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Old 02-17-2007, 10:37 AM   #16
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It's not only chocolate, if you broke it down, we all colllectively would buy a lot less if the people making it were not slave labor and/or were paid fairly. I'm not talking about the laptop on which I type, or the components thereis, for the most part things like electronics, ipods, etc are made in real factories with real regulations with employees making fair local wages in decent conditions, I visit those kinds of places regularly. Things like chocolate, shoes, clothes, coffee, etc is what i mean.

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action...article=070340


And you do NOT want to see me boycotting clothes.....
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Old 02-17-2007, 10:53 AM   #17
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The complexity of globalization and the modern marketplace doesn't mean that we shouldn't make the changes in our buying habits that we can to make the marketplace a bit fairer for all.


This is really NOT a complex issue - what becomes complex is our rationalization not to make the changes that we can....and that we know that we should.


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Old 02-17-2007, 02:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jamila

This is really NOT a complex issue - what becomes complex is our rationalization not to make the changes that we can....and that we know that we should.
It's definitely complex. Sure, we can stop eating or purchasing things that were harvested or made by people who are basically in slavery, but where does that leave them? I'm not advocating for exploitation, but if you think about it from their perspective, it's not as simple as we think. For example, when I was in Africa we drove by some coffee plantations. Here, we would say "oh those people are basically being held as slaves, working from sun-up to sun-down, only getting paid enough to put food on the table but not enough for proper health care, etc" but when we asked them, they said the coffee plantations were a great thing because they brought at least some kind of job to thousands of people who would otherwise be living under a sheet of scrap metal in the shantytown down the road. It's not like they have much choice. You either work under conditions the West has the luxury of labeling "exploitative", or you starve. Another example is when we visited a Masaai tribe, they showed us their marketplace where the women and children sell jewelry. Everyone was saying "oh don't buy this stuff, it's not even that nice and this place is just a tourist trap." But I bought as much as I could because the government has taken land from these people and also told them they cannot farm the way they used to so they are now like slaves to the tourism industry and make their money by selling cheaply made accessories. I don't feel guilty about buying that stuff because at the moment, this is the only way they can make money and survive and until we can help with a better alternative, we can't be shutting them out completely.
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:00 PM   #19
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That's completely right, Liesje.
We can't just stop buying these products, because we cannot stop exploitation, child labour and all that overnight.
It helps to consume more fair trade products, so that more and more jobs gets created there. But if we refuse to buy the other products, these people are in fact worse off.
This change has to come, but it takes time. And in the meantime these people, and children, rely on that kind of work.
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Old 02-17-2007, 04:55 PM   #20
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Originally posted by Vincent Vega
That's completely right, Liesje.
We can't just stop buying these products, because we cannot stop exploitation, child labour and all that overnight.
It helps to consume more fair trade products, so that more and more jobs gets created there. But if we refuse to buy the other products, these people are in fact worse off.
This change has to come, but it takes time. And in the meantime these people, and children, rely on that kind of work.
In an ideal world, awareness about fair trade products would grow as well would the demand for them. Then these free-trade markets that profit from human exploitation could see the trend, notice the decline in their sales, and then change their labor policies to match those of their fair trade competitors.

I am, however, very ignorant in the field of economics. I took my courses many years ago. So I'll leave all the complexity up to the experts...meanwhile, I do what I can here in my little circle with bringing forth the issues and encouraging conversation among my students in colleagues.
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Old 02-17-2007, 06:08 PM   #21
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I am, however, very ignorant in the field of economics. I took my courses many years ago. So I'll leave all the complexity up to the experts...meanwhile, I do what I can here in my little circle with bringing forth the issues and encouraging conversation among my students in colleagues.



Thank you, redhotswami - that's all this thread was highlighting.


Do what you can to make this world a better place and that's what you're doing.


But to sit around and not do what you can to make the world a better place - even if it's one chocolate bar at a time - is unconscientious.


Thank you for your comments, redhotswami.



