The following piece, “‘Money Values’ vs. ‘Life Values'” is chapter 8 in the book Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom (itself based on an Internet-based talk radio show of the same name I did in times past). My educated and humane partner in dialogue is noted author and thought leader, Kevin Danaher, Ph.D. His words are indicated by the initials K.D., and mine are J.M. For paragraphs with no initials, assume they are a continuation of the speaker who was speaking in the previous paragraph. I highlight words having to do with values and virtues by placing them in boldface type. Enjoy this look at “money values” vs. “life values,” based on Kevin’s characterization of two ways of organizing our economic system.
“If business comes with no moralsympathy, no honorable code of behavior, God help us all.” ~ Anita Roddick
J.M. Hello and welcome to Values and Ethics: from Living Room to Boardroom. I’m your host, Jason Merchey. I founded www.ValuesoftheWise.com to explore and provide inspiration for living a life that is characterized by one’s values and prioritizes the pursuit of virtue.
Not all values are equivalent; after all, the burglar values secrecy, callousness, and greed. In today’s society, there are values that could be considered “good” and “prosocial,” and those that I would think could be called egocentric. Some values contribute to others, serve, and do no harm; others are the opposite (for a tidy list of “bad” values, think of “the seven deadly sins”). Little good can come of jealousy; acquisitiveness can easily lead to obsession and tunnel-vision; too much sugar, nicotine, or alcohol has its costs. Perhaps characterizing values based on whether they perpetuate greed, selfishness, and materialism (or not) is done wisely by my guest today, the inimitable Kevin Danaher, Ph.D.
“Power that controls the economy should be in the hands of elected representatives of the people instead of an industrial oligarchy.” ~ William O. Douglas
…Dr. Danaher is a noted thinker, activist, author, and organizer. He is also co-founder of Global Exchange, the well-regarded human rights organization based in San Francisco. Kevin received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author or editor of 11 books, including his latest, Insurrection: Citizen Challenges to Corporate Power (with co-author Jason Mark). It features a forward by the passionate Arianna Huffington and an endorsement by the righteous populist writer and activist, Jim Hightower.
72% of Americans feel that corporations have too much power. I’m not sure that a significant percentage of the population believes that a corporation ought to be illegal, disbanded, and made completely passé, but, nevertheless, there are many problems with the ways that corporations interact with people that work for them, the environment, citizens of other countries, and international law. The fact that they operate internationally, store profits in any number of favorable tax havens, and see billions of dollars come in and out of their coffers makes this phenomenon particularly thorny and complex. These behemoths can go badly awry due to the values they hold – as well as the power at their disposal. From Citizens United and McCutcheon v. FEC, to Enron, WorldCom and AIG, mistakes and misdeeds at this level can have catastrophic effects.
Happily, my guest today is going to help me understand globalization and other related topics. I have a definite interest in his latest book, where he boldly plants a flag on a tall hill in “the commons” and exclaims, “You shall come no farther!”
“Does bucking the forces of a globalized, gas-guzzling sweatshop economy sometimes seem hopeless? Do you find it outrageous that Walmart has become America’s biggest private employer? Are you weary of hearing about outsourcing, downsizing, and the latest ‘mega-merger’?” ~ Fran Korten
…Interesting questions. I’m pleased to speak today to a man who knows a lot about globalization, economics, and progressivism. He has been described by the New York Times as “the Paul Revere of globalization’s woes.” Welcome, Kevin Danaher, Ph.D.
KD: Thanks, Jason, hi; it’s good to be on the air with you.
J.M. Great, nice to talk with you in person finally. Did you hear those questions that Fran Korten posed?
KD: Yeah, I think what we’re confronting here is that we are in the early stages of a paradigm shift. The transnational corporation has to be seen as one element of larger, historic transition. For 500 years, the model that has dominated the planet has been: Money Values, Violence, & God is on Our Side.
The money values was incipient capitalism, bringing forth from northwestern Europe the technologies of violence: gunpowder, mounting cannons on sailing ships, and the slave trade allowed these plunderers to conquer people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They built up this justification based on Christianity that, “We’re bringing these people to Christ; we’re introducing them to God by killing them.” Literally, that’s what they were saying.
