[dropcap]E[/dropcap]verything we do is political. The books we read, the news we watch, the food we eat, and yes, where we buy our cheap six-packs.
Recently, I have had this conversation a lot. And every time I do, I’m always taken aback when people tell me they’ve never really put too much thought into where they buy their drinks, food, and the like. I’m surprised by this because of how important it is to be conscious of the politics behind how we spend our money.
I buy my alcohol only from BC public liquor stores for three main reasons.
The first is right there in the store’s name: it’s public. This means the money I spend there will be returned to me via stronger public services, like healthcare and education. For me, this is a huge deal. A government can, and should, have extensive and stable public services — but they need funding to do that, and this is one way the state can collect that money.
The second is due to the kind of workplace that public stores create, that private stores don’t. Employees work better hours, and for better wages. They are all unionized and receive much better benefits than the minimum-wage employees at private stores. Frankly, I don’t care if I pay an extra $1 each time I buy some Growers, so long as the workers are being treated well and are making a fair wage.
The third is largely tied to deregulation. It’s no secret that if you privatize a service or a commodity, you risk facilitating a more lax approach to regulation of said service. To keep liquor in the hands of the state keeps regulation strong and transparent.
So there they are: my reasons for purchasing only public liquor. Like them or not, they are an extension of my values. These values are a part of me, and I believe that it’s important to uphold them. That’s why I try to be politically conscious of where and how I spend my money.
Similarly, we send a message every time we buy local. All too often we try to hide from politics, claiming that it doesn’t really affect us. But we are lying to ourselves every time we say that, and frankly, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors by denying the importance of political consciousness.
Where you buy your liquor is just the tip of the iceberg. Life is political, and we should strive to be more aware of how our actions, or purchases, ripple out. There is no shame in acknowledging the deep political roots in our society, and making changes in your life to better reflect your values.