26 July, 2002

Green Files #26: The Anti-Environmental U.S. Administration


Hello everyone

One last compilation for this week. As usual make sure to check the new Meditation Focus coming up tomorrow. It will be about something that has never been tried on a global scale and will also include a most exceptional testimony about an AMAZING near-death experience of the Xth kind.

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000


CONTENTS

1. EUROPE: Is It a Breeze?
2. MUSH, MUSH & I'LL HAVE TO SPEAK WITH MY ATTORNEY
3. DELEGATES AND ACTIVISTS ASK: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THE U.S.?
4. 125 Days to Save the World
5. Our Gluttony Fuels Anger


See also:

Finally - Proof That Disconnection Harms
http://ens-news.com/ens/jul2002/2002-07-19g.asp
This study proves quite conclusively that ignoring the web of life and natural human development can kill.

Bush Slashing Aid for E.P.A. Cleanup at 33 Toxic Sites
http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/07.02C.bush.cut.epa.htm

19 Million Pounds Of Beef Recalled (July 19)
http://disc.server.com/discussion.cgi?id=149495&article=30720

GM Crops Threat to Organic Farming (May 27, 2002)
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0527-04.htm
Organic farming will be forced out of production in Britain and across Europe if GM crops are grown commercially, a startling new EU report concludes. The report –- which is so controversial that top EC officials tried to stop it being made public -– shows that organic farms will become so contaminated by genes from the new crops that they can no longer be licensed or will have to spend so much money trying to protect themselves that they will become uneconomic. Conventional non-GM farms will also be seriously affected. Drawn up as a result of two years of studies in Britain, France, Italy and Germany, it provides the most damning confirmation to date of the arguments, long advanced by environmentalists, that it is not possible for GM and organic farming to coexist and that, as a result, shoppers will be denied a choice of what to buy. The conclusion is politically explosive because the demand for organic produce is increasing rapidly across Europe, while consumer resistance to GM food has forced supermarkets not to stock it. CLIP

When a Crop Becomes King (July 19) A MUST READ!
http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0719-01.htm
These days the nation's nearly 80 million-acre field of corn rolls across the countryside like a second great lawn, but this wholesome, all-American image obscures a decidedly more dubious reality.

Simple Shift in Bush Aid Budget Would Leverage Nearly $700 Million for Health, Environment Problems in Poorest Countries - At No Extra Cost to U.S. (18 July)
http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/07.22D.nrdc.700M.htm
Leading Groups Call for Technical Change to Unlock 4-to-1 International Funding Match




1.

From: http://www.timecanada.com/story.adp?storyid=4&area=_toc

July 15, 2002

EUROPE: Is It a Breeze?

European countries are increasingly turning to wind power as an alternative source of energy, but questions remain about its cost and sustainability

By Charles P. Wallace

At a breezy stretch of the North Sea 14 km off the west coast of Denmark, the world’s largest offshore wind farm is under construction. When the installation at Horns Rev is completed later this year, it will have 80 towering windmills, each producing about 2 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power 133,000 households. More important, the addition of Horns Rev and a second offshore wind farm will boost Denmark’s output of wind-powered energy next year to 21% of the country’s total electricity production, the highest in the world. “Wind power has finally entered the mainstream,” says Arthouros Zervos, president of the European Wind Energy Association. “Last year there was nearly twice as much wind power installed as nuclear power.”

Because it has been promoting wind energy since the 1970s, tiny Denmark has become the world leader in production of wind technology. Last year Danish companies controlled more than 50% of the worldwide market for wind-energy technology. “Our overall goal is to make Denmark into the Silicon Valley of wind turbines,” says Peter Hjuler Jensen, head of the wind program at the Risø National Laboratory outside Copenhagen.

Denmark is not the only European country to have bet heavily on the breeze. Germany now has the world’s largest installed base of wind turbines, totaling 8,734 megawatts, which reflects average growth of 45% a year over the past three years. Ironically, Germany has some of the worst wind resources in Europe. But what’s made the difference is a government commitment to expanding renewable energy by offering substantial subsidies for wind power. At the moment windmill owners are paid j.009 per kilowatt hour, compared with a market price closer to j.002. “It’s a real success story in Germany,” says Jens-Peter Molly, executive director of the German Wind Energy Institute. “It’s a success in all countries where there is a fixed-price system that gives developers security for their investments.”

