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OfflinePhred
Fred's son
Male

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 12,949
Loc: Dominican Republic
Last seen: 6 years, 8 months
Re: Perks [Re: hongomon]
    #886297 - 09/16/02 06:51 PM (19 years, 8 days ago)

hongomon provides a number of links, which pinky carefully peruses:

http://www.geocities.com/lucilite/Deforestation.html
http://www.ciesin.org/TG/LU/deforest.html

I checked both of those sites. Neither said there was a SHORTAGE of wood, or that new trees are not growing at a fast enough rate to replace cut trees.

fish
http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/fish/depth.asp
http://www.reefguardian.org/RGIhome.html

Overfishing happens, yes. The Grand Banks fishery off the coast of Newfoundland is a prime example. Overfishing and reef destruction in poor countries has been a problem for a long time. Note, however, that in the affluent West (and after all, it is the Western societies that are the target of your wrath) the per capita consumption of fish is much lower than in the developing countries -- virtually non-existent in large parts of the US. As a matter of fact, health authorities have been trying for decades to convince us to eat MORE fish for health reasons. Note also that an increasing percentage of fish products are coming from farms. In Canada, for example, it is almost impossible to buy wild-caught trout in a supermarket. Same with catfish and shrimp -- the farmed shrimp and fish are more uniform, less expensive to harvest, and easily renewable. Note also (again using Canada as an example) there are no restrictions on Native American salmon catches, while white folk (Western) salmon fishing has been regulated almost out of existence.

soil/soil minerals
http://ukulju.tripod.com/1936.htm
http://www.wbgu.de/wbgu_presse_99_3e.html

The first link deals with the leaching of minerals as micro-nutrients from arable soil, resulting in vegetables with lowered mineral content. Setting aside the fact that mineral supplements are inexpensive and readily available, and that this lack of minerals from plant sources is not an issue for omnivores, this site does not show that resources (edible plants) are in danger of vanishing.

The second link deals with soil erosion. This again is not a problem caused by the "Western way of life", it is a problem caused by faulty agricultural techniques in DEVELOPING nations.

fresh water
http://www.gracelinks.org/water.html
http://www.ips.org/Critical/Enviroment/Environ/env1209006.htm

From the second link:

"The situation is worse in developing countries, birthplace of about 95 percent of the 80 million people added to the world each year, and where competition between industrial, urban, and agricultural use for water is increasing, the study says."

''In many developing countries lack of water could cap future improvements in the quality of life. Populations are growing rapidly in many of these countries, and at the same time per capita use must increase - to grow enough food, for better personal health and hygiene, and to supply growing cities and industries,'' Hinrichsen says.

Nearly half a billion people around the world in 31 countries - mostly in the Middle East and Africa - currently face water shortages, says the report. By 2025 the number will increase fivefold to 2.8 billion people - 35 percent of the world's projected total population of eight billion people, warns the study."


Please explain to us how the "Western way of life" is responsible for soil erosion in the Amazon rainforest caused by desperately poor people using "slash and burn" techniques to obtain farmland of marginal worth. Please explain to us how one can grow enough food to feed the 6 billion people on earth without depleting some minerals (which, by the way, CAN be replaced with properly designed fertilizers) in the soil, either in the West or in developing nations. Please explain to us how overflushing a toilet in Toronto causes freshwater shortages in the Middle East and Africa.

Let me restate what I really feel is glaringly obvious: Western Societies CONSUME TOO MUCH. WE DO!

Too much what? We consume less fish than almost any other society. There is no shortage of forest products. Mineral suplements are cheap. Yes, in North America fresh water is wasted, and should be conserved. But even if you flush your toilet only once a day, never wash your car or water your lawn, how will your thrifty habits recharge the dropping aquifer level in a developing country?

But for now, in 2002, the amount of waste a society produces is proportional to how much that society consumes.

It is also proportional to how many people that society contains. You are the one who provided links to fish depletion and mineral depletion in arable soil, so presumably you consider fish and edible plants to be resources. Do you think the 1.2 billion people in the "Western world" consume more fish and plants than the 5 billion (figures taken from the link to the David Suzuki article http://www.newdimensions.org/article/suzuki.html) in the "developing" and "undeveloped" world? It is true that the mean caloric intake of Americans is greater than the mean caloric intake of a typical Asian or African, but NOT 4.2 times higher. It's not even double.

Our impact on the planet is not just a function of how many of us there are, but what our consumptive patterns are. The average Canadian or American consumes about twenty times as much of everything as the average person in India or China; so the Canadian population, then, is 600 million Chinese or Indian equivalents

Twenty times as much of EVERYTHING? Bullshit. The average American does not consume 30,000 calories a day.

If that means that we need to re-structure our packaging standards, you can be sure that the industries built on packaging (and you better believe its a big business) will suffer. If it means we need to ween ourselves from certain products that are unjustifiable, than the producers of those products will suffer. And of course, none of them want that.

So what? Amalgamated Buggy Whips Inc. is no longer with us. Fax machine manufacturers suffer as people switch over to e-mail with embedded scanned images.

It's a progressive idea, and as such has many enemies in high places. They'll do some pretty shady things to keep THAT from happening. Some legal, some not.

Right. Just like the great Amalgamated Buggy Whips scandal at the turn of the century.

I realize you've been living in a very poor country for quite a few years, and so you haven't had as much opportunity to observe the materialism of a first-world country. Maybe that's part of the reason you don't understand the need to buy so much useless stuff.

I probably buy less uselesss stuff than the average North American, but I think it is less because I currently live in the Third World than that neither my parents nor any of my friends in Canada had much "useless stuff". I've been giving this a lot of thought since contributing to this thread, and I came to realize that when I was making big bucks in the Eighties, I knew only one guy who had more than a single television in his house. I knew of no one who had two cars, except one guy who had an ancient MG TC that he bought for $400 and was lovingly restoring. I think he might have put 30 miles on it in the ten years he had it. I knew another guy who had a dirt bike, and two guys that had cheapo fishing boats. One guy inherited a shabby cabin on a lake that he referred to as his "Chateau". Two guys had a couple of electric guitars and amplifiers. Pretty near everyone had a stereo system, but only one guy I knew had a system worth anywhere near a thousand bucks.