Now, I think we’re transitioning to a set of values that’s quite different. I am talking about life values (human rights and the environment); non-violence (you can’t convince people of your position by hurting them); and lastly, God (however you want to define that – some white guy with a beard in robes upon a cloud, or the life-force of the universe – does not take sides in intra-species conflicts). When red ants and black ants fight, no higher being is going to get involved in that. If Christian fundamentalists and Muslim fundamentalists want to kill each other, God isn’t going to take one side or the other— yet that’s what those groups are saying. I think you see that mentality dying. Similarly, these people whose ideology and spirituality can’t handle science— they’re against evolution, they’re against female equality.
“The notion that ‘globalization’ and ‘free trade’ comprise an overarching belief system…gives new depth to the term ‘shallow.’ These two vacuous concepts embody no framework for a civil society – no Bill of Rights, no social contract, no ethos of fairness and justice, no religious and/or moral conscience….. All of this has been done without the approval of the American people, who consistently have opposed these ‘free trade’ schemes for being the Wall Street scams they are.” ~ Jim Hightower
…Whereas, in our social justice/human rights/environmental/ grassroots movement, all around the world, our spirituality embraces science. We see no division between our spirituality and our science. We have a natural economic model, called biomimetic – look at how nature did it and then follow that. Don’t try to put the wind in a box, be more like a surfer who “rides nature.”
We are creating a “green economy revolution” around the world: green building materials and renewable energy and recycling and composting and removing things from the waste stream and turning them into saleable products. The growth rates in those sectors are far greater than any of the traditional markets— except for maybe weaponry, which they make a lot of profit on.
The transnational corporation – the major institutional vehicle of that old system – is now under attack, which we document in our book, Insurrection. There are many, but two of the fundamental flaws that are built into that transnational corporate model are: first, they are not “rooted in place:” they have no patriotism to any specific country; they will shut a factory and leave a town to die, as we’ve seen throughout our heartland/industrial area up in the Midwest and Northeast.
The second problem is: they destroy nature. A 2,000-year-old redwood tree is not a gift of the creator, it’s $300,000 worth of lumber on the lumber market. Cut it down. I was recently in British Columbia, flying over a clear-cut area, and it’s just obscene. So, if your economic model is, What’s alive has no value – that it’s only when you kill something and turn it into a marketable commodity (i.e., a fish has no value unless it is harvested and sold) – you will destroy nature.
“Don’t you draw the Queen of Diamonds, boy/ She’ll beat you if she’s able;/ You know, the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.” ~ Don Henley
…So now, coming up in opposition is a replacement economic system that says, Ok, what’s the opposite of that? The opposite is the locally-owned, “green” economy. That’s where I focus my energy these days: trying to foment relationships. The Green Festival, for example, is a weekend hub where we bring together thousands of people who are promoting the local, green economy. We are expanding now to three cities: San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Chicago – and hopefully other cities such as San Diego.
J.M.: Christopher Hitchens, who I have some mixed feelings about, said this, which I think is worth noting: “The next phase or epoch is clearly discernible: it is the fight to extend the concept of universal human rights and to match the globalization of production with the globalization of a common standard of justice and ethics.” That’s pretty consistent with what you’re describing, right?
KD: Yes. If you look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was written in 1948! (thank you Eleanor Roosevelt – she was one of the key players in the advent of that milestone), and just pick one article, 23, it holds that “Every human being has the right to a job.” Just that one sentence alone would require a revolution to enforce. So, there is a huge gap between the existing system as it operates, and the documents that have been signed by the leaders of that system, and they don’t live up to their pledge.
“Globalization, more than anything else, has reduced the number of extreme poor in India by 200 million [people] and in China by 300 million since 1990.” ~ Jeffrey Sachs
…Whenever a system is in direct and severe contradiction to its stated values, it’s going to collapse. I think if you look at the Soviet Union under Communism, the leaders are preaching all the stuff about equality to the workers, yet are living in mansions, shopping in special stores, riding in limousines, never mingling with people, and the like — that’s a system doomed to crash.
