[saymaListserv] Fwd: Re: Monthly ECN Connections
jhminshall at attbi.com
Sat Jun 28 13:46:25 JEST 2003
Hi Kim, Thanks for your response. I,too, thought this was more than
just a message from one Friend to another and so I included all SAYMA
Friends (as best the Kitenet list reflects all SAYMA Friends) in my
reply and reprinted the whole epistle that I was responding to. In
this message I have included the complete chain of messages so that
anyone who is interested and who did not see the earlier ones can
join fully in the discussion.
I really appreciate your being so straightforward in your message.
It highlights a concern I've had for awhile about middle class
Friends assuming that they think like, and can say speak for, people
living in LDCs (Less Developed Countries) to explain how they feel
about working in a business developed by Americans or Western
Europeans, and how that affects their culture and the rest of their
lives. In fact, the epistle just transfers the frustrations,
problems and feelings of people working in the US to others who live
in very different cultures and have very different concerns and
I have done some work, partly supported by SAYMA funds, twice in
Africa -- once in 1986 and again later in 1988. In both instances I
was hoping to start, with the help and guidance of East African
Friends, an economic development project which would express the
concerns of US Friends. This was not a leading "out of the blue" but
rather the dying wish for continuance of work begun by Marjorie Fox,
a Philadelphia Friend. Marjorie sojourned with Atlanta Friends while
in chemo-therapy for cancer at a local hospital. When it was clear
that she was not winning her cancer battle, she let it be known that
she fervently hoped the work she had done in East Africa would
continue after she died.
What I learned in East Africa was life-changing. It concerned
cultural differences and how they literally blind us to cultures
apart from our own. I think what I'm saying can be best expressed by
the following exchange of letters the initial one written by a SAYMA
Friend to Jack Powelson, an emeritus professor of Economics at the
University of Colorado. I serve on the Editorial Board for his free
online newsletter "The Quaker Economist", and responded not knowing
if he had the time to respond himself:
the problem is that the "unfettered" competition is causing illness
by pollution, global warming and is depleting sustainable resources.
At some point the cost of illness and environmental change has to be
figured in the buying and selling prices. Also it is unfair to the
entire globe to make products in places where there is no effective
lobby to protect the environment - Regulation is probably the least
way - but someone need so to pay for the dollars in health care and
In addition, from health statistics, we know that small farmers are
healthier when then can sell their products. Large factory farms
undercut them and cause them to move to cities. American farmers are
subsidized by cheap fuel, wonderful roads, and generous benefits.
You are right, it would be better if there was less regulation, but
only when subsidies to favor rich countries were also eliminated.
My response was:
I don't know if Jack will answer your most recent message or not.
Since you and I have nearly had this conversation several times at
yearly meeting, I thought I'd give you my two cents worth.
You're trying to change the system to what YOU think it should be
whereas, if the decision were left to the people in developing
countries the answers would be different. You have worked in India
and I in Africa. We know, because we have seen it first hand, that
huge wooded areas have been denuded by local people who are desperate
for firewood to cook with and to burn for heat. The consciousness of
the people I've spoken with in Africa is completely concentrated on
immediate survival and they really do not give a hang about the
environment or the expansion of the desert into previously arable
land or the depletion of sustainable resources.
But while they spend much of their time searching for anything that
will burn, what they really want is the opportunity to work. They
don't care if American workers make twice as much for the work that's
offered. They realize to some extent that their country is without
infrastructure and so the companies that relocate there will have to
build and maintain roads, and a water supply and generators and a
more functional communications system in order to have what they need
to begin to produce. The ordinary people just want the chance to
begin earning and saving so that after they have repaired their
houses and have bought clothes for their children, they can then work
toward things like electrical wiring and indoor plumbing for
themselves. And the women, who now walk miles a day carrying water,
want to save together to install a hand or electrical pump nearby.
You can talk to them until you lose your voice and while they may say
they understand and agree with you you will not really have changed
their priorities until you change their economic situation. What
economists have learned from studying economic history is that people
need a higher standard of living and some economic security in order
to care about larger, less immediate issues. Once they have more,
they begin to think about things like pollution, population control
and even global warming. It happens mostly by itself. We don't
really have to convince them of anything. What our multinational
corporations can do and are doing is to give them the opportunity to
Unless you recognize the change of consciousness which follows
economic development, you'll never understand how to effectively
change economic realities. You cannot start at the end point (the
environment and global warming). You have to start closer to the
beginning (economic development and jobs).
There is an exceptionally good 18-page insert called A Survey of The
Global Environment in The Economist magazine of July 6th to 12th
which supports many of your concerns but enlarges the discussion to
include comments and related issues from economists.
Best Regards, Janet
From: "Kim Carlyle" <kcarlyle at main.nc.us>
To: "Janet Minshall" <jhminshall at attbi.com>
Cc: "Listserve SAYMA" <sayma at kitenet.net>
Subject: Re: [saymaListserv] Re: Monthly ECN Connections
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 18:32:11 -0400
Dear Janet (and SAYMA Friends),
Thank you for your interest in and appreciation of the work of FCUN. I'm a
bit puzzled about why the response was copied to our yearly meeting
listserve, perhaps it was a mistake. In any event, it provides the
opportunity to raise awareness among Friends, as is our intention in the
closing of the epistle: "We ask monthly meetings and individual Friends to
inform themselves as fully as possible about the proposed Free Trade Area of
the Americas, and to seek Divine Guidance in considering how to fulfill our
obligations, as citizens of the United States and the world, to promote
peace, justice, and the restoration of the earth's ecological integrity."
Your criticisms are justified. Many readers would interpret the statements
as you did. Your comments will be helpful as we continue to seek truth on
these issues. Please allow me, however, to explain the intent of these
statements to which you have raised concerns.
The FCUN epistle was a collaboration of many Friends in consultation with
AFSC folks who are working on these issues. Regarding the first objection, I
consulted with the source of this particular phrasing who explained that the
reaction was "as if it said people are generally getting poorer in monetary
terms and in relation to the things money can buy. It does not say that. It
says 'the conditions of life are worsening.' This is a very much different
consideration, and I think can be supported on many objective grounds. In
human and social terms the conditions of life for people working, for
example, long hours in low wage factory jobs in toxic environments are
frequently worse than the conditions of subsistence village life they, or
their parents, have left. The modernization of poverty is a relative
consideration with respect to the environmental and social conditions in
which people live. People who live in urban areas are frequently worse off
even though they have more money than they were when they lived in a rural
village. They are at a much greater comparative disadvantage with respect to
the economic world around them than are those who have not become dependent
on transnational capital. These may seem to some folks like rather subtle
points, but an analysis that does not take them into account is not seeing
the whole picture.
"Further to the discussion, I chose the word "impoverished" precisely
because is does not mean simply a lack of money. It means, as well,
'deprived of natural
richness and strength.' It includes quality of life considerations and how
people feel about the way things are going for them. Plenty of people, even
in the U.S., have money in their pocket but have a sense that the conditions
of life are worsening, that their own life, and the environment of life in
general, is increasingly being 'deprived of natural richness and strength.'
Again, this may seem a little subtle, but it is an important reality."
Regarding the second objection, perhaps the numbers from some statistical
analyses do indicate that there are more people employed (and perhaps the
exact phrasing in the epistle might have been better), but the point is that
while quantity may have increased, quality of employment has declined. Are
temporary workers included in the statistic? Child laborers? Are the workers
properly compensated? The list of questions goes on. The real issues are
employment security, income security, and adequate income.
Again, from one of the authors: "The issue is not whether transnationals
create jobs, but whether those jobs exist in a reasonably sustainable and
supportive socioeconomic context. If they don't, then the statistics give a
false picture of the situation. The plant moves on, the jobs disappear,
people left behind are worse off than before. The jobs may reappear
elsewhere. More plants get built in the lowest wage areas and the
employment figures keep looking positive. But human development and the
development of human communities in healthy ecosystems is not at the heart
of the process. Economists will say that's not what business is for."
But, as Friends, perhaps we have a duty to help change the way business is
done so that it not only includes the concepts of human betterment and
ecological integrity, but makes them a priority.
To explore these issues further, Quaker Eco-Witness will devote the next
issue of "Quaker Eco-Bulletin" to international trade agreements. Friends
can subscribe electronically to QEB by sending a message to QEW at FCUN.org.
QEB is also distributed as an insert to "BeFriending Creation," FCUN's
bi-monthly newsletter. Subscribe by sending a message to FCUN at FCUN.org. Also
if you would like to be included in the distribution of SAYMA's Ecological
Concerns Network newsletter (the source of this exchange), "ECN
Connections," please let me know.
Thanks again, Janet (and SAYMA Friends).
SAYMA representative to FCUN
----- Original Message -----
From: "Janet Minshall" <jhminshall at attbi.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2003 1:45 PM
Subject: [saymaListserv] Re: Monthly ECN Connections
> ...There are two quotes which very much need correction:
> "...wealth increases for the already wealthy while conditions of life
> worsen for many impoverished people worldwide."
> "Although the agreements are promoted in terms of creating jobs
> and reducing poverty,there are now more unemployed and impoverished
>Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 13:45:22 -0400
>To: "Susan Carlyle" <scarlyle at main.nc.us>
>From: Janet Minshall <jhminshall at attbi.com>
>Subject: Re: Monthly ECN Connections
>Cc: sayma at kitenet.net
>Dear Susan Carlyle, I really appreciate the work you and Kim do on
>behalf of the environment both in SAYMA and in FCUN. I agree with
>much of what is written by/for FCUN. In response to the epistle
>submitted by Kim I too am concerned that the media do not provide
>full and accurate information. I am more concerned, however, that
>Friends are picking up inaccurate information from other sources and
>passing it on as established fact.
