Wednesday, April 10, 2013


This morning on NPR, there was a story saying that BP is facing a lawsuit, and that is is accused of putting profits before safety.  Why single out BP? Isn't that the American way? Isn't that the capitalist system we've chosen to live by?

Shortly thereafter, they had another story saying the same thing.  In "Construction Booming in Texas, But Many Workers Pay Dearly," they talked about many workers get paid less than minimum wage, or don't get paid at all.  They said that 1 in 5 construction workers in Texas get injured badly enough to require hospitalization.  And, the story says that the reason for the poor pay and unsafe conditions is that customers want big houses for a low price.

There's something in American culture that says you should always try to get the best deal.  That if you pay a higher price than you have to for something, that it's because you were stupid.  I've never felt that way.  I have an attitude about money that seems to come from the Quaker culture I grew up in.  My attitude says that a seller should be focused on providing quality and service, not on price, and that the buyer should be focused on paying the price that is deserved, not on getting a deal.  I have an aversion to bargaining, because in bargaining, the buyer is expected to try to pay less than the object is worth, and the seller is expected to try to get more than the object is worth.  I have an aversion to gambling (including lottery, buying raffle tickets, and owning stocks), because gambling is about trying to get more money than you've earned.

We live a life of conveniences.  We turn a switch, and we have light.  We turn a thermostat, and we have heat.  We go to the store, and there are shelves and shelves of food.  We hop  in the car and we go some place.  But what is behind it all? What goes into producing the electricity and heat? Where was the food before it was in the store? How many miles did it travel to get here? How were the workers who harvested the food paid?  Are there pesticides in the food? Are the pesticides in the workers?   What materials went into making the car? What emissions is the car putting into the air? Where did the gas come from?

Why did BP put profits before safety? Because we demanded it.  We demanded cars and heat and fresh produce all year round, and gas for our cars, and we demanded to pay low prices for all of it.

As a druid, my responsibility is to think beyond the surface, to see all that is behind the surface convenience of light switch, thermostat, supermarket, and car.  It's not an easy task.  Our society is set up to allow us to take these things for granted.

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