Let me remind you that this was in the "Yuppified Eighties", and the guys I'm talking about were hauling down six figure salaries, or close to it. Most of them had a wife and kids, too. Apart from some pretty apalling examples of modern art, none of them really had any "useless stuff". Have things really changed THAT much in the fifteen years I've been away? I doubt it. Hell, my parents STILL don't even have a car.

Start by accepting, at least to humor ole hongomon, the premise that wealthy societies consume too much... The word "too" is important.

I ask you the same question I asked MortMtroN: How much is TOO much? WHO decides how much is too much? I ask again, how does my neighbor's possession of a twenty thousand dollar electronic music setup prevent a third-world dude from providing the necessities of life for his family? Particularly if that third-world dude happens to work on the assembly line in a plant assembling electronic components, and my neighbor is able to make a good enough living playing at the local raves that he doesn't have to take a job in the company that makes containers for orange juice?

But I do want to push the act of purchasing further into the realm of moral reasoning, because I don't think it's commonly viewed as such. Considering the complexity of the system, this is understandable--when we buy a product in the store, we are so detached from what all went into getting that product there--the resources used, the energy consumed, the treatment of the workers, etc.

That may be true. But no one is FORCING us to buy any of that stuff. I personally think Harlequin Romances are the epitome of "useless stuff", so I don't buy them. But to a lonely, plain spinster with no realistic marriage prospects, they are a comfort. She has a bookcase lining an entire wall, and she's read every one of them. I personally think CDs of Techno and Rap are a huge waste of resources, and would rather set my hair on fire than buy one. But a casual scan of the Off Topic Discussion Forum here shows I'm in the minority -- many young people consider raves a way of life, and derive enormous pleasure from listening to those same CDs. I haven't owned an electric train set in forty years, and even when I did I never played with it much. It's probable I may never again own one. But to some poor shmoe with a nagging wife and a crushingly boring job, that ever-expanding set of train tracks in the basement is what keeps him from going postal.

None of those three things holds the slightest interest to me whatsoever -- in my worldview all of them fit the definition of "useless things" -- but to the right person, each of those things is quite literally their most cherished possession. I think to deprive any of those people of these pleasures on the grounds that their possessions are "useless" and consume "too many irreplaceable resources" is worse than cruel, it is IMMORAL.

Selah.

pinky


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Anonymous

Re: Perks [Re: Phred]
    #886495 - 09/16/02 07:53 PM (19 years, 8 days ago)

*clap clap clap clap* :laugh: 


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OfflineMortMtroN
journeyman
Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 62
Last seen: 18 years, 11 months
Re: Perks [Re: Phred]
    #888281 - 09/17/02 01:12 PM (19 years, 7 days ago)

"The US is one tenth of the world population... yet we consume two thirds of the worlds resources.

"Wrong. The US population is 4.6% of the world total -- 281 billion vs 6,250 billion. "See:

http://www.geohive.com/global/index.php"

"...yet we consume two thirds of the worlds resources."

"Wrong again. "Percentage of the world's resources consumed by Americans: 30% (Denis Hayes, "Eco-Nomic Power," Seattle Weekly, November 10, 1993, p. 15.) "

That's fair enough, I took those numbers off the top of my head. I have checked a lot of different sources and they all have various figures. But, even your figures show the same point. That Western civilizations over- consume.

"No economy can survive for long without growth. What is "excess" growth?"

well lets see. The Thorndike Barnhardt Advanced Dictionary says;

excess ( n .ek ses', sometimes ek'ses; adj. ek'ses, ek ses'), n. 1 part that is too much; more than enough; surplus: pour off the excess .
2 condition of exceeding what is usual or necessary; superabundance.
2. 4 action that goes beyond what is necesary or just: the soldiers burned and robbed houses and committed other excesses.
5 eating or drinking too much; over indulgence; intemperance: His excesses shortened his life

I hope that defines it well enough for you. I am using definitions 1,2, and 5. In the future look it up yourself.
so by excess growth, I mean growing too much; more than is necessary.

"Actually, a very small percentage EVER sits in corporate bank accounts. Corporations re-invest that capital in new production. Hoarded money does not increase wealth. In fact, because of inflation, hoarded money DECREASES in value over time."

The point is that that money is not reinvested into the community like it should be. We have a system where corporations use welfare benefits ( money and/or discounts; tax breaks that come from the peoples' pockets) in order to set up industry and the profits are privatized. While most people in this country are making only a little more than minimum wage, their taxes( public funds) help corporations to make money(private profits). They use those profits to set up new markets to make more profits (growth) while the profits already being made are usually more than enough to support the community ( excess).

"I don't understand. If the producers are too underpaid to "support the economy", how can they afford to buy useless products?"

It's a class society that we live in. While the minimum wage worker is struggling to support his family, pay the rent, etc. The upper classes over consume, blind to the plight of their fellow human beings.

"There is "consumerism" (whatever THAT means), "

Do I have to spell it out for you? ism means a theory or practice. Consumerism is the practice of consuming. blind consumerism is therefore the practice of consuming without thinking about what you are consuming, which very easily leads to consumption of unneeded products and over consumption of needed products. Use a dictionary please, or just use your head.

"growth, and waste in all economies. ANY economy consists of individuals who both consume and produce. Any SUCCESSFUL economy has growth. And, since human enterprise is less than perfect, ALL economies have wastage"

So what's your point? I am not just talking about growth. I am talking about excess growth and unregulated growth. I am not just talking about production, I am talking about over production and over consumption. And of course there will always be some kind of wastage but my point is that we are wasteful if we know how not to waste and we still do anyway. We need to both regulate our growth and our waste. Or maybe we can just forget about it and let the earth rot away. But I sorta care about the future of the human race. How about you?

"Debt is not FORCED on anyone. In order to be indebted, one must first find someone with something worth borrowing, then persuade them to loan it to you. The World Bank did not FORCE these countries to borrow a dime."

