Friday, February 10, 2006

The Dangers of Social Conscience

Curse you NPR... The more I listen to NPR, the more I feel convicted to change my stewardship habits. I'm talking about stewardship beyond just giving money to my church, which is something that I've already been feeling challenged to increase.

I've already switched over to Fair Trade coffee, especially because Pastor Amy orders it and sells it at cost, so I can just pick it up at church. Well, the other day I heard a report on NPR about the lawsuit being made against three major chocolate manufacturers, because they buy large quantities of cocoa beans from countries where child slavery is widely used on farms. According to Global Exchange, 40% of the world's cocoa beans come from the Ivory Coast, where an estimated 109,000 children were working on cocoa farms in 2003. These children are exposed to abuse, long hours, and harmful pesticides, among other dangers. In 2002, studies found an estimated 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in Western Africa. To avoid legislation, the chocolate industry agreed to voluntarily deal with the problem by the end of 2005, but they have only established a few pilot programs at the moment. Fair Trade chocolate sales are on the rise, though, and while a few members of Congress are still pushing for better legislation, it may send a message to the chocolate industries if more people switch over. I'm gonna make the jump.... its not that much of a sacrifice anyway.

And then there's Walmart. I have been avoiding the whole social issue of Walmart, becuase... well.. its on my way home and I can get everything there. Then I heard a report about how Walmart held Vlassic to a contract where Vlassic was only making 1 cent for every gallon jar of pickles sold. Walmart basically said, "if you don't like it, you can take your bat and ball and go home, and we'll play with Mount Olive's bat and ball." After hearing that, I was in Walmart and went to visit the Black and Decker food processor that I've been eyeing because it is ridiculously inexpensive. I started to wonder.... is unethically cheap? Would I be helping to drive Black and Decker out of business if I bought it? The jury is still out on that one.


Blogger B said...

I heard about the pickles thing, too. I have a LOT of issues with Wal-Mart, especially because it has destroyed competition in small towns and (from a planning/sociological view) really eroded small-town "Main Streets" and community life. (In my town, there are several old, boarded-up houses that have "Go Away Wal-Mart" scrawled on the boards. :P A little bizarre.) Not to mention the sexual discrimination allegations... I've bought like two things at Wal-Mart in my life, and I really try to be willing to pay slightly more money in order to support the competition. I think it's still possible, in most places, to get affordable stuff that isn't Wal-Mart "dirt-cheap" prices.

12:00 AM  

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