The Common Good

Globalization beyond Cancun

Sojomail - September 17, 2003

www.sojo.net09.17.2003
Quote of the Week Johnny Cash: synthesize this
Batteries Not Included David Batstone: Globalization beyond Cancun
Soul Works Godwalk
Culture Watch Man in Black | Johnny Cash: Voice of the Common Man
Building a Movement Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride kicks off on Sept. 20
By the Numbers Eighty percent of 9/11 gifts have been distributed
Boomerang SojoMail readers reply from around the globe

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK ^top

"[Pop stars] can get all the synthesizers they want, but nothing will ever take the place of the human heart."

- Johnny Cash, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 13, 2003.

BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED ^top
Globalization beyond Cancun
by David Batstone

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David BatstoneWorld trade talks intending to help underdeveloped nations tragically collapsed this week when delegates from Asia, Africa, and the Carribean stormed out of the summit, accusing wealthy nations of failing to deliver sufficient compromises on agriculture and other key issues on the table. It's a shame, because everyone could have gained from an expanding global market in fair(er) trade. Now, everyone has lost.

"A law of indiscriminate profit is being globalized, and by its application all too many corporations contribute to the abuse of human rights in poor countries." This declaration sounds like it came straight off the podium of the anti-globalization protests that filled the streets of Cancun during the summit. In fact, it was argued to me by Riccardo Bagni, the chief executive of Coop Italia, one of the largest commercial enterprises in all of Europe. The conglomerate operates around 50 superstores, 1,000 supermarkets and 200 discount stores covering the entire country of Italy. Its total sales turned the tills for close to $10 billion.

Coop Italia's standout efforts to improve labor practices around the globe give his claim credence. The company purchases food and non-food products from nearly 2,500 suppliers worldwide. In 2001 it bought nearly $50 million in goods from Asian countries alone; most of its textiles and rugs, for example, come from China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

The company first began considering a code of conduct for its supplier network back in the mid-1990s. Bagni had been appointed vice chairman for the company's non-food products with a direct responsibility for private brand management and quality assurance. He made it a priority to set consistent labor standards wherever Coop Italia conducted business in the world. "I wanted to make sure that the respect of workers, especially for those belonging to the weaker ends of society, was a prime value at our company," he says.

Italians love soccer, so Bagni could not think of a better venue than the World Football Championship in 1998 for introducing the concept of "fair trade." Coop Italia heavily promoted and stocked on shelves the "Ethics Ball," made in Pakistan at a higher than normal production price to ensure a living wage. Coop Italia also made sure that no child labor was involved in the ball's production.

The Ethics Ball campaign never was intended to be a one-off marketing ploy. It gave Coop Italia a tangible symbol for expressing a much broader, systematic policy that would guide corporate purchasing going forward. In fact, in 1999, Coop Italia established a system to oversee all of its international purchasing. The company works closely with second-party agencies to monitor and verify compliance. For suppliers found operating in violation of its code of conduct, Coop Italia provides intensive training on how they can adopt plans to move progressively toward compliance.

One such incident arose with a fruit supplier in Africa. Del Monte Kenya provides Coop-brand pineapples. Even though the corporate parent, Del Monte Foods Company, had signed off on Coop Italia's code of conduct, independent auditors inspecting its plantation in Kenya found major problems. The violations related especially to safety conditions and the workers' right to form a union. Del Monte Kenya at first denied the audit report, then resisted making changes. Local human rights organizations and the Kenyan government backed the workers and turned up the heat on the fruit producer to make changes. Coop Italia helped facilitate negotiations among all the parties, and Del Monte Kenya made corrective actions.

Though many transnational corporations disdain trade unions and human rights groups in the markets where they operate, Coop Italia sees them as allies. Being local, they can alert the company to the most serious problems that exist at a manufacturing facility or agricultural plantation. "They are essential partners not only to inform us regarding possible abuses," asserts Bagni, "but they also connect us to the people who can help to make things right."

The globalization of labor is a matter of fierce debate these days. As happens in many rhetorical battles, the extremes grab the spotlight: - unrestricted free contract vs. sweatshop exploitation. Fortunately, a vanguard of corporations is showing how positive, long-term partnerships can be built with workers and the social sector to mutual advantage.

To read more perspective from Sojourners Executive Editor David Batstone, link to:
http://www.sojo.net/davidbatstone.


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SOUL WORKS ^top
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- Hindu proverb


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CULTURE WATCH ^top
Man in Black
by Johnny Cash (1932-2003)

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man in Black.

(c) 1971, House of Cash, Inc.


Johnny Cash: Voice of the Common Man
by James Sullivan

With the struggle for civil rights and opposition to war in Vietnam quietly gaining credibility, Cash began to express his social and political ideas in the 1960s. His outspokenness did not ingratiate him with country music disc jockeys, who were inclined toward conservatism. In March 1964 Cash recorded a topical song called "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," written by Peter LaFarge. The song told the true saga of Hayes, a Pima Indian who was one of the men holding the flag at Iwo Jima. Despite his heroism, Hayes returned home to crushing despair; as the song related, he died tragically, drunk, in a ditch. Though "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" was a No. 3 country single, many stations refused to play it, deeming it too risky. Cash took out a full-page ad in Billboard denouncing country radio for its reluctance. "'Ballad of Ira Hayes' is strong medicine," he wrote. "So is Rochester - Harlem - Birmingham, and Vietnam."

