Sunday, February 27, 2005

The antichrist of retail?

A recent article on the Slate website spoke out against Wal-Mart. It took a press release by H. Lee Scott Jr and analysed it. The press release claimed that Wal-Mart wasn't a bad company. Its average employee wage was $10USD an hour and compared to other local retailers, it had more full time employees and offered more insurance coverage to its employees. Timothy Noah, the writer of the article, claimed that average wage would be silly thing to look at the average because high paid employees (whose income was well above the sale clerks income) was included in the average. He estimated, though various sources of reference, that the medium wage of an employ was $8.50 an hour. He also found that "full time" in the U.S. was usually considered 40 hours a week, except at Wal-mart, where it was 34 hours a week. Noah calculated that the average income for a sales clerk would be about $1000 under the poverty line in the USA.

The UFCW also ran a story on Wal-Mart, claiming that the store used overseas, sweatshop-made, clothing while simultaneously campaigning to "buy American". The UFCW found that Wal-Mart imported 10% of ALL China's exports. It also found that sweatshops for Wal-Mart often refused its workers access to healthcare, forced workers to work overtime, and locked bathrooms so workers could not use them during working hours (and this is just the short list). In 2002 Wal-Mart was forced to pay the huge fines for 1,436 child labour infractions. In the china sweatshops, workers are women between the ages of 17-25. They are housed in a dormitory type setting with 15+ to a room. They are monitored 24 hours a day, work for a mere 12-28 cents an hour, and fired when they reach the age of 25 because they are "too old".

Wal-Mart is cheap and easy, just like a whore. But they aren't a whore, they are a pimp. They sell the goods of others to the benefit of those on the very top. The chief executive officer of wal-mart, H. Lee Scott Jr., makes around $29 million a year, including stock option grants. His workers make barely enough to survive. Why do we put up with it? He isn't the only one that makes million off the little guy, Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney, makes obscene amounts while those making plush toys for him starve.

So what can we do? Do we boycott the companies? We can, but usually it hurts the workers more than those at the top. Do we scream and yell and pretend it is helping? We can. Write letters, make songs, legislate ethics? All of these things have been tried to various forms or another. In the end, it is always the little people that gets screwed. So drop the soap and bend over, the big guy wants your action!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

True Activism

As most of you know, I'm usually the first to step up and start declaring a boycott on some company. I genuinely want to make the world a better place and the injustices that companies often perpetrate get in my way of making the world better. Thus, if they start showing signs of being stupid, I'm first to vote them off the earth.

I recently came across the Nestle boycott. The boycott is placed on Nestle because of its practices in distribution of baby foods in developing countries. According to one website, Baby Milk Action, Nestle knowingly went against a code of practice for selling baby food/milk to poorer countries. I read the report shown on their website and was shocked. Not by the horrors that Nestle committed but by the fact, I felt that Nestle was perfectly within their rights to do things the way they did them. This is not to say I endorse their marketing style, but what company wouldn't market to its fullest potential?

If Nestle had been advertising that their milk was better than breast milk OR that mothers should give up breast feeding and ONLY feed by the bottle, I would have thought, "these guys are some sick bastards". Instead I find that they send aprons to nurses (with their own label on it) in pediatric wards. They market products at a cost that is as low as possible in many countries. And they are always saying things like, "It is almost as good as breastfeeding". This says to me that they are telling their customers that breastfeeding is the better option.

Okay, so they manipulate the system. What company doesn't do this? A better solution than boycott is information. You don't like what a company is telling people, you think it is wrong or misleading? Then go and give them the RIGHT information. Don't refuse to buy...That will not do nearly as much as an organized effort to properly inform the consumer.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Heroes of old

Heroes are mythical creatures that fly out of stories and make a nest in our imaginations. They build themselves up to be greater than life and when the truth is revealed, we feel let down.

Real heroes do exist. Not the superheroes that we see in movies and comic books, but heroes from history and daily life.

My heroes are not conventional. They are not perfect. They often have a bad reputations. Genghis Khan for instance. He did the unbelievable, bringing together tribes and uniting them into one nation. That is incredible! His life was full of battles and trials, yet he held true to his convictions and made a name for himself that is not forgotten, even thousands of years later.

Malcolm X is another example. He's often had the reputation for being racist and violent. But reputations are not always all they are cracked up to be. While his violent reputation may have preceded him, he was never involved with a violent demonstration. But was is more interesting than his reputation is the fact that he was able to grow personally. He was able to leave behind old opinions that had been publicly and LOUDLY proclaimed by himself. He was able to say, "wait, I think I have had it wrong". His ability to learn from life is a lesson to us all.

What is it about these men that I admire?

I admire the their faith. Neither one worshiped in the same style I do. Neither one ever claimed Christianity as their religion of choice, but both men believed that their God was listening to them when they prayed. They believed, even when things went wrong, even when their religious leaders turned out to be hypocrite or frauds, they still believed that there was someone listening to their prayers and answering each one in His time.

