Wednesday, December 08, 2010
The PayPal dilemma
by Larry Geller
At the upper right of this blog I’ve replaced the PayPal “Donate” button with this little “No PayPal” graphic. It took me a couple of days to figure out what to do. While I was vacillating, I read over at Joan Conrow’s blog that she was planning to let her Civil Beat sub lapse because it required using PayPal.
It’s not that I was getting such a flock of donations or anything from the PayPal button (I’ll bet you didn’t even know it was there). What I was contemplating was the whole scene around WikiLeaks doing a huge public service and getting creamed not only by our government but by businesses such as PayPal, MasterCard and Visa.
WikiLeaks has broken no law. Yet PayPal locked their account. A few hours ago, PayPal gave them their outstanding balance, but I understand that processing is still blocked. Did PayPal give them their money voluntarily, or was it because of the bad publicity and cyber attacks on their website that they relented that much?
MasterCard and Visa are also experiencing cyber attacks.
So should I stop using my credit cards (actually, that’s not a bad idea). But really, what is achieved? Should I cancel PayPal? What good would that do?
I resisted using PayPal at all for many years because of anecdotal reports of problems that were common on the Web. Finally, I needed an account for some reason so I opened one.
If I stop using PayPal, it won’t convince them to resume servicing WikiLeaks. They couldn’t care less if I disappeared along with Disappeared News. So why did I take away the “Donate” button?
For the same reason I don’t shop at Wal-Mart and probably won’t patronize Target. And I don’t shop at Down to Earth. The reason is: I don’t want to support them with my money. I have no illusions that participating in some kind of boycott will be at all effective.
So I’m researching alternatives for my “Donate” button. Some PayPal competitors have cool mobile services which let you pay for things from a cell phone. Awesome. It might be fun to try one of those.
When I figure out which one to use, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, please just hang on to your donations.
The problem with boycotts, is that it validates two central tenets of capitalism. First, a boycott operates as one dollar one vote. Second, a boycott simply moves participation in the system from one competitor to another without addressing the underlying problems of the system.
That being said, I hope you find an alternative that works for your needs.
I think a boycott could do serious damage to Amazon. I'm thinking of ways around putting money into their account. It won't be easy, since like many islanders, I've become dependent on them for books and other consumer goods. We get such a deal: no sales tax. Funny how they can get away with that, isn't it.
From listening to various sources it appears paypal was pressured to stop servicing WikiLeaks because Wiki has documents which implicated an investment bank in the economic meltdown scandal. This is corporate America doing it's best to screw it's enemies.