Feeding the Hand That Bites Us

boycott walmartI have a dear friend of several decades’ standing. He is well-travelled, well-spoken, well-educated, and a great cook.

He also is a very linear thinker, who can see straight-ahead solutions when others are seeing only obstacles. He also has very clear ideas of what is right and what is not, and has no patience for stupid or greedy people in authority who harm others by their malicious deeds or lack of caring.

Some of these traits seem to be a natural part of who he is; some seem to have been instilled by the 20+ years he spent in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring as a Master Gunnery Sergeant and decorated combat veteran.

And his very linear solution to some of these issues–like Wall Street bankers concocting schemes that make themselves very rich while causing working families lose their homes; or large companies that steal wages from their already low wage employees; or war profiteers who charge outrageous prices for providing substandard services and goods to the American Military–is that there is nothing wrong with these companies that a satchel charge or two in some boardrooms wouldn’t fix.

I’m pretty sure this approach isn’t intended to be taken literally; but it does suggest a push-back strategy for the millions of us who ferociously resent being made into second or third class citizens at the whim of a few hyper-rich individuals who have bought their way into control of the American electoral process.

Take our business somewhere else. Corporate Persons don’t have souls or consciences, so appealing to their better nature is useless when there isn’t one.

But they do have bottom lines. And any action that affects that gets their attention.

A few modest push-back suggestions:

Dump your bank—join a credit union

Add up the fees your bank is charging you to use your own money. Wouldn’t that several hundred dollars a year be more useful in your own pocket? Not to mention the teeth-gnashing you might go through remembering how the big banks used our tax money to bail themselves out from their own bad decisions—then repaid us by hiking fees and foreclosures, after they had gone back to their old ways.

Instead, join a credit union. Credit unions are member-owned; normally, every member owns one share. They provide nearly all banking services, but don’t exist to maximize corporate profits. Surplus income is returned to the members. Many are chartered to local business groups, like teachers or engineers, so money stays local.

Don’t Buy Their Stuff           

  • Walmart: The Walton family uses their vast wealth (over $145 billion, and most of it inherited) to fight unions and turn public schools private. Also active in dark-money efforts to privatize Social Security, and Medicare.
  •  Home Depot: Founders Peter Langone, and Bernard Marcus contribute heavily to far-right politicians like Chris Christie and Eric Cantor, and are major union-fighters. Langone recently compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler.
  • Koch Bros: They have parlayed the money their father made building refineries and pipelines for Josef Stalin into a huge collection of companies, university departments, and think tanks. Leaders in dark-money efforts in union-busting and privatizing public education, Medicare, and Social Security.
  • Amway: The DeVos family is likewise active in dark-money efforts for union-busting and movements to use tax money to fund private schools. Richard DeVos founded Amway, and also owns the NBA Orlando Magic.
  • Cintas Corporation: Work uniforms and corporate apparel. The Farmer family that owns the business is also active in dark-money efforts for union-busting, privatizing public schools, Social Security, and Medicare.
  • Charles Schwab: The country’s largest independent brokerage firm. Likewise active in union-busting and efforts to privatize public schools, Social Security, and Medicare.
  • Ganahl Lumber CompanyChain of private home improvement centers, based in Orange County, California. Company President Peter Ganahl is on the Board of Counsellors for the viciously anti-union Orange County Lincoln Club, which bankrolled the Citizens United Supreme Court case, and the movie that led up to it. The OC Lincoln Club also sponsored Proposition 32, the so-called “Paycheck Protection” measure, which basically strips unions of their fund-raising capabilities while leaving large private and corporate donors untouched. The club sponsored similar efforts with Proposition 75 in 2005 and Proposition 226 in 1998.
  • Cielito Lindo Restaurant, South El Monte, California: Teresa Hernandez, Chair and Owner, is on the Board of Directors of the Orange County Lincoln Club. See comments above. Ms. Hernandez also serves on the Lincoln Club’s Immigration Reform Ad Hoc Subcommittee.
  • ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council): Corporate-funded group that has corporate executives and state legislators working in closed door sessions to draft “model” bills that put corporate interests ahead of ordinary citizens. The bills then go to state legislatures and get enacted. ALEC is responsible for many anti-labor bills and “Stand Your Ground” laws. ALEC is also launching a spin-off group, ACCE (American City County Exchange) to bring these closed-door legislative meetings to our towns and villages.
  • Las Vegas and other resorts: The Palazzo and the Venetian are both owned by Sheldon Adelson. He is one of the main contributors, both dark money and open money, to anti-union candidates like Mitt Romney.
  • Anything Trump: Enough said.

Join a Union

Don’t stay a voice in the wilderness. Lend your voice and a few bucks to somebody who will effectively speak for you. You don’t necessarily have to be in a trade or craft to join a union. Check with the Orange County Labor Federation or the California Labor Federation to see what unions you might be able to join.

City, county, and state governments belong to groups to promote their own interests, and business also have many of these. It’s only fair that the rest of us have someone to speak up for us, too.

Also, check out Labor411.org. It’s a very complete list of union-made products and union services, updated frequently.

Don’t Watch their movies

“But, gee, I really like Bruce, or Ah-nuld,” goes the reply. Fine, but remember that each one of these actors who supports a Republican candidate is supporting someone who has pledged to take away your union organizing rights, cripple your schools, send your job overseas and have you shoulder more of the tax burden so wealthy individuals and corporations can pay less.

The list of Republican actors includes Gary Sinise, whose Friends of Abe group appears to have scammed the IRS into granting an unwarranted tax exempt status; Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight, Stephen Baldwin, Arnold   Schwarzenegger, and Dwayne Johnson.

There are others, of course. A group called Hollywood Congress of Republicans has many members who are reluctant to state their political allegiance, fearing box office consequences.

These can be real and effective. The low box office receipts of the recent movie “Ender’s Game,” have been cited by industry publications as audience reaction to the author’s public homophobic views.

Don’t Buy Their Advertiser’s Stuff

Sometimes businesses don’t know their products or services are advertised on hate radio. Flush Rush is one organization that identifies Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers. You can contact these companies and tell them you aren’t buying their stuff because they advertise on this show.

Conclusions

Yes, it’s class warfare, and no, we didn’t start it. But remember, the advantage is totally ours if we choose to use it. Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian needs to fill rooms a whole lot more than we need to fill one of them. We can always pick another hotel; write and tell them.

We don’t have to ship FedEx; we have a superb (despite what some politicians say) U.S. Postal Service that can handle our needs. And, it’s union.

john macmurray

Likewise, there are insurance companies besides Farmers, gasoline suppliers besides Chevron or Shell, and pain relievers besides Bayer.

Fifteen companies have already dropped out of ALEC due to public pressure. If more of us vote with our wallets, and tell the ALEC companies and the right wing actors and the banks that we’re no longer paying them to ruin our air, our water, our standard of living, and our kids’ futures or to support people who do these things—we may get some actual progress toward a better life for us all.

John MacMurray 

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Comments

  1. harry says

    Most “devil dogs” do not think as your friend nor do my Marine friends.. I have some of the same thoughts as you, but only a few. I use a credit union. My self managed investment account is housed at a firm for members only. I buy at WMT and own some stock. I doubt the lady in your photo is a long time union member. I own HD stock and do not mixed investments with politics, they are two different things. I do not give politicians money, it is bad enough I give them my vote, which I do because I feel it is my duty to vote. The Koch brothers are as free as you and I and can do as they like with their cash. I am sure you do the same as do I. My brokerage firm would not accept you as a client but they would probably accept your friend. The world is different for us all, I live within the rules I select from those available. I wish you well, retired vet.

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