Wind power is also booming in Spain, which adopted a fixed-price system offering producers a long-term subsidy over the market costs of electricity production. Spain is now the second-largest market for wind power within Europe after Germany, having grown an average of 59% a year over the past three years. Spain has enticed big developers with generous offers of financial support in return for agreeing to open factories for wind turbines, creating thousands of new jobs.

In all, Europe accounts for 70% of the world’s wind-power installations. Interestingly, Britain and France have the highest level of wind resources in Europe, but their pro-grams are still in the fledgling stages. Britain’s policy of awarding competitive contracts, which tends to drive prices down, as well as opposition to wind farms on planning grounds, has left the U.K. with only 525 megawatts of installed capacity, one-fifth the level in Denmark. France, which has traditionally relied on nuclear plants, has only recently set up a fixed-price system for renewable energy.

Driving the growth of wind power in Europe is the pollution-control requirements set forth in the Kyoto Protocol, which called for a 5.2% reduction in greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. To meet the demands of Kyoto, the European Union adopted a target of producing 22% of electricity from renewable resources—hydro power and biomass in addition to wind power—by 2010. Merrill Lynch, the investment firm, said in a recent report that it expects wind power to grow 15-fold over the next 20 years, raising its market share to 6% in Europe and 5% in the U.S.

Another factor in the popularity of wind power is that the technology is steadily improving. The market is analogous to computer chips, with performance vastly increasing while price is coming down. Back in the 1970s, when Denmark started experimenting with wind power, windmills were about 20 m high, with blades 10 m in diameter and an output of 55 kilowatts. Today’s windmills stand 100 m off the ground, have blades that span 75 m and are capable of producing 2-2.5 megawatts. The U.S. firm GE Wind Energy recently announced new turbines capable of producing 3.5 megawatts offshore.

The technological improvements have lowered the production cost of wind power to about one-fifth what it was 20 years ago—a level that promoters say is broadly competitive with newly constructed coal- or even gas-fired plants, the cheapest source. Because of its high initial investment costs, wind power is still not economical without some form of subsidy. Wind’s advocates call subsidies a necessary anti-pollution tradeoff. “If you decide to pay only the market price for coal- and gas-fired plants, it’s not possible to make clean electricity,” says Birger T. Madsen, who runs a wind consultancy in Copenhagen. Denmark offers a good example. Thanks to tax incentives and subsidized prices, the country now has 6,500 windmills. But since the government decided that wind power should be priced according to the market two years ago, construction of new turbines has fallen sharply.

One of the beneficiaries of Denmark’s early move into wind power is Vestas Wind Systems, based on the North Sea coast in Ringkobing. Originally a maker of farm equipment, Vestas began manufacturing windmills as a sideline and sold them to farmers. The company, which now makes only wind turbines, is the largest manufacturer of them in the world, claiming a 24% market share. Starting with 60 employees after a bankruptcy filing in 1986, the company now employs 5,000 people, had 2001 revenues of $1.1 billion and a profit of $112 million. “Once considered an alternative energy, today wind power is a mainstream, environmentally friendly supplement to other sources of energy,” says Svend Sigaard, managing director of Vestas.

Sigaard says the future is likely to see more offshore wind farms like the one his company is building at Horns Rev. With its high population density Denmark is running out of room on land. Plus, offshore farms have the advantage of being out of sight. The only new sales onshore, Sigaard says, are likely to be to farmers who put up windmills in the early days and now want to upgrade them to newer, more efficient models. “Size is no longer a problem,” he says. But as Denmark illustrates, for wind power to keep expanding, governments have to continue supports that pay windmill owners a premium over the market price of electricity. Only then will wind power be as sustainable as it is clean.




2.

WEEKLY GRIST
13 Jun-19 Jun 2002

CLIP

5.
MUSH, MUSH
In Alaska, some 4,000 miles from Capitol Hill, global warming is neither an abstraction nor up for debate. It's simply a reality -- and not, generally speaking, a pleasant one. High water is eating away houses and buildings, mosquitoes are invading where once they were unheard of, hunters are getting trapped on breakaway ice, permafrost is no longer permanent (meaning building foundations are slouching and buckling), and on the Kenai Peninsula, a 4 million acre spruce forest has been killed by hot-weather-happy beetles in the largest forest loss ever recorded in North America. Sen. Ted Stevens, a Republican, can hardly take the party line on climate change when he's witnessed the sagging roads, crumbling towns, dead forests, and catastrophic fires that are devastating his home state. Mean temperatures in Alaska have risen by 5 degrees in summer and 10 degrees in winter since the 1970's, federal officials say, and climate models predict that temperatures will continue to increase over this century, by up to 18 degrees.

