Consumers Unite!

by Philip A. Farruggio

Confucius said: “you succeeded because you tried again”. When will we realize that from the 9-month-old baby to the 99-year-old in the nursing home, we all share one connection: as consumers!. We all consume, thus we have the numbers. It’s time to organize behind that banner, behind that cause.

Let’s forget all this gobbly-goop about being a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Reform, Right to Life etc. A long time ago, the “powers that be”–aka the fat cats, the elites, the rich guys–created this “two party system”. It was a scam, a con, a shell game. What it did was divide the country into two. It polarized the political process into “column A or column B”. And they took turns (whoever was in power at the time) tapping into this scenario. Case in point: the Gulf War. Bush Senior was “the man” then, so all the Repubs favored “Desert Storm”. At first the Dems were cautious. When push (or is it Bush?) came to shove, everyone lined up to send our troops and our new high tech weapons into the desert. That was the end of the so called “peace dividend”. Then, a few years later, when ole “Billy Boy” was carrying the gauntlet, the reverse occurred concerning Kosovov- the Dems rallied round the flag, and the Repubs offered dissent- until of course they acquiesced. (“Let the carpet bombing begin!”)

The American public must stop buying into this deadly and foolish game! We must begin thinking as consumers first. When our 5 major oil companies increased their after-tax profits from 19 billion in 1999 to over 44 billion in 2000, as fuel prices increased, need I say more? Where was the outrage in Congress? Where was our President going on television demanding action for consumers who “Shelled” (and Exxoned) out hard earned cash?

Here in Florida, as power bills go up, James Broadhead, CEO of Florida Power and Light made $36.7 million in compensation for year 2000. That’s 36.7 million for one man to earn as countless “working and poor and retired stiffs” pay more and more each month – to a legal monopoly! Yes, a legal monopoly. In most areas of Florida there is no competition for electric power. There is also no competitive cable television. We see our rates increase each year, while services decrease.

Its time to think as consumers first. Then we all can join together, irregardless of past political affiliations, shouting “I’m mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore!” We should form Consumer Clubs and meet regularly: at private homes, libraries and community centers. Once each local group decides what issue to address, the process begins: letter writing, phone calling, e-mails and attendance at local government meetings “raising a stink”!

Just imagine for a moment (indulge me willya). Just imagine if the congressperson in your area suddenly got a call from his or her local office: “there are 40 people at my desk demanding that you introduce a bill charging a windfall profits tax on the U.S oil and power companies. These people are really agitated about paying higher prices, and etc. etc. etc…” When will we realize that the number one priority of most politicians is to be re-elected? They “blow with the wind”.

What if at a future city council meeting 40 or 50 or even 100 people show up, demanding to be heard. They then look the council in the eye, and say “enough over development of our fair town, causing traffic and congestion and accidents and overcrowded schools. Change the zoning laws, or rather, enforce the current ones. Stop this overgrowth!” Do you think maybe they’d get the message?

I don’t know about you, but when I eat a tomato, I don’t want to bite into a flounder. If consumers nationwide actually got agitated, and pressured their representatives, perhaps we’d have laws mandating the labeling of all genetically engineered foods. They have them in Europe. Only as consumers, united from issue to issue, can the concept of democracy begin to take hold. Only then can we use the power we share, the numbers we have, to pressure the “caretakers” of this asylum to treat us with dignity. So, leave the “labels” for the soup, and other genetically altered products. Unite, as consumers!.

Philip A. Farruggio is a Port Orange, Florida small businessman, independent progressive writer and radio talk show host. He can be reached at Brooklynphilly@aol.com

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