Who has power?
Is the power in this country concentrated in the greedy claws of megalithic corporations? Or in the 1% of the population that controls 50% of the material wealth in this country? Maybe it’s in the hands of our elected representatives? Our law-enforcement professionals? Blackwater mercenaries?
Well, it’s all of those. And none of the above.
As Americans, we live in a country (America) that is truly a democracy. That means that we vote to show our choices, and the choices made by a majority determine our leadership, political, corporate, or even socially. But we don’t surrender our power when we make those choices. We retain it as the ability to choose again at a later time without warning.
“But wait,” I hear someone saying, possibly only in my head, “that covers elections. We don’t have that much power between elections, do we?”
Well, yes. Yes, we do. We have that power constantly.
In this country, we vote not only by ballot, but also by our dollars, our thematic support, our philosophical support, and our verbal support, among other methods. When we spend money on a particular product, we’re voting for that company, above their competition. That empowers the corporation whose product I purchased, and whom I have just given my support. I’m not just giving them a dollar; I’m giving them the amount of work I used to obtain said dollar. I’m paying all of their corporate salaries, along with many many other people, by purchasing that product, and conversely not paying their competition. Purchasing is a thumbs-up, not purchasing is a thumbs-down. That’s voting by dollars, in a nutshell.
But there is a caveat: our dollar does not go to that company attached to a specfic reason that we chose that product over another. For example, I might purchase Colgate toothpaste because I like the taste better, Colgate was on sale that day, I liked the packaging better, whatever. But that information is not relayed to Colgate-Palmolive Corporation, which makes Colgate; all they know is that I gave them my money. (Well, actually, I gave my money to the store that I bought it from; Colgate-Palmolive has already made their money on the wholesale end, and. . .you know what? I’ll do retail economics in another column.) By me giving them my money, I have given them support for their company as a whole, whether I know exactly what they do or not. That means that if they make sex toys for the bestiality crowd, if they use dwarf-slave labour in their fluoride mines, if they treat animals inhumanely, or even if they somehow have to strangle kittens to make their toothpaste, I have just given my support of those activities.
Likewise, if I cast my vote for a particular candidate, I have no way of letting that candidate know which issues I support them on, and which I disagree with them about. Yes, I can email them or write to them or whatever, but what, really, are the chances of the representative actually reading them? There are polls as well, but the success of polls depends on how much the people they pertain to care about them. It’s a poll, not an election (and Vice-President Dick Cheney has stated in interviews that he does not care what polls say. . .way to listen to the American people, jerkhole). All any candidate knows is that they got my vote, and whether it’s because I support their stand on abortion, gay marriage, fiscal reform, or only allowing midgets to breed while in captivity is not known to them.
The problem comes in when people start believing that, by giving their dollar or their vote, they have given away their power, or that someone who has acquired a large number of votes or dollars has, in effect, all the power and the people, the individuals, have no power left to them at all.
Only an optimistic State Of The Union address could be further from the truth.
More later. . .