Need to know if your food is secretly linked to Monsanto? There’s an app for that. Want to be sure you’re not buying things that support the Koch Brothers? There’s an app for that, too. And soon, there will be a new app on the market that will tell you if the money you spend on your groceries goes to support the Republican party or not.
BuyPartisan is an app that lets you use an iPhone to scan bar codes and see what party that company’s board of directors, CEO, and other brass send their money. It also lets you see what PACs they’ve donated to, and even how their employees donate if they do so through the company. The Los Angeles Times reports that this app lets individual consumers know exactly which party stands to benefit the most from their own purchases.
Consumers are getting ever more leery of the true power companies hold. What we buy doesn’t just influence a company’s bottom line. In light of Citizens United and McCutcheon—both of which did away with crucial, necessary campaign spending limits—people want to know whether their hard-earned money is going towards buying off Congress and the Supreme Court, or towards electing people who might actually, possibly, maybe look out for them.
The app’s creator, former Capitol Hill staffer Matthew Colbert, said, according to the L.A. Times, “We’re trying to make every day election day for people.”
He went on, answering concerns that many of us have about where the money we spend actually goes:
“For the first time ever, you’re able to take that product and bring it to a whole new light. A quarter or tenth of a penny that went to a political contribution might not be something you know.”
A quarter or a tenth of a penny might not seem like a lot to the individual consumer. However, as the film “Office Space” showed us, all those fractions of cents add up. In 2012, a Gallup poll found that the average weekly grocery bill for Americans was $151. That’s over $600 per month, or 60,000 cents per month. If the average political contribution is one tenth of a cent, that’s 6,000 cents, or $60. Multiply that by 121 million (the number of households in the U.S. in 2012), and that’s as much as $7.2 billion that potentially went to political contributions each month back in 2012.
Obviously that’s across all companies making political contributions, and not any single company. Nor would all of that go to one party, or one candidate, or one PAC. That’s also a ballpark figure, as each company’s spending will be different, and there are likely other factors involved as well that the math above does not take into account.
However you slice it, though, that’s an awful lot of money that we, the consumers and the people, have no control over. Or had no control over. With this app, and an iPhone, we can make smarter decisions about who we buy from, to help ensure that we’re supporting the political party we feel we ought to support. Because, as we little people all know, the only true way to vote these days is with our wallets.
The L.A. Times notes that an Android version of this app is in the works, and the app itself is still in the testing phase. When it becomes available, though, hopefully people will begin taking advantage of it, and perhaps we can work to put political influence back where it belongs; in the hands of the people. It would truly be interesting to see the bottom lines of companies that donate towards Republicans plummet.
For more on political apps, click here.