20 March 2006

Voting with my pocketbook

Every time I see a half-demolished Civic with a "Bush-Cheney '04" sticker still on it, a Dodge conversion van with "Marriage = (men's restroom symbol) + (women's restroom symbol)," or a Suburban with "Abortion KILLS" (all driven, here in Southern California, by conservative immigrants - either Latino Catholics or Korean Protestants - who have no respect for individual rights), I am determined to stop the Christian fascist tyranny any way I can.

Looks like I have a chance to do just that, right now. I've been looking for a new high-end laptop computer, to replace two computers: an aging desktop at home, and a laptop that my father will take over. Both of my outgoing machines, just like all of my computers, are Dells. Because of Dell's reputation, I've been looking closely at Dell's Inspiron and XPS laptops, but Dell's heavy contributions to W's war chest, plus its questionable labor tactics (including using untrained prison labor for recycling toxic computer components), always nagged at me. Plus, the prices are quite high (at least $2,500), and I'm hearing that Dell's once-outstanding tech support has gone down the dumps, now staffed by non-native English speakers in India who will be thrown off by American idioms (I already know how frustrating that can get). And I am in no mood to reward a Texas-based company for the state's recent passage of a draconian homophobic ballot measure. (Don't take me wrong though - I will continue to patronize good Texan companies like American Airlines and Frito-Lay.)

Fortunately, I have a more conscionable out, one that also saves me money. The HP Pavilion line is looking attractive, and will set me back only $2,000 at most, including taxes and shipping, for a loaded-to-the-gills example if ordered through Costco. HP is politically a bipartisan donor, and while it's no angel (it also outsourced tech support to India - for a time), it's not notoriously evil either; and Costco, of course, is famous for its progressive labor and consumer policies. Just about the only thing I'll miss out on will be two extra USB ports (HP offers 4, as opposed to Dell's 6), but that's a small price to pay for a better world to live in. And HP is based in Silicon Valley - a distant part of California for me, but still my state.

My Democratic contacts have been recommending sites like Buy Blue to help me make the most informed decision. While the political contributions alone no longer mean so much to me, the companies' policies toward the workers and consumers still matter - and Buy Blue does contain a good chunk of information toward that goal as well.

I hope to do the same with all major purchases I will be making from now on. This includes a possible replacement for my television (currently anti-labor Samsung). Also under consideration will be my car purchase, which I've tentatively timed for early next year. I still can't bring myself to accept a less-than-satisfactory competitor, on principles alone though; for example, the Mercedes C-class and the Saab 9-3 satisfy my principles better than a BMW 3-series or a Lexus IS, but they don't fit my personal needs and tastes as well.