Thursday, March 01, 2007
Random Ramblings, 03-01-07
Today I purchased a bag of Tully's coffee, one of the Seattle brands, so it ought to be good -- and it is.
Then I thought about how relatively inexpensive coffee is , even really good coffee, for many Americans --- but how close to survival--most of the coffee workers in Central and South America live.
This is a story often repeated: Americans -- except for those below the poverty line* -- enjoy their standard of living on the backs of the people in third world countries, or second world countries. We have taken advantage of the position of powerlessness of most of the people in the world -- to live at levels---which if everyone started living at --- would destroy the planet.
On the Tully package the company prided itself on giving back to the community: Our passion for community has played an important role in defining who we are as a company. Tully’s is dedicated to working with organizations to improve the health and development of children.
I just sent Tully's and email asking if it would not be more appropriate to take pride in giving back to the community of poor workers and their families whose labor provides Tully's with enough money to sell the coffee, make a profit, and give somethig back to Americans --- who are almost surely more fortunate than those who provide the coffee to us??
Some may immediately say, Charity begins at home. This may sound good, but just how much charity does our country show towards the less fortunate in America? Think of what happened when Katrina hit New Orleans and how today little has been done for really needy. Yes, the government moved in to rebuild casinos on the Mississippi coast, and the home of Jefferson Davis, damaged by the storm. Is this an example of "first things -- first".
These are 2004 figures: WASHINGTON (CNN) - The number of Americans living in poverty jumped to 35.9 million last year, up by 1.3 million, while the number of those without health care insurance rose to 45 million from 43.6 million in 2002, the U.S. government said in a report Thursday.
Many of these poor American are "well off" compared to coffee farmers in Guatemala or Columbia.
I think to myself: Why we so much money within our country in both public and private hands---don't we step in and do something significant for Our Poor?
I think there is an attitude that permeates much of the U.S. that people need to "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps" --- even if they have neither bootstraps nor boots!
Some of us suspect that the "less fortunate Americans" are probably all lazy, lack ambition---they don't have the right stuff. I don't agree with this characterization. Of course, some may be lazy or less ambitious---than others, but that may because they are human. Some people with great wealth may not be terribly ambitious --they inherited it. Everyone deserves to have a job to do that provides a basic subsistence.
I supported strongly the candidacy of George McGovern. Most of my fellow teachers thought I must be crazy. This shows more about the level of being informed and thoughtful of many of my colleagues. McGovern had the idea that those who are willing to work, but for whom there is no job available to reach a basic, very basic income ---- would be eligible for a guaranteed wage. This guaranteed wage would assure all Americans willing to work that they would have this much to live on. All other welfare segments, e.g. food stamps, etc would be eliminated. To me McGovern's idea seemed simple, direct, and honest. It would reduce the multitude of programs to basically one. Whenever an idea like this surface, the market force boys label it socialistic.
The capitalist system frequently expounds on the glories and almost mystical quality of "market forces." The market must be free and follow whatever channels it pursues. Rubbish! Moses only brought the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai.
Market forces are not supreme. Human and planetary needs are supreme. Our economic system serves these needs---not itself. The production of maximum wealth cannot come at the expense of people and the earth.
Globalization, the International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, and World Trade Organization serve to line the pockets of the top 1-3% of the world's population.
We have the cart before the horse.