I think we have the same thing going on here; we have leaders who would never ride the bus that I take on Mission Street, they never have to worry about unemployment or a mortgage or anything like that, they’re very wealthy and powerful, in Congress they give themselves salary increases— but they’re preaching democracy. That’s a system that is headed for failure.
J.M. Hmmm… I like the way that you started off by contrasting money values and life values; that’s superb because I sometimes try to bring the idea of underlying values into a topic, but might not be as explicit as you quickly made it.
“Globalization was supposed to break down barriers between continents and bring all peoples together. But what kind of globalization do we have with over one billion people on the planet not having safe water to drink?” ~ Mikhail Gorbachev
KD: Yeah, I would argue that we’re in the beginning stages, or maybe even sort of the middle stages, of the first-ever global revolution. All revolutions to date were national in scope: they sought to seize power in the capital and establish a different kind of nation. Look back at 1994 when the Zapatistas rose up in Mexico: they did not rise up saying, “We’re seizing power in Mexico City and we’re going to run Mexico differently.” They rose up saying, “We are rising up against a particular kind of system that is global.” They referred to it as neoliberalism: this big, corporate model that’s all about money. They claimed they would rather die on their feet than live on their knees – their forests were being destroyed and their children were going hungry, and therefore they chose to fight. They didn’t really expect to seize power militarily, but they made a statement that resonated around the world and generated so much solidarity that it was impossible for the Mexican government to crush them. I know because here in San Francisco, we went down and immediately occupied the Mexican consulate, saying “We’re not leaving until you get on the phone to your government and tell them to back off!”
I believe we’re at a “tipping point” here where the contrast between what is and what could be has never been more severe. We have the capability of inventing and implementing renewable energy and buildings made of green products and recycled products and reducing our carbon footprint and feeding all the children…
“Many people today think that the Tea Act—which led to the Boston Tea Party—was simply an increase in the taxes on tea paid by the American colonists. That’s where the whole “Taxation Without Representation” meme came from. Instead, the purpose of the Tea Act was to give the East India Company full and unlimited access to the American tea trade and to exempt the company from having to pay taxes to Britain on tea exported to the American colonies. It even gave the company a tax refund on millions of pounds of tea that it was unable to sell and holding in inventory. In other words, the Tea Act was the largest corporate tax break in the history of the world.” ~ Thom Hartmann
…So, that capability contrasts with the Bush administration wasting hundreds of billions of dollars killing human beings in Iraq, making people hate us, denying that there is global warming, and all this other stuff. If you look at the biological/natural world, when you get an intensification of a frequency such that it reaches a point where “BOOM!” there’s a breakthrough, something new and something different can come into being — either the system breaks down, or something new replaces the existing one.
I think that’s what we need to do within our movement— to shift from a “protest” culture to a “let’s get ready to rule” footing. My analogy is: the Titanic is sinking (corporate rule/corporate power); it has hit the iceberg of unsustainability, so we have two choices: we can either run around the decks screaming, “I protest!”, or we can build the next boat – a well-designed, wind-powered one – pull up alongside the Titanic with a party on deck; people will willingly come aboard. Remember, Dr. King didn’t say “I have a complaint,” he said, “I have a dream.”
J.M.: I just want to be sure that it is fully clear what the current situation is with corporations. I say that because sometimes corporations, who have an influence on the media and have incredible influence on the government, will tend to marginalize the argument against its omnipotence in service of the status quo. For example, making the Zapatistas look crazy, fighting Erin Brockovich every step of the way, or making the protesters at Seattle seem like they are merely violent rabble. Frankly, examples are plentiful. Corporations get goods to market, and employ people, but those are two benefits atop a fairly short list.
So, is it fair to say that corporations have interests that are not compatible with the community, as a whole, more often than not?
“As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it’s going to set policy in the special interests it serves, but the conditions of survival – let alone justice – require rational social planning in the interest of the community as a whole, and by now that means ‘the global community.’” ~ Noam Chomsky
KD: Yeah, bring it down to a scale where we’ve got ten people in a room and we are building a team. There are two white males, and everybody else is either female or a person of color. We propose that the two white males do all of the decision-making. Immediately, the others would say “Whoa, wait a minute.” Aside from it being racist, it just doesn’t make sense in terms of tapping all the wisdom in the room.
