Voting with your dollar has been an idea since the earliest days of economic theory. It goes like this: In the absence of government intervention, ethical standards will be upheld by consumers, who will — being moral people — refuse to buy from companies that violate what they see as important rules and standards of ethical conduct.
As great as this idea sounds, for most of human history, it’s been a bit of a fantasy. After all, who but the most devoted of humanitarians with the most leisure time would take the time to research and evaluate every one of the companies they patronize? Like everyone interested in technology, you’re probably looking at this problem and wondering… Isn’t there an app for that? The answer is YES (http://www.buycott.com/): there IS an app for that. Multiple, in fact, but Buycott is my favorite. They crowd-source everything, and create a collaborative knowledge database on companies both in America and abroad, noting everything from corporate family trees to campaign donations.
Here’s how it works: You create an account, and the app immediately prompts you to choose from a number of causes that you feel strongly about. Be that GMO labeling or Female empowerment in developing countries, or even acceptance of Bitcoin, you can probably find a campaign that suits your interests. The idea is that you select support for multiple campaigns, then use the in-app barcode scanner to check items you plan to buy, and see how the companies you support stack up to your dearly held beliefs. If they don’t (which is a probability if you’re like me and buy a lot of cheap products from large, monolithic corporations), the campaign suggests an ideology-safe alternative.
Can’t find a cause you’re looking for? Make your own! All campaigns are user-generated and user-maintained, and on the off-chance you scan a product Buycott hasn’t yet heard of, it prompts you through a simple module to enter it into their database for the benefit of other users.
Never before has voting with your dollar and living according to your beliefs been so easy. Through technology, Buycott has created a community of consumers, dedicated to giving the buyer more bargaining power to engage in activism without giving up quality of life. As technology advances and people become more open to the idea of sharing their thoughts and activities with the world, we can move closer and closer towards a perfect market, in which all parties to an exchange know of alternatives, of each party’s activities, and of the moral character of those with whom we trade, and make redundant the clunky regulation of government intervention.
PS: There’s also a Chrome Extension