Archive for the 'conscientious consumerism' Category

15
May
09

News You Should Know 05.15.09

This Friday afternoon, there were a number of news stories that caught my attention. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to write an entire, fleshed out blog on each of them.

  1. Pulitzer Prize winners. I know this is from last month, but I recently took a look at this year’s Pulitzer winners and found many quite worth the squiz:
    1. Alexandra Berzon of the Las Vegas Sun on higher death rates among construction workers on the Strip due to lax regulation enforcement.
    2. David Barstow of The NYT on the utilization of generals by the Pentagon to sell the Iraq War. (Pt. 1 and Pt. 2)
    3. Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune reveal how a popular (and over-zealous) sheriff’s focus on illegal immigration resulted in the endangerment of investications of violent crimes and other areas of public safety. I still see that sheriff all over TV.
    4. St. Petersburg Times for Politifact (they completely deserve this one).
    5. Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post for his coverage of the 2008 election. This surprise me. Dont’ get me wrong, I love Eugene, but I’m not quite sure how his comentary was better than, say, E.J. Dionne’s. Eugene still rocks and congratulations to him.
    6. Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune for his editorial cartooning. Example:
    7. Damon Winter of The NYT for his photography of Obama’s presidential campaign. A great series and really worth the look.
  2. Texas and other states charging victims for rape kits. This is appalling – it reduces the number of women willing to pursue the arrest and conviction of their perpetrator. If a murder victim’s family had to pay for the evidence to be collected at the murder scene, the country would be in an uproar. Remember when I say there are areas where the U.S. needs improving? This is one of them.
  3. THIS IS BIG. The ACLU is suing to challenge a patent Myriad Genetics on two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancers.“Knowledge about our own bodies and the ability to make decisions about our health care are some of our most personal and fundamental rights,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “The government should not be granting private entities control over something as personal and basic to who we are as our genes.”
  4. The Texas Senate passed a bill weakening eminenet domain laws and forcing the government to operate much more transparently when attempting to seize private property. Yee-Haw!! Now, get with it, House, and let’s get this signed into law! I hope eminent domain reform is progressing in other states as well.
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14
Apr
09

Earth Hour – This Photo Series is Cool as Hell

I’ve been meaning to post this link to a Boston Globe piece showing the difference between recognizable destinations from around the globe lit up and then darkened during Earth Hour. Just click on the photos to see the before and after differences.

And, yes, I particpated in Earth Hour – however, I was still cooking a relatively complicated meal and had to push back my particular Earth Hour to 9:30-10:30 p.m. My bad. Next year, I’ll do better – promise! I encourage others do so as well, if they can, because it is such an easy way to make a statement and participate in a movement that benefits all of us. Yay.

09
Feb
09

Obama on CEO Pay in 2006

A commenter on the HuffPo who must have been in hibernation the last few years wrote snidely when someone complained of CEO pay that no one cared about the exorbitant amount until the recent ridiculous spending in light of the taxpayer bailout.

Obviously, this commenter lives in an alternate reality. Or they go to one of those “prosperity gospel” churches who forget baby jesus didn’t like the rich and tell all their peeps that god wants them to drive Escalades and live in mini-manses, so they need to tithe regularly to get them.

I’ve long had a problem with CEO ever since. In 2005, I worked for the printing arm of an insurance company whose CEO made above 20 mill a year and had a private jet while the peeps who worked on the printing floor made around 7 bucks, received no sick leave and couldn’t afford the crippling fees for the company-offered health insurance for themselves or their children. Funny how a health insurance company couldn’t afford cheaper health insurance for their own employees – yet the CEO and the good ol’ white boys at the top were making out like bandits.

And remember the deserved hoopla over the $28 million paycheck Alan Mulally received after heading up Ford for only 4 months? Yeah. Stratospheric CEO pay had been a problem for quite a long white.

In fact, Obama wrote a few words regarding the subject in his last book The Audacity of Hope, which was released in 2006. In light of the new CEO pay restrictions, which – surprise, surprise, – some Big Business bitch Republicans have come out against, I thought it apropos to highlight Obama’s opinion on the issue before the economy took a nose-dive.

In 1980, the average CEO made fort-two times what an average hourly worker took home. By 2005, the ratio was 262 to 1. Conservative outlets like the Wall Street Journal editorial page try to justify outlandish salaries and stock options as necessary to attract top talent, and suggest that the economy actually performs better when America’s corporate leaders are fat and happy. But the explosion in CEO pay has had little to do with improved performance. In fact, some of the country’s most highly compensated CEOs over the past decade have presided over huge drops in earnings, losses in shareholder value, massive layoffs, and the underfunding of their workers’ pension funds.

What accounts for the change in CEO pay is not any market imperative. It’s cultural. At a time when average workers are experiencing little or no income growth, many of America’s CEOs have lost any sense of shame about grabbing whatever their pliant, handpicked corporate boards will allow. Americans understand the damage such an ethic of greed has on our collective lives; in a recent survey, they ranked corruption in government and business, and greed an materialism, as two of the three most important moral challenges facing the nation (“raising kids with the right values” ranked first). Conservatives may be right when they argue that the government should not try to determine executive pay packages. But conservatives should at least be willing to speak out against unseemly behavior in corporate boardroom with the same moral force, the same sense of outrage, that they direct against dirty rap lyrics.