Who else could they have loaned it from? When you are desperate to feed your family and people, you would borrow money from whoever was wiling to lend it to you. The World Bank understands this plight and they know that it is easy to take advantage of. If you've ever taken out a loan you know that interest is a bitch, but since you needed the money you probably borrowed it anyway. Of course nobody "forced" you. But the bank knows that you need to take out that second mortgage to keep your home so your kids don't have to live in a car parked outside the homeless shelter. So no, the third world isn't "forced" they are coerced, as if that makes it any better.

"So what? The inhabitants of that country are not being deprived of the use of their resources. Not ALL the resources are marked for export. In a country whose major export is pineapples, the people in that country are still free to buy pineapples. Not only that, but pineapples in the producing country are significantly less expensive than pineapples in the importing country."

I can't seem to find any good articles right now to reference for you so I won't get into specifics but here goes. People in undeveloped countries live a sustainable lifestyle. Which means that they live with the land, and not off of it. They live in small villages and farm communities where the produce is used within the same community it is produced. The people require land for hunting and farming in order to sustain that lifestyle. Then big business comes in. A huge corportation with lots of money that they could just as well invest into their communities decide that the people in their own community are expensive laborers. Big business has no problem buying land from the government of this country because the government ( blind to the wishes of the people) wants to catch up to modern times. Then want to industrialize their country so that they ( the minority elite) can make some money themselves. So why don't the indigenous people just stop them from selling the land? because since they don't "own" it; since they don't have a deed to the property it gets auctioned off to big business. The farm workers are therefore displaced from their farms and their communities and end up working for some big company like Coca Cola. Sure they may be able to buy a coke for a nickel, but do they really want to spend their day's pay on a coke when they can now hardly afford to feed their family?

"That's what happens when a debt is not repaid... you lose the collateral put up as security for the loan. Also note that often the REVERSE is true... foreign loans are used to develop an industry, which is then "nationalized" (in blunt terms, stolen). The original lender never receives his money back, but he DOES get to buy (at OPEC prices) the oil produced by his stolen refinery. "

But why are corporations moving to other countries when jobs are needed here. If a corporation wants to make their products in another country then it is only right that the people of that country get their fair share. How is "nationalization" bad when it comes to industry. If we are importing goods from other countries shouldn't we be expected to pay a fair price for it. Nobody is "forcing" us to by oil from other countries, so what is the problem with paying a generous price for it. If I want to drink imported beer, I have to pay a higher price for it. That is just the way it is, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

"Who is at fault? The bank who made the loan (which often is never fully repaid, by the way), or the third-world politician who lined his own pockets with 25% of the loan, enriched his cronies with another 15%, pissed away 30% of it through hiring incompetent contractors, lost another 10% of it to pilferage by his desperately poor citizens, and then finally seized outright the shoddy product the remaining 20% eventually produced?"

It is the fault of this shitty system that exploits people for their labor while using the profits to move to other countries and do the same thing, and so on, and so on.
And any bank that invests in this system is likewise at fault as well.

"The US EXCHANGES goods and services for those resources. ALL countries do... that's what the concept of TRADE refers to. For example, Japan produces next to nothing in the way of raw resources, yet they are the world's second largest consumer of raw materials. Japan, like the USA, TRADES for those resources."

There is nothing wrong with trade, as long as you pay a fair price for traded goods. Do you think that Nike pays a fair price ( something like a nickel a piece) for the labor it takes to put the shoe together. I don't think so, if the cobblers in the nike factory aren't making enough to support themselves and their families then they are not being paid fairly for their labor, and since they have been displaced from their farm they have nowhere else to find work, their labor is being exploited. Trade is not trade unless it is fair trade.

"If the USA "steals" resources from poorer countries, then so does EVERY developed nation. Nations SELL their resources to the highest bidder. Many times it is the US with the highest bid, but not always."

fair enough, I am in total agreement with you there. Even though I was singling out the US there, All of western civilation is guilty, and that is the problem.

"WHICH resources? "

ALL resources

"The reason corporations advertise is not to persuade people to buy shoes, but to buy THEIR shoes rather than the competition's shoes."

but I already have shoes, I don't need new ones.

"Yes, I know. This is why food packaging was invented in the first place -- so people who didn't live on farms could buy food before it went rotten."

I think a better solution to this problem would be to stop living by a system where the goods are produced so far away from where they are consumed. Speaking of food. I grow a lot of my own food and I reuse the jars I can them in, that is zero waste from the farm to the dinner table, and if one were to break I would put the spoiled contents into my compost heap to be recycled back into the ecosystem, then I would wash out the jar to be reused. Procucts in the grocery store need to start being packaged in reusable containers. It does cost a little more financially, but it is always important to factor in other costs, like ecological costs.

"Why would someone steal them? Presumably because they have value. What do you think that guy is going to do with those cans -- make modern sculpture from them? No, he's going to sell them to a recycling center. Your complaint is not that the cans don't get recycled, but that YOU don't get the money from it. If you want to get the money, take them to the recycling center yourself. That's the way it works."

I am talking about the garbage man taking recyclables and throwing them in with the rest of the garbage, My complaint is that they don't get recycled. I don't recieve nor do I desire to get money for recycling. I just want my recylables to get recycled. But in all reality, I would rather reuse than recycle because I distrust the Rockford Waste Disposal company and I think they are cheating. That is why I am so insistent on not just recycleble containers, but reusable ones.









Edited by MortMtroN (09/17/02 07:29 PM)


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InvisibleXlea321
Stranger
Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 9,134
Re: Perks [Re: Phred]
    #889404 - 09/17/02 08:25 PM (19 years, 7 days ago)

I ask you the same question I asked MortMtroN: How much is TOO much? WHO decides how much is too much?

The planet does.


--------------------
Don't worry, B. Caapi


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OfflinePhred
Fred's son
Male

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 12,949
Loc: Dominican Republic
Last seen: 6 years, 8 months
Re: Perks [Re: MortMtroN]
    #889435 - 09/17/02 08:44 PM (19 years, 7 days ago)

MortMtroN writes:

so by excess growth, I mean growing too much; more than is necessary.

