Thursday, May 21, 2009

What we boycott in our family.

What do we boycott in the Hadley-Ives family? There are a few thing we try not to buy, and then there are companies we try to avoid. When I was a kid in middle school I already boycotted certain products, partly for political reasons. I remember certain brands of shoes being popular, but I wouldn’t let my parents buy them for me or wear them because I thought they were made in non-democratic countries where the workers weren’t free. I still make some political decisions when I’m behaving as a consumer. I’ll share those now.

One of the companies I boycott is Exxon-Mobil. I won’t buy gas at one of their stations, and I won’t go to any of the companies that are owned by ExxonMobil. This boycott is mainly motivated by ExxonMobil’s funding for politically-motivated attacks on science around climate change. I believe they have even hired people to attack critics and journalists who have tried to expose how ExxonMobil fought the idea that fossil fuels were contributing to climate change and global warming. I attribute much of the delay in the American political will to make meaningful changes to avoid or diminish global warming to the campaign of ExxonMobil. That’s why I never stop at their gas stations.

Royal Dutch Shell is another company I cannot abide. I hold them partly responsible for the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, an author and businessman who complained about conditions in the oil producing area of the Niger Delta. He believed that not enough of the profits from the oil extraction was getting back to help raise the living standards of the people who lived in the areas where drilling was taking place. He launched a non-violent movement for economic and social development and justice. When the Nigerian government arrested him and decided to kill him I believe Shell could have applied pressure to stop his execution. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Shell was in fact giving indications to the Nigerian government that the Shell corporation wanted Saro-Wiwa silenced. So, I never buy gas at Shell stations, nor do I buy any Shell products.

I don’t shop at the Family Dollar general stores. I find the sweat-shop retail discount chains like this depressing. Walmart and Sam’s Clubs are other stores I scrupulously avoid unless there is an emergency and no alternative. These are part of the trend of corporations delivering shoddy, cheap goods made by workers from unfree countries where workers get killed if they try to organize and environmental and job safety protections are minimal. This provides lower prices, but it also means lower wages for low-skilled American workers and workers in other nations where decent labor laws and political freedoms keep production costs slightly higher. Not only this, but these companies have a tendency to treat employees unfairly (unpaid overtime, stealing time from employees, etc.), which is exacerbated by the way the companies set the goal of maximizing profits so far ahead of the other goals that for-profit firms should have. Finally, these sorts of companies tend to indoctrinate workers to be against unions, and they make contributions to the persons whose political views differ most distinctly from mine, so I have that motive for boycotting or at least avoiding them as much as possible.

I don’t shop at Lowe’s Home Centers. Back in early 2003 before America invaded Iraq many peace demonstrators in Champaign County, Illinois were demonstrating against the possible upcoming war in Iraq. Some of them parked vehicles in distant corners of a local Lowe’s Home Centers parking lot, far from the store, and not in any way taking parking spots from potential customers. The owners or managers of that Lowe’s store had peace demonstrators’ cars towed away, and so I will never shop at Lowe’s.

I almost never buy meat when I shop for groceries. I don’t like the industrial food production system we have in the United States. I think it dehumanizes us because it creates a bad relationship between people and the animals they eat. I will sometimes buy meat at farmers markets when I’m buying directly from a farmer who can tell me about how his animals lived and were slaughtered. I probably eat animal flesh four or five times per month, about once a week, but this is mainly because Jeri often buys or prepares food with meat in it. If I was doing more of the cooking and grocery shopping we would almost never have meat.

It’s not so much a boycott, but I really almost never watch anything on television or listen to anything on radio if commercials will interrupt what I’m watching or hearing. I find commercials ridiculous and intrusive. When I see an advertisement that I find exceptionally insulting, I try to make a note to myself to avoid buying whatever the advertisers are flogging.

I would not buy any Amway products. Amway supports some of the most reactionary political agendas, and I want none of my money going to support the people at the top of the Amway marketing pyramid.

I tend to make a point of never buying anything from companies that send me too many e-mail advertisements, and I certainly boycott all spammers. I also don’t buy things from companies that use annoying pop-up window advertisements on the Internet.

That’s about it for what we boycott.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

According to Bill Moyers, this is the beginning of a revolution in capitalism:

I think it could be cited as an example the kind of "spiritual capitalism" that integral theory predicts will be at the leading edge of culture.

E. Pierce