08 June 2007

Money Trail Follow-Up

It's been a few days, I know. I was... (brace yourselves) reading a book. Not even an ebook, but a real, tangible, dead-tree book. I recommend it. Not just the specific book, which was Field of Blood by Denise Mina, but also the act of reading. Very relaxing. I hadn't been reading much other than the newspaper, and I realized that needed to change.

A few weeks ago I talked about awareness of where your money goes. Soon after I learned about a book called The Blue Pages that compiles information about companies' politics and practices. In addition to political contributions, the book lists what types of nondiscrimination policies a company has, whether or not they offer insurance to employees' domestic partners, and any legal actions they may be involved in (labor disputes, discrimination suits).

It's pretty interesting stuff, but at the same time it makes my head hurt a little. To give an example, in my previous post I made a reference to Home Depot executives' contributions to Republican organizations, and said that Lowe's looked like a better choice. I wanted to follow up on that, which is one of the reasons I got this book. Turns out that Lowe's is even worse than Home Depot: their executives contributed only to Republican organizations, compared to Home Depot's 17% Democrat/3% Republican split. Beyond that, Lowe's denies insurance coverage to its employees' domestic partners, whereas Home Depot offers it. So Home Depot in fact comes off as slightly less evil than Lowe's, and I stand corrected.

(Depending on what you need to buy, you may be better off going to your local Ace Hardware or True Value store. These are independently owned stores that are part of a larger network, so by shopping there, you're supporting a business in your community.)

There's a lot more of this sort of info in the book. Some of it is surprising, some of it isn't. One interesting bit: at the beginning of each section (clothing, food, home products, etc.) there is a list of the top ten donors to Republicans and Democrats. In many cases, the same companies are in the top ten on both lists, meaning they are splitting their contributions more or less equally. Infer from that what you will; the best option may be to spend your money with the companies that make no political contributions.

By the way, The Blue Pages costs only $9.95, so it's a worthy and painless investment. But don't buy it from Amazon: their execs lean Republican, and you should be supporting your local independent bookstore anyway.

No comments: