into public consciousness.

  3. Calling in to a radio talk show that day — and don’t forget NPR’s daily “Talk of the Nation” — to air your opinion means your voice will be heard by many others in your community and possibly across the nation as well.

It is true that economics drive this country, and that “hitting them where it hurts” (in the wallet) with long-term buycotts can be very effective. So I suggest paying a visit to BuyBlue.org, a website that tracks corporate donations to political parties. This list makes it quite clear which companies are donating to the Democrats and which to the Republicans, and in what percentages. Based on these reports, I’ve already stopped shopping at my neighborhood Safeway and have instead found a family-operated grocery that I can support locally.

(NOTE: as of this writing, the BuyBlue list is undergoing revision and is not currently available. In the meantime, another good source for lists of corporate donations is Choose the Blue.)

Making day-to-day and long-term purchasing decisions based on reports such as these can be so much more effective — and have greater impact — than a one-day “buycott.”

Just my two cents.

Posted in news, thoughts from the spiral.

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