Thursday, January 1, 2009

Did You Know You Vote EVERY Day?

Do you vote? This was a huge issue just a couple of months ago. Everywhere I would turn, I would hear different people saying things like "vote for change", "cast your vote", "voting is a privilege and a responsibility", "vote...let your voice be heard". We all want our voice to be heard. We all want to express our beliefs. But how do we vote in our daily lives?

Do you realize that we vote daily? The choices we make in our daily living tell the world...and our government, what we believe is important. Remember those Nielson boxes they used to put in houses years ago? Maybe they still do. They would hook them up to your television and monitor what you watched. If you watched a program, they counted that as a vote for that program. If it didn't get got cancelled. Wonder how some of those crappy shows stayed on the air? Families with Nielson boxes watched them. Did your favorite show get cancelled? Nielson families, for the most part, didn't watch it.

I live in North Carolina, in an area that at one time was a hub of manufacturing activity. But now, as I drive down the streets of Concord, or Thomasville, or High Point, I see an expanse of empty buildings. The streets are lined with once busy factories, sitting abandoned and overgrown with weeds. In an area that once thrived with textile and furniture manufacturing, families are struggling to find jobs and many are living in fear of hearing the words 'layoff'. Why? Did we stop buying furniture? Did we stop buying towels and clothing? Did we stop buying beds? We had quite a few factories that made socks. Did we all stop wearing socks?

I have heard the complaint that American companies are setting up their factories abroad. They are shipping jobs oversees. But they are not taking the local workers with them. Why? Why would they abandon us? In a nutshell, because we voted for it. I hear protests now..."I didn't vote for that!" But here is the thing. The companies go oversees because they can make a product cheaper. They can pay employees less because they choose areas where the standard of living is low. They don't have the same safety regulations to follow. They don't have unions. They can escape pouring tax money into the local governments, and ours for that matter. They make more of a profit. They come out ahead. And the scary thing is...we buy more of their products. We really do! We don't buy less. We buy less expensive. See, we don't want to go without things, so we choose to buy cheap rather than not buy at all. But in doing so, we show our approval of those companies choices. We cast our vote.

We vote daily. When we choose to view things on the Internet...we cast our vote of approval...even when it is just out of curiosity or just for a peek. What we choose to view in the movies or on television casts a vote of our approval of the content of that program. We choose of what our next set of choices will consist.

When we shop at stores, we cast our vote for that company. When we buy products, we cast a vote of approval for that product. But it goes deeper than that. We approve of the business actions of the manufacturer by choosing to use their products. If they pollute, or do animal testing, or buy products produced by child labor, or finance abortion clinics, or lay off local workers to take their business oversees, we cast a vote of approval for their actions when we buy their products. We even help finance their practices with our money when we purchase their products.

We can change the practices of these businesses by our own buying. We can choose to cast our vote for better business practices. We can choose to cast our vote of disapproval for companies who do not follow a moral compass in their business decisions. We can choose to not buy products at companies that treat their employees poorly, or at companies where the employees treat us poorly. We have the power of our vote.

I know it seems like a huge responsibility. Voting always is. But we have a responsibility to the world we live in, and the people it contains. We can contribute to changing things for the better...or for the worse. Our voice is already being heard. Now let's work to actively choose what is being said. Cast your vote and make a difference.

1 comment:

Amber said...

Natalie, you and I are definitely on the same wavelength right now! I have been thinking so hard about this lately, trying to come up with a plan for the new year which involves supporting American products made in America. You know what? It's really, really difficult! (Understatement of the day...) And I haven't even touched on the "extracurricular activities" of the few companies I've been looking at. It is going to take a lot of research...

Perhaps this should be the next blogging campaign