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Hit Them Where It Hurts
May 28, 2003
By Michael Paine

A while ago a friend asked why I never went to public demonstrations. The reason, I told him, is that they don't do any good. Don't get angry - I understand how committed you are to change. But really, they don't do any good. The people with the power don't care what you think - whether you march in the streets or sit at home and fume.

The same goes for the emails, petitions and articles currently bouncing around the web on every subject from the deregulation at the FCC, to the war on Iraq, to the Patriot Act. No one who makes policy cares or reads these things.

Did you see Chris Matthews on Jon Stewart's show? Where he referred to the "man on the street" interviews as "peasants under glass"? That's what you're dealing with.

I'm telling you this as a prelude to giving you the benefit of my wisdom (lucky you): liberals, progressives, Democrats, Greens - whatever - will not accomplish anything by debating the issues, or appealing to democracy, or writing well-research articles - or anything. Because the opposition - Republicans, and their shills in the press - are not a political entity; they're a business.

They're a business that's in the business of selling the services of the government to the highest bidder. Deregulation. Tax breaks. Access. Contracts. Licenses. This is what the government controls - and under Democrats, it's what the government can use to "promote the general welfare".

But Republicans aren't interested in "general welfare". They're interested in money. In business. In "private welfare'. That's not just a different political party, it's a different world-view. And what they do with the power of government is sell it. To them, the Fed is just a giant business-to-business service provider. Companies pay, they get.

They don't care about right or wrong. They don't care about democracy. They don't care about facts, or statistics, or the budget deficit. And now, they no longer care about public opinion either, because they simply bought the means to shape it. Democracy doesn't matter - money and power matters.

Do you really think you'll change the way they manipulate the news - and public opinion - by pointing out their lies? Good luck. FOX News doesn't care if you catch them in lies. No more than the Bush Administration cares that it gets caught in lies. They're not playing "democracy" or "journalism" - they're in business to make money and accumulate power. And the sad fact is that most Americans are too busy to question whether they get the truth when they watch "the news" - so the lies work.

March in the street with signs all you want - the lies and the money keep flowing. Bush raised $22 million in one night this week.

If you've found yourself stunned and amazed at how bad things have got, and you just can't fathom how it could have got this way - that's because you've been looking at it all wrong. This is just business, and you aren't a "citizen" - you're a consumer.

And that's the only one way to beat them. Hit them where they hurt - in the pocketbook. All you are to them is a consumer, so you have to fight back as a consumer. Think of them as "money demons" that can only be harmed by money.

You want to hurt Fox? Boycott its advertisers. MSBNC? Boycott its advertisers. CNN? Boycott its advertisers. Period. Then you'll see them squirm. Just like O'Reilly squirmed when there was talk of a boycott last year - he literally panicked, and called would-be boycotters everything short of "communists". He was scared, folks.

Need more proof that this is the only way? What finally got South Carolina to take the Confederate Flag off its state flag? It was a boycott by African-American consumers. That put more fear into the good 'ol boys than the Civil War did. And it worked - quickly.

Here's a plan: organize, and start small. Start with an easy target on a vulnerable network: Michael Savage on MSNBC. Send a polite letter to send to all MSNBC's advertisers (not just Savage's). No long-winded political speeches, just a simple "I find his views offensive and I will not buy your products while you advertise on that network". Tell everyone you know to do the same. Then sit back and watch the fireworks.

And what you'll get in response will blow your mind. They'll freak. They'll call you un-American, say you're squashing free speech, claim you're putting Americans out of work - because dying money demons make a lot of noise when they go. But don't get sucked in.

You couldn't - not if you boycotted from today til the day you die - put more Americans out of work than one of these advertisers does every time it has a layoff and sends the work to Asian sweatshops.

And you'd never in a thousand years cost as many jobs as Bush already has. So don't buy it.

This is the only way. Remember that the $22 million Bush raised this week probably originally came from YOU. You gave it to a company for some stupid thing like a soft drink, and they gave it to their CEO, who gave it to Bush.

It's time to flex some consumer muscle. And you'd better get started; the election is sooner than you think.


"Michael Paine" is the pseudonym of a capitalist who lives in New England.

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