It's not what you're dreaming. But what you're gonna do. - Bono


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Old 02-17-2007, 06:20 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jamila
But to sit around and not do what you can to make the world a better place - even if it's one chocolate bar at a time - is unconscientious.
I think the point Liesje and Vincent Vega were making is that actually we are not necessarily in agreement as to what precisely we can or should do to make the world a better place.

I'm sure we can all agree on some vague generalised ambition to make the world a better place - when it comes down to tactics and actions, it becomes more complex.

The original article you posted claims that when we in the West buy chocolate, it is actually financing wars in Africa.

If that is indeed the case, why is that happening? And is it really 'our fault' (i.e., the fault of the western consumers) that SOME of the cocoa producers are choosing to spend their hard earned cash on buying weapons rather than feeding their children?
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Old 02-17-2007, 08:53 PM   #23
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It's "uncontentious" to consider the possible consequences of everyone in the West simultaneously boycotting all goods from Africa that we believe were harvested or produced in an exploitative manner? Talk to some native Africans who are keeping their babies alive with these jobs and you'd probably feel a bit differently. For many, the coffee plantation is the only option between prostitution or starvation.
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Old 02-17-2007, 09:10 PM   #24
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Favorite Chocolate Quotes #1
Life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get.
Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks)

Favorite Chocolate Quotes #2
There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles.

Favorite Chocolate Quotes #3
Make a list of important things to do today. At the top of your list, put 'eat chocolate.' Now, you'll get at least one thing done today.
We believe this is from Gina Hayes

Favorite Chocolate Quotes #4
I never met a chocolate I didn't like.
Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Favorite Chocolate Quotes #6
And above all... Think Chocolate!
'Betty Crocker'

Favorite Chocolate Quotes #7
The 12-step chocoholics program: NEVER BE MORE THAN 12 STEPS AWAY FROM CHOCOLATE!
Terry Moore

Favorite Chocolate Quotes #8
All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!
Lucy Van Pelt in Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz

Favorite Chocolate Quotes #9
Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world's perfect food.
Michael Levine, nutrition researcher, as quoted in The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars

Favorite Chocolate Quotes #10
I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process.... It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?
Unknown
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Old 02-17-2007, 09:24 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Liesje
It's "uncontentious" to consider the possible consequences of everyone in the West simultaneously boycotting all goods from Africa that we believe were harvested or produced in an exploitative manner? Talk to some native Africans who are keeping their babies alive with these jobs and you'd probably feel a bit differently. For many, the coffee plantation is the only option between prostitution or starvation.
Perhaps too another consequence of boycotting goods from one place could lead to a demand of goods produced somewhere else? Latin American countries produce chocolates, perhaps under similar policies of exploitation. Boycotting goods from Africa and then investing in goods from Latin America can still perpetuate the same suffering.

I just don't know what to do, you know? I don't like that it is the way it is...I don't know how exactly to change things though. There is a group I'm in now, and we are brainstorming ides for sustainabiity and investment in a community in a developing nation, that is what made me realize how complex this all is. I'm not clever enough to get into the Policy field, nor am I to get into Economics or Development. I get stuck in circles of thought, then feel overwhelmed and need to take a nap.
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Old 02-17-2007, 09:28 PM   #26
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I think the subsidies issue should be addressed by governments but I don't see anything changing in my lifetime. I would also like to see the salaries of CEOs and executives reduced dramatically. Recently, a Canadian CEO of a bank received a $12 million dollar bonus and $750,000 added to his pension for the company having a record profit last year, to me that is beyond obscene.

I would like to see more of the money I pay for my meats, fruits and vegetables go to the producer, not the supermarket. But these are all systemic problems with our society.

Like many problems in our world, I view it as a big ball of tangled yarn which we would love to roll up neatly but after tangling it up for so long we don't know wear to start and untangling it will unravel the ball so much that the it take away the good yarn which gives the ball it's shape.

