STOP Shopping Til THEY Drop! Family Values Weekend: A new tool for change.

  • Child Sitting in a Shopping Cart

STOP Shopping Til THEY Drop!

Family Values Weekend: A new tool for change.

By Philip Anderson

Progressives are often frustrated by the overwhelming odds against building a better society. Money rules elections. Corporate lobbying trumps public opinion. Voters are apathetic and vote against their own interests. Crazy reactionaries succeed and common sense reforms go nowhere. We organize, march, write letters, contact our legislators, sign petitions, and advocate for the common good seemingly to no avail.

Perhaps we need a new tool. A new protest that will demand attention and, perhaps, get better results. A tool that even huge multinationals can’t ignore. A tool government can’t arrest you for using. A tool so easy, and risk free, that everyone can participate.

In a consumer based economy, people DO have real power. What we buy, or do not buy, DOES have an impact on what is produced andChildren playing on playground equipment imported. This gives us collective power. Why don’t we use this power?

Economic boycotts are not new. They have occasionally worked in the past but they have problems. Getting enough consumers to take action is difficult. Like with voting, the ignorance and apathy of the general public is a huge obstacle.

Boycotts also have unintended consequences. The wrong people get hurt. Boycotts, like strikes, can be difficult to sustain. Business and government have more resources and staying power than the people. Strikes ask people to risk losing their jobs and whatever small financial security they may have. Strikes and peaceful protests can get you beat up, jailed, or even killed.

I would suggest a “Family Values Weekend” as a new tool. It is a limited economic boycott. The first weekend of the month people simple stay home with their families. Don’t go anywhere or BUY anything. Ideally this would include not using the Internet, cable TV, or cell phones. The goal is to create a reduction activity that is VISIBLE enough to upset the power structure.

The Family Values Weekend has several new twists that make it safe, sustainable, and expandable. EVERYONE can do it from ANYHERE. Local economies are not hurt. Jobs are not lost. Families are not placed at risk or asked to sacrifice anything significant. In fact it can help build family relationships. This protest tool can’t be stopped by the National Guard. It can grow each month as more people participate. It can be maintained indefinitely. The beauty of this protest is it requires what the Americans are best at…DOING NOTHING!

Father/Daughter Playing on playgroundEach first weekend as more and more people stay home, as the Mall becomes less crowded, as the traffic less congested, as the Internet hits drop, maybe the power structure will wonder what is going on. Maybe they will get concerned about their profits in a consumer driven society. Maybe they will get a clue. Maybe they will begin to understand that we, and the economy, all depend on each other. Everyone does better when EVERYONE does better.

What would have happened if public employees and teachers had taken economic action following the passage of Act 10? What if all the folks who had their take-home pay cut, their bargaining rights taken away, or their retirement threatened, had called to cancel the cable TV or weekend at the Dells? What if they had cut eating out, buying that new car, or remodeling the kitchen? Many of them had to do this anyway, and this is one reason Wisconsin’s economy is still weak. But had they “connected the dots” for local business owners, I think Walker would be history.

I think a “Family Values Weekend” can connect the dots. Let’s start now with Governor Walker’s budget proposals. Let’s show him, his legislative cronies and out-of-state supporters, what we think of his budget priorities. They put profits and greed first. We put people first. They want austerity. Let’s make sure that austerity trickles up to their pocket books. Every first weekend let’s stop shopping until these radicals drop their unnecessary, mean spirited, destructive agenda.