New York Times, Timothy Egan, 16 Jun 2002
http://www.gristmagazine.com/forward.pl?forward_id=205

Pret-a-poor taste -- climate change is, like, inevitable, dude -- animation by Mark Fiore
http://www.gristmagazine.com/soapbox/fiore061002.asp

WEEKLY GRIST
11 Jul-17 Jul 2002

1.
I'LL HAVE TO SPEAK WITH MY ATTORNEY
In a letter being sent today to President Bush, 11 state attorneys general criticize the president for his failure to impose strong federal measures to limit emissions of greenhouse gases and control global warming. In addition to condemning the "regulatory void" created by the absence of federal action, the letter contends that environmental policies proposed by the Bush administration would worsen climate change and harm the economy. The letter was spearheaded by Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly, and signed by his colleagues from Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont -- all of them Democrats. Although the letter does not specify desired policy changes, Reilly said the group was seeking, at a minimum, increases in automobile fuel efficiency and caps on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, power plants account for 40 percent of CO2 emissions and automobiles for 25 percent.

New York Times, James Sterngold, 17 Jul 2002
http://www.gristmagazine.com/forward.pl?forward_id=265

Bush attacked on climate change -- read the letter from the attorneys general
http://www.gristmagazine.com/muck/muck071702.asp

Take action to tell Bush to tackle global warming
http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/climate.asp?source=weekly#kyoto

To subscribe to WEEKLY GRIST, send a blank email message to <weekly-grist-subscribe@yahoogroups.com>

See also:

Alaska, No Longer So Frigid, Starts to Crack, Burn and Sag
http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/09.18F.alaskan.thaw.htm

Alaska Glaciers Melting More Rapidly (July 19)
http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/07.21D.warm.faster.htm




3.

Taken from http://www.fpif.org/progresp/volume6/v6n21.html

The Progressive Response
18 July 2002
Vol. 6, No. 21

For more information on FPIF and joining our network, please consider visiting the FPIF website at http://www.fpif.org

Tom Barry, editor of Progressive Response, is a senior analyst with the Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC) (online at http://www.irc-online.org) and codirector of Foreign Policy In Focus.

CLIP

DELEGATES AND ACTIVISTS ASK: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THE U.S.?

By Eric Mann

(Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new FPIF Global Affairs Commentary, posted in its entirety at: http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2002/0207wssdprep.html .)

Author's Introduction.

This year, in late August 2002, the United Nations will hold the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), an international conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, ostensibly to create a new model of sustainable development that integrates economic development, social justice, and environmental imperatives. WSSD is supposed to be a ten year follow-up and implementation conference to the 1992 Rio de Janeiro UN Conference on Environment and Development--thus, its other name, "Rio plus 10." In the Preparatory Committee (PrepComm) meetings that have preceded WSSD, (the latest in Bali, Indonesia held in late May through early June) a common theme has emerged--the United States government is bound and determined to undermine, overthrow, and sabotage any international treaties, agreements, and conferences that it believes restrict its sovereignty in any way as the world's rogue superpower.

By the second day of the UN's Bali Preparatory Committee (PrepComm) for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), most delegates from the Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) oscillated between disgust and depression. The "Chairman's Report"--the summary language that all the world governments were trying to agree upon--was little more than a neoliberal anti-environmental agenda. Naty Bernardino of the International South Group Network called it "Rio minus 10." As the governmental delegates were debating the language for the final declaration, an angry UN official, thinking his microphone had been turned off, was overhead lamenting, "What are we going to do about the United States?"

Within hours, creative NGO organizers had printed small paper strips that we pinned to our shirts, repeating that same question. Even that tiny protest was overruled by UN security. We were advised by UN staff that any protests inside the Bali International Convention Center (BICC) criticizing a specific government by name would not be permitted--especially one particular government. At the daily NGO meeting the next morning, we were warned by a high-ranking UN official that there was a rumor that t-shirts bearing the slogan "What are we going to do about the United States?" would be appearing, and anyone wearing them on the premises would be escorted out. Indeed, one of the organizers was able to have such shirts printed overnight. Now, many delegates had flown to Bali to advance very specific agendas, representing groups that had saved for such a trip, and while wanting to wear the t-shirts in protest, were afraid of risking expulsion. Yet forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. Most NGOs, when told they weren't allowed to wear the t-shirts, decided they just had to wear one. The question then was how to advance the tactic--t-shirt civil disobedience? Our dynamic organizing committee, initiated by members of the women's caucus, came up with a new tactical wrinkle. We would wear the t-shirts into the Conference Center, but would use masking tape to cover up the "United States" so the t-shirts now read: "What are we going to do about -------?" Aesthetically and politically, the masking of the t-shirts drew greater attention to our message: the U.S. was running the show and our protest of its hegemony was being censored. The life and death fight with the policies of the United States had taken center stage at Bali.

