Monday, September 18, 2006

Safe Drinking Water

According to this article Americans spent $68.1 billion on soft drinks last year. That's about $10 per person in the world. And according to this site, the coca cola company alone spent $920,000 in lobbying in 1998. Now I'm known to slurp a soda on occasion, but how can we Americans justify putting so much money (and all the energy that represents) into sugar water?

Ethoswater presents alarming (perhaps alarmist) statistics:
Worldwide, nearly 1.1 billion people (roughly 20% of the world’s population) lack access to safe drinking water. The lack of clean, safe drinking water is estimated to kill almost 4,500 children per day. In fact, out of the 2.2 million unsafe drinking water deaths in 2004, 90% were children under the age of five.
Even if it's not as bad as their stats make it sound, only the disengenous would deny that lack of access to safe drinking water is a tragic reality for far too many people. If American consumers would put half of their soft drink expenditures into a trust to fund grants for safe drinking water projects, we could improve the quality of life for millions. If soft drink companies would spend half their lobbying expenditures on lobbying for political solutions to unsafe water sources, and spend half their advertising budget on promoting awareness of and involvement in water issues, we could end unsafe drinking water problems worldwide.

Imagine next time you're at your favorite fast food franchise the clerk instead of asking if you want the larger size asks if instead of soda, you'd like to donate to the safe drinking water trust fund? That's a world I want to live in.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Encourage independent thought

I read a great quote from a man I both admire and dislike, Thomas Edison. When showing a new employee around his most fantabulous lab he was asked, "what are the rules?" He was overheard replying, "There ain't no rules here, we're trying to accomplish something." I love our local KHUM's motto, radio without the rules.

I'm always perturbed when an employee of a business can only follow policy. At one local video store, one of the two I will do business with, the employees are allowed to choose the music they listen to while working, they aren't required to wear uniforms, and most importantly, they can make independent decisions about late fees, returns, exchanges, and other customer services. I stopped patronage at the video stores where anything out of the ordinary had to be approved by a manager. I want my fellow citizens to be encouraged to think.

Once, I was in a supermarket buying supplies for our camping trip on the lake. Along with the potato chips and marshmallows, dogs and buns, etc. was a 12 pack of beer. I'd been teaching my son how to handle transactions in stores, and he wanted to hand the cashier the money, and receive the change. He excitedly asked if he could pay. I handed him the cash, but the cashier refused to accept the money from him because the order included the beer. She stated she could be fired if she accepted the money from him. WTF? What kind of citizens does the corporate machine want? Subvert the procedures.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I renounce my membership

I am a member of the dominant group of the world. I am a white male. I hereby renounce my membership in this group, this resignation being effective immediately. I no longer wish to be associated with this group, for even though membership bestows great privilege, and individual members of this group can and have acted with compassion and humanity, as a whole, this group is responsible for too much suffering. I no longer wish to be associated with the actions and policies perpetuated by white males that result in unfairness, injustice, and suffering. Here is but one example, and though being remedied, the fact that it occurred is abhorrent:

Insurance for Viagra Spurs Coverage for Birth Control

Why would insurance companies cover Viagra, but not contraceptives? I realize the issue has several dimensions, but I'm utterly confident that the decision was made by males, and mostly white males, to benefit their purient interests in promoting privilege for their group. A result of the decision to cover Viagra is an increase in chances for men to impregnate women, and yet the same insurance companies were unwilling to cover contraceptives to decrease the chance of women being impregnated.

This is a document in progress, and will be edited and updated as I find time and inspiration to develop it. I retain the right to change my mind at any time.