What Might Work Better?
A little bit ago, I wrote What Am I Missing? | Nutmegger Daily – Quality writing on many topics about the inadequacies of the Democrats’ responses to the latest Supreme Court decisions. In it, I suggested we need more radical solutions. Today, I want to talk about some of those possibilities. They may not seem radical at first glance, but they are things we’ve never done as a society before.
My starting premise is that politicians either can’t or won’t make the necessary changes. We’ve been dutifully voting for the past fifty years without changing the direction of the county whatsoever. It hasn’t even mattered if there’s a Democrat or Republican in office. The rich get richer and the rest of us are left out. Climate change worsens. Healthcare is a disaster. People lose rights. It just keeps on going.
If anything is going to happen, it’s up to us, the regular people. We have to hit them where it hurts, in the economy. One way to do that is with a general strike. And I don’t mean “everyone take a sick day on August 1st”. It has to be a real strike by everyone outside of emergency services. It should go on for at least a week, preferably longer. During the strike, people shouldn’t just stay home. They should show up to work, stand outside, and let everyone know what they are doing and why they are doing it. Anyone choosing to cross the picket line should be given a lot to think about.
Another thing we could do is a general boycott. Lots of people like boycotts anyway. They don’t shop at Hobby Lobby or avoid Koch Industries. But those are too limited. To really work, we need to boycott everything that isn’t necessary to survival. If it’s not food, water, medicine, or shelter, don’t buy it. This could work well with the general strike as there will be far less to buy and it will make going without work easier for most people. Like the strike, the boycott has to last for some time. One day won’t cut it. And everyone should be vocal about what they aren’t buying.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings have a song called “What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?” It’s an interesting question. It would get the government’s attention really quickly. And there’s historic precedent. Thoreau stopped paying taxes as an act of civil disobedience to protest slavery. Unfortunately, not paying taxes is a lot harder to do now than it was in Thoreau’s time. The boycott would greatly reduce the sales tax intake but organizing an income tax boycott would be a nightmare. It would mean everyone opting out of the taxes being taken directly from the paycheck. Then, on April 15th, not sending in a tax return. Plus, this kind of protest is illegal. The IRS has recourse to seize bank accounts and garnish wages. I’m throwing this out there, but I think the other two are better options.
For any of these things to work, they have to be mass movements. If only a few people strike, they lose their jobs and nothing changes. If virtually everyone strikes, they can’t fire everyone. If only a few people boycott, it’s like the boycotts that happen now. No one notices or cares. This will take societal action. We can look to the Viet Nam protests, the civil rights protests, the suffragettes, and the abolitionists for inspiration, but modern protests probably need to be on an even bigger scale.
As for demands, think big. Forget student debt cancellation and let’s cancel all personal debt. Forget $15 an hour and go for $25-$30. Forget passing laws and think about constitutional amendments (or an entirely new constitution). The sky’s the limit.
What do you think? What else can we do that would get the government’s attention and get things done?