First I want to commend you both for your efforts in bringing more attention to the under/unemployment problem. I am ready for a little civil unrest like what we've witnessed across the globe in recent months. Bottom line - poor people are angry and tired of being poor for the benefit of a select few. I also think that the biggest reason that you don't hear from more of us is that we're too busy trying to keep what little we have and at the end of a work day, that has no doubt increased - simply too exhausted to scream. So thank you for trying to shed light on an issue that is hiding in broad daylight, at least as far as the political landscape is concerned.
Now for what I think would take your effort to another level. Since sensible arguments about long term growth and stability haven’t managed to shake lose any jobs from our largest potential employers and since appeals draped in the American flag hasn't worked either - how about a little public shame and humiliation? I therefore propose a reverse boycott. In a traditional boycott people stop buying a particular product or brand in hopes of getting the attention of the powers that be to change a particular behavior. That was before derivitives and credit default swaps -in the 21st century, apparently, a unit sold is the last thing on a CEO's mind. Instead the focus is on reducing costs and how well shares are doing on Wall Street. Hence, a reverse boycott.
Here's how it would work. If you’re anything like me, there are some purchases that you have been putting off due to your own uncertainties – not to be confused with the ‘uncertainty’ that the business community is to now supposedly feels. I mean uncertainties like – maybe I’ll have a job next week, maybe I won’t. Or maybe the lights will get shut off next month, maybe not. But you have that thing that is hanging by a thread and you keep putting off buying another – toaster, coffee maker, washer, dryer, car, etc. Instead of boycotting, you sign on pledging to buy that thing – when certain conditions are met. Namely that the targeted conglomerates agree to add 500 ( or more depending on your calculations) new, previously unemployed people to their workforce. People would then log on likewise and pledge to buy. At this point you will need someone to come up with an equitable formula for units to buy VS newly employed, but you get the idea. Lower price points would require more pledges to buy. The Corporate targets would be multi nationals, particularly those that have taken part in the outsourcing of American workers. So on the web site you would make available the corporate giant and all its subsidiaries, the CEO, corporate headquarters, workforce size today and 10 years ago, how much outsourcing and most importantly, financials – profit, reserves, CEO compensation. Of course we would also need to know what they produce so we can make our purchase pledges. I even have a perfect tag line for it all – Hire Americans and I’ll buy your s*** (stuff – for the PG13 crowd).
One of two things will then happen- CEO’s will bend to public demand for fair play and begin hiring Americans – unlikely. Or – the scales will hugely tilt in the direction of pledges to buy in comparison to pledges to hire. At some point, a resounding failure will have to be called – and it should be as public and as widely distributed as possible. Corporate America will be shown for what we all know them to be – greedy beyond all belief and short sighted as hell and lost in their own nonsense - trying to exist in an environment where personal profits today are worth more than the company itself and that many in charge would destroy the company form the inside out for a short term profit today.
Can you imagine – a daily accounting of people pledging to open their wallets and spend to spur our economy. With only one provision – that the job creators actually create some jobs. I can see the emails pouring in – I’ll replace that old toaster of mine, I’ve been putting off buying a new car – but now my purchase will mean something. I can see the two of you reading email after email of people willing to do whatever it takes to get our economy going – we’re just waiting for you job creator! I can see the two of you profiling the CEO’s – one after another, until we know them well enough to invite them over for barbeque. I can see the Facebook page with 2,000,000+ likes, the web site often crippled with activity. I can see a million tweets - where are the jobs, job creators – Hire Americans and I’ll buy your s***! I can see a people truly at unrest – all without having to travel to Washington DC.
I think that a campaign like this would do two things. It would give a large number of people a way to be heard with dollars and cents behind their names. Money talks – even if the CEO’s don’t listen – someone is going to do the math and see how much is at stake. The second thing is it would put a face behind the corporations that are supposed to be so ‘uncertain’ that they would continue to layoff, outsource and ask for more and more concessions from their employees in the middle of a recession.
I can also see the back lash, but no more than you have already been getting. There will definitely be increased calls of class warfare – the powerful poor picking on the meek and humble well to do – you know just saying that makes me chuckle. Refer them to Jon Stewart who explained in detail that if the poor were to give up FULLY HALF their worth, it would equal the same amount raised over ten years only if corporate loopholes are closed and if the top marginal rate is raised to levels of the Clinton years. As far as backlash from those uncomfortable with pointing out the huge differences in unemployment for African Americans – just let the numbers speak for themselves. Then of course throw some new numbers at them – like the number of children now in poverty, the number of under-employed (people working 2 or more part time jobs), cuts in wages, cuts in real wealth as many who managed to buy a home didn’t manage to hold on to them – these numbers don’t lie.
I am a part of the working poor. I have a disabled child, a son with autism who’s condition makes it much harder for me to work a traditional job and virtually impossible to have the opportunity for promotions and accumulation of any true wealth. I am also middle aged and running out of steam, energy and hope. Life just should not be this hard for so many of us. I think that now is the time for a campaign that lays the blame fully at the feet of corporate America for all to see. It’s time for a campaign where the voices of the many, dragged down by the weight of our predicament, worries and debt – can scream out without having to risk losing any more than we already have.