Corporate Organic

I found these sweet charts searching for images on the internet.  Professor Phil Howard at Michigan State University has made the links between big multi-national corporate giants to organic brands.  Some of these links I knew about, but some companies that I thought were small and privately owned are actually supporting corporations like Hershey (sorry Dagoba).  Although the green movement is growing for organic food, it isn’t always the vision of the small farm of a local family that is growing that organic produce or products that you consume in the store.

The real focus must be on supporting local food.  This is the greatest way we can make our voice heard in making food just.  By supporting local small farms, the idea of industrial food production is challenged.  Eating in season, going to the farmer’s market, making foods from scratch, taking the time to can and process fruits and vegetables when they are in season, etc are all things that not only will help the local community, but people around the globe.  This ends our dependence on foods from other countries where we are, under trade agreements (WTO, NAFTA) and loans (World Bank, Structural Adjustment Programs), making people grow monocultures for export.  This is not a sustainable system.  As Vandana Shiva said, this is “forced trade” not “free trade.”  This export system is depleting local resources for one crop that cannot sustain a healthy diet.  This is a monoculture of both the mind and in actuality as Dr. Shiva so well states.

By supporting organic, you are also standing against GMOs.  Corporations like Cargill and Monsanto have, under the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement of the World Trade Organization, patented life by genetically modifying seeds.  This is biopiracy, forcing farmers to buy and pay fines to these corporations for altering a crop that has had both historical and spiritual importance to people of a region.

We would be better off creating trade policies that help small farmers gain land rights to have the ability to grow their own food for their own community.  And for those commodities that we do trade at further distances must be fair trade.  This would end the food wasted with the current system that is in a downward spiral to destroy the land and earth, and the people on it.


Street Art

I find that art can play in important part in bridging people for causes and thoughts.  Two of my favorite artists are Banksy and Mantis.  Their art is all over the globe in the midst of a consumer culture, often where people are seperated from the things around them.  In the midst of advertisements, poverty, and self absorption, this art stands out and stands for something.

Mantis’ picture of a starving African boy with an ipod and the words “ineed” is powerful and draws in the viewer.  Sure, this does not necessarily say what the causes of hunger and the gap between the rich and the poor are, but it brings awareness.  Banksy and his art of the children raising the tesco flag with their hands over their hearts questions the democracy of countries and whether or not we represent the people or corporations.

This art allows for thinking beyond the usual jumble of advertisements, cars, and buildings.  It questions the things we have come to accept as normal (i.e. poverty, pollution, corruption).  It is a creative form of protest.  When a corporation pays for wall space to advertise, it is not considered graffitti, but if someone paints an image, it become unacceptable.  Public spaces have become controlled by corporations and governments, and these artist are reclaiming it.

Here’s another great article I found on zmag.  Conn Hallinan talks about the increase in murders of trade unionists under Uribe’s administration.  He also talks about the ties between th government, military, and multi-national corporations in these murders.  There is a major increase of foreign capital in Colombia amounting over 60 percent of national income.

This is a prime example of how multi-national corporations play a major role in supporting corrupt governments and military to push forward free market ideologies that benefit a few while increasing poverty amongst the many.  Trade unionists have been warning against this increase in foreign investment because, as Hallinan says, “it has led to the privatization of government-owned services, such as hospitals and water systems.”  This is the typical story, especially as third world nations take loans and “aid” from the IMF and World Bank, having to agree to privatize all social sectors, rid of all subsidies, and abandon tarriffs.  This money is apparently benefiting Uribe’s corrupt government where multi-national corporations like Nestle, Chiquita, and Coca-Cola are targeting unionists.

It is also interesting that the US is moving a military base to Palanquero, Colombia, an obvious defeat to the human interests of the people of Colombia.  It is more important to keep our alliances under free-trade agreements (particularly the Central American Free Trade Agreement) that give us military access rather than standing up to a corrupt government that the US (particularly the rich and corporations) benefits politically and economically from.

Nader on the Economy

It is unbelievable the amount of corporate influence over the two major party candidates.  Both candidates agreed to give this money give-away to corporate crooks with a 700 billion dollar bailout.  Ralph Nader has been very critical of this and offers his own 4-point solution as described on his website votenader.org.

One of his main points is to make the speculator pay for their own bailout.  With a one-tenth of one percent tax on security derivative transactions, 500 billion dollars would be easily raised in one year.  Now why would the two major party candidates not implement something like this, rather than making the American tax-payers pay for coporate greed?  It's simple, both candidates receive billions in dollars from these corporations, and Obama receives more from Wall Street than McCain.

Nader also brings up a great point that while the candidates talk about the middle class, they never mention the poor.  The poor is only going to increase.  They are the overworked and underpaid in our country.  I also find it important to note, as Nader mentions, that this speculation excess was pushed forward with Clinton and his deregulation in the late 1990's.