Many groups had come to Bali to demand "water as a human right." The U.S. refused; it argued that water is a commodity to be privatized.

Groups had demanded that the U.S. sign the Kyoto treaty, and that WSSD pass a proposal for a far more radical reduction in greenhouse gases than the 5% proposed by Kyoto. The U.S. refused to sign Kyoto altogether, and opposed any language linking fossil fuel combustion to global warming--opposing any efforts to save the small island states and the entire planet from ecological catastrophe.

The U.S.--threatening each nation with economic, political, and if necessary, military retaliation--is imposing an anti-regulatory agenda on the conference. The governmental groups--from the European Union to the G77 & China (the nations of the global south)--are unable or unwilling to offer an organized opposition. The U.S. is working to undermine the Johannesburg summit by substituting worthless voluntary agreements for enforceable ones, continuing to impose business and trade dictatorships (pushed through by the U.S. at the Doha and Monterey world trade conferences over dependent nations) and formalizing the stealing of indigenous land, property rights, and cultures. Ask any person working at WSSD on any subject--human rights, water, biodiversity, energy, global warming, debt cancellation--and they will tell you the same thing: the U.S is "bracketing" our lives, ruling all progress out of order. How ironic that in the midst of all this heavy-handed repression, the main objective of the U.S. and UN is to come out of Johannesburg with an emphasis on "partnerships." According to this argument, Rio in 1992 failed because it was too restrictive of corporate rights. Now, the U.S wants the delegates to denounce specific regulations to stop mining or oil exploration and instead propose "partnerships"--the grand illusion of our time--between NGOs and corporations like Shell Oil.

Our tiny t-shirt protest was well below the scope and scale needed to impact policy or any balance of power, but as a microcosm of what is urgently needed in Johannesburg and back in the U.S., it was an important beginning. Building on the important anti-globalization protests against transnational corporations, it focused on the U.S. government and its many henchmen--Japan, Canada, Australia, and New ZealandĚ oops there I go again mentioning governments by name. It broke with the sterile wordsmithing of UN conferences that would drive most grassroots organizers into years of psychotherapy. And because effective leadership groups are essential, it was great to be part of a multi-racial, international working group with such strong women's leadership.

At Johannesburg, if you focus exclusively on trying to amend the specific language of the final UN governmental document you will be bitterly disappointed, because the U.S. will get what it wants--that is a pre-determined outcome. But a significant anti-imperialist victory is possible. We need a major and public confrontation with the United States government and its free market madness in Johannesburg, and after that, we must organize long-term campaigns against corporate and superpower abuse. It is essential that the international press and our constituencies at home come to understand that WSSD is imposing a death sentence on billions of people through continued and even greater levels of pollutants and poverty. As we prepare for Johannesburg, you should ask yourself "What are you going to do about the United States?"

---

See also:

SA Breaks Logjam Over World Summit: Developed nations prodded to make compromises (July 21)
http://allafrica.com/stories/200207210065.html
SOUTH African leaders have broken the political logjam that had raised fears that next month's World Summit on Sustainable Development would fail because the 189 participating countries could not agree on a development agenda for the world. In negotiations led by Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and described by one official as being "like white-water rafting", envoys from 27 nations agreed in principle to shift their positions on some of the issues that had blocked agreement. This week's breakthrough at United Nations headquarters in New York means negotiations on the details of the final implementation plan, to be done at the summit, are likely to succeed. CLIP




4.

From: http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/07.05A.pitt.125days.htm

125 Days to Save the World
by William Rivers Pitt <w_pitt@hotmail.com>

Thursday, 4 July, 2002

As Americans gather under vague threats of terrorism to watch controlled explosions spray color across the skies, ordinary people from the village of Kakarak in Afghanistan will gather to bury their dead. The uncontrolled explosion of an American 2,000 bomb at a wedding have sent 250 civilians there, mostly women and children, to the hospital or the morgue. None of them were named Osama bin laden or Mohammad Omar. The War on Terror continues apace without a shred of true justice for the victims, and with a civilian body count that has outpaced the death toll of September 11th.

