Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Voting with our wallets

I've been wanting to talk with everyone about is the power of voting with your wallet.

When I grew up, the mantra was "the personal is political." I'm curious if this is a concept that you're even familiar with--the idea that your consumer decisions (including not buying, or choosing to recycle or buy second-hand) are a logical extension of your personal politics.

Making political decisions as a consumer is a radical concept in such a consumption-oriented society. It is also an easy practice to adopt that adds mindfulness and moral awareness to our everyday actions.

For me, this means not shopping at Walmart (do you know about Walmart's labor practices or the Walmart class action suit that is pending right now), it means supporting local businesses, it means buying organic and fair trade products when they are available. And, it means I don't support corporations that contribute to the Republicans. It also means, and this is the radical part in our culture...choosing to do without or make do with less so that I can afford to sometimes pay more for goods and services that are consistent with my personal beliefs. And it means I take responsibility for my own ignorance, and try to educate myself so I can make informed decisions.

I have two specific examples for you.

Ian Welsh, on The Blogging of the President has a well-researched and well-written post up about the differences between Wal-Mart and Costco:
Be clear, both provide cheap goods for consumers and good profits for investors, so the only question is this: do you want citizens who are workers to be well treated, well paid employees who have healthcare or not?

Choose your model for America. I know which model I prefer.

The article is excellent, and so are the comments beneath it. Read the whole thing here.

In a similar vein, I've been posting on my own blog lately about the problems with and the many great reasons I prefer Powell's Books:

It's all about voting with my wallet (the only way I can vote here) and putting my money where my mouth is...instead of putting my money where their jackboots are.

I hope you'll read the whole post here, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.