Buy Blue

Volume 8, Issue 23; 15 Feb 2005; last modified 08 Oct 2010

By way of Simon Phipps.

I've been boycotting Mal☆Wart for years, ever since they petitioned the town of Northampton to pay less than the minimum wage. With one unfortunate exception, I've never bought a thing from them (well, directly anyway, I have no real idea what else they own).

Simon Phipps' pointer to Buy Blue has given me something else to keep an eye on. I'm perfectly happy not to give my money the corporate [expletive deleted, ed.] funding this administration.

Comments

Buy Blue seems really, really petty. :-(

The site claims that their color scheme is more about fairness than political parties. However, the terms "red" and "blue" come from identifies for those parties. (In fact, those identifiers are corrupted from the original political definition, in my view.) They just can't redefine the terms to suit their needs - the terms have an emotional impact that shape how people think. In practice most of the non-profit's customers use their services to support a particular party. Your case is a prototypical example.

In either case, one still shouldn't just support just those paradigms that he/she believes in. It is arrogant to think one's views are always correct, after all. Free debate is a good thing, and there are many different sides to most practical issues. However to accept Buy Blue's mission statement is to divide the world into two camps: those companies who they think support their ideals, and those who don't. (Of course in specific issues a specific company may be wrong, but we're talking about political philosophies here.) Or even worse: that one shouldn't associate with those whom you disagree with. (i.e. One should boycott red or blue "companies.") This type of social differentiation is short-sighted, IMO. After all, we're not talking about extremists or uncommon ideals here - we're talking about mainstream politics.

Thus I find your support of Buy Blue disapointing.

—Posted by Jimmy Cerra on 16 Feb 2005 @ 02:44 UTC #

*Shrug*

It's a source of information. I'm not going to assume it's entirely without bias any more than I assume any other source of information is entirely without bias.

I find the prospect of effecting social change as an individual extremely daunting. I support those organizations (American's United, The ACLU, The Natural Resources Defense Council, etc.) that I think are attempting to achieve ends that I support because I imagine that alliances are more likely to effect social changes than individuals. But as an individual, I think it's quite reasonable to select which businesses I patronize (and which I don't) on the basis, in part at least, of how they're attempting to effect change.

If I know MegaCorp gave a bazillion dollars to some PAC or candidate that wants to change things in ways that I find abhorrent, I'd like to stop giving them my money with which to do it.

If Buy Blue helps me understand which businesses are supporting which causes, that's providing information I want. I suppose if someone had pointed me to Buy Red, I could use that too, just by (usually!) flipping the parity. The totally polarized nature of the debate on most issues is really unfortunate, and I guess to the extent that my support perpetuates that state of affairs, it's a mistake on my part to do so.

I take your point about the dangers of imagining that any of these complex issues can be divided neatly into two categories. If someone says to do (or not to do) X because of Y, I think it's important to have a better understanding of the issues than just that statement before actually deciding if you want to do (or not do) X.

That said, I stand by my personal decision not to give my hard earned money to Mal☆Wart or other companies that I think are using their muscle to reduce our common welfare.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 16 Feb 2005 @ 03:48 UTC #

Except that BuyBlue.org blatantly supports Democrats. In fact, the "blueness" of a company seems to be solely a function of how much they have to either the Republicans or Democrats. Furthermore, companies that support neither Democrats or Republicans are considered having "blue values" by them! Check a few of the out and see.

There is very little mention of other parties in their analysis. Retrieving sorting information on issues rather than party contributions is unavailable. It seems that one must accept the (flawed) premise that supporting anyone-but-Republicans is a good thing to feel that BuyBlue.org is a also a good source of information.

So I think that it is very hard to get the information of value from their databases. Opensecrets.org is a much better source for the kind of information you want. Bias is never a good thing when gathering data and should be minimized.

—Posted by Jimmy Cerra on 16 Feb 2005 @ 05:53 UTC #

(Jimmy, as you can verify, Buy Blue reviewed their policies and the "apolitical" companies now only get 5022blue values".)

Being from Europe, I think I can say I'm used to live in a more politically-charged environment than most U.S. citizens. And I find operations like BuyBlue absolutely great. We need more of them, from every political perspective, because global policies are nowadays defined more in terms of big trans-national interests than classic "straightforward" national politics. Shopping is the new democracy -- however bad this can sound to you, it's a fact. I suggest you check out the Fair-Trade movement, or the recent issue with Microsoft and software patentability in Denmark ( http://www.boingboing.net/2005/02/15/gates_denmark_suppor.html ); now you know that, if you buy Microsoft, your money will be used to support software patentability. The choice is always up to you, of course, but you can't just dig your head in the sand and pretend it's not happening. If the issues on the political field were petty, you might even get away with that... but nowadays your country's political leader is waging unprovoked war on foreign soil, restricting civil rights and using his power to spread religious fanatism all around. Can you really afford to ignore it?

—Posted by Giacomo Lacava on 17 Feb 2005 @ 08:36 UTC #

I'm responding to this bit publically since it may be considered a public insult. Norman Walsh's weblog is not the appropriate forum for the rest of this discussion, Giacomo.

"The choice is always up to you, of course, but you can't just dig your head in the sand and pretend it's not happening. If the issues on the political field were petty, you might even get away with that... but nowadays your country's political leader is waging unprovoked war on foreign soil, restricting civil rights and using his power to spread religious fanatism all around. Can you really afford to ignore it?"

(I'm not going to get into a debate about his policies - that's a red herring. In fact I'm not even going to prove in this paragraph BuyBlue.org is petty, see the original argument for that.)

That's a bifurcation fallacy irregardless of whether or not your analysis of Bush's policies is correct. I can find the President's actions wrong, while also finding a particular political action against the President petty. Yet calling me a coward for that is insulting, or saying I'm ignorant is wrong. (The phrase, "dig your head in the sand," commonly means one is a coward and pretends ignorance of a situation. It comes from the false belief that ostriches burrow in sand when scared so they can't see the danger.)

—Posted by Jimmy Cerra on 17 Feb 2005 @ 10:14 UTC #

it may be considered a public insult

I'd have to agree with Giacomo on this: the choice of the products we buy very much should reflect our political values. Unless you're politically apathetic or undecided, holding certain political values and then supporting companies that support the opposite party is burying your head in the sand. You are making a conscious choice but pretending that your actions don't have any effect. I don't think Giacomo's statements were meant as an insult, much less one directed at Cerra.

is more about fairness than political parties. However, the terms "red" and "blue" come from identifies for those parties.

I'd agree with you, if it weren't for the fact that the information they provide helps out Republicans as much as it does Democrats. See Walsh's comment above.

Except that BuyBlue.org blatantly supports Democrats.

That's really irrelevant as long as that provide factually correct data. If I support Democrats, it's only a bias (in the negative sense) if I distort factual information because of it.

Furthermore, companies that support neither Democrats or Republicans are considered having "blue values" by them!

I didn't see that, but perhaps buyblue.org has added the white category since your post. I don't see why this could be construed as evidence of their bias. Anyone can see that if a company is neutral in their party contributions, so they may have attached the blue color as a default. I hardly see an insideous plot there.

Yet calling me a coward for that is insulting

I think his comment being an insult is a stretch, and that his comment being on the same level as calling you a coward is even more of stretch. Though you raising that argument does seem to me to be an atempt to make yourself look like the victim. Don't put words in other peoples' mouths.

comes from the false belief

An intellectual victim against an ignorant attacker, at that.

—Posted by Malcom Coat on 28 Feb 2005 @ 03:14 UTC #