02 May 2007

Following the Money Trail

When I started this blog, I did it as a place to share my opinions, but I also had a slightly higher goal: I wanted to help people become smarter about spending their money. That means not just which brand of widget is best, and which retailer you should buy it from and why, but also about that retailer's values, including where your money goes after you spend it.

With this in mind, please take a minute to read
this article on Consumerist about donations made by corporations and their executives to various political organizations and groups. While I do not consider myself an activist and I have no intention of making this into a political blog, the intersection of politics and commerce is inevitable in our society, and knowledge and awareness are powerful tools. If you believe in buying things like fair trade coffee or eggs from cage-free chickens because of the policies those items represent and uphold, then you should consider what's at work behind some of your other purchases.

It comes as no surprise to me that Steve Jobs gave money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but I was surprised to learn that Home Depot and its CEO gave so much money to Republican causes and political action committees. It reminds me of years ago, when the word was you shouldn't go to Domino's Pizza because the company's founder was a staunch pro-life advocate. He sold his interest in the company quite a while ago, and I don't eat at Domino's anyway because there are plenty of other pizza places around and I would prefer to support local businesses, but the point is, it's important to know where your money is going, and you can use it like a vote, by supporting companies whose values align with your own or by choosing not to support companies whose values do not.

I'll bet there are plenty of registered Democrats, and independent voters as well, who have spent big chunks of money on home improvement project materials at Home Depot who might not have done so had they known about the company's donations. Not being a homeowner,
I don't spend a lot of money there, but I did buy two air conditioners there last summer, and if I had known this information at the time, I would have chosen to buy them elsewhere. For now Lowe's is looking like the better bet in the home improvement category, but I'd to want to know what causes and organizations they support as well, before spending money there.

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