Beyond the Banks: 3 More Ways to Move Your Money Away from Corporations
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On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country organized to move their money from predatory big banks to smaller local banks and credit unions. After 650,000 Americans joined credit unions during the month of October alone—more than in all of 2010 combined—even more people organized to make November 5 the beginning of a collective blow to the corporate financial institutions that crashed our economy.
Is there a move-your-money equivalent for corporate power? Can we organize to actively—and sustainably—move our money from the corporations that control our political systems to sustain their greed, and invest in more just and sustainable economies?
A few Americans have chosen to live full-time at occupations—enjoying the free food, medical care and childcare in the “ideal” society created by the Occupy movement—but most of us are still living and working in a capitalist society, where we need to buy things. What we buy, and more importantly, where we buy it, could be a collective, quiet revolution that begins to fight corporate control and infiltrates our broken economic system with the beginnings of a new, conscientious economy oriented around economic justice.
1. Buy Local
Corporate chain retailers homogenize communities, taking what was once local money and transforming it into corporate revenue. Supporting locally owned businesses does not only preserve communities--it makes the difference between local economic growth and fueling corporate greed.
For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 remains in the local economy. If this money is spent at a big-box mart or chain store, only $14 remains while the rest is redistributed at corporate headquarters. This works because local businesses typically follow what has become known as the “local multiplier effect”—instead of outsourcing labor and redirecting profits to the corporate machine, local business owners invest in local labor and keep their profits in the local economy.
Introducing a chain retailer to a community—for example, a Barnes and Nobles in a town that already has two local bookstores—diverts profits from the pre-existing stores and severely reduces local economic impact. Though merchandise sales increase, over half of the revenue that would have been enjoyed by the local bookstores is pumped into the corporate chain, ultimately forcing the smaller retailers out of business and seriously limiting local economic growth.
This is easy to change. The 3/50 Project calls upon people to choose three local businesses, and spend their $50 at these businesses instead of at chain retailers. The campaign even recently released an iPhone app, Look Local, to help people locate and support nearby small business retailers.
2. Buy Union Made
It is not news that corporations often eschew labor regulations in favor of maximizing profits, outsourcing manufacturing jobs overseas to workers who are willing to work long hours for minimal wages. For many of these products—cars, clothing and other manufactured goods—there is an alternative brand that is manufactured in the United States by a unionized labor force. Supporting these union-made products, instead of foreign-made products of unregulated labor and sweatshops, fuels American jobs, and supports the unions that organize and fight to make sure these jobs have fair pay, benefits and proper working conditions.
There are many different ways to support union-made products, and several resources listing what is and isn't union-made.
If you are in the market for a new car, consider American brands such as Ford, GM or Chrysler. Though they sell less than half of the cars bought in the United States, two-thirds of their parts are manufactured here. These cars use significantly more domestic parts than foreign car companies—which translates into over one million jobs in the domestic manufacturing sector. Here is the 2011 Union-Made vehicles list.