FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Move Your Money

Main Street Wisconsin—harbinger for the nation—is becoming aware that our democracy is being threatened by some very rich, powerful people. The super-wealthy are threatening the very core of our democracy as they consolidate more and more wealth and power. For those who recognize this conflict and want to resist, the first thing to realize is there is no quick-fix.

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote, in 1857, “If there is no struggle there is no progress. … Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Benjamin Franklin reportedly told people that the form of government our founders had created “is a democracy- if you can keep it.” Preserving our democracy is not something we can accomplish with one powerful demonstration. Like freedom, democracy’s cost is eternal vigilance.

I receive dozens of requests each month to provide financial support for progressive organizations. They talk about matching the Koch funded tours or Karl Rove’s mega fund ready to pour millions of dollars into Wisconsin campaigns. It is clear to me, however, that as long as these rich and powerful people are skimming the profits off the work, savings, and consumption of millions of Main Street folks, our contributions will never match the money they are now free to pump into any political campaign they choose.

Money controls mass media and advertising, which has an undeniable effect on the public opinion we need to challenge the policies that are destroying our society. The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United has made it completely clear we cannot compete effectively by matching them dollar for dollar. It is tempting to fight fire with fire, but matching the political spending of billionaires is not a sustainable plan. We need to fight fire with water.

The Firefighters in Wisconsin have again taken the lead on this by taking their money out of the M&I Bank. M&I has provided strong financial support to Governor Walker, and individual firefighters were able to withdraw enough money in one day to force the Madison bank to close its doors early. We need to follow this lead. We need to understand that every dollar the Koch brothers pour into union-busting once belonged to one of us; then we gave it to them. We fuel the power of super-rich individuals and corporations when we use their banks and buy their services and products. We must stop paying for our own destruction if we are to have any hope of regaining our democracy.

It is often difficult to follow the money and know who you are supporting in the products and services you purchase. Fox News and their advertisers, ATT, and virtually any large bank, however, are clear examples of where we can start, and more and more web-sites are telling us which corporations advertise on Fox News and which companies the Koch brothers own. We have the power to put an end to the increasing centralization of wealth and power—if we have the discipline once we realize this is where the real battle is being fought. I recently heard my non-profit Group Health Cooperative advertising on Rush Limbaugh’s show. I called the marketing director and told her I did not want my money funding Limbaugh’s hate. I was told I was not the first to have complained about this and she would stop the advertising immediately. I asked her to write me when it had been accomplished.

A very basic start is to move your money and insurance to credit unions and mutual insurance companies. Beyond that, buy everything you possibly can—including gas—from cooperatives and small, locally-based producers. No more Bank America, McDonalds, Subway, or Starbucks; even when they are so convenient. This may cost more in the short-run, and it may mean we do not have access to 1000 ATMs, but it is a sustainable plan for regaining our democracy. If we want change without struggle and inconvenience, Douglass reminds us, we may as well quit now and allow the rollback to slavery.

DAVID D. LEEPER has served as a District Attorney in Wisconsin and has taught human rights, peace and conflict, negotiations, and rule of law courses in Ukraine, Spain, Zimbabwe, and the United States.

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail