It's all about perspective

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Silence

I was having a conversation with a few co-workers about employee rights, civil rights, and the blaze attitude of citizens where other’s rights are concerned. This led me to thinking about the recent snafu with so-called “Tea Party” nominee Rand Paul, son of the infamous Presidential nominee Ron Paul, where Rand showed his true colors by stating (by avoidance of the issue) that private institutions not doing business with, or getting public funds from, the government have a right to discriminate.

Is that an inherent right though? Do we have a right to discriminate? The answer, as usual, is never easy. Yes we have a right to believe however we want. Since a discriminatory view is based on a preconceived notion, a belief, and everyone has a right to believe what they want then you are welcome to believe that Jesus was something other than a story, that women are inferior to men, or that black people are by their very skin color somehow less than whites. However there is no enshrined or unspoken right to act on those beliefs. Just because you believe someone will die unless you cut off their arm does not mean you get to. Likewise, if someone believes that someone of a different race, class, or gender is a lesser person does not mean they get to act on that belief. You don’t get to hire a white guy simply because he’s white, a man, or both. Private property such as someone’s house is one thing, but private property that is open to the public like a restaurant or other business where goods are for sale is no different than public property when it comes to access to those goods.

Just like the separate but equal argument, by doing such a thing you automatically create an underclass of limitations in access, opportunity, and ability. Furthermore, by saying this amendment is unnecessary you say that the people who did exercise their first amendment rights to a redress of grievances were wrong to do so. That redress, by the way, your contemporaries were on the losing side of. Get over it and stop crying.

The Bill of Rights specifically states that those rights not enshrined therein are automatically granted to the citizen (9th amendment). Does that, however, grant the protection available for the named rights to the unnamed ones? The ninth and tenth amendments specifically state that the government cannot deny those rights, but is that also implying that those rights should be enforced? It comes down to logistics eventually. How can our government protect and enforce unnamed rights? It can’t. All it can do is not deny them, which the repealing of that amendment would do.

This document was designed to enumerate not only what the government can and cannot do, but what its citizens are allowed to ask of it. Yes, we may have four thousand pages of rights unnamed in the constitution, but unless we can define them the government can just as easily say “not my problem, buddy.” Redress of grievances does not mean we will win that redress.

My suggestion to you Mr. and Mr. Pauls is thus; if you truly believe in the libertarian way of life, get out of my government, go buy an island, and live out your little Republic de Fantasy on your own. The thought of a libertarian attempting to force their viewpoint down my throat reeks of just the hypocrisy they rail against.

Just because you have a right to say whatever you want, does not mean you have a right to protection from retaliation based on those words. Such protection is only offered when you learn when to speak and when to remain …

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Stuff has a story

At least, that is what Annie Leonard says from the documentary video “The Story of Stuff.” You can watch it at www.storyofstuff.com. Never before have I seen the process of consumerism brought under the magnifying glass like this has. From where the raw materials come from to where they eventually go to; this movie walks the viewer step by step through it all. No matter your level of education about this issue, no matter your social or economic status, you should watch this film.

We all know: from the lowest-paid worker in the overexploited nations to the meagerly-paid blue collar American, that there is something wrong, we just can’t seem to all put our fingers on it or wrap our collective heads around it. Annie Leonard helps put some of the pieces together.

One of the interesting concepts she brings up is “externalized cost.” As she explains on the website: “[…] the price tags on consumer products don’t capture the true cost of producing and distributing all this stuff.” In the big box stores, or in any stores for that matter, when consumers want a product sold to them cheaper the store only has a few options to them. They can either: take a cut in profits (highly unlikely), buy it cheaper (more likely), cut their cost in the item, or not care what you think. The problem comes in when the store chooses option two or three. To cut their cost in the item, or rather, their cost of storing and staffing the store house, they have to cut pay or benefits. Failing to meet the customer’s price at that point, they will buy it cheaper. This results in the same problem as before; too many people get their wages or benefits cut just so the consumers can have something they didn’t need in the first place cheaper. By putting the excess cost of the items on the actual people that produce the goods, distributors and manufacturer can enjoy the same amount of profit and still provide consumers with the lowest price.

This has to end. And only the consumers can end it. We are the ones who create the demand. We are the ones who settle for products that will not last longer than a few weeks. We are the ones who are turning a blind eye to the injustices visited upon our planet, our fellow people, and ourselves.

Visit www.storyofstuff.com and get educated on what we are doing to the planet, our friends, and ourselves.

It is time to ensure the continued story of our planet.

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