A couple days ago I wrote a post about the topics covered in the film Ethos. Today I wanted to follow up on it.
Let's say that the movie described the current conditions with some level of accuracy. Let us surmise that the wealthiest people in the world, who are often heads of the largest corporations, use their influence to get politicians elected, to gain more money for themselves and shape public opinion using the large media companies. If that's true, what can we do as citizens to combat that? Pushing against it is good for freedom, democracy and the environment, so operating on the premise that it's true, a reasonable person could want to fight against it.
Fortunately, we have all the control. In a profit driven model, the consumers have all the control. In a republic or democracy, the voters have all the control. We just have to use that control and we can turn things around. We can make the world a better place. Here are some ideas as to how.
Stop watching the news on TV. News companies make money from ads, and how much they charge for ads is directly correlated to how many viewers they have. Take away the viewers and you take away their only revenue stream. Why reward them with money for feeding us propaganda?
Stop visiting websites of major news corporations. Fox, ABC, CNN, MSNBC are the biggest of the big ones. All of them dish propaganda and all of them get revenue from page views. If you go to their website, they get money- it's as simple as that. Stop going to their websites and you stop making the CEO millions.
Where do you get your news then? I'll let you decide. I like to listen to NPR and read Reason.com. Both are non-profits. One is funded by the government, one is funded by private donors. They both do run ads, but for me it's the least evil of the options. You'll have to do your own research and make your own choices there.
Stop buying crap you see in ads. Again, these companies make lots of money, and if they have to advertise a product it's probably not worth buying on it's own. As well, you're paying for that advertising budget when you buy it. There is no reason not to research products and companies today, information is easily available. Purchase durable products from companies who have similar ethics as you. Stop buying disposable crap that fills up landfills and makes billionaires more billionairy.
Stop using banks. There's not good reason to not use a credit union today. Banks are making tons of money off you and using that money to buy political influence and pass legislation that hurts you. Taking away their profits takes away their ability to do that. Credit cards make banks rich. If you need to use a credit card, again, look to a credit union.
Pay attention to your energy usage. Energy is a huge industry in the US. Pay attention to how much you spend on your electric bill, your gas bill, your fuel bill. Can you keep just as cool in the summer by using a fan and turning up the thermostat a couple degrees? That's a less costly way to stay comfortable. Do you pay attention to fuel economy when you buy a car? The latest generation of automobile engines get much better gas mileage than they did 5 years ago. Can you carpool or walk to the store? Can you commute on a small motorcycle that gets 60mpg instead of an SUV that gets 17? I guarantee the motorcycle will be more fun and it will extend the service life of your very expensive and useful SUV.
Be an educated voter. OK, my politics are going to show a bit here, but if you keep stamping R or D on your ballot and expect a different result than what you have now, you're nuts. If you believe the ads you see at election time but don't research how a candidate voted in the past, you're a fool. The major candidates from both parties are always under the thumb of the party leadership, which is controlled by money. Always. If you think the next tall attractive guy with all his hair is going to be different from the last one, you are willfully ignorant. Stop being willfully ignorant.
Pay attention to what you eat. Despite all the ads, Tyson may not be the most healthy chicken for you to eat. But they do make a ton of money and use it to influence politics and FDA regulations. Do some research and pay attention to your food. It's easier now than ever, many cities have services that provide you healthy local food for a flat fee. In my area it's Fair Shares and Green Bean Delivery. My wife and I use Green Bean and once a week we get $35 worth of fresh produce and eggs (and often a steak or two) delivered to our door. We eat better, are spending less and not taking in tons of chemicals and making a big company even richer than they are today.
These are all good ideas if you think that the wealthiest people, banks, media companies and government are working together for their own benefit. If half the population made these changes we'd roll back the control those entities have over us in a couple years. But better yet, even if you don't think that's the case, doing these things will make your life better. So do them. Educate yourself and live better. With any luck the effect will be contagious.