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Not One Damn Dime Day

January 5, 2005

A fascinating movement that has been swelling for weeks via the blogosphere is the "Not One Damn Dime" campaign. Here is one of a thousand postings of this.

The idea is to withhold all spending on January 20, Inauguration Day, in protest against the Iraq War. The question is whether this is an effective campaign or whether people who oppose the war should join. As an economist and opponent of the war, I take what might be seen as a counterintuitive position: I'm all for this and I'm going to join!

I was asked whether it might not be wrong to punish the local deli owner that day by not spending money there, as if he has something to do with the war. But not spending any money on January 20 is a purely voluntary act and targetted at no one in particular. The Asian deli owner is not being punished by me, he is just one alternative among several for how I do lunch that day. He never had a guarantee of my patronage and not granting it that day simply removes one of his alternatives. If he chooses to stay closed on the 20th for the same reason I choose to eat at home, I do not perceive it as directed at me; he just removed an option for me and others that day. Certainly there is a distribution effect of having purchased the cold cuts at a grocery store the day before. Grocery store sales blip up on the 19th and deli sales blip down on the 20th.

The more general point is that January 20th is a day that deserves a special response from the portion of the public who do not support the Bush regime's use of the U.S. military for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Taking to the streets, as was done in Ukraine, just doesn't seem feasible in view of the fact that a majority of the electorate clearly voted for Bush/Cheney and the population in general either supports or is ambivalent about the situation. Other than a gesture like the "Not One Damn Dime" boycott that is being suggested over the internet, I'm at a loss as to what public statement could be made on January 20 by the heterogeneous anti-Iraq occupation faction. Speeches and personal letters to any of the Bushovics seem futile to me. They seem insulated from all criticism. Suggestions are welcome.

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