What if somebody proposed that the United States has lesbian carpenters run the government? People would say, “Look, no offense to lesbian carpenters, but they’re a small percentage of the U.S. population.” White, male, very wealthy, corporate lawyers are not a large percentage of the U.S. population, but they are who hold power.
That’s why you have bad mass transit— because they don’t ride mass transit. It’s why we don’t have a good pension retirement system— because they are wealthy and don’t have to worry about their retirement. We don’t have good housing poicies because they can afford the best. We don’t have good food policies. Our leaders have socialism, in a certain sense, and the rest of us have capitalism.
That disconnect is noteworthy. How does nature do it? It always has a feedback loop – like the thermostat in your house. If the people controlling mass transit never ride the bus, then you don’t have a complete feedback loop; they don’t know the conditions. The guy here in San Francisco who runs our bus system, as part of his salary (probably $150,000 a year), receives a car as a perk. Don’t give him a car; give him a bus pass!
If we structure our governance in an inclusionary way, rather than exclusionary, we’re going to tap more knowledge and more wisdom from a diverse public. Remember, the U.S. is the most diverse population on the planet, and we are maximizing our potential.
J.M.: I hear you talking about money values versus life values; it would seem wise and good to include all 10 people in the room in both the decision-making, as well as the responsibilities. Obviously, if you marginalize and exclude a lot of those people, then you’re not benefitting from the latent potential – to look at it from a utilitarian perspective. So, it does seem to make sense from so many angles to try to make alterations to the current system. Your book, Insurrection notes that half of the world’s 100 largest economies are not nations, but corporations; I don’t know if a person can easily grasp the bizarreness of that.
“If the right to accumulate property is not constrained by the duty of distributive justice, the gap between the haves and the have-nots will become greater and greater.” ~ Judith A. Boss
KD: I’ll give you a very concrete example. This building that we’re working on doing, the Global Citizen Center, is a prototype that could be reproduced in other cities— we would simply give the knowledge away to people so that we could proliferate these and create a global network. It’s bringing together ground-floor, “Greenmart” (the opposite of Walmart) with offices of social justice, human rights groups, environmental groups, the city department of the environment, media companies that are hip, youth groups, elder groups, all sorts of activist organizations, and maybe affordable housing (so they could live in the same building they work in).
This features a revenue model that “throws off cash,” but instead of going into the hands of some corporate plutocrat, because we’re nonprofit, it would go back into the neighborhood. If there is a vacant lot, let’s make a park out of it; if there is a school that needs books, let’s fund it; those kinds of things. The building actually becomes a community foundation as well as being a place where people can rent space.
Now, people go: “Oh man, that’s a big vision! You want to do them around the world?” Well, if I had McDonald’s advertising budget for one year, we could do about 400 of these buildings in major cities around the world. So, that’s the relative power that their money has.
J.M.: Hmm. So, with 500 companies controlling 70% of the world’s trade, you definitely have the ascension of money values. What are the chances of change being positive in the future?
KD: Well, we showed that we can stop these guys when we were out in the streets of Seattle in November, 1999 – when the World Trade Organization (WTO) made the blunder of leaving Geneva, Switzerland for the United States and picked Seattle (home of the Northwest’s logging industry, and all the nonviolent direct action struggles)! Well, we put 50,000 people out in the streets. Same in Cancun. And their recent DOHA round of negotiations have collapsed.
“If we don’t turn around now, we just might get where we’re going.” ~ American Indian proverb
…So, with these big corporations – that’s who’s behind the WTO and so-called “free trade” – the biggest players are always going to argue for no barriers, for the biggest market possible, because a global market favors those who can operate globally. Actually, 73% of the U.S.’s economy is not linked to foreign trade; only 27% is – but that tends to be big companies. They’re arguing to get rid of barriers, to get rid of tariffs (a tax on transnational corporations).