Performing at the Newport Folk Festival in July, Cash sang "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," a song by the young folksinger Bob Dylan. The two met backstage, beginning a long friendship. Cash's affiliation with the best-known protest singer of the era added to the notion that this was one country artist who would follow his own mind and heart, not the accepted wisdom of his chosen field.

To read the entire eulogy as it appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, link to:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/09/13/MN249161.DTL


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BUILDING A MOVEMENT ^top
Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride kicks off on Sept. 20

Inspired by the Freedom Riders of the civil rights movement, immigrant workers and their allies will set out from 10 major U.S. cities in late September and cross the country in buses. They will converge on Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress and then travel to New York City for an Oct. 4 mass rally. Buses will depart from Los Angeles, Houston, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago, and Miami. The kick-off for the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride is Sept. 20, but buses will be leaving from the 10 cities on a staggered schedule.

The goal of the ride is to improve U.S. immigration policy, say supporters. Immigrant workers living and paying taxes in the U.S. deserve the right to apply for citizenship, to reunite their families, and to have a voice on the job without regard to legal status - rights denied by their undocumented status and outdated laws, they add.

The lead organizer of the ride is the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, but an array of labor, immigration, civil rights, and religious groups have embraced the effort. "Unscrupulous employers, who know undocumented workers are unlikely to complain, often exploit immigrants. These abuses must stop and to the degree that government policy creates an environment for abuses to occur, government policy must also change," said Kim Bobo, executive director of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, a national co-sponsor of the ride.

Bobo noted that religious leaders were not only activists and strategists, but were an important moral and spiritual force in the struggle for civil rights. "We cannot just ignore wrongdoing; our faith must compel us to work for justice," she said. The 60 affiliates in the National Interfaith network are planning local events for riders and supporting clergy who participate.

Bobo offers the following suggestions for supporting the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride:

* Organize an interfaith worship or prayer service to welcome or send off riders.
* Find housing for riders.
* Organize a congregation(s) to provide a meal to the riders.
* Recruit local religious leaders to ride the bus all or part way.
* Organize a church bus/van to ride alongside the main bus for part or all of a route.
* Participate in the NICWJ Labor in the Pulpits program, which focuses on immigration reform.
* Ask local seminary students and faculty to participate in actions and hospitality.
* Provide religious space for planning meetings or events.

For more information, contact NICWJ organizing director Kristi Sanford at (773) 728-8400, ext. 45 or e-mail: kristi@nicwj.org. To find out more about the Freedom Ride, visit http://www.iwfr.org


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BY THE NUMBERS ^top
Eighty percent of 9/11 gifts have been distributed
Sept. 11 donations: How much charities have raised and distributed:

AMERICAN RED CROSS
NAME OF FUND: Liberty Disaster Relief Fund
TOTAL RAISED: $1,072,000,000
TOTAL SPENT: $857,000,000

AMERICARES FOUNDATION
NAME OF FUND: AmeriCares Heroes' Fund, Aid for Terrorist Attack Victims
TOTAL RAISED: $9,300,000
TOTAL SPENT: $9,158,000

CATHOLIC CHARITIES USA
NAME OF FUND: Terrorist Attack Relief Fund
TOTAL RAISED: $31,000,000
TOTAL SPENT: $30,590,054

WORLD VISION AND CONCERTS OF PRAYER OF GREATER NEW YORK
NAME OF FUND: American Families Assistance Fund
TOTAL RAISED: $12,503,896
TOTAL SPENT: $12,392,039

TIDES FOUNDATION
NAME OF FUND: Tides 9/11 Fund
TOTAL RAISED: $600,000
TOTAL SPENT: $594,000

To see a more complete list of charities, link to:

http://philanthropy.com/free/update/2003/08/2003082801.htm


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BOOMERANG ^top
SojoMail readers reply from around the globe

Joseph C. Hough, Jr., president of Union Theological Seminary, writes from New York City:

I want to express my deep appreciation for SojoMail. You do the best job I know of articulating my convictions about the message of Jesus for our common life. All politics is about the allocation of goods and power, and the New Testament is about how that must be done fairly and morally. I frequently quote from your work in speeches and sermons. God bless you for your witness in this time of crisis for our nation and our faith.

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Arnie Stolte writes from Downers Grove, Illinois:

I have been wondering if the dislike of Bush policies blinds your writers so much that they have difficulty writing open, honest articles. I am now thinking that this is true and I am saddened by this. I cannot hold Sojourners in high esteem as I once did. Your honest voice is being stilled by your dislike and subsequent venom. Please return to helping to develop a more honest, open dialogue.

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Karl Dillaway writes from Byron Bay, Australia:

We have your Mr. Bush coming down soon. I say how dare he come down here after what he has done in Iraq. What he is doing by coming down here is opening us up to terrorists. It's like someone robbing a bank and then wanting to stay at your house for the night. I say you can keep him. We have our own problems. Thank you for the good work you guys do.

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David Farnell writes from Fukuoka, Japan:

I just want to give my thanks to you for SojoMail. Your positive messages and calls for activism have helped to sustain me in these very dark days. And that's coming from a longtime, committed agnostic! A lot of the loudest Christian voices today - people like George Bush, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell - cast Christianity in a bad light, but Sojourners reminds us of the beauty and healing that Christianity can give.

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Jeff Kisner writes from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania:

Thanks for printing the poem, "No One Came Home," by Marge Piercy. Over the previous two days, my wife and I had wondered how people like us, who oppose the military occupation of Iraq and the theology of empire that drives it, were going to observe the anniversary of 9/11/01 without plunging into the vortex of civil religion. Marge provided our way to identify our sense of national loss and hope that America will be so blessed by God that it will repent of its ways that perpetuate the fragmentation of our world.

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Yoram Getzler writes from Jerusalem, Israel:

Regarding Yitzhak Frankenthal's essay in last week's SojoMail: I, too, heard the sound of the explosion from Cafe Hillel miles away, in my communal village, Aminadav, at the southwest edge of Jerusalem. While I understand Mr. Frankenthal's anguish at the continued killing in our region, I believe him to be profoundly misguided in his analysis of the causes and responsible parties.

I know the painful truth. The body count will continue, because the Palestinian political leaders are petty little people. So full of themselves, they are clueless about conflict resolution; they slay Jews/Israelis and expect them to exercise restraint. These wise men believe that the Jewish presence in their midst can be ended by murder. These glorious freedom fighters have for three years now been "letting the Hamas win," as the slogan goes. They believe that by using terror they can achieve independence. They believe that they can devastate the infrastructure of Jewish national life and at the same time stop "settlers" from wreaking chaos. For two years now Arafat has been pronounced "irrelevant" for the Palestinian cause, while for those same two years Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, and former prime minister Ehud Barak, have been voted out of Israeli leadership and the incumbent, Ariel Sharon, has succeeded in preventing a major regional conflagration. Has Arafat been any more successful in achieving his peoples' best interests than the Israeli leaders who no longer hold important political positions? How long will it take us to wake up from this ongoing folly? How many more body bags will it take before we realize that the Palestinian people hate us more than they love themselves? Adonai ehad - G-od is the only unshakable truth, not any political creed or vengeful joy in murdering the innocents.

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Neal Schooley writes from Birmingham, Alabama:

As a Christian I agree with many of the stands you take. Certainly your advocacy of rights and policies on behalf of the poor as well as your concerns for peace and protection of the environment are commendable and I hope you will continue. I have admired your journal (I used to subscribe, but I now am a SojoMail subscriber) since I was a seminary student more than 30 years ago. However, I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable and frustrated with your attacks on President Bush, especially criticism of his handling of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I view both to be an extension of the war on terrorism and necessary because of 9/11. Has everything gone exactly as anticipated? No. Have there been mistakes in planning? Perhaps. But I know of no other plan that would have accomplished as much as his has. I have certainly lost any trust in Democratic administrations to do any better. The previous administration certainly did nothing to demonstrate a strong stand against those who would threaten the United States. In fact, some of their policies may have contributed to the belief that we could be attacked and that we would do nothing.

Increasingly your attacks on his religious faith and on his dream for the United States to be a strong nation are leading me to believe that I am reading a political mouthpiece of his opponents. I am certain that your disdain of a strong military presence by the United States does not offer a better solution to the complexity of the international and cultural conflicts of our day (I wish it did). I wrote to you in support of your earlier articles prior to the Gulf War advocating a peaceful solution. But the Iraqi administration would have nothing of it and we have since learned how evil they were. Our overtures to a negotiated end to the conflict in Iraq got us nowhere.

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Chris Rahe writes from Indianapolis, Indiana:

Re: Kevin Williams' comment, "You should rename your magazine to "Bushhaters. I've never hear a group who claims to be so Christian spew so much hatred." Ironically, he was referring to Sojourners in his letter. My reaction to discovering your publication was much different. I was relieved to finally find outspoken Christians who didn't spew constant hatred. Has Mr. Williams ever seen the 700 Club or heard John Ashcroft speak? I've read much-deserved criticism of Bush in Sojourners, but I can't recall anything that I would call hatred.

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Jane Jacksteit writes from Havre de Grace, Maryland:

Kevin Williams is affronted by the anti-Bush rhetoric. He must remember that George W. Bush is responsible for lying to the American people, convincing the electorate that war was justified when we were not defending ourselves, and lacking the vision to present democracy.... It is difficult to admit that our president was so foolish, but he was. I happen to be a Republican, but it doesn't change [my mind]. I only wish our president could admit that he wasn't truthful. It would help all of us to trust him a little more.

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Alistair Bain writes from Perth, Australia:

Can Tony Campolo's quote in last week's SojoMail be for real? Can it be that what the world thinks about America is true? No wonder followers of Jesus are ridiculed.

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