Why we’re taking on the Big Pharma lobby

In case you’ve never heard me talk about it, CUFF is all about standing up for consumers.

The idea on which we’re founded is that consumers are financially squeezed, often unfairly. Most of us aren’t getting good raises, and all the services we depend on — prescription medicine, cable TV, cells phones, etc.— are constantly increasing in price. The reason that happens? It can be complicated, but we suspect the biggest reason is that consumers are conditioned to take it. And take it, we do.

We happen to believe reasonable pricing is the least we can expect.

That’s why our first official email campaign urges Congress to take immediate action to help diabetics get affordable insulin. (Do you know how crazy that sounds to people in other countries? That’s because it is. This makes my blood boil.)

If you haven’t already signed the petition, please do it now.

I know email campaigns can be really annoying and often seem pointless. But your support on this and other issues will now be digitally transmitted to members of Congress, and it will make a difference. And emails help activist organizations grow! You know those “tip” buttons? That’s how a lot of good work gets funded.

I’ve always planned for CUFF to be funded by small contributions, because I’ve seen how activist groups can be hemmed in by their big donors. (That’s why magazines like Mother Jones don’t run ads.) We want to be an independent voice, and your tips make it possible for us to plan for taking on big issues without fear of losing funding. This group is truly people-powered, so if you haven’t already, please sign our petition.

If you’ve already signed the petition, thank you! Please consider forward it to friends and family. We have this crazy idea that we can build a powerful consumer voice that we can use to make politicians listen — and that will be good news for us all.

Welcome to CUFF. Here’s our story.

If there’s one thing that makes me furious, it’s some giant corporation screwing us out of our hard-earned money. Whether it’s the local cable provider, the cell phone carrier, a shady landlord, a mortgage company, or a department store, companies are using some sleazy, slimy tactics to get rich at our expense.

I’ve been involved in politics since I was 15, and worked on my first campaign. I also spent 20 years as a journalist, 10 years in sales, and 15 years as one of the first progressive bloggers. I’ve been going out on a limb for a long time.

One of the most frustrating things for me is when I meet people who tell me, “Oh, I’m not political.” To me, that’s the sign of someone who doesn’t understand everything is political: “Oh, I don’t care who’s on the Supreme Court.”

Well, you should. Every single Republican who sits on the highest court in the land has a long and reliable record of ruling against consumers, and for corporations. And if we don’t wake up and recognize that, we will continue to get taken.

CUFF is not going to focus our work on individual cases. Our purpose will be to shine a light on the many, many ways big corporations use their influence to take our money and sell us unsafe products — and when our membership gets large enough, to use our influence to protect consumers at the federal level.

We also want to educate you about the forces working against us, and hopefully inspire you to get involved.

Although we make no bones about the fact that we’re Democrats, we criticize Democrats, too. We want to fight on your behalf.

Our founding principle is, we’re not going to seek or take money from big donors. We’ve seen too many promising organizations pull punches because it might jeopardize their funding. (You’d be shocked at how often that happens.)

We hope to be funded by members who see the usefulness of paying $10 a year to support our work. Most people don’t have the time or expertise to do the kind of research and identify the context the way we do.

That said, we do want engaged members who are partners. When we ask you to call your elected representatives, or sign a petition, we are asking you to help us grow in influence — influence we can use on behalf of you, and all consumers.


Susan Madrak