Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Strategic Consumer Boycott

The millions of Americans who've lost their jobs due to NAFTA and outsourcing can tell you something is dead wrong in America. The thousands of corporations, such as General Electric, Ford, and General Motors, that take those jobs to Mexico and Asia are still pretending to be American companies.
The globalist juggernaut is turning the United States into a two class society of the obscenely wealthy and the struggling workers. When the top one percent of a nation own as much as the combined total of the lower ninety percent, that nation has reached a crisis point.
American workers face a ruling plutocracy which has bought most of the federal and state politicians, taken its factories to whatever countries provide the cheapest labor, paid little or no corporate income tax, and has the gall to steal our hard-earned tax dollars when it fails in its domestic and foreign investments. Thinking American workers are slowly awakening to this new feudalism, even though the plutocracy-owned news media have worked hard to keep the scandal hidden.
But perceiving the cold-blooded devastation of American workers by the "people of wealth," is no longer enough. American workers must create viable new strategies in their struggle against globalist capitalism.
When we consider what power we have in our struggle, our options narrow down to a precious few. No intelligent person would consider trying to use violence, since the ruling plutocracy has a monopoly of military, police, and litigation force. The days of the citizen warrior struggling against a weak government is two hundred years behind times. Writing to congresspersons who've been put into office through corporate donations is a futile gesture. Trying to launch a new populist party, even if you have the wealth of a Ross Perot, is fruitless. The penetrating exposés of globalist capitalism by such writers as Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, William Greider, and others, help us understand what's wrong but provide no strategy for righting the wrongs.
Meanwhile, American workers have totally overlooked the one power they have - their purchasing power. And the sensible deployment of that power is through the strategy of boycott.

The Strategy of Consumer Boycott
The United States was, in part, created through the use of consumer boycott. From 1765 to 1775, colonial nonimportation associations were organized by Sons of Liberty and Whig merchants to boycott English goods and force British recognition of political rights. We are now heirs to the success of that struggle.
Boycott as a modern strategy, however is not a simple one. To launch a consumer boycott movement requires sustained, broad-based commitment and a carefully planned general strategy.

Sustained, Broad-Based Commitment
oad The Sons and Daughters of Liberty were convinced that their situation, vis-à-vis their British rulers, was so intolerable that it was worth dedicating a large portion of their time to mount boycott offensives. Ultimately they decided that it was necessary to risk their lives in an armed revolution against Britain. We have to ask ourselves today whether we judge our plight, vis-à-vis our plutocratic rulers, to be so intolerable that we're willing to spend a great deal of time and effort to struggle for radical change. It appears that most Americans are answering no to that question--at least their indifference to the depredations of the moneyed interests would indicate this.
The question then becomes: how bad does the plight of the workers have to get before they realize they're being destroyed and fight for their very lives?
Thirty-eight million Americans are "officially" "poor." If we adjust the poverty line to a realistic amount, one in every four Americans is now living in poverty. The number of extreme poor--Americans living below 50% of the poverty line has increased from 3.5% to 5.4%--an increase of 54% from 1975 to 1996.
This increase in American poverty has occurred in an era when the profits of some "American" corporations have increased by as much as 371 percent.
Forty-three million Americans, according to the Census Bureau, lack basic health insurance.
The average real working wage (as adjusted for inflation) declined 16% between 1973 and 1993.
The federal government spends more taxpayers' dollars to subsidize weapons sales by U.S. arms merchants than it pays for federal support of elementary and secondary education.
How much worse does it have to get before the American workers wake up and begin to fight for their economic and political rights?

General Strategy
When we do begin our struggle for survival, we must decide just what it is we're attempting to realize through our boycott efforts. We shouldn't be content to merely stop a particular company from despoiling the environment or ravaging the American workforce through relocation of factories to third world countries. We must work for systemic changes in America's political, economic, legal, military, and social structures--so this grinding of the poor by the rich can't recur.
We must determine how our American boycott will relate to other nations and their people. But we must begin here in America to protect the rights of our own workers.
Some of the specific objectives we should work for include:
Disallowing corporations to avoid taxes through varied tax avoidance schemes
Halting the practice of "American" financiers receiving taxpayer money for their failed domestic and foreign adventures
Making the Made in U.S. standards more rigorous, so that a large percent of a product would be U.S.-made to qualify
Trashing the NAFTA and World Trade Organization agreements that have allowed American jobs to be taken to low-labor-cost countries
Demanding genuine election reform - making it impossible for corporations and private interests to buy politicians
Demanding legislation that would make it possible to have more than two parties - outlawing the illegal practices of the Federal Election Commission
How do we achieve this?
Mounting a nation-wide enlistment of consumers,
Supporting those U.S. companies that do not engage in outsourcing, manufacture or provide services in the U.S., do not use offshore accounts to avoid U.S. taxes
Choosing our battles - selecting those we can win and in a logical sequence,
Disciplining ourselves to buy only Made-in-America goods or goods from democratic nations,
Setting up criteria to determine which companies should be
Denouncing the current plutocratic dictum that unrestrained self-interest is the best means to social good
Creating a moral revolution in which people begin again to care about what's happening to other people and themselves
We can begin by boycotting the corporations and the brands that support the Bush junta:
UK Brands to Boycott
1 Esso
2 Maxwell House
3 Microsoft
5 Lucozade
7 Hotpoint
9 Budweiser
10 Walkers Crisps

Top 25 Republican Party donors (1999-2003) with global consumer brands:

Altria (formerly Philip Morris) $6.5m

AT&T $5.36m

Microsoft Corp. $5.12m

United Parcel Services $4.48m

MBNA $4.38m

Citigroup $3.93m

Pfizer $3.9m

FedEx Corp. $3.4m

Bristol-Myers Squibb $3.4m

GlaxoSmithKline $3m

Wal-Mart $2.85m

General Electric $2.58m

ExxonMobil $2.35m

AOL Time Warner $2.31m

Anheuser Busch $2.23m

ChevronTexaco $2.2m

PepsiCo $1.9m

Schering Plough $1.8m

Archer Daniels Midland $1.8m

Wyeth (formerly American Home Products)$1.74m

Alticor Inc. $1.7m

American Airlines $1.62m

Ford $1.52m

BP Amoco $1.25m

Disney $1.25m
All calculations taken from the Center for Responsive Politics at
www.opensecrets.org Each of us can participate in a progressive boycott by refusing to purchase products from corporations (as those above) that support the demonic system. Each thing we do makes an impact, such as cancelling our Citicorp credit card and signing up with a more progressive credit card company such as Working Assets and buying our gas at Citgo.

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