Please consider the following:
- Local Governments, Churches, Community Groups, Prominent Business Men And Others Are All Divesting From Big, Corrupt Banks
- Bank customers flee to credit unions
- Massive pile of news results about closing bank accounts
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the protest that works.
This is the protest that actually wakes up the powers that be.
This is the protest that generates results, that generates real change.
It’s the protest that says:
I do not believe in you, therefore I do not do business with you. Not another dime until you change your ways.
You want to change corporate America? Do not do business with companies you don’t believe in. You don’t like X company’s labor practices or wage practices or environmental practices? Don’t buy another thing from them. Find someone else. This is the age when you can Google for nearly everything and probably find 5 alternatives online that are cheaper, better quality, or more environmentally friendly.
You want to change the rule of big banks? Do not lend them your money. Find a local credit union or community bank and bank with them instead. Check out mycreditunion.gov to find one near you, then go close your account with the big bank and do business elsewhere.
You want to change the tone and tenor of Washington politics? Do not give a dime to any candidate running for office, period, because the electoral system is funded by individual donations as well as large companies. You want to make real change happen with your money? Skip the political candidate and donate to the local food pantry instead.
On a big picture level, the ballot box certainly is one of the most powerful tools that a citizen of a country (if they have the right to democratically elect their leadership) has access to. But on a day to day basis, there’s an even more powerful tool: your wallet. Make conscious choices about what you believe in and support those choices with your money. Encourage others to do so as well. You don’t need to convince everyone, just 4-5 friends and colleagues to make similar choices.
When you choose to stop doing business with someone, let them know why. Send them an email. Post it on their facebook page. Write up a blog post. Say to them very publicly and succinctly, with substantiation or citation of the facts you used to make your decision, here is why I am not giving you another dime. Hashtag it #notanotherdime or something like it so that others can see you and join you.
As evidenced by the powerful protests above, it does work.
Disclosure: I’ve been banking with a credit union since 2001. I do not hold investments outside of index funds in any banks.
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The key benefit of a massive street protest, however, is psychological. If you feel like you’re the only one acting, you’re less likely to act. If you’re part of an active community, however, you’re a lot more likely to join in.
Granted, these days it’s a LOT easier to coordinate and congregate digitally, but real disruptive occupations are effective symbols that can invoke emotional responses. Those emotions drive us to more tangible action.
Hell, my business is built entirely on that concept.
Exactly. No one wants to be first. The goal is to go second before everyone else.
Why not do both? They’re not mutually exclusive.
Oh, I’m not advocating an either/or, just trying to avoid underplaying the visceral effects of an angry mob. The former usually leads to the latter, especially when less obtrusive efforts generate tepid response.
Tangentially, is this the same Ben Godwin that wrote “Skin and Bone”? I still love that album, I’ve got about half of it on my “rocket down a mountain at snow-melting speeds” playlist.
“Vote with your wallet” seems to be the only thing that actually works.
If people boycotted a company for a month, most would go under.
After 9/11 the airlines almost went under after 7 days of no flying.
I haven’t bought gas at Exxon since the Valdez disaster. Same goes for BP.
All of the nonsense with the MPAA/RIAA in bed with the FCC and other companies (thanks for all the stupid HDMI cables) could be nipped in the bud by boycotting ALL media (don’t go to the movies, don’t rent movies, don’t buy music) for a month. If everyone in the US did that, their slush fund would dry up. This is especially important with the new legislation that they’re attempting to push through regarding music in home movies, etc. (What happens if I film my friends at a party and the TV is on in the background?)
And if you’re concerned about the artists, only buy music from the artists directly. There’s enough ways to do that now, and side step the bloated distribution model.
The unfortunate reality is that we can barely get any national participation in most causes, so the chance of actually getting a 51% majority voting with their wallets is slim.
I remember Ani Difranco at a convert many years ago say “spending a dollar is a political act”. It stuck with me. Great post, Christopher.
You had me up until the part about encouraging people to dance around libel by posting something to someone’s Facebook page that you stop doing business with. That’s a little irresponsible. Maybe big brands is what you mean, yes? Like, how everything (no, everything) in Target is from China? Or maybe if we decide not to watch NBC anymore because we dislike their programming? Or maybe you’re terribly disappointed with your new Ping irons? Then yes, post on their FB page. But you can’t do something like that on a local level. Ok, maybe if you’re really pissed and have tried really hard to resolve problems – and if you clear it with your lawyer first – yeah, post on their page. But otherwise, try to resolve conflicts directly and privately.
This is great! I recently left Wells Fargo after several bad experiences and went to a local CU. Me and my wife are SO glad we did! Thanks for sharing this.
It is very interesting to read this post. I like it.
Fantastic article, this message needs to be put out there as much as possible, thank you!
Agreed, though it generally takes a lot of cumulative one-dime protesting to amount to something that will motivate change. Unfortunately most of us are too easily swayed by other factors… we want what we want. Case in point: how many people would have to stop lining up for the latest Apple gadgetry for them to get the message that we disapprove of the deplorable (documented) labour practices in the Chinese factories producing their wares? And how likely is that to happen, when the fact that we want what we want for ourselves trumps our desire for change that may not benefit us directly and immediately?
Very true – I’ve been telling people to vote with their wallets for years. Especially when it comes to our trade imbalance with dictatorships.