Further, they have used the power of their size to literally bankrupt our government. On the one hand, they can demand more services from the government; on the other, they can avoid taxation. They move their profits, for if you are operating in 15 countries, you put your profit on the books in the country with the lowest taxes, and in the countries with the higher taxes, you show no profit at all. They do that all the time; they have whole professional journals focused just on that one issue.
Our debt is over $20 trillion (in 2017 dollars, and rising); that’s many times the debt of all third world debt combined. Yet, Washington officials are going to poor countries saying, “Hey, you’re in debt, you’ve got to cut your social services.” It gives hypocrisy a bad name. It’s terrible.
“The greatest weapon of mass destruction is corporate economic globalization.” ~ Kenny Ausubel
J.M.: Insurrection’s publishers write: “Corporations have gained in political power, but they have lost in legitimacy. A growing number of people— environmental activists, trade unionists, family farmers – are challenging the power of giant corporations, demanding that they be held accountable to someone other than their shareholders.” I would ask you: Do you think this model is superior to the current capitalistic model? I think a capitalist would say, “If you let the market run things, then you’re going to have a certain sense of efficiency and productivity that outcompeted the socialism that obviously failed with Soviet Communism and other “pie in the sky ideas.” What do you think about that?
KD: Well, the word efficiency is important to “unpack.” I was just up in British Columbia and we sailed past one of the many lumber mills, and the smoke and stench was drifting down into the bay and fouling the air for thousands and thousands of other people – and God knows what it’s doing to the other species out there! In my neighborhood, if I took my garbage and threw it out into a public space, I would probably get fined or arrested, as should be the case.
As can be seen from this example, you have corporations dumping all sorts of waste into our air and our water and our soil, and they’re getting away with it. From the standpoint of that particular company, doing so is efficient because it’s cheaper to do that than if they were to clean it up themselves. They are socializing their expenses while privatizing their profit. That’s efficient for them just like it might be efficient for me to steal your wallet, but neither is good for the whole.
“Obviously any kind of economic growth which is not related to intrinsic values is neutral or detrimental. The measure of GNP is somehow related to the fierceness of activity in the society but this fierceness may very well have more to do with a lack of ability of the members of the society to engage in meaningful activity than a measure of something humanity should look upon with joy. There is no clear relation to life quality.” ~ Arne Naess
…So, what you’ve got is a “micro-rationale” for an individual firm that says, “Hey, if I can pollute this stream, and the fine I would pay is less than it would cost me to put in the technology to clean up my effluent…” That micro-rationale of profitability above all else, when added up to the macro-level, it’s a “macro-irrationality.”
That’s precisely why every biological system— the soil, the groundwater, the air, the ozone layer, the glaciers, the forests— everything – is collapsing. It’s mother nature saying, “Hey, wake up you morons! You can’t keep doing it this way.” The good news is that a growing percentage of the world’s people, especially scientists, the well-educated people, those of us who read books (not like President Bush) are saying: “Hey, wait a minute – we’ve got to change direction. We’re headed 80 miles per hour toward a brick wall!” Slowing down won’t help – we’ve got to swerve.
J.M.: When you were talking about how corporations tend to make decisions that are virtually antithetical to the values that you referred to as life values – human life, human flourishing, liberty, etc. – (in other words, money values) I was thinking about the Ford Pinto, back in the 70s, that when hit from behind, would often explode. If the listener doesn’t know that story, it’s pretty wild; it’s about the worst – or should I say, sociopathic – reasoning possible. A deplorable lack of civic duty. Using a gross and inhumane cost-benefit analysis, “the suits” determined that it would be preferable to just deal with $200,000 lawsuits compared to doing a recall costing nearly $150,000,000. Both Honda and Toyota have tried to sit quiet instead of initiating a proactive recall of vehicles that were found to have a defective element, as well…
“What is called ‘capitalism’ is basically a system of corporate mercantilism, with huge and largely unaccountable private tyrannies exercising vast control over the economy, political systems, and social and cultural life….” ~ Noam Chomsky
…I have a quotation by Ray Anderson that I think is apropos of that calculus, which is the epitome of money values. I’d like to get your take on it. It’s a little on the negative side, but I want to just make sure that folks really grasp the utter seriousness of the zeitgeist. Here is the quote by Anderson, the former CEO of a huge carpet manufacturer, Interface, Inc.:
“It dawned on me that the way I’d been running Interface was the way of the plunderer, plundering something that’s not mine, something that belongs to all creatures on Earth, and I said to myself, ‘The day must come when this is not legal, when such plundering is not allowed. Someday people like me will end up in jail.’”