Trickle-down wealth is a myth. The top economic class hoard the wealth, grow the poverty class and weaken the middle class – which weakens the economy. Our country needs to reevaulate whether we’re willing to allow the wealthy to take the rest of us for a ride. Obviously, I vote no.

And isn’t it nice to have a president a bit of common sense? Like a breath of fresh air.

03
Dec
08

Doctors’ Business Ties To Be Disclosed

In Cleveland, at least – but it’s a good start. The Cleveland Clinic has announced it will reveal the relationships between its doctors/researchers and pharmaceutical companies and device makers. The objective of the disclosure it to prevent conflicts of interest in its health care system. It gives my such a warm feeling inside to witness an increase in corporate transparency. Well, that increase in transparency and the glass of white wine I’ve poured for myself while awaiting Top Chef to start. Love that show.

Seriously though, how many people do you know who can recite stories about a visit with a doctor who prescribed unnecessary medication or recommended a superfluous procedure? Though these Hippocratic Oath defiers are few and far between – when you’ve had an experience with one, it’s downright diabolical.

These greenback-hungry tricksters must be stopped!

And if The Cleveland Clinic turns out to be a trendsetter, they will. If I lived in Cleveland, I’d definitely have them administer the tetanus-diptheria booster I’ve been avoiding.

02
Dec
08

Conscientious Consumerism

I am a huge believer in voting with dollars. Huge! Whether it’s buying environmentally safe products or not eating veal or going to doctors who belong to minority groups, I try to put my money where my loud mouth is. No, I’m not religious about it – I don’t always buy locally-grown produce or independently-brewed beer and I wouldn’t go to a doctor who left a scalpel in me just because she was Hispanic and female (though, all the Hispanic female doctors I have visited have been phenomenal).

It’s called conscientious consumerism – as opposed to the American phenomenon of conspicuous consumerism which feeds on the souls of impoverished children.

One of my main responsible spending projects is the support of non-religious free thinkers (atheists, agnostics,

hee hee

hee hee

spiritual boycotters of organized religion, etc.). Of course, there are only so many directions this moral compass points. Hell, I live in Fort Worth and there aren’t too many openly atheist businesses in town, despite all the roofers who have Christian fish on their yard signs. It was much easier to practice when I lived in Austin.

But every cent counts, right? So, I look for books written by non-believers, buy Simpsons dvds, am not unfamiliar with adult toy shops, try to see Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt movies despite my inability to take them seriously as actors anymore. I avoid businesses who use the Christian fish as their selling method, refuse to go within 15 feet of a Christian book store unless it’s to flash my boobs in their windows (kidding!), etc., etc. Twilight was written by a Mormon chick and while I salute her entrepreneurial spirit, I will not read her books or see the movie. And I’m making a much more concerted effort to keep funds from Scientology followers (you know who I’m talking about).

But, it’s hard, people! And I’m weak. I can’t help but find myself in the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A now and again. And despite the fact that burger chain Fudruckers plays god-awful christian worship music on Sunday mornings (by request), I manage to chomp down on their wondrous meat and buns, wedge fries and heavenly processed jalapeno cheese sauce once a month (or more?) on a day that is not designated for rest for the majority of Americans. And, shhh, but I love the Chronicles of Narnia series.

The response to Propoboycott-oppressionsition 8, however, is making my life a lot easier. The publication of donor lists have helped galvanize a boycott against the business leaders who helped ensure the success of a religious political movement aimed at oppressing the rights of a specific group of Americans. I am more than happy to joint the effort to hand prejudiced business leaders some whoopass with each dollar I don’t spend supporting them. Cinemark Theaters, this means you.

What is surprising is that MANY of those that end up on the boycott lists are Mormon – not just any ole Christian felt called to donate in support of Prop. 8. It is mind-boggling how many of the donors supporting Prop. 8 live in Utah. It seems there was a concerted effort within the church walls to push parishioners to spread hate. Sure, their church leaders have routinely practiced pedophilia and suppression of women, but how dare gays have the right to marry! What imbeciles. Needless to say, I’m not planning any trips to Utah any time soon.

Though I don’t live in California, I do pay attention to the movements supporting gay marriage – many of which lists monetary supporters of Proposition 8. For instance, Californians Against Hate has a great website, giving me many more businesses upon which to focus my responsible consumerism: A-1 Self Storage, Washington Mutual, Templeton Funds, Marriott, like I said – Cinemark Theaters. Mormonsstoleourrights.com lists the ways in which the Mormon Church has worked to oppress gays and also posts a petition viewers can sign advocating the loss of tax-exempt status for churches who are politically involved.

Boycotting is not a “bullying” tactic as many of the named donors are claiming. Religioners have their fun with boycotts all the time. And I fully support any American’s right to donate to causes they support. However, I have the right to refuse to patronize those with whom I disagree. Voting by the dollar is one of the most fundamentally democratic expressions we Americans have and a major producer of progress. I will never purchase anything produced by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh or anyone else that spews hatred and vitriol. That’s my right.

And while I will suffer for my views (no more Franklin Covey planners…) it is important for me to practice what I preach and support efforts to expand good will to all people and oppose those who would oppress.

By the way – what an abismal shame that a dishonorable person like Saxby Chambliss could reach one of the highest offices in the land. What the hell, Georgia?! This man inhabits the bottom of the moral barrel and you would re-elect him?! What a disgrace.




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