Tag Archives: Koch Brothers

America’s wealth inequality and how it’s related to how and where you shop

According to a recent study, 9 out of 10 Americans believe the wealth of this country should be distributed like this:

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Ideal wealth distribution

The ones who work hard deserve to have more than the ones who don’t. And it’s ok that a few of us have quite a bit more than others; that’s the incentive to strive for the “American Dream”. Yet, people say that the wealth must be distributed in such a way, that everyone can make a living and sustain a healthy life for themselves and their families.

The reality of the situation is quite different. 1% of the population in the USA owns 40% of the country’s wealth. That means that the richest 1% has a whopping 21.6 trillion dollars. Here’s what the graph of America’s wealth looks like in reality:

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Actual wealth distribution

So who do we find lurking among the richest 1%? Well, to name a few, we’ve got the Walton Family of Wal-Mart, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, cool folks like Bill Gates and Elon Musk, many dot com founders, the owners of food corporations like Mars, quite a few investment and hedge-fund bankers and last but not least, not so cool people like the Koch Brothers (oil and gas moguls working hard to kill the planet while getting richer) and Donald Trump.

Using statistics is a great way to create awareness, but it shouldn’t just amount to a shoulder shrug and depressed thoughts of what a terrible, “unfair” world we live in. It needs to do more than that. Don’t use it to get mad and blame the branches of government for not doing the “right thing” either; what’s past is past. Instead, use it as inspiration to make a personal change.

Ask yourself; what can I do to help correct this injustice?

In addition to using your right to vote and help climate-friendly Mr. Sanders (the only candidate not in cahoots with the 1%) win the nomination AND election this year, there are actually a few easy things you can do and start doing right now!

1. Shop Small.

What does it mean to shop small? Essentially what it means is to make your purchases at locally owned shops and eat at local eateries. That’s your neighborhood coffee shop, the mom and pop down the street, the farmers market, the vintage shop.

When you shop small instead of shopping big (at for example Wal-Mart, Target, Gap or Macy’s), you are supporting a tax-paying, local businessman or woman, not a multi-billion-dollar corporation. In order words, you are spreading the riches more evenly across the board, and pumping money into your local economy.

2. Buy Made in USA.

When you support locally-made, you are encouraging businesses to bring manufacturing back to where you live (from far away). Manufacturing jobs can make a big difference, as they are an important part in supplying the large lower and middle-class with stabile, safe, above-minimum-income jobs. The more we manufacture here – the more people we can employ.

In order to make themselves richer, the billionaire owners and CEOs of large companies generally outsource all manufacturing of products to Asia, never admitting that by doing so, they’re deliberately making their home country poorer. In the long run, making a country poorer means that the masses have to keep relying on “cheap” imported goods, as that’s all they can afford, allowing the corporations to keep importing since (obviously) that’s what the “people want”. See that vicious circle?

In short, it’s terrible for our economy and our people and it keeps some of the 1% way ahead of the rest. (As for the people overseas manufacturing these items as “cheaply as possible”, it’s not good for them either. If nobody stands up and stops supporting the businesses they un-ethically produce for, they have no hope for better working conditions.) Buying local does make a difference.

3. Don’t ever buy something you don’t need on a high interest credit card.

Every time you shop on your credit card for such high amounts that you cannot afford to pay it off the next month and instead end up paying interest, you are making some of the top 1% richer. The banks and their investors use that money to make themselves another not-so-hard-earned buck.

I’m not saying not to have a mortgage, a car or replace your broken dishwasher, I’m just saying; don’t buy another Chinese sweat-shop-made Coach purse on your credit card.

It’s not that hard is it? We all have the power to make a positive change. Be smart, place your vote and shop local.

If you want more information about this topic, you can watch the short and detailed video about the Wealth Inequality in America (that inspired this post) here. Find a list of America’s richest here (just for fun) and watch a movie about the Koch’s and their dirty business here.

PS. If you are one of the 1% and you’re reading this – great!  I’m happy to see that you’ve found my blog and obviously have taken an interest in ethical fashion, conscious consumption and sustainability; that’s really unusual for your kind. I have a lot of ideas I’d love to discuss with you. Leave me a comment and let’s get in touch!

Note: This post (written by me) was originally posted on the blog of The Made in America Movement, and you can read it here. I did change a few things in this version to better match my blog theme and personal political stands.

Money is everything – it isn’t how you play the game

Friday fun at our house: Watching a marathon of awesome documentaries (Fed-up, Park Avenue, Pump) which lead me to think a lot about money this weekend.

Money is the single, most powerful tool in this world, and in this country. Money rules the Senate. Money rules the House of Representatives. Money rules the President (I bet he made a nice bonus last week announcing that he will allow drilling in the arctic). Whoever invests the most money gets their bills passed.

It so happens that some of the nastiest people in this country have billions of dollars. Like the Koch Brothers. They are in oil. And yes, they fight environmental regulations and, yes, they push their own agendas thru cover organizations, bills and by buying politicians (mostly Republicans!). They know that money means power and that lots of money means lots of power. So they use it for their own benefit, like pushing for bills that gives tax breaks to themselves and the investment bankers, because that’s the kind of stuff oil tycoons looove (“I love it bro’ ”. “OMG, me too”).

What consumers seem to forget is that collectively, we have power too. We have more power in our wallets than we can ever obtain by voting.

In order to make things better and shift the power, we have to play the same game they’re playing, where money is everything. Together we have the power to bring large corporations out of business (bye, bye Wal-Mart), and the power to help ethical, green, local businesses grow. That’s pretty cool, when you think about it! Right?

What you buy is your political stance and ultimately your “vote”. Don’t just sit back and say you can’t change things, because that is not true. Here are some examples.

  1. When you buy American made goods – your vote says that you don’t approve of sending work overseas.
  2. When you buy all natural bath, body and cleaning products – you’re telling the manufacturers that it’s unacceptable to add parabens, petrochemicals and other toxins to these products.
  3. When you buy organic produce – you help support organic farms and clearly stat that you won’t accept chemical pesticides and GMOs in the food that your family eats.
  4. When you buy local – you vote for strengthening your own community.
  5. When you say no to Coca-cola and Pepsi – you tell the marketplace that you don’t accept highly processed sugars being added to your drinks.

The list goes on (and on, and on).

If we already know that the political game is corrupted by wealth, isn’t it time we all started playing? We may not like the game, but we can still be the winning players.

Start using your power this week! Put that processed food back on the shelf and leave that made in China sweater on the rack.

Be the change.