Spending Strike

This essay was originally titled A Boomer Weapon. The voicing and focus shows that; I don’t want to rewrite the whole thing. To be a Boomer, now, is to be old. It’s easy to feel powerless when you’re old. I wrote this so my cohort would realize we are not entirely powerless.

Since then I have come to realize that it’s a weapon for all of us in The Resistance. We are all powerless, in a way: we’re one paycheck away from destitute, most of us. We’ve got to go to work; we’ve got to keep our jobs. So I renamed it Spending Strike: it’s a power we all have. So please read, and overlook the Boomer focus if you will. Read this as a tool for all of us. There is a very real possibility that if we do not act our republic will be gone for a decade or more. I don’t want to wait.

I’m a boomer. Most of my friends and most of my readers are boomers. We were there for Vietnam and we were there for Watergate. Now there’s work to do again and lots of us are just tired. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Age is real. Recently people were talking General Strike, and that got me thinking.

We boomers eat and spend. That gives us power. And, mortality notwithstanding, there are still a lot of us.

Historically general strikes have been mostly European, and mostly about labor. Workers. Halting production. At the times and places where general strikes have been needed, production was a linchpin of society.

We boomers can’t significantly affect production. In the first place, not that many of us are still employed. But more important, machines produce most of everything. The global economy can produce more of everything than everybody needs, and do it without even having to pay the workers enough to allow all of them to live indoors. Production pretty much runs on automatic. That’s why you can’t turn your head without having somebody badger you to buy something: we produce more than we need and the only way to keep all these balls in the air is if people buy lots of stuff, more than they need, and throw it away quickly. And rent buildings and structures to keep it in.

Boomers’ power is that we are comfortable consumers. Consumption is the weak point in the oligarchy. We can get their attention there. We need to schedule, announce, agree on, and carry out general consumption strikes.

Most of us are, at a minimum, warm and well fed, with a few bucks in our pockets. We have pretty good lives. Lots of us have hobbies and activities that we do. Most activities, we spend money on. Even if we just go to the park, we burn gasoline getting there. And like as not we stop on the way home and buy some little thing.

If, on agreed upon and pre-announced dates we just all stay home and don’t do anything, that will make a difference. They will notice. There are a lot of us. It will probably make a bigger dent than a general strike of labor would in today’s America.

For one thing, labor is weak today, nearly powerless. A handful of billionaires own almost all the jobs. People are afraid, and rightfully so, that if they don’t show up on general strike day they will find themselves unemployable in a labor market with plenty of spare people to take up the slack. And most work is service work anyway. There aren’t many factories to shut down. Nurses may know they’re getting a crummy deal, but they are nurses. Most of them are going to show up and do their jobs. Many other people feel the same.

Billionaires notice money. We boomers may each spend just a few bucks on any given day, but if we all get together on one particular day and keep our money in our pockets it will make a noticeable hole in somebody’s cash flow.

It won’t work if we just put the spending off until the next day. Wherever possible we have to eliminate one day’s spending from the year’s balance. Don’t go drive around, burning gas you bought yesterday and can replace tomorrow. Stay home. Leave the gas in the car. Don’t buy anything online. Don’t eat out. No Starbucks, no McDonald’s. No breakfast with the gang. Cook out of the freezer. To whatever extent possible, do not participate in the economy.

If you make things with wood, don’t cut a board. If you golf, don’t golf. Don’t make anything out of polymer clay. Don’t fire up the 3D printer. Don’t consume the consumables of your hobby. Don’t spend it, it’s money.

Not randomly, and not just once. From time to time, all together. Announce it. Hey Mr. Rich Guy, Look At Your Balance Sheet Tomorrow, We’re Taking The Day Off.

Plan them. Schedule them. General Strike, Consumer Model. We can get their attention, still today, without ever leaving the house.

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4 thoughts on “Spending Strike”

  1. I suggest the following: combine as many vehicle trips into as possible eliminating as much fuel consumption as possible. If you have neighbors with whom you can share rides, do so; limit if not eliminate all oil based products. Google that. The less we use, the less the billionaires make. Most are oil men with a host of other huge incomes, real estate, arms, big pharma, etc. Try to purchase as little as possible brand new. Hit those thrift stores for good, used items. When you must buy new, try to find smaal businesses who don’t sell corporate items. Stay away from Disney & other big conglomerates. Know with whom & how they invest, to who & what they donate before spending. Stay away from Amazon unless you don’t mind that they advertise on Breitbart. Be a savvy consumer. Skip the bottled waters & make your own coffees. Walk when you can. These things done en masse will hit their pocketbooks hard. I have been doing these things for a few years,minus the bottled water which is the next thing to go. Help me hit them where it hurts. Any more ideas or suggestions will be appreciated.

    1. Yeah, blah, blah… I apologize, but, most of that is not, from my perspective, useful.
      I live fifty miles from Kansas City. I teach in Kansas City twice a week. Nobody else wants to go. So there’s 200 miles round trip a week or abandon my beloved retarded student. He’s worth whatever he costs the world, to me.
      I might have to go to the VA Hospital in Kansas City for my various neurological disorders, the hole in my brain, my mental illnesses and cancers, every day in any given week. That would be 500 miles round trips, but by the time I eat and buy hardware and parts it’s more like six or seven hundred.
      What I need is a train. Commuter rail, preferably electric. All the other generic advice is just generic advice. I’m sure everybody in America has heard it, and in a way it’s good, but it doesn’t do much for real life.
      Stay away from Amazon? Well, my other choices are, WalMart and a hundred mile round trip. And Amazon gives money to the shelter where my wife and I volunteer. The hundred mile round trip takes three hours and three gallons of gasoline, WalMart annoys the living shit out of me and mostly sells crap, so, sorry, I’ll buy from Amazon.
      Except for groceries. WalMart ran all the grocery stores in the town and county out of business too, so it’s WalMart or (you guessed it) a hundred mile round trip.
      Oh, and… yes, I even buy bottled water sometimes. Because if you’re on the streets all day and run out of water, it’s almost impossible to get free water out of a water fountain in America in 2017. And I get thirsty. Most of my bottled water comes out of my water filter pitcher, though, into the bottle, thru the fridge, my mouth, out into the yard, round and round it goes.
      Specific actions matched to specific situations are the only solution. The generic advice is, pardon me, boring. If we wanted to do one specific, significant thing it would be to elect Democrats and cover the country with trains. Under solar panels.

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