What Organizers and YOU Can Do For Effective Change
People seeking change have attended countless rallies, demonstrations, meetings, and get togethers and have witnessed negligible results. The usual occurrence is that like minded people talk, discuss, give and listen to speeches, and complain about the injustices of our ruling elites, corrupt government, and the shrinking economy. At the conclusion of these events, little changes and inertia prevails. Consequently frustration grows, and both interest and commitment wanes. Momentum is lost.
If a movement is to have any effect, it needs to address the peoples’ needs. So what are these needs?
The critical missing component seems to be a blueprint, a plan that specifically outlines what individuals can do bring about the desired change. Perhaps organizers of these events would do well to have speakers that not only address the problems, but also address concrete solutions that can be implemented by interested parties – simple steps that individuals can take to bring about change. Nothing breeds success like success, and it is time to start realizing success that is commensurate with the amounts of efforts being expended. Inspiration and determination are only springboards, mobilization is tantamount.
Written talking points and directions should be distributed not only to all attending the event, but also to passersby who have already witnessed the mobilization. These points would outline specific strategies and steps to accomplish the desired goals.
So, what could be included in this outline? I present the following recommendations as a starting point that can be modified and appended as the circumstances or situations warrant.
What is the ROOT CAUSE of the problem we are dealing with?
Organizers need to be careful to keep themselves focused. When veering off in too many directions the effect is a dilution of the message and effectiveness of any actions taken. Too often we attack the SYMPTOMS of a problem, rather than the ROOT CAUSE of the problems themselves.
Consider this, if you went to a doctor because you were experiencing abdominal pain, and he gave you pain killers to ease the pain, you would rightly question the doctor for treating only the SYMPTOMS of the problem (the pain). However, what is the ROOT CAUSE of this pain? Is it disease, blockage, ulcers, or something else? Why is this not being addressed?
Yet, we often focus on the SYMPTOMS, rather than ROOT CAUSES when it comes to dealing with the many social, economic, environmental, and political problems we face. The evidence for this is the fact that our elected officials no longer represent the peoples’ interests, but rather the interests of a financially elite few. For instance – bailouts for banks, tax cuts for the corporations and millionaires, lack of prosecution for Wall St bond fraud, endless wars, and many others. What these all have in common is that they help the “interests” in our nation. All of this is taking place while people suffer program cuts for elderly, veterans, homeless people, families being foreclosed upon, food aid for women with children, those needing medical care, students, and others finding themselves near the bottom of the economic pyramid. However, these are all SYMPTOMS of the problem, not the ROOT CAUSE. Demonstrating against any of these issues is demonstrating against the SYMPTOMS without addressing the ROOT CAUSE.
So, just what is the ROOT CAUSE of the issues mentioned earlier? It is MONEY IN POLITICS! It is an illusion that our elected politicians are running this country. They merely act as the hired servants and puppets of the “interests” who really run the country. Our politicians are like drug addicts and are totally addicted and dependent upon the money that the “interests” provide them. This money is provided by the “interests” to politicians who are compliant with their agenda, on order to keep them in positions power, where they can continue to serve the “interests”. With this money, the “interests” can purchase access to the legislative and appropriations processes that will benefit them directly, through wars, government contracts, deregulation, tax havens, and other things that increase their profits.
The irony is that the “interests” then recycle a small amount of these profits paid for by the taxpayers back into additional lobbying and “contributions” so that they expand their influence even more. These “interests” are actually using taxpayer money to game the system to their advantage and to the disadvantage of the people. The endless wars provide an efficient conduit for corporate welfare for the war suppliers. Deregulation allows unhindered exploitation of private and public resources regardless of consequences. Influence protects the financial elites from prosecution for multi $trillion bond fraud on Wall Street. And these are just a few of the benefits that this money in politics provides to the “interests”. In the end the politicians do what is best for the “interests”, not for the people.
Until we attack money in politics, we are only nibbling at the edges of the problem and at best solve one small symptomatic issue, but the ROOT CAUSE remains to create other problems. Movement organizers should focus on the ROOT CAUSE of their issues to increase effectiveness of any mobilization.
So what can YOU, the average person do about the ROOT CAUSE?
VOTE WITH YOUR POCKETBOOK!
Individually we cannot match the economic clout of the financial elites, but collectively we can make a huge difference by starving the machine of money.
1. Do not patronize the big banks. Withdraw your money and deposit it into a credit union, local bank, or small regional bank. These smaller banks did not engage in the massive fraud that brought our economy to its needs, and they did not take bailout money. These small banks reinvest your deposits in the local community, providing jobs and prosperity. The large banks send their profits out of your community and into corporate headquarters or into off shore tax havens. This money leaves your community, impoverishing it as well as the nation. The starving of the big banks by the public would send a HUGE message to Washington about their relationship with the financial industry.
2. Put away the credit card. Make as many of your purchases as possible with cash rather than using a credit cards. Most credit cards are issued by the 4 largest banks and they charge merchants an average of 3% for everything you place on that card. Since the costs of this are passed on to the consumer, you are literally paying a 3% bank tax for your credit card purchases. With 609 million credit cards being held by US consumers and with credit cards being used for more than $2.5 trillion in transactions every year. 3% of $2.5 trillion is a lot of money, and this does not include all the fees and interest they charge YOU. This money also gets shipped out of your community and is used by the bankers to help pay for their lavish bonuses. Stop feeding those who are fighting against us! Pay cash whenever possible.
3. Patronize your local merchants. Buy from your local hardware store rather than Home Depot. Buy from your local garden center rather than WalMart. Eat at a local restaurant, rather than the big chain. These large corporate outlets ship their profits to some out of state corporate headquarters or out of country to a tax haven, again removing money from your community and impoverishing it. The job you save may be your own. These local merchants will keep the money in your community enriching it. With 2 out 3 corporations paying no taxes, this means YOU are paying for the police to protect their business, YOU are paying for the military to protect their overseas profits. Then these corporations keep their profits, pay exorbitant CEO compensation, and ship the money into tax havens leaving YOU with the bill for the services they utilized.
4. Do not patronize corporations fighting against social justice. Know what the company you are buying from will do with your money. Are they using it to buy influence with the politicians? Are they contributing vast sums to unfriendly political candidates? Stop feeding your enemies by patronizing them! Here are some suggested sites that will provide you with specific information:
5. Support organizations fighting for clean and transparent government. There are well respected organizations that are fighting to restore democracy and to limit the influence of money in our government. They will keep you up to date on legislative, lobbying, and other activities you can take. Here are some suggested organizations:
Common Cause – http://www.commoncause.org
Public Citizen – http://www.citizen.org
Again, educate yourself!
There are other very worthy organizations fighting for important causes, but again, take the time to consider whether they are fighting a SYMPTOM or a ROOT CAUSE. Use the SYMPTOMS as a tool to highlight why the ROOT CAUSE needs changing, but do not make the SYMPTOM the focus. If we are successful in addressing money in politics, many of the other problems that are SYMPTOMS will either disappear or be significantly reduced. There are also certainly additional root causes to our problems. The 5 steps outlined can also be used as tools to address other root causes as they are identified. As the movement develops we must remain focused to be certain that we are addressing root causes and not symptoms of problems.
Organizers should be providing people at every rally, demonstration, meeting, lecture etc with the specific steps they can take to address specific root causes. Once citizens know the steps they can take to bring about change, we will see the effectiveness of our actions increase significantly. Stop the machine by starving it.