It seems like a change of heart of the people who are running the corporations is the keystone that would change all of this – along with sticking them with fines, outlawing the modern corporation, etc. This decent and ashamed CEO had a change of heart, and it was very powerful. He was reading a book by Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce, and he resolved to change. Interface, as I understand it, is a decent company now, not dominated by money values. Thoughts?
KD: I know Ray Anderson, and I’m glad you quoted him. Hawken’s book is great, you’re right. Anderson is a super nice guy and very articulate – and a successful businessman, I might add. But very radical – because he realizes that we have got to change the direction we’re going.
“Mother’s milk would be banned by the food safety laws of industrialized nations if it were sold as a packaged good.” ~ Paul Hawken
…We must totally rework this economy so that there is no waste; everything we produce has to either go back into nature as compost, or go back into the industrial process. What we call recycling is really downcycling, because eventually it goes into the landfill as garbage. Well, we can’t support 6 billion (which will probably end up being eight or nine billion people!) on this planet if we keep that economic model, and businesspeople like Ray Anderson and Paul Hawken are realizing that we can’t keep doing business as usual.
So, what you hear now, in the circles I operate in, in trying to create a green economy is the phrase, triple bottom line. Triple bottom line is: a) financial sustainability (you have to make a profit or you go out of business); b) social equity (a concern with fairness, of different types); and c) environmental sustainability (you can’t destroy nature in the process of producing goods and services).
“Global economic justice is not just ethical; it is key to reversing the demise of our ecosystems, our spirituality, our connection with nature, our health, our children’s future, and humanity itself.” ~ Juliette Beck
…It’s being talked about by those of us who are pushing the envelope – not in this kind of “reservoir model” way (“Oh, if we take away from the financial, we can do the social and environmental”) – no! Companies should synergize, be like mussels pressing together for strength, so that they become more profitable by doing the right thing, socially and environmentally.
We’re starting to see that. There are companies like TerraCycle, started by a 24-year-old Canadian guy in Patterson, New Jersey. It produces a nutrient that you spray on your plants to make them grow better. It is recycled soda bottles taken out of the waste stream and utilizes liquid compost (worm poop, basically). So, you have waste wrapped in waste! It’s better than MiracleGro, which has a lot of chemicals in it. I use the stuff myself, it’s great. He is taking two products out of the waste stream and making tons of money. He’s profiting by helping nature, not by hurting it. The factory is in a poor part of Patterson, and people are lined up for jobs because they pay well.
Going back to your Walmart example, you’ll notice they are now going for solar energy and recycled paper and biodiesel fuel in their trucks and all this really cool environmental stuff that we would applaud. But, Walmart still has the impact of knocking small businesses out of business: when they come into an area, they take so much traffic away from preexisting business that literally, the “mom and pop companies” are getting smashed…
“We must ensure that the global markets are embedded in broadly shared values and practices that reflect global social needs, and that all the world’s people share the benefits of globalization.” ~ Kofi Annan
…I would encourage your listeners to check out a book named the SmallMart Revolution by Michael Shuman; it’s about how people are fighting back. It’s sort of a “how-to manual:” if you want to organize your community because Walmart is knocking people out, it’s got all this great information on how we can redirect our buying power toward the local, green economy. One example would be, you could have “Buy Local Month,” from the day after Thanksgiving to December 31; if we all just spent our money at locally-owned stores during that one month, all the “big box stores” would go out of business, because 40% of annual retail revenue happens during the Christmas shopping season. That’s nonviolent; it’s totally legal. It’s just an organizing challenge, is all. It is happening all over – the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, Local Exchange, Global Exchange, Co-Op America, Better World – all these different groups.