Also, I think life is so stressful now that most people don't seriously consider the tragedies afflicting people of the third world. We live on a strange planet where while some are dying of obesity related problems, others are dying of malnutrition problems. Some are depressed because they got a B on their exam in college while others don't even get primary education. Some people complain they waited to long in line for a latte while others don't even have access to clean water. It blows my mind some days. We have exploited the poor of the Third World for so long that it is has become the norm. We exploit the poor of our own society too and in the long run, it could be the end of us as a species.

I don't do nearly enough myself to affect change so I am ashamed to admit I am as guilty as anyone in making a real difference.
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Old 02-17-2007, 09:34 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by redhotswami


Perhaps too another consequence of boycotting goods from one place could lead to a demand of goods produced somewhere else? Latin American countries produce chocolates, perhaps under similar policies of exploitation. Boycotting goods from Africa and then investing in goods from Latin America can still perpetuate the same suffering.

I just don't know what to do, you know? I don't like that it is the way it is...I don't know how exactly to change things though. There is a group I'm in now, and we are brainstorming ides for sustainabiity and investment in a community in a developing nation, that is what made me realize how complex this all is. I'm not clever enough to get into the Policy field, nor am I to get into Economics or Development. I get stuck in circles of thought, then feel overwhelmed and need to take a nap.
Agreed. It's enough to give one a permanent migraine.

I think one of the problems is that here in the West we have the luxury of being able to say "these goods are not fair trade, therefore we should boycott them" without considering how we got to where we are now. Not too long ago we had 8 year olds working in factories all day everyday. Now I'm not advocating for this by ANY means, but it's just the truth about economic advancement and how it actually gets played out. Africa's never been given the chance to really come into their own, so to speak, and as much as we want to coax that along smoothly, it just doesn't happen that way in real life. The most developed countries didn't get that way because of canceled debt, eradication of disease, or fair trade; it came through decades, if not hundreds of years of blood, sweat, and tears. Now we are in a position where we'd like that type of thing not to happen to anyone else, but we can't afford it (or don't want to be able to afford). It's not so much the money (canceling debt and increasing aid) we can't afford, but the entire concept of fair trade. TRADE means TWO parties, not one party stops doing one thing but then does nothing to actually help or reciprocate. Like you were getting at earlier, it really makes more sense to stop buying the bad goods and at the same time buy as many (if not more) fair trade goods.
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Old 02-17-2007, 09:42 PM   #28
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You are correct about the development of an economy, Liesje. Our societies had children, women and people in general working in factories, fields and other jobs in deplorable conditions without any regard for the effects on the environment, safety, well-being, etc and it took us a couple of centuries to achieve our economic structure. Remarkably, it seems that no one has come up with a way to develop economies without resorting to the archaic methods used by the Western world or is willing to sacrifice our comforts to allow others to have basic human rights.

Yet at the same time, western companies complain about competitive advantage of these economies because of cheap labour, no environmental policies or safety practices. So instead of changing their policies, our society decides to take advantage of the emerging economy with all it's faults instead of guiding it through an economic and resource management policy. It is all very bewildering at times.
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Old 02-18-2007, 10:34 AM   #29
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It's amazing how a thread started to remind people of the exploitative conditions that the children who pick the cocoa beans to make commercial chocolates can create such controversy.


I was simply suggesting that people make the changes in their buying habits that they can to help make the world a fairer place.


Where is the big controversy in that?


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Old 02-18-2007, 10:45 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jamila

I was simply suggesting that people make the changes in their buying habits that they can to help make the world a fairer place.

Is anybody going to address the prohibitive cost of a lot of these fair trade items? It's akin to organic foods and Ali Hewson's ridiculously priced Edun line.

What ends up happening is that the upper classes can go shop at Whole Foods and pat themselves on the back, while say, a crowd which is probably most likely to be progressive (students) have $120K of loans to their name and their last priority is to pay double or triple for coffee beans or chocolate. It sounds harsh, but I know people who are that broke and they are not in a position to change their "buying habits" - as it is they owe $ to multiple institutions.
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