WHO decides what is "too much" or "more than is necessary"? For example, the US economy typically grows by 2 or 3% a year, (except in a recession, when it shrinks) and it was the US economy that you said could not survive without "excess growth". What do YOU think the annual growth rate of the US economy should be? Half that? A tenth? What is your JUSTIFICATION for deciding that whatever figure you name is the correct one? What PROCESS did you use to arrive at your figure?

The point is that that money is not reinvested into the community like it should be.

What do you mean by "reinvested into the community"? The Oxford Dictionary of Current English says "invest: apply or use (money) for profit". Are you saying private profits should be used to create other profitable enterprises within a community? That is what happens already whenever a business expands -- whenever a MacDonald's franchisee has saved enough money to be able to open a second MacDonald's, for example.

We have a system where corporations use welfare benefits ( money and/or discounts; tax breaks that come from the peoples' pockets) in order to set up industry and the profits are privatized.

Businesses and business owners pay taxes, too. Where did the money to open the business come from in the first place? From the AFTER-TAX savings of whoever started the business.

...their taxes( public funds) help corporations to make money(private profits).

This is only true of corporations who receive government funds. Most do not. Less than 50%.

They use those profits to set up new markets to make more profits (growth) while the profits already being made are usually more than enough to support the community ( excess).

Almost all businesses average an annual net profit of less than 10%. Many successful businesses run on less than half that. If you don't believe me, read a few annual reports -- they are a matter of public record. I have no idea what you mean by "support the community" in this context, though. Are you suggesting that the profits of all the businesses in a given community (say, Ottumwa, Iowa) should be confiscated and distributed equally to all the residents of Ottumwa? Help me out here.

It's a class society that we live in.

Which classes are you referring to?

While the minimum wage worker is struggling to support his family, pay the rent, etc. The upper classes over consume, blind to the plight of their fellow human beings.

The "upper classes" pay higher taxes than minimum wage workers. Part of those taxes pay for government programs (Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, etc.) that benefit the poor. Far from being blind to the plight of the poor, the "upper classes" realize that government programs alone are insufficient, so they voluntarily fund charities as well.

Do I have to spell it out for you? ism means a theory or practice. Consumerism is the practice of consuming. blind consumerism is therefore the practice of consuming without thinking about what you are consuming, which very easily leads to consumption of unneeded products and over consumption of needed products. Use a dictionary please, or just use your head.

Will the Oxford Dictionary of Current English be acceptable to you? Here's what it says -- "consumerism: protection or promotion of consumers' interests". How about Wordsmyth? "consumerism: a movement that attempts to protect consumers from defective or harmful goods and services and from unfair business practices such as deceptive advertising." Or maybe Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary? "consumerism: the promotion of the consumer's interests as opposed to advertisers' ". The magazine "Consumer's Reports", for example, was one of the first magazines dedicated to consumerism. This is why I often ask for clarification of terms thrown casually about in this forum -- because it is quite common for people to have different understandings of vague and nebulous terms. Best to pin them down to avoid misunderstandings, don't you think?

I am not just talking about growth. I am talking about excess growth and unregulated growth. I am not just talking about production, I am talking about over production and over consumption.

WHO decides what is "excessive"? WHO decides which regulations are best to strangle growth? HOW are individuals to be forcibly prevented from "overconsumption"? Will there be Fast Food Police who snatch that second double cheeseburger out of the hands of the overweight at Burger King or is the idea to simply tax everyone to the point that they can only afford a Kiddieburger once a week?

Who else could they have loaned it from? When you are desperate to feed your family and people, you would borrow money from whoever was wiling to lend it to you.

Perhaps. I would also undertake to repay the loan, and wouldn't vilify the person who made it possible for me to feed myself.

So no, the third world isn't "forced" they are coerced, as if that makes it any better.

"Forced" and "coerced" are essentially the same thing. But they AREN'T forced. Taking out a loan is ALWAYS a voluntary decision. In fact, I as an individual looking for a loan to start a viable business have less chance of being granted a loan than any third world country does. And I guarantee no bank will ever "forgive" my loan, as is done routinely with loans to developing nations. Here's a quote from http://www.newyouth.com/archives/africa/congo/lumumba_assassination_20000401.asp :

"In a related development, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, visiting Kinshasa in mid-July, announced that the World Bank was considering cancelling more than 80 per cent of the debt owed by the country to the World Bank. The cancellation should take effect in early 2003, he told reporters. "

People in undeveloped countries live a sustainable lifestyle. Which means that they live with the land, and not off of it.

That is a meaningless catch phrase, and inaccurate to boot. Of course they live "off the land". They hunt. They fish. They gather. They farm. They herd. And sometimes they starve.

Big business has no problem buying land from the government of this country because the government ( blind to the wishes of the people) wants to catch up to modern times.

Blind to the wishes of the people? The people want to thrive, not just barely eke out an existence. Some of the people want to adhere to the old ways, true, but others recognize that modern agricultural tools and hunting weapons more accurate than a bow and arrow would increase the quality of their lives.

So why don't the indigenous people just stop them from selling the land? because since they don't "own" it; since they don't have a deed to the property it gets auctioned off to big business. The farm workers are therefore displaced from their farms and their communities and end up working for some big company like Coca Cola.

In some colonial countries, I have no doubt people were displaced from their farms. But this is hardly a universal phenomenon. In the Dominican Republic, for example, foreign investors wishing to buy a plot of land to set up a factory would never dream of buying farmland -- it's too expensive. They buy land that is useless for agriculture and plunk the factory there. No one is displaced, and the peasant who once owned a rocky patch of useless scrubland now has enough money to invest in something that will actually support his family.

Sure they may be able to buy a coke for a nickel, but do they really want to spend their day's pay on a coke when they can now hardly afford to feed their family?

I got news for you, Mort -- before Coca Cola opened the factory, those people were in bad shape. In most third world countries, the workers in foreign-owned factories have a higher standard of living than those who try to make a living selling coconuts to each other. That ain't abstract theory, that's a FACT. Any time you want to visit me here in the Dominican Republic, I'd be happy to give you a tour and prove it.

How is "nationalization" bad when it comes to industry.

Because the guy who paid for and built the factory has it stolen from him, that's how. No one with a lick of sense will invest time and money in an enterprise in a country known for nationalizing industry. Better to just take your money and burn it -- a lot more entertaining and a lot less hassle.

If we are importing goods from other countries shouldn't we be expected to pay a fair price for it.

We do. We pay whatever the exporter sets the price at. If we feel the price is too high, we deal with someone else.

Nobody is "forcing" us to by oil from other countries, so what is the problem with paying a generous price for it.

If it is less expensive to buy it from other countries than it is to produce it domestically, then it makes sense to do so. If the price of imported oil is too high, domestic production becomes more attractive. Everyone who buys OPEC oil pays OPEC prices. It is not the customers who set the price, it is the producers.

If I want to drink imported beer, I have to pay a higher price for it. That is just the way it is, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

Nor do I. What's your point?

There is nothing wrong with trade, as long as you pay a fair price for traded goods.

See above.

...if the cobblers in the nike factory aren't making enough to support themselves and their families then they are not being paid fairly for their labor and since they have been displaced from their farm they have nowhere else to find work, their labor is being exploited.

Ooooh.... so MANY things wrong with that sentence. Where to start?

1) Are you saying that the hourly wage of a worker should depend on the size of his family?

2) Who says they were displaced from their farm?

3) Where were they working before the factory opened?

4) If they feel they are being exploited, why don't they quit?

Trade is not trade unless it is fair trade.

Agreed. When the buyer and the seller agree on an exchange of goods that is satisfactory to each, a trade takes place. If they can't agree, no trade takes place. What's the problem?

but I already have shoes, I don't need new ones.

Then don't buy any.

I think a better solution to this problem would be to stop living by a system where the goods are produced so far away from where they are consumed. Speaking of food. I grow a lot of my own food...

Good for you. Someone living in a studio apartment in midtown Manhattan can't. There is no farmland within walking distance of where he lives. There are countless places on the planet where there is no farmland within hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of miles of population centers. The Canadian north and Saudi Arabia, for example.

...and if one were to break I would put the spoiled contents into my compost heap to be recycled back into the ecosystem...

Unfortunately, landlords often don't allow compost heaps in their buildings.

I am talking about the fucking garbage man taking recyclables and throwing them in with the rest of the garbage.

Ah. I interpreted your statement "Many a time I have seen the garbage man steal my recyables" to mean that he was stealing them. My fault for applying the universally accepted definition of "steal".

I suggest you note the license number of his truck and file a complaint with the company.

pinky


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Offlinehongomon
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Re: Perks [Re: Phred]
    #894242 - 09/19/02 07:57 PM (19 years, 5 days ago)

Pinky:
"I checked both of those sites. Neither said there was a SHORTAGE of wood, or that new trees are not growing at a fast enough rate to replace cut trees."

You know, you're right. They didn't spell it out for you. All they said was,

"Tropical forest resources are currently undergoing depletion at an accelerated pace, Repetto (1990) reports in 'Deforestation in the Tropics.'"

"Factors associated with deforestation usually have a strong human component, indicating that they often result from policies formulated by decision-makers at various levels. In fact, policy is increasingly targeted as a starting point for understanding the elements driving deforestation and eventually for reversing the trend."

Well, if "forest resources are undergoing depletion at an accelerated pace", and there is an interest in "reversing the trend", what are we to infer?

I'm going to complicate matters and remind us all that this isn't simply a matter of access to resources supply our basic needs, because those same resources, from trees to healthy soil to fish, are also essential components in a healthy ecosystem. If maintaining a healthy ecosystem isn't important to someone, it's either because that person fails to see humankind's dependence on a healthy ecosystem, or that person just doesn't care about the fate of humankind. Generally it is the former.

As for "developing" countries--all that time wasted to bolden "developing countries" as if you're saying something. (Have to admit, I'm jealous, have no idea how to bolden words. All I can do is capitalize, which is ironic cause you're the capitalist...

Do you actually think those "developing" countries are consuming those resources? Of course you don't. Who would doubt that the vast majority of lumber and beef (two primary sources of tropical deforestation) is destined for foreign markets, in DEVELOPED countries. How else could the United States, to name the wealthiest of these, account for such a lion's share of the entire world's consumption if it weren't pulling resources from "developing" countries? This has been discussed before--people here have mentioned the steady stream of resources, renewable and non, needed to maintain the high-consumption patterns of affluent societies.

And yet, when I say that the world can't support the kind of affluent lifestyle seen in the United States or Japan, you say, "Why not?" This is why! It comes at the expense of resources and ecosystems all over the planet!

You insist on insisting that these "developing" countries have traded those resources for what they need, fair and square. "They sell them to the highest bidder," you say, or some such thing. The story in the world today is one of countless cases of carefully tailored extortion or beguilement of indigenous peoples or poor nations. A village cannot gain inclusion into the educational system unless it builds a $65,000 school. A logging company offers $65,000 for logging rights. Fair trade? A poor nation is persuaded to open its industries to privitization, quite often by foreign interests, in order to get a loan. Fair?

You're always asking stoopid questions like, "how can a toilet flush in Toronto affect freshwater shortages in the Middle East or Africa?" What this gross reduction is really saying is, "The world is made up of various islands, none of which has any effect on any other." Of course you would never say it in those terms, but that is the implication--it reads just like public relations rhetoric.

In fact, it's got me wondering--Pinky are you a public relations officer? And remember, if you are, you have to say so... Well, either you are, are you are spellbound by their style. You were around in the 1960s and 1970s; were you able to observe the effectiveness of the PR industry to keep health dangers out of the public spotlight and off the legislators' table until into the 1990s.

The big industries were, and they have followed suit, taking full advantage of the public relations industry to keep people thinking environmentalism is a pseudo-science, made up of tree huggers and bird watchers.

I think the reason you are against environmentalism is because, like I've said before, you have attached yourself so dogmatically to libertarianism and the evil of "force" that it has deprived you of your reason. EchoVortex expressed it well in the thread you recently bumped:

"The issue of freedom within the bounds of not harming others is far more complex than the reductionist arguments of Libertarians make it out to be. A lot revolves on how you define "harm." Libertarians tend to define it as the direct application of force, but there are many cases, such as environmental pollution and the stripping of natural resources, where harm and impinging of freedom (such as the fredom to breathe clean air) are very real but hard to trace back to the source of original agency. At the moment people still don't take the problem too terribly seriously, but after a major environmental catastrophe or two you can bet that there will be broad support for environmental measures that will be as draconian as the ones the Bush administration has taken to fight terrorism. Once again, the desire for security will tip the balance against 'freedom.'"

You responded:
"The fact that in some cases of pollution it is difficult to trace it back to the original source does not change the fact that it causes harm, and therefore must be dealt with by the legal system, just as the fact that it was difficult to catch the Ted Bundys and Charlie Mansons of the world doesn't change the fact that they were causing harm."

Yet here you say, "Who decides?" So on the one hand, you're all for holding the big businesses and everyone else to healthy environmental standards, but on the other, you're employing very dishonest shifts and spins to defend a very environmentally detrimental status quo.

Alex gave a good root answer to your question: "The Earth decides." Obviously it's up to us to empirically ascertain her laws, and this is something we've come a long way in doing. Unfortunately this often means that certain things have to stop. Scientists are not negotiators between man and his enviroment. The Earth is indifferent and doesn't negotiate.

That's all the time I have for now. Oh, one more thing: I never said in my previous thread that I was bent on DEPRIVING people of their leisure. First of all, I hope I was clear that I was for spreading awareness and encouraging a new outlook on how we spend our money; second, you're stuck in a static world, as with much of your arguments. The big problems of the world require trans-generational vision; and third, your examples are stoooopid.

hongomon


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Perks [Re: hongomon]
    #894735 - 09/20/02 12:27 AM (19 years, 5 days ago)

hongomon writes:

Well, if "forest resources are undergoing depletion at an accelerated pace", and there is an interest in "reversing the trend", what are we to infer?

Neither of those sites objected to harvesting trees. Both of them objected to deforestation which is not the same thing at all. Stripping bare the entire surface of large tracts of land -- rather than cutting every fourth tree or clearcutting small patches in a modified "checkerboard" pattern -- is harmful to the environment. It is not the harvesting per se that is the problem, it is the METHOD of harvesting. I agree with their position. Burning tropical forests for the intent of creating farmland is also a bad idea ecologically.

Look, I asked you to name some resources that were in short supply due to the "Western way of life". You have yet to do so:

a) Forest products are NOT in short supply.

b) Mineral depletion of soil is not due to the "Western way of life", it is due to poor agricultural techniques and is more of a problem in developing countries than in Western countries for two reasons: 1) the developing countries have to support more people on less arable land. 2) those countries use less sophisticated agricultural techniques.

c) Although fish stocks are dropping, it is not due to Western society's insatiable demand for fish. The demand for fish among the 1.2 billion inhabitants of the planet which comprise "Western society" is on a per capita basis a fraction of that of the other 4.8 billion people.

d) No matter how much you berate me for my supposed inability to see the interconnectedness of the world, the dropping level of aquifers in Africa and Asia cannot be reversed or even slowed one iota by the most draconian fresh water conservation in North America. In this particular instance, the world really DOES consist of separate islands. "Western society" doesn't import water from Africa or Asia.

Do you actually think those "developing" countries are consuming those resources? Of course you don't.

In the case of fish and fresh water, I know those countries are consuming those resources. In the case of soil depletion, I know that Western society doesn't import soil, and I also know that the percentage of fruits and vegetables imported from third world countries to Western societies is very tiny. How often do you see durian or taro or manioc or guava or yuca or tayota sitting in your local grocer's? In the case of wood, I know that most of the Western world (North America and Scandinavia) actually EXPORTS wood. There is a net SURPLUS in those countries. The only tropical woods that Western societies import are teak, balsa, cork (which is actually a bark, not an entire tree) and mahogany.

Ther may be some resources we get exclusively or even mostly from third world countries, but the ones you listed aren't among them.

Who would doubt that the vast majority of lumber and beef (two primary sources of tropical deforestation) is destined for foreign markets, in DEVELOPED countries.

Check your assumptions. I already answered the wood issue. As for beef, North America produces their beef domestically, except for some Argentinean beef, which is raised on the pampas. No deforestation took place to make grazing land for Argentinian beef. It may surprise you to know that Western society does not import beef from Africa or Asia or Oceania.

How else could the United States, to name the wealthiest of these, account for such a lion's share of the entire world's consumption if it weren't pulling resources from "developing" countries?

WHICH resources come from third-world countries? Very little third-world wood, zero third-world water, very little third-world fish, very little third-world fruits and vegetables. What you seem not to realize is that of that "lion's share" of the entire world's resources, the cast majority of it is obtained from those Western nations themselves -- hydro power, fresh water, agriclutural products, forest products, metals and minerals, petroleum. The US, for example, produces more food than any other nation. Canada and the US combined produce more iron and aluminum and nickel than all the rest of the world put together.

Look... this stuff is easily researched. Do a google search on iron production or lumber exports or food production and look at a few pie charts yourself. You'll see I'm not making this up. Contrary to what you are stating, "Western society" is not raping the developing nations of their scarce resources. This is the major reason they remain poor, fa cryin' out loud -- because they have nothing to trade! Almost all of the resources required by industry and agriculture are more cheaply and readily available in the West than they are in Africa or Asia or Oceania. Even resources that used to be a valuable source of income for these nations such as sugar cane and latex have been supplanted by other products that can be produced domestically such as sugar beets and plastics.

The story in the world today is one of countless cases of carefully tailored extortion or beguilement of indigenous peoples or poor nations. A village cannot gain inclusion into the educational system unless it builds a $65,000 school. A logging company offers $65,000 for logging rights. Fair trade?

A village wants to build a school, but there are no logging companies interested in buying the logging rights to the nearby forest. The village gets to keep both a scenic forest and ignorant children until the population growth overwhelms the capacity of their arable land. The villagers then burn the forest to plant crops. They still have ignorant children.

A poor nation is persuaded to open its industries to privitization, quite often by foreign interests, in order to get a loan. Fair?

If they think it unfair, why don't they do without the loans, set up their own industry, and trade the products with other nations?

You're always asking stoopid questions like, "how can a toilet flush in Toronto affect freshwater shortages in the Middle East or Africa?"

And you never answer the questions. You can't answer them. After all, why admit that you can't answer a legitimate question when it is so much easier to just call me stoopid for asking a question that upsets your apple cart. Look, dood, I answer ALL your questions. I don't dodge them. The water question is LEGITIMATE. It's not as if I were asking, "How can air pollution in Los Angeles affect the Philipines".

What this gross reduction is really saying is, "The world is made up of various islands, none of which has any effect on any other."

In the specific case of fresh water supply and aquifer levels on separate continents, guess what? The world IS made up of various islands.

In fact, it's got me wondering--Pinky are you a public relations officer? And remember, if you are, you have to say so...

Nope. I'm just someone who actually reads and UNDERSTANDS what he reads.

The b


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Perks [Re: hongomon]
    #894758 - 09/20/02 12:49 AM (19 years, 5 days ago)

hongomon writes:

Well, if "forest resources are undergoing depletion at an accelerated pace", and there is an interest in "reversing the trend", what are we to infer?

Neither of those sites objected to harvesting trees. Both of them objected to deforestation which is not the same thing at all. Stripping bare the entire surface of large tracts of land -- rather than cutting every fourth tree or clearcutting small patches in a modified "checkerboard" pattern -- is harmful to the environment. It is not the harvesting per se that is the problem, it is the METHOD of harvesting. I agree with their position. Burning tropical forests for the intent of creating farmland is also a bad idea ecologically.

Look, I asked you to name some resources that were in short supply due to the "Western way of life". You have yet to do so:

a) Forest products are NOT in short supply.

b) Mineral depletion of soil is not due to the "Western way of life", it is due to poor agricultural techniques and is more of a problem in developing countries than in Western countries for two reasons: 1) the developing countries have to support more people on less arable land. 2) those countries use less sophisticated agricultural techniques.

c) Although fish stocks are dropping, it is not due to Western society's insatiable demand for fish. The demand for fish among the 1.2 billion inhabitants of the planet which comprise "Western society" is on a per capita basis a fraction of that of the other 4.8 billion people.

d) No matter how much you berate me for my supposed inability to see the interconnectedness of the world, the dropping level of aquifers in Africa and Asia cannot be reversed or even slowed by the most draconian fresh water conservation in North America. In this particular instance, the world really DOES consist of separate islands. "Western society" doesn't import water from Africa or Asia.

Do you actually think those "developing" countries are consuming those resources? Of course you don't.

In the case of fish and fresh water, I don't just think it, I know those countries are consuming those resources. In the case of soil depletion, I know that Western society doesn't import soil, and I also know that the percentage of fruits and vegetables imported from third world countries to Western societies is very tiny. How often do you see durian or taro or manioc or guava or yuca or tayota sitting in your local grocer's? In the case of wood, I know that most of the Western world (North America and Scandinavia) actually EXPORTS wood. There is a net SURPLUS in those countries. The only tropical woods that Western societies import are teak, balsa, cork (which is actually a bark, not an entire tree) and mahogany.

Although I can't think of any myself, I can't say with certainty it's impossible there may be some endangered resources that the Western world obtains exclusively or even primarily from third-world countries, but the ones you listed certainly don't apply.

Who would doubt that the vast majority of lumber and beef (two primary sources of tropical deforestation) is destined for foreign markets, in DEVELOPED countries.

Anyone who cares to spend a few minutes with Google. Check your assumptions, dood. I already answered the wood issue. As for beef, North America produces almost all their beef domestically, except for some Argentinean beef, which is raised on the pampas. No deforestation took place to make grazing land for Argentinian beef. It may surprise you to know that Western society does not import beef from Africa or Asia or Oceania.

How else could the United States, to name the wealthiest of these, account for such a lion's share of the entire world's consumption if it weren't pulling resources from "developing" countries?

WHICH resources come from third-world countries? Very little third-world wood, zero third-world water, very little third-world fish, very little third-world fruits and vegetables. What you seem not to realize is that of that "lion's share" of the entire world's resources, the vast majority of it is obtained within the borders of the Western nations themselves -- hydro power, fresh water, agriclutural products, forest products, metals and minerals, coal, petroleum. The US, for example, produces more food than any other nation. Canada and the US combined produce more iron and aluminum and nickel than all the rest of the world put together.

Look... this stuff is easily researched. Do a Google search on iron production or lumber exports or food production or beef imports or per capita fish consumption and look at a few pie charts yourself. You'll see I'm not making this up. Contrary to what you are stating, "Western society" is not raping the developing nations of their scarce resources. This is the major reason those nations remain poor, fa cryin' out loud -- because they have nothing to trade! Almost all the resources required by Western industry and agriculture are more cheaply and readily available in the West than they are in Africa or Asia or Oceania. Even resources that used to be a valuable source of income for these nations such as sugar cane and latex have been supplanted by other products that can be produced domestically such as sugar beets and plastics.

The story in the world today is one of countless cases of carefully tailored extortion or beguilement of indigenous peoples or poor nations. A village cannot gain inclusion into the educational system unless it builds a $65,000 school. A logging company offers $65,000 for logging rights. Fair trade?

A village wants to build a school, but there are no logging companies interested in buying the logging rights to the nearby forest. The village gets to keep both a scenic forest and ignorant children until the population growth overwhelms the capacity of their arable land. The villagers then burn the forest to plant crops. They still have ignorant children.

A poor nation is persuaded to open its industries to privitization, quite often by foreign interests, in order to get a loan. Fair?

If they think it unfair, why don't they do without the loans, set up their own industry, and trade the products with other nations?

