We are in the midst of a political campaign. We each feel there is a better candidate and a worst one. I don’t want to be melodramatic but you must clearly see the similarities to the situation American Colonist faced from 1760 to 1781. What I am about to say is from MY political perspective. I welcome, and will publish, a counterargument if you wish to send it to me. The notion of corrupt business interests influencing the government and subverting policy for their benefit is not a new phenomenon. Clearly the pattern goes back to antiquity but let’s discuss how it impacted our Revolutionary past.
Today’s passionate support and tremendous angst against Citizens United is not that different from the Townsend Acts. In both cases, the special financial interests and subsequent political support and power of a small number of commercial companies are the driving force behind what many consider political corruption. Its important to understand that its not the members of Parliament (or in the modern case Judges) who are universally corrupt. Many were not. The aims and goals of Charles Townshend, British chancellor of the Exchequer, was to pay off debts from the Seven Years War not to boost the profits of the East India Company and British West Indies sugar plantations. Those corporations simply offered better inducements (aka bribes) to the members of Parliament and were able to influence how The Sugar Act, The Tea Act, The Vice Admiralty Act, and other “revenue” generating legislation was drafted. Perspective is everything.
Today we are locked in shouting match between our political parties. Each accusing the other interfering with the public good but the real issues lie far beneath these issues. Looking to who funds them is a better gauge of their motivations and IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WAY THEY BEHAVE, CHANGE WHO PROVIDES THEM WITH “INDUCEMENTS,” which brings us to today’s topic – Nonimportation Agreements.
How do you fight a corporation with huge economic resources and the ability to capture the ear of lawmakers? There is only one way, take away their source of power. Not their influence in the government, their money. This was the motivation behind the Nonimportation Agreements enacted by most of the Colonial Legislatures and often enforced by the Sons of Liberty.
Nonimportation Agreements were a series of commercial restrictions adopted by American colonists to protest British revenue policies. The Stamp Act triggered the first nonimportation agreements. To protest taxation without representation, New York merchants agreed collectively to embargo British imports until Parliament repealed the stamp tax, and they persuaded the merchants of Boston and Philadelphia to do likewise. Under pressure from British exporters who lost business, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act within a year.
As Parliament enacted other mercantilist legislation in an escalating attempt to preserve the taxation colonists implemented a second, and a third round of nonimportation agreements. Unfortunately, they were not imposed from a unified front. Boston and New York resumed its embargo of British imports, but Southern merchants refused to cooperate. By 1770, however, this patchwork of embargos began to squeeze British exporters and Parliament repealed the Townshend duties on all commodities except tea. Why not tea? Because the East India Company continued to “lobby” the King and Parliament and offer significant bribes.
Now, I do not condone the next step — tossing the tea into the harbor, tarring and feathering customs agents, and vandalizing the Governor’s Mansion – it is important to understand the power of the consumer in a capitalist economy. If you don’t like the politics, look to those who benefit from those politics and ostracize them. If you are opposed to imprisoning immigrants at the border, STOP BUYING FROM MICROSOFT who profits from the technology needed, STOP BUYING FROM WAYFAIR who provides the cages and other furnishings for the detention centers, and PULL YOUR MONEY OUT OF WELLS FARGO, JP MORGAN CHASE, AND BANK OF AMERICA who fund the private prison system. If you support Veteran’s Issues, STOP BUYING FROM AMAZON who actively opposes reforms in the VA. If you oppose the GOP, STOP BUYING FROM WALMART. If you support the DNC, STOP WATCHING DISNEY AND TIME WARNER movies. The law of the land says (through Citizens United) that money is a form of free speech, USE THAT RIGHT!
Most of us vote once each year but buy thousands of dollars in goods and service each year. in a typical week my family spends $200 at the grocery store and a portion of each transaction goes to the PAC that company supports. It actually matters whether we spend our money at Giant supporting EVERY POLICY of Donald Trump, or Whole Foods where a portion of each dollar spend goes to the DNC. When you spend money, whether you like it or not, you are supporting the same political goals as the company at which you spend that money. If you don’t want a portion of each dollar spent to go to fund those candidates, spend your money elsewhere. IT MATTERS!