Yesterday's diary Slouching toward neofeudalism was right on target.
The neo-feudal lords and plundering plutocrats thrive on our money, which is to say, our consumption habits. This means you can help pull the plug on them, or at least remove your consent.
More on the flip.
E.C.S.T.A.S.Y. — End Consumption, Save The Air & Sea, Y'all!
A support group and discussion forum for those who want to kick the habits of consumption that are damaging the world we live in.
The key to de-throning the lords of looting, is to deprive them of the money that is the souce of their power. Since they are so dependent on their lavish lifestyles, huge income streams, and huge capital flows, even a small percentage decrease will have a significant effect.
First, align your purchasing with your economic class interests as well as your ecological interests.
What you're looking for are companies that have strong and effective employee ownership, or strong and effective unions. Rank-order your options accordingly. For example, give them letter grades as follows:
A: Strong employee ownership or strong union.
B: Weak employee ownership or weak union.
C: No employee ownership or no union.
D: Known exploiter of labor or source of plutocracy.
F: Notorious exploiter of labor or source of plutocracy.
Always try to do business with the As and Bs, and avoid the Ds and Fs like plague.
In theory, certain Wall Street baddies are partnerships, that function in a manner similar to that of employee-owned companies, but clearly that doesn't make them any more worker-friendly than your typical overseas sweat shop.
Second, move your personal savings to a Credit Union.
Credit unions are by definition (and by statute) consumer co-ops that are owned by their members. This means one person, one vote, and you get to vote for the Board of Directors. You can also run for the Board, and in many credit unions, you will have a good chance of getting elected. At that point, you have a direct say in the financial policies that affect your community.
Also by statute, credit unions are limited to lending money to members of their local communities: home loans, car loans, home improvement loans, and personal loans including credit cards. This means that the money stays in the community, where it fuels the local economy.
Unlike banks, credit unions do not return a profit to investors. This means they can pay slightly higher interest on various forms of savings, can have lower costs for checking accounts, and lower interest rates on credit cards. Keeping your dough in the credit union will cost you less and earn you more, than keeping it in one of the big rotten banks that just looted the economy.
"But I need to have ATMs all over town!" In fact you do: the credit unions have a co-op ATM network, so your debit card should work in any credit union's ATM without paying a nasty fee. In any case, you can always get cash back when you use a credit union card at the grocery store, and beyond that, a little bit of planning will make it unnecessary to even think about using off-network ATMs.
Bottom line is, there's every good reason to move your dough, and no good reason to wait another day. Look in your local telco Yellow Pages under Credit Union. In the current edition of the Oakland California Yellow Pages, that's on page 290 - 291, and there are about 24 different credit unions listed.
With enough people...
If enough people move their money out of the big rotten banks and into credit unions, two things will happen.
First, local economies will benefit from the money being lent and circulated locally. Relocalization is a key pillar of sustainable economics.
Second, the big rotten banks will take a serious hit. A few years ago they were so paranoid about this that they tried to get the law changed to effectively shut down all credit unions. Fortunately the fight-back was so intense that they lost.
Think about this: the big rotten banks were so threatened by credit unions, that they tried to outlaw them. That should tell you something about how much power you have by simply moving your money.
Now go out and do it.
Here are a few important links:
- Annie Leonard's crucial movie, The Story of Stuff.
- An invaluable tool for calculating the ecological footprint of your lifestyle, from the good folks at Redefining Progress. What's your score?
- SCRAP - a creative reuse center, store and workshop space.
Donations of high quality, low cost, re-usable materials such as textiles, paper, jewelry findings, wood, buttons and plastics are collected from businesses, institutions and individuals then sorted, displayed and distributed by SCRAP for artists, educational and community groups.
For more creative reuse centers around the country, click here.
- Philosophical perspectives on sustainability, civilization and the role of human nature from Jason Godesky.
The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,793 groups with 7,208,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on “Browse Groups” above the search box. Have fun!
If you have a resource that should be included in ECSTASY diaries, please include the link and a few words about it in the comments.
ECSTASY diaries will appear most often on weekends and Wednesday evenings. All diaries dealing with the problems of living in a Consumerist society are potential candidates. If you think you've got something to contribute, please contact WarrenS and he'll schedule you in.
The next diary planned is expected on Sunday, May 9, when rb137 will tell us about war and metals in the Central African Congo.
The ECSTASY series thus far:
February 28: Introducing ECSTASY.
March 7: The Work of Julian Lee and Juliet Schor: Two Voices of Sanity.
March 10: G2Geek's Measure The Power.
March 14: Earthfire promoted Annie Leonard's appearance in Washington, DC.
March 21: RL Miller tells us about Chickens.
March 24: G2Geek prompts an unbelievable discussion about the
difference between Consumerist Time and Hunter-Gatherer Time.
March 28: citisven shares a thought-provoking and aesthetically satisfying look at the ways that one person's trash is another person's art materials.
April 4: WarrenS gives us the good word on Making Homemade Musical Instruments.
April 7: G2geek talks about what makes for robust and sustainable technology.
April 11: B Amer tells us how to find ECSTASY on our bicycles.
April 18: rb137 reviews Judith Levine's book, "Not Buying It!"
April 25: mwmwm's powerful rumination on our collective complicity in consumerism.
April 29: G2geek discusses the need for a new economic and emotional narrative.
May 2: WarrenS gives us perspectives on time and our lives with Eight Thoughts About Timescale.