Boycott the Mass Media and Hold World-Wide Public Meetings
by J.S. Larochelle - April 2005
"We ask Coca Cola to stop killing, and you to stop drinking Coke." -- Carlos Julia (Colombia Solidarity Campaign, "Boycott Coca Cola," March 27, 2005)
"We could vote away the nanny state" -- Paul MacRae,
(Times Colonist, February 28, 2005, page A8)
"Others have to work, so single mothers on welfare shouldn't expect a long sojourn at home" -- Shelly Fralic, (Vancouver Sun, "Do we owe anyone a living?," December 17, 2001)
"Every time I see a mother with an infant, I know that I am seeing a woman at work." -- Marilyn Waring, ("Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth," 1999)
"Getting women to have more kids will take a social revolution so profound as to be, well, inconceivable" -- Margaret Wente, (Globe and Mail, "The great baby strike," March 5, 2005, page A19)
"The freedom of the press is meaningless if nobody asks the question"-- Ani DiFranco (from her song "Serpintine")
THE ESCALATING "CONSUMPTION" CRISIS
First of all, we're born with "free wills," which is supposed to mean that we have the political freedom not to consume Coke, Pepsi or any of the other products that businesses must sell at a profit to keep from going bankrupt.
However, under the free market capitalist economic system, people who don't have enough money to escape poverty are forced to beg for welfare and/or charity in order have food, shelter and the other things everyone needs to stay healthy and alive. This is so despite the fact that capitalists obviously need mothers, children and others to consume Coke, Pepsi and the other products they sell.
Yet, people continue to insist that stay-at-home mothers and children who don't have paid jobs are "unproductive" members of society. So Ani DiFranco was deadly accurate in saying that freedom of the press is meaningless if journalists refuse to ask questions such as how do the world's politicians plan to solve the problem of systemic poverty?
After all, if mothers and children are not paid living wages then there's no mystery as to why hundreds of million of them are living in poverty and many are dying from easily-preventable poverty-related causes. For example, Anuradha Mittal tells us, "People are hungry because they are too poor to buy food. There is a shortage of purchasing power, not a shortage of food" ("On The True Cause Of World Hunger," 2002).
Those of us who live in wealthy countries only need go to the shopping mall to see that there is no shortage of food and other products for sale. But as Linda McQuaig pointed out, "Under the market system, there's a demand for a product if a lot if people want to buy it--but that demands counts for nothing if those people have no money. If they lack money, their demand essentially doesn't exist" ("Greed, Lust and the New Capitalism: All You Can Eat," 2001).
Obviously, stay-at-home parents, babies and young children "lack money" because they are not paid any money. However, in her Globe and Mail article "The great baby strike," Margaret Wente wrote, "kids require a stupendous amount of time and work and money... Welcome to the ticking time bomb of the 21st century." Indeed, if billions of women boycotted the "unpaid" work of being mothers then "the ticking time bomb" would be that vast numbers of people would lose their "paid" jobs as nurses, doctors, teachers, university professors etc, and, of course, making cribs, diapers, bibs, rattles etc as well as Coke and on and on...
Just the title of Marilyn Waring's book "Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth" is a damning indictment of world society to date. But it also damns a mass media that categorically refuses to acknowledge that the business sector is economically dependent on the world's mothers, children and other consumers.
THE MASS MEDIA'S "ECONOMIC" CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The writer Eli Khamarov said, "poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit." If everyone were to boycott Coke, Pepsi and "all" nonessential goods and services then the very first people to be economically punished would the poorest workers who would quickly lose their jobs and end up in welfare lines or soup kitchens.
The reason for this is that if consumers don't consume, businesses lay off workers. Moreover, as "business expert" Peter Drucker put it: "Business exists to supply goods and services to customers, rather than to supply jobs to workers..." ("Management" 1973).
To "liberally" paraphrase Adam Smith, (the founding father of the free market): The consumption of products such as Coke and Pepsi is the sole end and purpose of their production... The maxim is so perfectly self-evident, that it would be absurd to attempt to prove it" ("The Wealth of Nations," 1776).
In fact it does seem absurd that the business sector spends billions of dollars advertising products such as cigarettes, alcohol, junk foods, Coke, Pepsi etc even while medical scientists try to convince people to be healthy -- and politicians complain about the high cost of providing healthcare.
