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January 10, 2008

Comments

Tanya Neumeyer

I'm grateful that MEC can openly acknowledge that we benefit from the disadvantaged. This creates an obligation to the places we're connected to through our work. How can we adequately address these challenges? Addressing under-development has often reinforced problematic power imbalances. It is not a straight-forward process; yet I am hopeful.

wawaweewa

I think the problem is not with India, but with the Wall Street Journal. With all this bludgeoning people to death in its articles and whatnot.

Mark Cunnington

I don't think it's overly helpful to characterize human behavior with the blanket "good vs evil" labels. This glosses over a multitude of complex issues and makes it more difficult to understand where these "evil" behaviors originate and how best to change them. It is a very Christian view of the world that has pervaded the mind of every Canadian in some way -- our country and culture was founded on Christianity. I have acknowledged this and am trying to break myself free by learning more about other cultures and beliefs. Sorry, I don't believe in the devil.

Many corporations overseas, and our own corporations a few decades ago, don't see their environmentally destructive behaviors as "evil". They see them as having a positive influence of lifting people out of poverty. They are becoming part of the global economy and all that prosperity that they see us westerners enjoying, prosperity that we ourselves have enjoyed through the destruction of our own environment. Coming from the history of poverty that they do, do you think they put high priority on environmental contamination or saving Chinese turtle species, in the face of starvation? Given the average 3rd world person's appreciation for scientific disciplines such as ecology and global warming (when in poverty it's difficult for the average person to learn about things like organic chemistry and then relate this to global ecology and the greenhouse effect...), do you think that creates a social mindset that is going to care about these issues, or oppose industrial development, when corporations are offering relative prosperity?

These corporations are only emulating our own social and corporate behaviors of past decades. Forest companies in BC up until only a few decades ago never considered their practices bad, since it was generally accepted by the populace that the prosperity they brought us was the most important issue. Few people had much interest or concern for things like riparian area conservation.

When you couple this with a good dose of primate psychology, in terms of evolutionary behavioral ecology, then you begin to see why some power-hungry "evil" corporations and world leaders do what they do. But there is a reason for what they do: they are coming from a different mindset and / or have been corrupted by greed in the evolutionary sense. When we understand it in that light, rather than characterizing it as "evil", we can then try to figure out new ways of organizing corporate business and educating other cultures about the environmental problems that they don't want to acknowledge themselves because they are more concerned with putting food on their tables.

And then add in the legal and structural inheritance that the corporation entity exists in today (they are legally required to maximize profits -- this seemed like a good idea a century ago but now it seems obviously flawed). And of the fundamental necessity of our economic model for infinite growth in a finite world (no economist, despite all their fancy mathematical simulations, has been able to solve that mathematical inequality) How are we going to change that? Our economic system is archaic and fundamentally flawed. But it isn't evil. It had its place and justification for existence way back when, but now we need a new one.

HC

Mark,

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I think we're in agreement for the most part. It's extremely difficult to characterize evil as evil and not some unintended by-product of underdevelopment or archaic systems. Every human has a moral compass. When we waiver from that compass and intentionally harm someone, we are at some level evil or approaching evil. Evil exists and so do devasting events that result from messed up socio-economic systems.

You're right about blacket "good vs. evil" labels. And even more right about environmental degradation in the developing world.

Craig Davey

What does the photograph posted with this article illustrate?

Where was the photograph taken? When? Are the people working on an organic cotton production for MEC? Or are they working for somebody else? Is it organic? Cotton? Who took this picture? Who labelled it with a caption? Why is does the alternative text read "Organic_cotton"?

Let us get to the details. Let us use HTML with authority. Let us use hyperlinks in our remarks.

HC

Craig,

The photo is taken by MEC representatives and is owned by MEC.

The factory sews MEC's organic cotton clothing.

The factory is in India.

Cheers

Barry

Only 4% from India, but what percent is from one of the, if not the, worst regime right now, China. All I see in here are garments from China.

HC

Hi Barry,

About 30% of MEC labelled goods come from China. But if you include the company cell phones, computer chips, monitors, TV's, microwaves, calculators and etc., it's way more. And if we begin to think about the the volume of Chinese government investments in US T-bills which keeps the US economy (and ours) healthy, it becomes mind boggling.

Not to be flippant but it's more than just the Made in China tags in our stores. It's all the supporting equipment that runs our business, homes, cars, jets, prescription drugs and RSP returns - they're all shaped by China.

Thanks. I do get your point.

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