I grew up in a household that values the power of the consumer. I have never crossed a picket line. My father refused to so much as ride in a Mercedes because of what the company did in World War 2, before he was born. I’m not sure, but I think when Mercedes bought Chrysler, he sold his 10 year old New Yorker in favor of a Ford. He had purchased it used. I have at least forgiven VW for things done over 60 years ago.
Alright then. Just about the time that Wal-Mart (mostly) rehabilitated it’s corporate image, Target got itself in hot water with the liberal/progressive communities with ill-considered campaign donations, and stayed there after some Halloween ads that were considered in poor taste by Parent-Americans. Ok, fine, looks like Wal-Mart has moved to be the lesser of two evils, at least until the other day when they “teamed up” with the Department of Homeland Security to “catch terrorists” (remember, terrorists do “suspicious” things). Clearly, no officials from the DHS have ever actually been inside a Wal-Mart.
So where am I supposed to shop? Albertsons apparently wants to get rid of unions; is it alright to shop at Smith’s or Von’s? Will it be acceptable next week? Even if I could afford to shop at Whole Foods, there’s still the scandal surrounding their purchase of Wild Oats. I could go down to the farmer’s market, but unlike those amazing markets in cities like San Francisco, there’s just not a whole lot available. This of course assumes that the vendors at my local farmer’s market aren’t practicing the exact same contemptible business practices of the worst factory farms. “Hey Mr. Farmer! You don’t mind if I drive on out to your farm and see if your workers are legal before I spend $3 on onions, do you??”
And now I’m supposed to get rid of my Amazon.com account because they decided that the rest of their clients were more important than one controversial one? Screw that!
Since I am clearly not allowed to shop anyplace convenient or close, that means I’ll be using a bunch more gas: do I buy it from the guys who polluted Alaska, the guys who poisoned the Gulf of Mexico, one of many that is stirring up Middle East unrest, or the Venezuelan “dictator”? How do I reconcile my bigger “carbon footprint” with avoiding businesses whose practices I don’t like? Do I buy the electric car from Japan, or the American one that unlocks all my doors and puts my life in danger every time I put it in park?
Things get even worse if you want to boycott products by a certain company. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Proctor and Gamble has done something you disapprove of: here’s everything you must avoid if you want to vote with your wallet! You’ll have an easier time getting by without Colgate-Palmolive’s products. If you decide you won’t give money to P&G, Colgate, or Unilever, give up any hope of cleanliness. Ever. We’ll just call you Pig-Pen. Unless you prefer “Dirty Hippie.”
And let’s not get started on banks! Even if you are willing to endure the hassle of changing banks, the only way to be sure your new bank won’t be taken over by one of the big players is to give up and bank with a “too big to fail” institution and just live with the BAMTOR Principle. It’s worse with mortgages: you can’t control who buys the note, you can’t control who your servicer is, and you may not be able to stop them from claiming you owe money even if you don’t.
So how exactly am I supposed to “vote with my wallet”?
I’m deadly serious about this. It has literally gotten to the point where I cannot avoid doing business with companies I don’t like. How can I possibly stick it to the Oligarchy when I can’t go a day and a half without giving them my money or using their products and services?
When Ted Kaczynsky starts to look sane, the nation has gone crazy.