I admire their achievements. Both of them changed the world with their leadership. Khan united a nation and brought prosperity to many many people. Malcolm X changed the way African Americans thought about themselves, how they interacted with others, and helped them stand up for themselves.

I admire that they were both able to realise that they were wrong. Malcolm X publicly changed his beliefs. It is a hard thing to admit your wrong, it is even harder to admit to the world, you were wrong. Khan always kept the same goals, he never wavered, but he was able to say, "this plan didn't work, we will try another". That is hard to do when you have thousands of people following you because you say that you can bring them prosperity. Failing never looks like a good option. He was able to use his failures and renegotiate his ground with each battle.

These men are not angels. In fact, both of them have often been vilified by various sources. But they were strong men who were human, with all the strengths, faults, and failures that brings. This gives me the courage I need to change the world. After all, the world doesn't need perfect heroes, it needs humans.

Pests and Toxins

Okay, so we all know that some of the stuff we spray to get rid of spiders, ants, months, and other insects are harmful. We hope that it is only harmful to the insects and NOT to us. Unfortunately often the same toxins that kill the insects can hurt our bodies as well.

So what can we do? Live with the bugs??

Thankfully, there are other options. The Greenpeace website has listed some very handy ways of getting rid of your common household bugs. Check out their website to find out more!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Long Awaited for

Alright everyone. You've heard rumours about it on the tagboard. You may have heard Becky or myself refer to it...but IT IS HERE!

Becky and i have decided to go in together to make the newest blog, tHe c0LLaBorAtioN. We're not really sure what it will feature, probably mostly drivil, will be GOOD drivil, and hopefully, you'll enjoy reading it.

On a slightly less important note. Kristin's Picks has had a make-over, and you might be interested to see the newest design.

Happy Blogging, everyone!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Saving the world, three people at a time

I recently did a radio spot on donating blood. For those of you who know me, you know that i have never donated in my life! I'm terrified of the idea of sitting in a chair with a needle sticking out my arm for 10 minutes. So why would i be so hypocritical and suggest that other people do it?

It started as a simple assignment to research blood donations. Once i started i realised it was going to be a lot more complicated than just simply putting words on paper. If i was going to write a script asking other people to give blood, i was going to have to be willing to give myself, which is a BIG ask!

In my searching i came across It is an american site, but it was still very helpful. I found out that one donation of blood (1 pint or 470ml) can save up to three people! I learned that blood only has a shelf-life of a about week (depending on what part of the blood is being kept). This means that from one week to the next, new donations are needed.

I also learned that 30 per cent of the blood donated goes to help people who need it on a regular basis, such as leukaemia patients.

This got me thinking.

Still thinking....


It might just be worth my terror to give some blood.

Now would someone please remind me of this article next time the blood van comes to campus!?

Monday, February 07, 2005

New Pics

My birthday photos are here. Or rather some of them are there. Others can be found by visiting Melody's site or just clicking here. ENJOY!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Coffee and Me

Coffee is one of those drinks that is everywhere. You can hardly get into a shopping mall without being inundated with the smell of it. But have you ever stopped to wonder where that coffee comes from?

Did you know that one fifth of the world's coffee is consumed by America? Did you know that most coffee growers get only 3 cents for every $3 cup of coffee sold? This is not enough for most farmers to live off of. The Fair Trade movement is trying to change this. Fair Trade Coffee is sold at several locations around Australia and at Starbucks upon request. By buying a Fair Trade Coffee, your not just having a cup of coffee, you helping to make the world a better place. Now doesn't the day feel better already?

For more locations where Fair Trade Coffee is sold visit the Oxfam website. Or for american readers, visit Fair Trade.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Your friendly Environmental reminder

Clean water is something that most people enjoy drinking. Or at the very least, they prefer it to polluted water. In disaster zones or war zones the need for clean, drinkable water is keenly felt. In Australia we often forget that our water supply will not last forever. In fact, at the current rate of consumption, water will be in scarce supply in only a year! America, your situation is not much better. While water is more available to you, your current rate of consumption for some of your states causes you to use up supplies from one own state while looking for more water in other states. If this trend continues, the earth's water resources will be gone before my generation's grandchildren rear their ugly little heads!

But why stop with water? Australia has a HUGE hole above its head. The ozone is depleting. Why? Because as citizens of earth, we've neglected to be careful with what we were sending off into the sky. We've burned a hole, and we don't even seem to be interested in mending it or at least slowing it down.

My mother once told me that she could not be a conscientious consumer because she didn't have the time to research each and every company she bought from. This is a fair enough statement. I don't think many people have that kind of time. So here is a few little tips (or click here) for you. You can find out what companies are polluting in your areas. You can find out how much they are polluting. Thus, your level of knowledge can increase. But BEWARE with knowledge comes responsibility. Are you ready to become responsible for your own ecological footprint?