You're always asking stoopid questions like, "how can a toilet flush in Toronto affect freshwater shortages in the Middle East or Africa?"

And you never answer the questions. You can't answer them. After all, why admit that you can't answer a legitimate question when it is so much easier to just call me stoopid for asking a question that upsets your apple cart. Look, dood, I answer ALL your questions. I don't dodge them. The water question is LEGITIMATE. It's not as if I were asking, "How can air pollution in Los Angeles affect the Philipines".

What this gross reduction is really saying is, "The world is made up of various islands, none of which has any effect on any other."

In the specific case of fresh water supply and aquifer levels on separate continents, guess what? The world IS made up of various islands.

In fact, it's got me wondering--Pinky are you a public relations officer? And remember, if you are, you have to say so...

Nope. I'm just someone who reads and actually UNDERSTANDS what he reads.

The big industries were, and they have followed suit, taking full advantage of the public relations industry to keep people thinking environmentalism is a pseudo-science, made up of tree huggers and bird watchers.

I'll let you in on a little secret -- a much larger portion of the environmental movement than you care to admit is made up of totally unreasonable people with completely absurd demands. Look, I am against strip mining. I am against pollution. I am against slash and burn clearing of the Amazon rain forest. I am against the poaching of tigers and elephants and gorillas and rhinos. I am against collecting marine fish for hobbyist aquariums by stunning them with cyanide. I am against dumping raw sewage into lakes and rivers and oceans. I am not, however, in favor of holding up a new housing subdivision or a cement plant for ten years while a series of grad students do environmental impact studies to determine if the pond on the property is a habitat of the three-eyed boll weevil.

I think the reason you are against environmentalism... is because, like I've said before, you have attached yourself so dogmatically to libertarianism and the evil of "force" that it has deprived you of your reason.

I am not against environmentalism per se, I am against the kind of environmentalism that is so dogmatic it has deprived its proponents of their reason.

So on the one hand, you're all for holding the big businesses and everyone else to healthy environmental standards, but on the other, you're employing very dishonest shifts and spins to defend a very environmentally detrimental status quo.

Bullshit. It is one thing to hold a given company accountable for pollution. It is quite another thing to hold ALL companies accountable for some unknown and possibly imaginary threat to the three-eyed boll weevil.

As for pollution and environmental damage, it is well-known (though little advertised) that the worst offenders are not the nominally capitalistic Western nations, but those countries with either primitive political systems (such as the USSR and China) -- in regards to clear-cutting, strip-mining, nuclear waste, air and water pollution -- or those with primitive technology (such as much of Africa and South America) where forests are burned to provide barely viable soil for two years worth of subsistence crops and raw sewage is dumped into the handiest water source. The Sahara desert was not a result of "the Western way of life", hongomon. The destruction of the Amazon rainforest is not occurring so MacDonald's can sell more burgers.

Alex gave a good root answer to your question: "The Earth decides." Obviously it's up to us to empirically ascertain her laws, and this is something we've come a long way in doing. Unfortunately this often means that certain things have to stop. Scientists are not negotiators between man and his enviroment. The Earth is indifferent and doesn't negotiate.

I am not so stoopid that I can't see that some of man's activities have a negative impact on the environment. What I am saying is that the "Western way of life" is no more harmful to the environment (and in many cases LESS harmful) than the "third-world way of life". North America is less polluted, less deforested, better supplied with fresh water, less overgrazed and demineralized than the third world. And that is NOT because we get all our water, food, and forest supplies from the third world and then dump all our pollution there. It's because we are less densely populated than the third world, and because we are more respectful of the environment than third-world countries. I LIVE in a third-world country, hongomon. I KNOW how shockingly disrespectful third-worlders are of their environment. Anyone who has spent any time in South America or Africa or even for that matter Russia will confirm what I'm saying.

Your problem is not with "the Western way of life" at all. It's with overpopulation.

If all North Americans were to stay on the continent and stop all trade with the rest of the world, making do ONLY with resources they could obtain from the Arctic Circle to the Panama canal, would the environmental situation in developing countries improve or deteriorate? No more travel across the oceans, either by air or by boat. No imports. No exports. Zero. Zip. Nada. Would the natives of Africa and South America stop burning their forests? Would the Chinese stop polluting their air and water? Would the Africans stop overfishing their coastal waters? Would the supply of fresh water in Africa and Asia increase? Would the Brazilians stop dumping untreated waste into the ocean? Would species extinction stop or at least slow down significantly? Would tiger and gorilla populations increase? Would the natives of sub-Saharan Africa slow their population growth?

Answer me honestly, now. Don't brush this off as a stoopid question or tell me that I'm missing the point.

Oh, one more thing: I never said in my previous thread that I was bent on DEPRIVING people of their leisure.

I know that. You just want people to stop using precious resources on "useless stuff". Like the Canadian trees that died to make the paper the Harlequin Romances were printed on. Like the Texan petroleum products that were used to make the plastic for the techno and hiphop CDs. Like the Michigan copper and steel and aluminum that was used in the manufacture of the model trains and tracks.

First of all, I hope I was clear that I was for spreading awareness and encouraging a new outlook on how we spend our money;

It's certainly clear you're against spending money on anything "useless".

second, you're stuck in a static world, as with much of your arguments.

I beg to differ. My arguments address REALITY, which is far from static. One of my arguments, for example, is that the current appetite for fossil fuels is temporary. Emerging technologies for alternative energy sources are a REALITY. There will one day be practical methods of meeting energy needs through solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and nuclear power. Fusion will one day be practical. There will also be developments in manufacturing technology which will have less impact on the environment. Nanotechnology is in its infancy today. Will that still be true when you are my age?

The big problems of the world require trans-generational vision;

Agreed. We disagree on the specifics of that vision. I say your insistence that the plight of the ecology is the fault of "Western overconsumption" is incorrect. It is a contributing factor, true, but it is MUCH less of a factor than the damage done to the pnaetary ecology by the other 4.8 billion. Note that I am not BLAMING them for doing what they do, merely noting that they DO it.

... and third, your examples are stoooopid.

Your inability to address them is amusing.

pinky


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