As Americans unfurl their flags and remember the day that birthed the concept of a free and democratic nation, the PATRIOT Anti-Terror Act gnaws grimly at the guts of everything we're supposed to celebrate. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have become almost quaint in their meaninglessness, like a campaign slogan from 100 years ago.

As Americans enjoy a holiday from work, the money they have labored for and saved slowly but surely becomes worth little more than the paper it is printed on. The stock market has plunged to pre-9/11 levels recently, as investors rightly question where their money is going. Enron, WorldCom, Martha Stewart, Adelphia, Tyco - corporate greed and deceit are the watchwords on Wall Street, and the retirement portfolios of freedom-loving Americans bleed to death on the altar of profit-oriented expediency. Millions of laid-off workers, of course, will enjoy more freedom than they'd like.

As Americans do all of these very American things, they will be looking over their shoulders. Yet another blizzard of terror warnings have boiled forth from the Bush administration - do not gather at cafes, restaurants, or anyplace where other people might happen to congregate. It has become an article of faith that previous warnings were issued to deflect criticism from the administration and its wildly shoddy mismanagement of this crisis. If the sun rises on July 5th and shines on an unbombed nation, there will be questions and questions again about the motives of those in the driver's seat.

Bleak? Certainly. Beyond repair? Absolutely not.

The American voting populace will be afforded the opportunity in a little more than 17 weeks to change the dangerous course this nation has charted. In 125 days, ordinary people like you and I will be granted the chance to save the world.

The congressional midterm elections for 2002 will take place on November 5th. All across the country, Americans will step into voting booths and pull a lever for a Senator or House member. This simple act will determine which party retains majority control of congress for the next two years. This simple act will also determine the fate of the planet.

What is at stake?

* Independent investigations into September 11th. The Bush administration has made it clear that it does not want this to happen, and the GOP majority in the House has no interest in bucking the White House. The current House investigations are happening behind closed doors, much to the outrage of the families of 9/11 victims who have rallied for an open and effective look into the myriad failures that allowed the attack to take place. There is, bluntly, political advantage for the Democrats to push for this, which detracts not at all from the fact that it needs to happen for the sake of us all. A Democratic majority in Congress will have the clout to dig into those secrets the Bush administration so desperately wants to keep. A Democratic majority will use that clout.

* Effective Congressional oversight regarding the War on Terror. The resolution of September 14th, 2001 gave unprecedented war powers to the Bush administration, powers that have since been badly misused. There were several Congressional committees active during World War II that sought to ensure the war was properly fought. Harry Truman was an active part of this while a Senator. The concept of separate but equal powers divided between Congress and the Executive were devised for a reason. A Democratic Congress with oversight power would have the capacity to make sure that no more weddings get bombed.

* Bringing corporate robber barons to justice, and bringing reform to a crumbling system. The understanding that Bush and his people are dangling from corporate puppet strings is as commonly known as the fact that the sun rises in the East. Bush and his Wall Street lackey Harvey Pitt will do nothing at all substantial to rectify the criminal thievery that has kicked the legs out from under the stock market. The Democrats are no strangers to corporate influence, but again, this is a matter of political opportunity. A Democratic Congress will leap at the opportunity to reform the grievous flaws in the system, and thus will exploit a political opening that will come to serve us all.

* The Supreme Court. The last stop on the highway of American justice has become just another conservative-controlled political office. If Bush is handed a GOP majority in the Senate, he will be free to nominate right-wing ultraconservatives whose views would make Robert Bork giggle like a titmouse. Reproductive freedom will cease to exist, and the worst aspects of the PATRIOT Act will be blessed by a court from which there is no appeal. Simply put, there is no measure for how important the Supreme Court is. A Democratic majority in the Senate will make sure this worst-case scenario does not take place.

This list could go one for quite a while, but behind all of the political considerations and gamesmanship lies a terrifying truth. The United States of America is being guided into oblivion by an administration that has accrued terrible powers. It has declared open hostility for nearly a third of the nations on earth, and has stated its intention to attack, without provocation, anyone it chooses. It has alienated and angered just about every foreign government in existence. It has expressed the desire to do far worse. Its fundamental economic ideology has cost average Americans billions of dollars. It has advocated the erosion of the most basic principles of freedom this nation holds dear.

