not one damn dime day

There is some asinine protest going on, today. People are going to refrain from buying anything, today, to protest the war.

This is moronic. First of all, it won’t happen. The effect on businesses will almost certainly not be noticed. If it is noticed, it will be noticed for a day. Everyone who didn’t get groceries today will get them tomorrow. (Do many people buy their groceries on Thursdays, anyway?) People who didn’t head to McDonald’s for a burger will go tomorrow. There will not be a recognized crisis because a bunch of angry liberal fops decided to eat leftovers and delay picking up the new Utne Reader.

I can’t stand this kind of non-protest. The problem isn’t that it will not accomplish anything. The problem is that it will accomplish something: it will keep people from taking real action. “Hey, Terrance, did you go out and support your local progressive candidate’s campaign for the legislature?” – “Why no, Philip, but I did refrain from spending money on the twentieth of January!” – “Oh, good show!”

It’s like the people who protested the “war for oil” and “evil oil corporations” by not buying gas on some random day last year. They didn’t create any real nonconsumption, they rescheduled their consumption, then felt like they’d absolved themselves of any need to take effective action.

Sometimes, getting change to happen is hard. The jelly donut diet will not help you lose fifty pounds, and the “Not a Damn Dime Day” protest will not help you change the face of American politics.

Written on January 20, 2005