Monday, January 31, 2005

A Corporate World 

The Bush administration gives lip service to global warming, and wants to keep it from public, international discussion. during the World Conference on Disaster Reduction. That symposium is occuring simultaneously with the World Social Forum in Brazil, and if only the twain should meet.

Our's is not the only country, btw, whose practices on an international basis are harming world citizens.  

Given that many of the globalized economic practices of international forces are designed to maximize profits and minimize strain to the corporation, it seems the World Conference on Disaster Reduction ought to focus on these economic, globalization disasters that are wrecking havoc on the citizens of this planet.

 It has been my experiences that these people don't fall. They will always have their cavier and yachts, while the little guy around them takes the brunt of their policies. From Commondreams:

As 50,000 people marched through Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil, to mark the opening of the annual World Social Forum on developing country issues, the report from ActionAid was set to highlight how power in the world food industry has become concentrated in a few hands.

The report will say that 30 companies now account for a third of the world's processed food; five companies control 75% of the international grain trade; and six companies manage 75% of the global pesticide market.

It It finds that two companies dominate sales of half the world's bananas, three trade 85% of the world's tea, and one, Wal-mart, now controls 40% of Mexico's retail food sector. It also found that Monsanto controls 91% of the global GM seed market.

Household names including Nestlé, Monsanto, Unilever, Tesco, Wal-mart, Bayer and Cargill are all said to have expanded hugely in size, power and influence in the past decade directly because of the trade liberalization policies being advanced by the US, Britain and other G8 countries whose leaders are meeting this week in Davos.

"A wave of mergers and business alliances has concentrated market power in very few hands," the report says.

It accuses the companies of shutting local companies out of the market, driving down prices, setting international and domestic trade rules to suit themselves, imposing tough standards that poor farmers cannot meet, and charging consumers more.

I'm just beginning to wade into this globalization issue. It seems to me that the empowerment of the small farmer ought to be a goal for activists. The following link is to a pdf. Support your local farmer's market, and grow your own when possible.

Here's what a proponent of globalization has to say about activists:

In large part, the corporation owes the strong environmental and social standards that it attaches to all its investments to extensive discussion with - and criticism from - activists. As we elevate our standards from "do no harm" to an even stronger level of responsibility, we welcome continuing dialogue with local and international activists.

 Elevate our standars from "do no harm" to an even stronger level of responsibility(???)  I ask you,  Peter Woicke, Managing Director, World Bank and Executive Vice President, International Finance Corporation, who penciled the above words, what could be a greater responsibility than "do no harm"? And if that is your mantra then you have failed it miserably.

The truth is, it is the activists who are your your conscience, and we do it as we struggle to keep up with the rapid pace at which you are legally devouring up the world's resources in terms of ownership, often at times with little regard for the people of the communities your policies and practices will affect.

Could we say, Mr. Woicke, that debt is the tool of international globalists to ensnare an economy, rather than to nurture an ecoomy? From Susan George:

Debt is an efficient tool. It ensures access to other peoples' raw materials and infrastructure on the cheapest possible terms. Dozens of countries must compete for shrinking export markets and can export only a limited range of products because of Northern protectionism and their lack of cash to invest in diversification. Market saturation ensues, reducing exporters' income to a bare minimum while the North enjoys huge savings. The IMF cannot seem to understand that investing in ... [a] healthy, well-fed, literate population ... is the most intelligent economic choice a country can make.

-- Susan George, A Fate Worse Than Debt, (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1990), pp. 143, 187, 23

To be continued.