The midterm elections that will take place on November 5th, 2002 represent the last, best chance for the American voter to insert a measure of control upon what has become a careening juggernaut of a nation. No one knows what the next 125 days will hold. It is becoming apparent that a war in Iraq is on the agenda. Such an event would provide the kind of October Surprise that the GOP needs: they cannot run on an effective prosecution of the war or on economic prosperity, as each has been noticeably absent of late. Anyone who thinks this administration is above starting a war to affect stateside polls in November simply has not been paying attention.

CLIP

The midterm elections stand as the last, best opportunity for the Democrats, and for all Americans, to seize control of the agenda. 9/11 was the second most important event in recent human history. America's reaction to that dark day is and continues to be more important by orders of magnitude. We are the most powerful nation on earth, and our actions will determine the fate of humanity. In 125 days, we will be afforded the opportunity to affect that reaction, and to mitigate the damage done by an administration that has failed utterly to do what is right.

Let us resolve to make the most of it. Politics, after all, should have a sense of mission. Too often of late, however, politics has merely been about power. In 125 days we have the chance to do something momentous. This is a mission we must accept. The alternative offers only darkness.




5.

IN RETROSPECT THERE ARE SEVERAL POINTS MADE IN THIS ARTICLE THAT HAVE HIGH RELEVANCE WITH THE CURRENT GREEDY CEOs CRISIS AND THE RAPID DESTRUCTION OF OUR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT

Originally sent by Mark Graffis <mgraffis@vitelcom.net>

Our Gluttony Fuels Anger

Published on Sunday, October 28, 2001 in the Boulder Daily Camera

by Clay Evans

A friend recently went to a movie at the Westminster Enormo-Plex on a cool night. While she stood in line, glowing heaters cascaded warmth over the heads of waiting patrons. How much energy do those things use, she wondered. More than the meager flames used to heat an entire Afghan village for a night? This is a good time to start examining our propensity, not just for consumption, but for resource gluttony. My line-drying, small-car-driving friend wishes everyone could cut consumption by half. Me, too. But it's complicated. If they did, the economy would collapse as dramatically as did the World Trade Center towers. This isn't World War II, when Americans sacrificed, because a "war economy" - i.e. shipbuilding - took up the slack. Now we're inseparable from our consumption. Maybe it's time to question whether our "American way of life" is a just a goad to poor people around the world, maybe even immoral.

How can we justify movie-line heaters or lighting up empty skyscrapers at 3 a.m. when some people burn camel dung for warmth? We panic when a few Americans are tragically infected with anthrax but couldn't care less about millions of Africans dying from AIDS. We know nothing about Islam, and too much about Mariah Carey and Gary Condit. But raise such questions, and some people scream that you are "unpatriotic." Just the opposite, if you ask me. Jeff Milchen is a Boulder organizer who works in the democracy (not anti-globalization) movement, and he thinks about this stuff. He knows how deeply enmeshed we are in a growth-consumption-profits economic model.

It's not true, Milchen argues, that capitalism doesn't work unless profits grow continually. He believes a market economy is the best model we have, but also that only publicly held companies in thrall to the shareholders (who provide only a fraction of capital compared to most companies' sales of products and services) must perpetually grow. Even Adam Smith, father of capitalism, believed that the system would work only when businesses were small, accountable and invested in communities (i.e. not Wal-Mart). "We have a fundamentally broken system," Milchen says. We must radically reform or abolish the publicly held corporation, so companies stop abusing workers, Third World nations and the environment just to keep a few elite shareholders in cigars. We also need radical electoral reform to reduce the influence of money.

The media, Milchen believes, is armpit-deep in perpetuating myths of corporatism. Why, for example, has the mainstream media ignored such galling stories as the attempt by the Bechtel Corp. to privatize water in Bolivia? Some portray capitalist reformers like Milchen as idiots in search of a protest, and they don't even want you to even consider whether our gross consumptionism is a fair, responsible global model. Before buying their lines, take time to read the thinking of people like former Harvard Business School faculty member David C. Korten ("When Corporations Rule the World"), to see if Wall Street's buy-buy propaganda is so great. We may well choose, by default, to continue our blind stumble into the morass of privileged consumerism. But with each step, more of "them" - not the Taliban, but the world's poor and disenfranchised - will hate us ... even more.







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