So why not try to reduce the cost of providing health care by making sure every citizen is as healthy as they can possibly be? But there's a problem here for advertisements for cigarettes, alcohol, junk foods, Coke, Pepsi etc appear in the mass media on daily basis -- and despite the fact that the "free press" is supposed to provide "objective information" so voters can give their informed consent to be governed.
As it stands, the mass media is in a terrible conflict of interest for how can it be an impartial source of public information when it depends on "consumption" for it's survival. After all, the mass media's profits go up when more Coke and Pepsis are consumed, but would go way down if people filled a water bottle from the tap and went for a hike on the beach.
Indeed, the mass media is dependent on "mass consumerism" which means it is needs vast numbers of mothers and children to buy products such as Coke. But media editorialists such as the Colonist's Paul MacRae and the Sun's Shelly Fralic seem to believe that if women stopped having babies, taxes would plummet and taxpayers would have far more money to invest in new businesses.
The economic logic behind ideas such as "vote away the nanny state" and "do we owe anyone a living?" is that billions of mothers, children of other "poor people" are not "economically productive." In fact, many people believe that if there were no "unproductive" people to feed, shelter, clothe and so forth then "productive" people would be far wealthier.
Surely "the experts," such as Peter Drucker and Adam Smith, would point out that without billions of mothers, children and other mere "consumers" the taxpayers would soon have very little money to pay taxes with. In fact, the only reason most mothers can raise children is that the "nanny state" provides them with public transportation, healthcare, education, parks, libraries and so forth.
BOYCOTT THE MASS MEDIA AND HOLD PUBLIC MEETINGS
So the question every citizen must ask is can the planet afford to give businesses massive "profits" and all workers "paid jobs"? Moreover, it would be in the self-interest of the world's babies, children, mothers and poor people to vote out any system of government that starved them so that a tiny minority can be millionaires and even billionaires.
However, the delusion that mothers, children and "poor people" are responsible for business's lack of profits and worker's lack of jobs can't be maintained without a massive amount of daily propaganda from the mass media. So one way to begin the process of creating a good, healthy, peaceful world society for everyone would be to stop buying newspapers, magazines, watching TV and listening to the radio and hold mass public meetings all over the world.
In order for everyone's voices to be heard, childcare, transportation and stipends would have to be available so that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate. In addition, because babies and young children can't speak for themselves every time someone made a proposal they would have to "prove" that their proposal solved the social problems faced by everyone and not just the business sector.
A recent Times Colonist editorial states: "Our unemployment rate fell to 6.5 per cent in March, and 206,800 new jobs -- 95 per cent full-time -- have been created since December 2001 ("Think of statistics in this campaign: It's hard to challenge the Liberals at a time when B.C.'s economy is humming along," April 19, 2005).
Given that we know that the consumption of products such as Coke, Pepsi, junk food, cigarettes and so forth is the sole end and purpose of their production, the only way to create "full employment" is to create "full consumption." But the Colonist's editorialist didn't bother to tell us what products are being consumed to create those jobs.
Besides the free market economic expert Henry Hazlitt wrote: "The progress of civilization has meant the reduction of employment, not its increase" ("Economics in One Lesson: The Fetish of Full Employment"). Governments can spend billions of dollars on "make-work projects" to make it seem that full employment is possible.
But as Drucker, Smith and Hazlitt would point out, all make-work jobs must be financed solely by the consumption of products such as Coke, Pepsi, junk food, cigarettes, lottery tickets, coffee, alcoholic beverages and so forth.
And babies, children, stay-home moms and people who are chronically ill and born with abilities that are not "marketable" could not even take make-work jobs.
However, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: "We have come to the point where we must make the nonproducer a consumer or we will find ourselves drowning in a sea of consumer goods." In stark contrast to the seemingly endless amounts of economic doubletalk we read in the mass media, King wrote: "I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective -- the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income" (Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967).
It's only common sense that -- from cradle to grave -- we must all use money to buy and consume water, nutritious food and the other life-giving basics. But if people doubt this then everyone who came to public meetings could be asked whether they need money to keep themselves alive.
Finally, some people believe that money is the "root of all evil" and must be abolished. While this may be true, thousands of mothers, children and others are going to be killed today for no other reason than they don't have money to buy water and food that is readily available. What could be more evil than that?
J. Larochelle is a member of LIFE