05 June, 2010

i'm the mascot of an evil corporation!

bart simpson said that, but still, doesn't make it untrue. he was talking about mickey mouse while wearing a black bra on his head but, it has got me thinking again about the choices we make when we buy things. business ethics seem to simply not exist with regard to large corporations like disney. they don't care who they trample on for the sake of economic expansion and simple bottom line profits. so, why should we?

well if the economic crisis has taught us anything, it is that we as consumers do have a collective power. we stop buying cars = general motors goes under. we eat at home to conserve cash and mcdonalds posts much lower annual profits. the first example is true, but somehow, the second is not. this year mcdonalds in complete contrary to their sales, posted profits that exceeded the last two financial years. how is this possible, i hear you ask? like other big companies they cut costs wherever they could to keep their ceo in a nice new jaguar.

a lot of us, i'm sure, have worked as teenagers for large transnational companies for disgusting levels of minimum wage to keep us in new billabong threads and the latest album from britney spears (not that i'm projecting with these examples). at this age you don't even think about what you are contributing to these companies, like mcdonalds, you are immersed in your first real step into the big world of consumerism. ignorance might be bliss but that doesn't make it ok.

if you choose to see a disney movie or wear nike shoes then you have to take some responsibility for the business practices of these companies. you might never see the people, who work for almost nothing in indonesian and chinese sweat shops but, you continue to keep them enslaved. consumer culpability.

i have always managed to somehow ignore this fact. i work, i get paid, i buy shoes, they fit, i look cool and nothing else really enters into it. money for product. it's a simple enough trade. it isn't until you look into where the shoes come from that the little voice in your head (mine is starting to sound like you rob, damn you!) starts to make you feel bad about the decisions you have made.

vegetarianism seems to me quite similar. still, it makes me sad that we live in a world where more people care about animal cruelty than human cruelty. politics text books have told me over and over again that globalisation produces clear winners and losers. the divide between rich and poor is expanding as quickly as globalisation is. just because you are a winner doesn't mean you have to ignore the trail of destruction (losers) you have left in your buying frenzied wake.

next time you have a happy meal i suggest you contemplate your impending heart attack AND the 5 year old child in jordon working for 2 cents and hour. would you like to work for that?

if you want to read into this further, i can't recommend enough that you check out 'the national labour committee' website here. they hope to inform people and 'put a human face on the global economy'. also the picture is by british street artist banksy. his work hopes to make people more socially and politically aware. he is amazing. check it out here.

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