Monday, January 03, 2005

Polishing the Brass on the Titanic

I'm all for boycotting corporations and businesses that promote a conservative ideological message, employ sweatshops or violate environmental and human rights regulations. I haven't bought a Domino's pizza in over a decade and for nearly two years, I've been actively trying to dissuade all of my friends and family from shopping at WalMart. But I was disappointed when I found out last week that the new name on the liberal shopping shit list is Atrios, among others bloggers have decided to drop partnerships and links and are encouraging their readers to stop shopping there because it was revealed that 61% of their political donations go to Conservatives. However, as Ezra at Pandagon points out, it isn't quite that simple:
But cases like Amazon are more complicated. If you look at where the money's going, the trend is less ideological and more pay-to-play. Utah Republican Chris Cannon, for instance, got the most in congressional contributions, with $4,000. But he's been a leader on the internet tax moratorium. And following Chris Cannon is Democrat John Dingell, with $3,500. In the Senate, McCain leads with $4,000, and Byron Dorgan (D) and John Ensign (R) bring up his rear, with $2,500 each. No donations were made in the presidential race. Further, Amazon is a good company. Their reaction to the earthquake was inspiring. They've created a viable e-commerce model that bursts with ingenious and unbelievably helpful innovations. I spend hours going through lists and reader reviews, and more time than I even want to admit discovering new bands through ever-elongating chains of recommended clips. Their used sellers marketplace has saved me a ton of money and allowed me to try all sorts of books I could have never otherwise afforded. Is it right to drop them because their political contributions tilt away from my ideal?

The Amazon situation is different. They don't push any ideology, they just make donations to Politicians that are backing legislation that helps them. That's not great, from a progressive-ideals standpoint, but from a business stand point it makes perfect sense. The problem is that so far, the alternative of choice among my fellow bloggers is Barnes & Noble. But B&N isn't any better, really. They may make donations to Democrats but they treat their employees like shit. I know, because I used to be one. And B&N is still a corporation and Democrats are still spineless. So this particular boycott is rather silly. Choosing to shop at one vapid corporation over another is splitting hairs to such a fine degree that it makes my head hurt. We have bigger problems, like our country's continued slide into fascism to worry about whether or not the money I just spent on a book at Amazon might end up in the pocket of one of the few moderate Republicans left in Washington.

If you really want an alternative to Big Corporate bookstores on line, you might try supporting Powell's, since they're really a good, independent company, instead of just a not-as-bad-as-the-other-guy supercorporation.


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