Friday, October 19, 2007

Supporting Change through Working Assets

     For those who've ever tried 'voting with their wallet', you probably know how frustrating it can sometimes seem. There generally aren't that many options for where you can purchase your goods and services, and when there are, most of the choices aren't too much different. However, I recently became aware of a phone company which gives portions of its charges to progressive causes. The company is called Working Assets and claims to have given over $50 million to progressive organizations since 1985. Each year the customers of Working Assets vote on which organizations should receive support. There are many organizations which receive funding for this year, for example, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Amnesty International, Union of Concerned Scientists, Code Pink, Human Rights Watch, Democracy Now, Doctors without Borders, Americans United for Separation of Church and States, and many more.

    Working Assets donates 1% of your bill (long-distance, cell phone, etc.) to these progressive organizations (the customers also vote on how the money will be divided up amongst the recipient organizations). But even better, Working Assets also has partnerships with a couple of organizations in which they give 10% of your wireless bill to the organization! These types of partnerships involve the organizations Amnesty International (Working Assets link), the Humane Society (WA link), Planned Parenthood (WA link), and Democracy for America (WA link). They may also have partnerships with other organizations in the future. This would be a good recommendation to any organizations that you're part of that you'd like to help contribute to with money that you're going to be spending anyway.

    Working Assets plans are also competitive. Their wireless plan is the same price as the Cingular (oops, now AT&T, because the cell phone market was also just so damn competitive...) plan I'm currently on. And in terms of coverage, they actually use Sprint's network, so you should expect the same reception that you would get with Spring. Also, Working Assets will buy out your current plan up to $175. And I believe that the current price for breaking a Cingular/AT&T contract is $175, so that's perfect. I plan on breaking my contract this week and switching to Amnesty's Working Assets plan. It'll make me feel good knowing that ~$75 of my money each year will automatically go to supporting Human Rights and will also help combat the telecommunications monolopolies. Plus I've heard you get free Ben & Jerry's ice cream for signing up!


Mookie said...

That sounds like a neat idea. Wheatsville food coop does that, but generally with local organizations. I think having "alternative" options in regards to where our money goes is extremely important.

I wish there was a way to tell by some symbol or seal (like kosher) on a product that it passed certain tests before reaching me. I want to make sure my purchase does not include environmental degradation or brutality against humans or animals, etc, but I don't always have the time/resources available to me to find out on my own. "Made in China" does not inspire me for some reason.

This phone company is a good first step, since everyone and their mom uses cell phones. Perhaps more such options (with different services) and the aforementioned "kosher" rating system for products, coupled with your progressive front, would form an overarching strategy to bring about lasting and effective change.

We cannot focus on politics and leave consumer action out of the equation, nor vice versa. Getting the two to line up, though, is often very difficult.

(I should blog more often.)

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TX CHL Instructor said...

1) You need to change the name to Freethought Bimonthly, or something...

2) You seem to suffer from the delusion that fellow Freethinkers will automatically donate to these socialist organizations just on your recommendation. Sorry, but some of us really *are* Freethinkers, and not only with regard to religious superstition.

Delta said...

1). That may be so, but I don't know if it's worth the hassle.

2). Socialist organizations?? I guess I missed the part where Planned Parenthood aims at both reproductive education for women and the collective control of the means of production....

I am simply presenting some information. People are free to do with it as they wish. If you are so right-wing enough that these organizations which are supported by a large telephone company are 'socialist organizations' than you don't have to do a thing. Being a 'freethinker' (not capitalized by the way) doesn't mean much when you still support the economic and political structures for which religion was created to shield anyhow.

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