Boycotts: Our Job, Not the Government’s

Unlike a lot of people taking up space on the World Wide Web, I like to think that I am always open to changing my opinion or at least reassessing if a previously-stated opinion was correct.  In light of my previous entry here where I said that the City of Los Angeles’ boycott of the State of Arizona over its new “Papers, please” law was worse than the law itself, some recent events have made me wonder if my stand was right.

This all started because I approach my road trips very similarly to the way a jazz artist or a rock band like the Grateful Dead approach a song.  They all know the basic structure of the melody and the places where it absolutely has to turn but, between those points, things are open for at least a little exploration if not a sudden turn down a road for which there is no map.  Thus, I sketch out the places where I need to hit the first verse (an intersection), the bridge (that one works both ways, doesn’t it?), take in what the other band members are doing (good restaurants and gasoline stations), and a place to take a break between songs (rest areas).  In between those points — some of which can be passed over if not desired such as the Dead deciding they don’t want to go on and do the second verse of Dark Star — it is completely up to my feelings and motivation.

The problem in my mind arose as those points I was marking out on my route began to become like certain songs.  As with any band that is around for a while and has amassed a decent-sized catalog of music, they have to leave behind certain tunes.  Mostly that is because a concert can go on for only so long just like any stretch of a road trip.  However, there are other reasons as well…the song doesn’t mean what it used to…they get tired of playing it…the performances become stale and predictable…or, as Jerry Garcia said several times to crowds about St. Stephen, “We had to stop playing that song because you all liked it too much.”

In my case with planning this latest trip as I hope to finally and forever escape the heat and despair of the Inland Empire of California, the “songs” I wanted to avoid were ones that often contained, shall we say, sour notes.  The things I would find “off key” and no fun to “play” would be cities and towns known for having speed traps, poorly maintained infrastructure, uncontrolled pollution, and — the key to all of this — the tendency to elect people to political office with whom I vehemently disagree or allow a police department to run amok.

It did not take long before I recognized how I could easily be accused of some serious hypocrisy for boycotting certain cities along almost the entire length of Interstate 5 after having just written a big steaming pile of words stating that a certain other boycott was bad.  I felt I had to be serious about this as I thought it might be a good possibility that I would have to think about revising my position on the stupid prick-waving dick fight going on here in the American Southwest between Los Angeles and Arizona.

However, after some serious thought, I have concluded that it is not hypocritical to be against boycotts between governments within the United States of America but still be for my own boycott of certain cities for being festering holes of inequality and downright hate.

The difference is that a government is supposed to represent all of the people over which it rules.  Within the United States, our various local governments wield quite a lot of power despite how portions of it have been taken over by Washington, DC (for better or for worse).  As I stated before, this is not a matter of local governments deciding to divest themselves of holdings in truly heinous countries like Myanmar (Burma), Iran, and Red China.  This is going on within our own borders in a country where we stand under the motto of E pluribus unum (out of many, one) and we have a constitution that allows for local governments to rule themselves within the proper framework and well-defined system within which to challenge those laws that some feel are unconstitutional.

In my view, the City of Los Angeles has made this a personal battle for all of its citizens whether they agree with the City Council’s position or not.  Thus, everybody gets thrown into the same basket as, at the moment, Los Angeles and Arizona hurl virtual rocks at each other…and, as I said in my previous entry, putting us all on that slippery slope toward the breakdown of our American bonds.

A boycott of Arizona and its terrible “Papers, please” law should indeed be vigorous but not engaged in by any government other than in Washington, DC as it is their responsibility through the Justice Department to review controversial state laws that might be unconstitutional and send them to the federal court system for review.  It is private citizens and corporations that should be doing the work of organizing such boycotts, not local governments that already have too much on their plates being ignored in the first place.

These “private” boycotts are actually going on right now as thousands if not more completely legal US citizens of foreign descent have already moved away from Arizona and deprived it of their imagination, innovation, manpower, and — most importantly — tax money.  Outside of the state, corporations of all sizes are choosing on their own to avoid Arizona both on personal moral grounds and in the name of good business sense to not be seen supporting this poorly thought-out law and be boycotted themselves.  As for individuals, we may never know how many people decided to not visit or move to Arizona over the past few weeks and instead spend their money elsewhere.  In a state that features one of the greatest natural wonders anywhere in the world, the Grand Canyon, this will hurt them far more than any one city or state government ever could…and, without all of the hassle, and horrible implications for the future that I spelled out the last time I was in here typing my sticky fingers to the bone.

Again, what I am saying is that governments within the United States should not be standing off against one another.  No matter how bad one might hate Arizona’s new law, it is not another local government’s business to speak for 100% of its citizens in such a manner.  Of course, local elected government officials should feel free to speak out on this if they wish and encourage others to boycott with them as individuals.  It just shouldn’t be mandated because that is when things get serious as far as our long-term survival as a viable republic is concerned.

I hope that clears things up for any time that I might come in here and say that Entity X should be boycotted.  As I have thought this through, I will also be able to continue my own boycotts with a clear conscience because I am not forcing anybody into the consequences of such boycotts…well, unless somebody will miss whatever goes out of business or changes dramatically because I and enough other people stopped giving it money.

Hey, that’s the free market system, right?  If one doesn’t like something, don’t support it.  I can only imagine what would happen if everybody that said they don’t like Wal-Mart actually stopped shopping there.  If they did, then there would be one more instance where local governments would not have to get involved when Wal-Mart wants to come into a new town and it raises the inevitable years-long, money and time-wasting shit-storm that we have seen repeated all across this nation for years now…because, if people showed some willpower on their own, Wal-Mart would either be a much better corporate citizen or be just as dead by now as Sam Walton.

Remember, folks…boycott what you want on your own.  Let government do the things it is supposed to do like take care of schools, water, roads, safety, and so on.  If we let them start deciding our boycotts for us, it is just another avenue for the old tactic of divide and conquer…and one that, in this case, could end up being more divisive than any of us would really care to imagine.  Keeping the power of boycott completely for yourselves as individuals is yet another one of the ultimate ways that you can stick it to the man. >:-)

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