Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Hey, Must Be The Money

Post-election, a series of emails went around listing who gave what to whom in terms of business's (note grammar, Roundup) campaign contributions. Now, the Chronicle turns it attentions to red vs. blue buying power - the new alternative to the time-honored boycott:

At the heart of any activist's anti-corporation campaign is an appeal for consumers to take their dollars elsewhere -- which Buyblue.org makes explicit. . . .

For consumers who no longer want to frequent an online bookseller such as Amazon.com, for example, because the majority of its political action committee's contributions (59 percent) went to Republican candidates last year, Buyblue.org offers links to blue competitors such as Barnes & Noble or Powell's.
That 41% went to blue candidates makes little difference, of course. A cursory investigation of Buyblue.org shows an impressive collection of company statistics and the framework for in-depth analysis to be added soon. Without looking too closely, however, I can already tell you that most donations will be to PACs (which can lean on way or the other) and a lot of giving will be on the local level in races that may or may not be of consequence to the parties nationally.

The listservs over which the red/blue donations came to me promptly clogged with caveats galore about how X company may be blue, but they're terrible to their workers, or the environment, etc. It gets to the point where you really can't shop anywhere anynmore - which would be a bad outcome for everyone.

While the article quickly moves from a discussion of the companies' political giving, to Buyblue's advocacy - describing it's reluctance to use the word "boycott," the difficulty of keeping "troops" fired up since, unlike elections, there's no finish line per se - it's worth pausing on the political question. In reality, most companies cast wide nets, since they'll have to talk with whomever holds office - and they're way more likely to still be around after 6 years.

Everyone on my side knows Wal-Mart is the red devil, but past that, savvy shopping gets drenched in pink, peach, teal, baby blue, purple, and about a thousand shades, hues, and tints in between. It's enough to make a shopper go crazy.

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