WHAT IF I TOLD YOU HOW YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY IS MORE POWERFUL THAN VOTING
Those new shoes you just bought lowered the national minimum wage for our future generations. Well, not exactly but where you choose to buy things does impact political decisions, including the debate over raising the minimum wage. One of the most influential corporations fighting against the wage hike is Walmart. This number one American retail employer, has spent millions of dollars to fight against the increase of minimum wage across the nation. As the journalist Ed Pilkington of the Guardian points out, Walmart’s efforts resulted in the submission of anti-increase legislation in Washington.
But how is our money really related to political power and decision making? Why does SUSU Movement encourage the support of local black owned businesses over corporate consumerism? Well, major corporations donate millions of dollars to lobbyists in an effort to get closer to our politicians, “Lobbyists are the paid persuaders whose job it is to influence the decisions of government. Typically, they operate behind closed doors, through quiet negotiations with politicians. And the influence they enjoy is constructed very consciously, using a whole array of tactics.”- Tamasin Cave and Andy Rowell.
These corporations use our money in other ways that not only influence our politicians but truly shape the view of our world and societal issues. The lobbyists’ corporate funded agenda is simple, make more money regardless of the consequences. Here is just a short list of how this corruption happens behind our backs: 1. Corporate funded lobbyists create media communications to ensure there isn’t any negative messages about their companies or business plans 2. Lobbyists influence political debate topics. Think about big oil companies that pay money to remove questions regarding global warming from our national debates 3. Corporations influence sociological and economic research from think-tanks that directly help politicians make decisions about national improvements and reform 4. Corporate funded lobbyists often persuade experts through financial gifts to say and report things that are often not true or misleading to the public 6. Corporations can even sponsor or buy a “Think Tank Service.”
Think-tanks are supposed to be research based agencies that study various parts of our nation, like economics, infrastructure, foreign policy & education. However, many think-tanks change their findings to fit the agenda of a corporate sponsor or even a political agenda. They disguise this research as unbiased, but in truth the research is created with the goal to prove a bias point and agenda, not to discover new insights. Consider global warming. How come there is so much conflicting research?!?! It is because many corporations have financially influenced the outcome of this research. They’ve funded research that would produce their own desired results and these findings pour right out of our politicians’ mouths. The war in Iraq is another prime example as the think tank American Enterprise Institute reported dozens of reasons why an invasion was necessary. The most notable finding they reported was that Saddam Hussein had “WMDs” Weapons of Mass Destruction. A fact we later discovered to be erroneously FALSE.
Probably one of the more pervasive tactics that corporations use is they flood our internet with opinions disguised as news. With an enormous budget these lobbyists are able to create fake blogs and bogus journalism that goes right to the top of the lists of our search engine results. Corporations can literally suppress negative journalism by flooding it out with positivity regarding their company and company's initiatives that too often hurt the middle and lower class black and brown communities of color. Check out this ad from Reputation Changer to see how this works. It’s shockingly effective.
And yet we are all so faithful to these corporate stores and services. We continually feed the beast that bites us. Some thinks-tanks are some of the most dubious entities out there. The Alec foundation, with Walmart as a major donor, was the foundation that was responsible for the research that produced the “Stand Your Ground” bill. This bill was a major factor in the Trayvon Martin case that let his killer free. Our spending habits are not only political, in this case it was also our livelihood.
Buying Black is not always easy and possible. But those that are able to seek out a Black owned business and buy from them as opposed to a corporation should do so. If possible we should buy from a local retailer or non-corporate entity whenever we are able to. We know it is almost impossible to do this on every purchase you make. There should be no shame in spending money at a corporation. This is a necessity as an American. What we ask is that there is pride when you don’t have to buy from a corporation. Pride when you buy a fly new outfit from the black owned boutique shop around the way. Pride when you visit the new black owned restaurant for dinner. Pride when you attend a concert by a local black artist. We encourage you to start small. Check out one of the many websites and apps that lists black owned businesses and make a small purchase for a friend’s birthday. Or perhaps you try to check your local pharmacy for your prescriptions before you set foot in Walgreens. Check out SUSU Movement’s Facebook Page for other great black creations and businesses. Subtle changes in our spending habits even if small in frequency can really start to chip away from the buying power of our corporations. Don’t let the rich buy our government! The future of our policies depends on it. Our livelihood depends on it.
“This is about giant corporations who figured out that by spending, hey, a few tens of millions of dollars, if they can influence outcomes here in Washington, they can make billions of dollars” -Senator Elizabeth Warren