>There are two quotes which very much need correction:
>"...wealth increases for the already wealthy while conditions of life steadily
>worsen for many impoverished people worldwide."
>"Although the agreements are promoted in terms of creating jobs
>and reducing poverty,there are now more unemployed and impoverished people."
>The two statements quoted above from the June ECN Connections in the
>epistle from FCUN are not factual. Yes, "wealth increases for the
>already wealthy", but "conditions of life do not steadily worsen for
>many impoverished people." In fact, according to United Nations
>data, conditions of life and average incomes have steadily risen all
>over the world for many, many years.
>Actually, the only places in the world where poverty is still
>increasing are in remote areas of China and India. These are areas
>where one aspect of globalization,moving jobs away from affluent
>workers in the US to impoverished workers in the rest of the world,
>has not yet reached. Everywhere that globalization has reached both
>employment and incomes have increased, sometimes dramatically, for
>I know this is contrary to the information you have been given, but
>it is true. Those who oppose globalization and the actions of
>multinational corporations most aggressively are the US labor unions
>which do not want US jobs and union dues, on which they depend
>financially, to fall. Powerful labor unions, unfortunately, are the
>source of much of the misinformation repeated as fact among Friends.
>Similarly, some NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) which serve
>the poor realize that their mandate is fast disappearing as the poor
>they serve are brought out of poverty.
>Please have someone in FCUN do the research from unbiased sources
>such as the relevant committees of the United Nations and write
>about it for Friends. It will show that what I am saying here is
>true. Sincerely, Janet Minshall
>>from ECN Connections- June 2003
>>An Epistle from Friends Committee on Unity with Nature on the FTAA
>>To Friends Everywhere:
>>Those of us who are U.S. citizens have witnessed with horror and shame as
>>our government has undermined international treaties and institutions, used
>>an endless "War on Terror" as a pretext for permanently enlarging its
>>powers, embraced a doctrine of preemptive war, and invaded Iraq. We are now
>>faced with the prospect of another U.S. initiative, the proposed Free Trade
>>Area of the Americas (FTAA), that we believe will intensify social injustice
>>and institutional and ecological violence, and lead to more physical
>>Human activities damaging to the earth's ecosystems continue to expand, and
>>wealth increases for the already wealthy while conditions of life steadily
>>worsen for many impoverished people worldwide. U.S. government policies and
>>the international trade agreements they have promoted, instead of remedying
>>these inequities, seem to be intensifying them.
>>In truth, these agreements have primarily promoted the productivity and
>>profitability of large corporations by reducing legal constraints on their
>>activities. Although the agreements are promoted in terms of creating jobs
>>and reducing poverty, there are now more unemployed and impoverished people.
>>In addition, more land and resources have been diverted to the corporate
>>industrial process, wealth and power are more concentrated, the biosphere is
>>more polluted, and the ability of governments to promote general welfare has
>>Expanding international trade already taxes the environment by increasing
>>the use of fossil fuels and the rate at which fragile ecosystems are
>>exploited. Treaties like the earlier NAFTA and the proposed FTAA exacerbate
>>this stress by granting "rights" to corporations which supercede and can
>>even nullify national and local laws intended to protect people and the
>>environment. The proposed FTAA would impose in this hemisphere additional
>>"rights" for global corporate and financial interests that the community of
>>nations has previously refused to grant through the World Trade
>>Friends Committee on Unity with Nature is concerned that the U.S. media do
>>not provide full and accurate information about the effects of current trade
>>and investment policies on working people, on the impoverished, and on local
>>ecosystems in other nations and in our own. We are further concerned that
>>the secrecy of the FTAA negotiations has severely limited public knowledge
>>of and consultation on its process.
>>On a finite planet, policies that give priority to assuring high returns on
>>the speculative financial investments of the already wealthy cannot lead to
>>either conservation or right sharing of the Earth's resources. Right
>>sharing, conservation, and restoring the Earth's ecological integrity must
>>become the priorities of public policy.
>>We believe this issue is as urgent as the new doctrine of preemptive war,
>>and one that Friends cannot in good conscience ignore. We are grateful for
>>the leadership of the American Friends Service Committee in the Interfaith
>>Working Group on International Trade and Investment and support the
>>principles advanced in the statement, "An Interfaith Statement on
>>International Trade and Investment."
>>We ask monthly meetings and individual Friends to inform themselves as fully
>>as possible about the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, and to seek
>>Divine Guidance in considering how to fulfill our obligations, as citizens
>>of the United States and the world, to promote peace, justice, and the
>>restoration of the earth's ecological integrity.
>>--submitted by Kim Carlyle
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