Guide to sweatshop-free buying - why "buy blue" is not enough

This is another of my rambling screeds.  It concerns a subject near and dear to our hearts: Money.  The "buy blue" idea got some attention after the 2004 elections. (see  The idea is buying products from companies that donate to Democrats, and boycotting companies that donate to Republicans.  This sort of information is available on and other sites.  "Buy American" has been a watchword for decades, especially during the 1980s and 1990s when we saw the bottom falling out of the Rust Belt's manufacturing base because of Reaganomics and globalization.  Another thing people do is buy local or maybe bioregional.  This is especially popular among Greens; buy from local farmers markets and so on.  There are also those who make a point of keeping their transactions in places like barter and eBay as much as possible, those who make a point of buying only "socially responsible" products such as recycled or environmentally friendly, and some individual companies people go out of their way to give business to like Citgo.

All those things are probably good, but they are not enough.  Some of them are based on flawed reasoning.  What I really want is to secede completely from the sweatshop economy.  It's not enough for a product to be environmentally friendly if the people making it got paid 75 cents an hour.  That's not even enough to eat decently on, much less send your kids to college.  It's also not enough to buy from a company that makes big donations to Democrats, if that same company is selling shelf after shelf of cheap goods made in China and dumped on the U.S. market.  It's not enough to buy American if companies can locate in Saipan or Guam where U.S. labor laws don't apply, pay workers $1/hour but still use the "made in USA" label.  This loophole was pointed out to me when I made an earlier comment about buying American.  For that matter there are American companies that are notorious union-busters, and some of them are even located in places like Ohio and California that are otherwise relatively pro-union states.

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Populism, Social Class, and a Democratic Big Tent

This is the first of a series of diaries I hope to post in the next few weeks.  I have some spare time, a high-speed internet connection, and a lot to say.  I hope to touch on a lot of related issues: How we define ourselves as a party, how we define certain terms (progressive, populist), what the party should ultimately stand for, psychology and what leads people into political activism in the first place.

Out of frustration, I posted this comment last night: "It occurs to me that the Democratic Party would do well to court and otherwise roll out the welcome mat for Naderites, and not just Naderites but also Venturaites, Perotistas, Reagan Democrats, alienated non-voters, Greens, moderate Republicans, and even significant Democratic politicans that the party apparatus seems to have shoved into the memory hole (Richard Lamm and Mike Gravel come to mind).  The key is a big tent Democratic Party where all these people will be welcome and have a voice.  The alternative is a party where anyone whose positions don't exactly mirror Hillary Clinton's gets shown the door before they even set foot in it.  And if that's the party you want, you can have it because it will find itself a permanent minority party unable to muster more than 30% of the vote.  I want a party that represents the American working class in the broadest sense of the term.  This means a welcome mat.  This means welcoming instead of attacking when somebody like Jim Webb joins our side, and welcoming instead of attacking when somebody who worked for Nader and Ventura joins our side."

The context is unimportant; it could have been posted in response to hundreds of comments on this site, unproductive comments that all smack of "so and so is not a real progressive and should get lost".  First, a little backstory.  Let's go back, way back.  The 1980s to be precise.  I was a big fan of Ronald Reagan...

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What is to be done?

I don't know if this book has ever been mentioned on MyDD.  Right now I am reading Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus by Rick Perlstein.

If you want to understand how the modern right wing came into being and took over the Republican party step by step, I give this book my highest recommendation.

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Action Alert - sign petition for Armed Forces Radio to drop Limbaugh

Here goes with my first attempt at a diary.  Forgive me if this has been posted already but it's important.

AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio), which broadcasts to troops stationed overseas in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, has been carrying the Rush Limbaugh program for some time.  This is the only politically oriented talk show AFRTS carries.

This amounts to nothing less than right-wing political indoctrination of the troops.

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