Jimmy Zuma

Jimmy Zuma
Location
Washington, District of Columbia,
Birthday
August 01
Bio
After ten years haunting online political forums and much longer as a disability rights advocate, Jimmy Zuma started the online political journal, Smart v. Stupid. Since then, he has emerged as one of the left’s most direct new voices. Almost immediately, Jimmy was offered the opportunity to join the political team at Technorati where he writes DC Water Cooler, a weekly feature on what the politicians and pundits are talking about. Most recently, his columns began appearing in the Tucson Sentinel in Tucson Arizona. He is also an occasional contributor to OpEd News. Jimmy's goal is to return vetting to the marketplace of ideas, by elevating the status of smart ideas and debunking dumb ones.

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MARCH 18, 2012 8:59PM

Democracy lost: unraveling Limbaugh from his boycott

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To be fair, Rush Limbaugh and his legion of “ditto heads” have a point. Whenever I think of him, my mind automatically adds the honorific “that asshole” to his name as in “that asshole Rush Limbaugh.” Back when I used to care what he said, I frequently called Limbaugh that asshole – pretty much every time I spoke his name. 

limbaugh DonkeyHotey flickr

So it is not about the words themselves. When I think of Limbaugh as that asshole, it is not because I believe he is the body part. He is that asshole simply because he is an enemy of public intelligence. Getting the point?

Limbaugh knew nothing about Sandra Fluke. He just picked the words he thought would most damage her. Then he delivered them with that hissing sneer familiar to the families of narcotic users. His crime wasn’t foul words; it was attempting to damage a person of differing views. So you might imagine that boycotting Limbaugh’s advertisers is the same kind of bad act.

But that’s where ditto logic goes off the rails. There is no moral equivalency. Picking one brand over another is not the same as slapping someone -- rhetorically or not. Making buying choices based on conscience is a perfectly ordinary way to shop. How many flyers in your mailbox say “Christian owned?” How many times has that influenced you?

Voting with your wallet is even more important today, at a time when Democracy plays second fiddle to Capitalism. Formerly just an economic theory, Capitalism is now our organizing form of government. We are a Corporatocracy. Now your most influential vote is in your purse or back pocket.

From the 1920s to the 1940s Italy tried something similar called Fascism. Their leader Benito Mussolini famously said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

Today, the Corporatocracy exerts a near universal veto power over the will of the people. An entire political party is devoted to promoting the idea that every decision should be made on the sole criteria of how it benefits business. And the other party is largely infected by it as well.

In this new environment, the only way you can reduce the influence of dirty oil companies, mountain-killing coal companies, anti-choice chicken sellers, or even asshole talk radio jocks is to boycott their products. The more loudly you can do it, the more people will join you and – as in the case of Limbaugh – the more dramatic the effect will be.

To some people, the idea that capitalism has replaced democracy is unimaginable. But listen carefully to how Republicans frame their policy positions – the only deciding factor is profit. Coal and oil are preferable, they argue, because they cost less. Clean energy is bad simply because it costs more. Yes, I realize this is oversimplifying and doesn’t account for the corrosive nature of campaign contributions. But those are the arguments they make. Seriously.

Still not convinced? This is America:

  • The rich have bought the right to be permanently under taxed.
  • The Supreme Court has ruled that rich people or corporations may legally buy elections if they’d care to spend enough.
  • Rich guys Foster Friess and Sheldon Adelson now own particular Republican hopefuls who will remain in the race only as long as their benefactors allow.
  • Republican nominee Mitt Romney argues – with a straight face -- that corporations are people.
  • Employers are free to fire you for things that have nothing to do with your job duties.
  • Members of Congress want your employer to be able to veto your health choices.

How much more does it take to put the pieces together? The three branches of government – legislative, judicial and executive – are all on board to one degree or another.

Luckily, as the Limbaugh boycott shows, wallet-voting (particularly by women) turns out to be very powerful.

You should probably think about boycotting my advertisers if you feel so inclined (sorry editors.) As you can imagine, that’s not my choice for how society should work – but it is the best choice for how our society does work. I’ll take my chances. Until we can re-establish democracy in the United States, it’s the only way you have to register a vote that you know will count.

Art courtesy of DonkeyHotey

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Comments

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"Making buying choices based on conscience is a perfectly ordinary way to shop." Yes, and as a matter of fact, that IS capitalism. Each of us is free to buy or not buy depending on how we feel about a company as well as it products. I, for one will never buy another product mad by HP, since I don't believe in buying from a company that makes shitty products and then refused to stand behind them.

This is the essence of the problem with financialization and what I call crapitalism -- companies have become obsessed with profits -- especially short term profits -- and forgotten what made them successful to begin with -- making good products and standing behind them so as to keep customers coming back for repeat business.

Yeah, I know that sounds simplistic, but apparently while getting absorbed in game theory and the like, the brilliant idiots that run today's corporations didn't bother to learn the basic lessons of economics.
Liberal/progressive boycotts of companies that promote asshat conservatives like Limbo should be increasing.
Tom:

“companies have become obsessed with profits”

So in the past companies were obsessed with (fill in the blank)? The drive to make a profit has always been an obsession and I suspect it will always be an obsession. Knowing profit-making is an obsession, why do you think a company would choose to only to it for a short time, versus a long time?

Jimmy:

It’s not wise to bite the hand that feeds you. Imagine the social consequences if all those boycotts worked and corporations ceased making profits? Oh by the way, Democrats and Republicans are funded by Super PACs.
Fever
If you comprehended the difference between industrialization and financialization, it might be worth having a discussion with you. As you don't, it isn't.
"Profit" has always been the "raison d'etre" of any enterprise whether it's a corporation or a mom and pop grocery. The problems occur in the natural tendency for business, any business, really, to concentrate, thereby eliminating competition. When a company or corporation gets so big and so influential, as is the present situation we find ourselves in, we wind up having lost control of self-government. as Jimmy notes.

The role of government should be to keep the playing field level. It hasn't been level in generations.

Ever so slowly, Big Business has gotten rid of all the regulations which FDR (and even a few of his predecessors) put into place. Deregulation of telecom, medicine, radio and TV, news, publishing, airlines, trucking, etc. has inevitably led to concentration. (When's the last time you can remember the Sherman Anti-Trust Act being invoked?)

The SCOTUS has now conferred personhood on these same entities.
Flylooper:

Of course businesses would like to eliminate their competitors. Thankfully, because of profits, the more money a company makes the more competition they are sure to attract. In other words, by doing nothing, Government fosters more competition in industries where profits are healthy. Jimmy’s post has nothing to do with these matters; he doesn’t like the fact corporations are allowed to spend some of their money on political campaigns.

“The role of government should be to keep the playing field level. It hasn't been level in generations.”

What is a level playing field anyways? In which generation was it level?

Regarding regulation, the more regulations the more likely small firms won’t have the legal capacity to abide by those regulations. If anything, by eliminating regulations you open up markets for smaller firms to compete in.
Perhaps, to take your argument to the next logical step, we should economically boycott any corporation that makes any political contribution to any party. If that kind action caught on it would make for a much smaller shopping lists and we could get our money back buying stock futures "puts and cover sales".