Friday, March 21, 2008

something to think about

When is the last time you thought about where the sugar in your coffee comes from? Did you think to yourself that having slaves make your sugar was a great idea? Probably not right? But just because you didn't think it doesn't mean the US government didn't. Because they did.
Slaves cut sugar cane. In the case of the US slaves from Haiti are imported to the Dominican Republic to cut cane for Americans.
They are stripped of all identifying documents when they reach the border and from then on they are under 24 hour guard. Because they have no proof of citizenship they cannot leave the plantations or they will be arrested and deported back to the border with nothing. But that is moot because the guards don't let them leave.
Because they are desperate for any employment they believe the lies told to them about good jobs and good pay. It helps that no one ever returns to Haiti to tell the truth.
In theory the slaves are paid. They are paid 90 cents a day in vouchers. Vouchers that can only be used at the company store. Of course anything sold at this special store is marked up 100%. So inevitably they end up owing the store their wages and more. Now they can't buy anything else and they begin to watch their children starve to death.
This is an interesting strategy by the sugar plantation owners. They encourage workers to bring their wives and children with them. How can you leave a place when your wife and children are starving and none of your children have any documents? You know your children will die if they are forced to walk to the border and because the company wont give you any real money and the store has your vouchers you can't exactly hire a cab can you?
So every day of cutting season these slaves go into the fields and cut the cane. There is no doctor if you cut yourself. It appears that toothpaste is the popular choice for wound treatment. You work in the fields from the moment the sun comes up until the sun goes down. You have no indoor plumbing, your home is four pieces of rust covered corrugated aluminum that leaks every time it rains. Your bed is a piece of uncovered foam.
Cholera is a constant risk because there is no sanitation.

The sugar cane is taken away to be refined. Then you dip your spoon into the bowl and add sugar to your coffee never thinking about how it got there and who had to die for it.

Meanwhile the cutting season has ended. The slaves can't leave but there is no work. No 90 cent a day vouchers anymore. Everyone slowly begins the almost boring process of starvation once again. The sick are left to die. The plantation doesn't care..there is an old, untended, unmarked cemetery ready to accept any comers. It doesn't really matter. The desperate poor, still filled with hope are waiting, ready to become unwitting slaves to the spoon of sugar in your coffee.

It's quite elegant isn't it? You drink the coffee that the slaves of Africa and Colombia have picked for you and you add the sugar the slaves of Haiti have cut for you.

There is no slavery in America you say...we exported it to the rest of the world so we could have a five dollar coffee at Starbucks.. Reconcile that in your pay five dollars for a coffee and the person that picked those beans and cut that cane wont make five dollars in a week, hell they never make a dime. They get a voucher for some year old rice that was DONATED by the world food program . So why does your coffee cost so much? It couldn't be corporate greed could it?
Why are you still supporting Starbucks and Tim Hortons and the rest of them? It couldn't be because you are thinking having slaves make my coffee is a great idea? Could it?

check out the Price of

Do yourself a favour and spend an extra two minutes buying your sugar and coffee..look for the Fair Trade label. Understand that for Americans you may have to work a little harder finding non slave sugar. Your government has an agreement with the DR that means you pay twice as much for sugar as anyone else in the world and because sugar is owned by only three companies it is a complete monopoly that endorses and supports slavery. Your tax dollars at work.
Did anyone ever wonder where all those "true" internet stories came from about artificial sweeteners? Why it couldn't have come from the sugar monopoly could it? Why ever would a monopoly worth trillions of dollars start a rumour that some artificial sugar replacements cause cancer? I mean it does right? If you feed a rat a billion spoonfuls twenty four hours a day for a year the rat sometimes gets sick and we all know that all humans if given a chance will eat artificial sweeteners by the pound twenty four hours a's because we are almost cousins to rats and we are bound to share the exact same complications right?
Isn't it fun when giant corporations are free to manipulate the media?
Can one of you ask Mr Obama or Mrs Clinton if they will continue to honour the DR agreement...ask them how much longer are they willing to be proud supporters of slavery.

Friday, March 14, 2008

heading for a ditch

Do you have any obligation to tell someone when their behaviour has crossed a line? I mean anyone... family,friend or complete stranger. I guess it really doesn't matter who it is when you have already decided where the line is and who crossed it does it?
I guess what I wonder is when did we all begin to think so individually and when did we all collectively decide it is was perfectly okay for us to start imposing that on other people?
It used to be the church/government of your choice made the rules and you followed them and made a point to make your kids follow them too without really feeling the need to demand that everybody else in the Walmart had to too.
When did this change?
I guess the internet has changed too. Used to be a pretty basic set of rules to follow but now it seems those rules just didn't have the necessary scope and depth to make everyone happy.
And when did individual happiness become so mandatory it became the responsibility of random strangers?

This is what I read all the time; some modestly literate "humour" essayist writes something that some people react to with an almost visceral horror and promptly three other groups emerge to demand that everyone play by MY rules damn it.
First we have the visceral horror people gasping and choking, then the opposite side shows up, contemptuous and condescending , then the let's all just get along crew steps in quickly followed by some preteen dork group making fun of everyone and embarrassing himself with the significant lack of quality in his dick jokes. Okay, so the last group isn't a group really.
But what's more important or interesting is when did we all lose our social inhibitions?
It's no longer the province of the web to confront and condescend. It is everywhere now and what I want to know is when did it happen and have we reached a critical mass yet and will we soon see real live people beating the crap out of each other over the relevance of mommy bloggers?
Yes, I thought Violent Acres went a little far and may have had a small sip of the kool aid but am I ready to challenge her to a duel? If I saw her on the street would I stop the car to argue her point? No.
I am trying to find my way back to the simple rules. Don't spam anybody and if you don't like something move the fuck on and stop being a pussy .
I find it's best to keep it simple as I get older.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I usually like the sound of rain but tonight it just makes me feel sad. As if this winter is never going to end and the sun will never reappear. I think I need to stop watching movies about the war. In Canada we have no tradition for making movies about the wars we have fought. I rely on American movies and I guess it just doesn't cut it for me.
I am a supporter of the war in Afghanistan. I support the work we are doing. I understand that it is sometimes brutal, fatal work but in my heart I believe the Afghani people are worth it. And that is who we are fighting for. Not some bullshit war on terrorism, not spreading democracy ..just a war to stop a group of people intent on enslaving the minds and bodies of their parents, their friends, their lovers. I think we are there to allow regular people to finally take a deep breath and find their bearings once again. To return to being people.
I don't believe we can fix Afghanistan or make it perfect and safe. That is what the Afghanis themselves have to choose. I guess we are there so they can make that choice.
They can see the new roads, the clinics, the schools. They can see new industry and the potential for jobs. All we can do is build the potential and hold our breath and hope they choose it.
This takes time. It's hard to stop fighting when fighting is all you have ever known. Fighting gives you power and power is a hard thing to give away.
I don't want any more Canadians to die or be hurt. I want the Afghani people to protect them. To embrace them and keep them safe. We have given them to you as a gift. Why can't you love them like we do?

Be safe.

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