I think it is important for people to be critical of the two major party candidates on this matter.  Even if your vote is going to either Obama or McCain, rather than letting the candidates receiving your vote as a "better of the two" decision, accountability should be demanded and the real issues focused on.  This is what Ralph Nader and the other third party presidential candidates are demanding.  The debates are even corporate sponsored and put together by two former heads of the Democrat and Republican National Committees.

I came across this article in zmag.org.  It gives a great breakdown of the financial crisis and its links way beyond the mortgage and insurance agencies and banks.  This recession is due to our economic system as a whole.

As Bello writes, this has been a downward spiral process that mainly took foot in the seventies with the push for further liberalization of the markets and Reagonomics.  Neo-liberalization made overproduction an aspect of the free-trade market.  This caused a great amount of competition in the market which “limited the growth of purchase power and demand, thus eroding profitability,” as Bello says.  This even relates to the subsidies that Western nations use in the market to lower the costs of their agricultural products which make their products cheaper to consume than those same products in other countries that are forbidden to have subsidies under Structural Adjustment Program agreements with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  In addition, the powerful rich countries are also able to dictate the supply and demand of the market which causes a decrease in value of foreign products due to overproduction.  The system is wasteful in many ways.

Obviously neo-liberalization only encourages this overproduction.  By removing state constraints and rulings, corporations are able to to as they please which means moving wealth from the poor to the rich.  By bringing many countries into this liberalized economy, the world becomes dependent on these wealthy corporations and banks and governments to dictate their lives.  Finally Bello links all this to financialization which is the culprit of this credit crisis.  This has to due with the greedy investments by these banks and corporations that pushes the stock market over the edge.  They fabricated money when it wasn’t their which turned this system onto itself.

It is amazing how big this system is and how it links to everyone.  I just read that the economy of Iceland collapsed today and is probably going to look towards the IMF for a loan (something that is just part of this endless spiral).  Deregulation has not worked in the past and is not working now.  Until this is challenged and there are not free money giveaways to corporations, maybe the problem can be dealt with.  Use the 700 billion for social and environmental infrastructure instead…these are the areas that need it.

Financial Woes


I just found this article after coming out of the theater watching “Battle in Seattle.” It is unbelievable how obviously linked corporations are to governments. All of a sudden the public goes wild because the economy is going down the hole, and Banks are going bankrupt. So we award this greed with a rescue plan. And it is so ironic that free-market capitalists are now fans of socialist government plans. Socialism for the rich with the working classes’ money, while the gap between rich and poor increases, environmental protection is hardly a concern, and basic humanitarian necessities are ignored.

A quick side note, on the tube, CNN (ergh) is talking about “America’s Money Crisis” which is way over 10 trillion dollars, and is increasing ONE MILLION $$$$$$$$$$ every 6 SECONDS. And we still are going on with our obviously failed economic system. And it still blows me away that the total of all “third world” national debts combined is around 3 trillion dollars. By that logic we should be poorer than the poorest of Africa. But since we hold so much power in the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and so on we are making the workers, the children, the poor of the world carry the woes of our debt.

These photos are some of my favorite around because of their amazing ability to get a message across.  I’m excited for this January because his exhibit is actually coming to WSU.


Chris Jordan’s series, “Running the Numbers”, portrays so well the effects of our over-comsumed society.  What I find so great about his photos is, that besides the obvious bewilderment of how much we consume and all the wast it produces, the link between all these products or lifestyles and how that relates or Western economic practices.  Or if anything, the pictures and numbers are just surprising at even the superficial level.

The fact that we use so many cell phones blows me away, especially as I think of everything that goes into making that cellphone.  Cheap labor from foreign countries, the utilization of raw materials from around the world, and the interestingfact that we have been able to afford a lifestyle where something like a cellphone is just a product for us to use throw out.

One of my favorite pictures is of the shipping containers.  To me, this is a huge chain of relationships.  It exemplifies our import/export “free” trade market that uses tons of fossil fuels to transport things we consume, ranging from bananas to electronics and toys.  Then I think of the laws in place that dictate this trade, looking at the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF, etc.  And I wonder, who grew the coffee for me to drink, as an example?    Knowing the coffee industry, I think of coffee as one of the most pesticide-applied plants, I think of the workers that are growing this mono-crop production (which aids in the extinction of birds) who are not protected by unions or receive a sufficient pay.  I think of this crazy division of wealth where I can go to Starbucks which is every where now, and buy a cup of coffee for a little over a buck, and hey, let’s throw in a paper cup which draws in a whole bunch of other strings.

This all goes back to our trade laws and loan industries.  The fact that we give ridiculous amounts of money to poor countries (which we have made poor with a history of colonialism and a domination of these people’s resources) and define rules such as Structural Adjustment Programs where the country must privatize all sectors of possible profit (this means schools, health care, water, electricity), maintain low wages, and export mono-crops, among other things, which purposely keeps the populace poor at the expense of corporate wealth is outrageous.