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"Hollywood Women's Political Committee"

July/August 1997 issue of Poverty & Race

The Hollywood Women's Political Committee (HWPC) is permanently closing its doors and will no longer participate as a PAC in the raising of funds for political candidates. We will no longer collaborate with a system that promotes the buying and selling of political office.

For the first time in 70 years, less than 50% of eligible voters elected our President and members of Congress in 1996. $2 billion was raised and spent to run political campaigns. Only one quarter of one percent of this cam-paign money came from contributions debt. People at all socioeconomic levels should be encouraged to turn off their televisions to block the narcotic drone of commercial messages that dominate daily life. Environmental groups must do more to help individuals, including those with low and moderate incomes, understand how consumer choices profoundly affect the planet.

Globally, the rampant consumer culture is pandemic. Our materialistic lifestyle is being marketed globally, and if corporate planners have their way, we will soon have a few billion more consumers devouring new products. We should promote efforts to dramatically raise the standard of living for people in developing nations, just as we should press to raise the standard of living of those in poverty here. But mass marketing of junk food, synthetic clothing, automobiles, soft drinks and the culture of "spend now, pay later" poses serious threats to the earth and its people. Citizens of less developed nations now face the same barrage of advertising, commercialism and mass marketing that low-income Americans must confront. They too are becoming saddled with debt, a sense of inferior status, manufactured wants and the mountains of hazardous waste resulting from mass consumption.

Challenging the consumer culture must be part of a progressive agenda, despite the complex politics of advocating for more material security but less commercialism. We need products that generate living wage jobs for all people, meet real needs and don't damage the environment. We don't need to spend more time driving, shopping, organizing stuff and feeling overwhelmed by junk. All peoplewould benefit from a culture which encouraged them to sing, garden, volunteer, vote, play, imagine, invent, repair and talk more often with friends. As we analyze, organize and press for greater equity and material security for all Americans, let us also insist that individuals be valued for who they are and how they spend their time, not for what they wear, drive or own. The poor have much to gain from a society that values hard work and personal integrity, more than an accumulation of unnecessary and over-marketed products.

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