Friday, May 30, 2014

Knowing where things come from

Our society is set up so that we don't know where the stuff of our daily lives comes from.  Food, clothing, cars, homes -- all we know is if we pay money, then we get that stuff.  How many people who eat chicken know how to slaughter a chicken? How many people who wear cotton clothing know how to grow cotton?  How many people who ride in cars know where the materials for the car came from?  And when we are done with stuff, we put it in the trash.  How many people know where it goes after that?

Sometimes journalism tells us.  In December 2013, NPR's Planet Money told us about the making of a t-shirt.  The CNN Freedom Project researched slavery.  That is, we think of slavery as from the past, but they told us about things that are going on now. 

We put money in the bank.  That doesn't mean that they have a vault of cash that belongs to us.  They are investing our money.  What are they investing it in?

My employer gives me a choice of retirement plans.  One of them is called socially responsible.  It invests in McDonald's, Pepsi, Ford, American Express, Procter and Gamble, and Time Warner.  That's not what I think of when I think of socially responsible. 

Things get tagged as "socially responsible" or "green," and we think that means we should buy them. 

Our society makes it easy to be a blind consumer.  It's hard to dig deeper. It's hard to be a responsible citizen.

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