“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies….” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
J.M.: Mm-hmm. Thomas Friedman, whom you may know from his column or the books he’s written, is not only a globalization expert but an expert on the origins of terrorism. Well, allegedly. He says, “Managing globalization is a role from which America dare not shrink. It is our overarching theme today.” I think he’s right to point out that we must manage it. Do you know enough about him to know if you two are talking about it in the same way?
KD: Yeah, I think he’s a very good writer and very articulate and all that, but I think I would really disagree with him on fundamental political points. For example, he doesn’t see the negative side of globalization; for him, it’s all positive. He’s writing a chapter where he’s in India walking through one of these call centers, noting, “Oh, don’t think about it as though it’s taking away American jobs; this is more efficient, blah blah blah” (Kevin’s paraphrase). The question to ask him is, Would you let your sister work in that place in India? No, he wouldn’t.
We have a chapter in our book entitled: “Would You Want Your Sister to Work There?” Those women are our sisters. Take the correct spiritual position: we are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. If you wouldn’t want your biological sister to work there, then you wouldn’t want any of your other sisters to work there, either…
“Concern for the public good must become the animating force of our economic order.” ~ Marjorie Kelly
…And if we raise the minimum wage (we need to have a global minimum wage) – to say, $10,000 a year (which doesn’t sound like much to Americans, but that would be a huge increase for other people), that would create more buying power. They could buy more products and participate in the economy; if people are starving to death, you’re not going to sell them a cell phone or a computer or anything else. It is appalling to me, and a lot of other people, that here we have a global economy that creates so much wealth and we still have millions of people dying from the effect of hunger! One child every three seconds is dying from malnutrition. That’s totally unnecessary. There is enough food in the world, it’s just distributed so unevenly.
J.M.: Well, I can tell that you are indeed “the Paul Revere of globalization woes!” I appreciate very much being able to speak with you, and I haven’t thanked you in person for agreeing to allow me to publish your piece, “Buy Local Month” in the compilation of essays and quotations I recently put out, Living a Life of Value.
KD: I have a copy, it’s a great book!
J.M.: Thank you, sir. Jan Phillips, who wrote an interesting and important book very similar to what you heard here today – and whom I can proudly say was also featured in the book, Living a Life of Value – writes:
“Being against globalization is like being against wind. It is a force that is upon us, and it is presenting us with the greatest challenge of our lives—to tame the beast, to catalyze ourselves into a force greater than the force of greed, to shape a social mandate so genuinely moral, so unequivocal, so vigilantly protective of the rights of the whole body politic that it will be indisputable.”
…That’s a wonderful statement, and causes me to think about the way that terrorism is related to globalization. I can virtually guarantee that 9/11 and other tragedies and travesties would not have happened if we were not globalized in the way in which we are. This is in no small way related to the fact that we are addicted to oil here in the West; we directly or indirectly contribute to that system. We also sell more armaments and weaponry to the rest of the world than any other nation. We are also dogmatic when it comes to our religiosity. Terrorism is another piece of evidence as to why it would be not only moral, but wise to completely change the trajectory of globalization and capitalism. Hybridize it now with alternatives that are not destructive and don’t foment blowback. Let’s turn around now before we get where we are headed.
We are out of time I’m afraid. To the listener, if you’d like to read what Kevin has to say in that piece, listen on this page. There are also 74 other podcasts roughly in the same pitch (to use the musical term): examples from folks to inspire one to live a life that is not harmful to others or the community or the planet, and which also benefits oneself in many different ways. It’s finding meaning and fulfillment in doing something positive.
Kevin, thanks again for sharing all of your knowledge and wisdom; I found it very inspirational. It’s easy for me to speak with a sense of pessimism about the state of the world, but I can see that you really take those facts that could be thought of as depressing and turn them into motivation for moving forward in a positive way.
KD: Let me say real quick: There are two kinds of analysis: analysis of the way things are, and analysis of the way we can make things be. I think the second is an empowering thing.
J.M.: I like it. Well, good day, Kevin!
And now, a few more quotes that elucidate the difference between money values and life values:
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” ~ William Bruce Cameron
“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith
“One might say that the Titanic was not only a product of the Industrial Revolution but remains an apt metaphor for the industrial infrastructure that revolution created. Like the famous ship, this infrastructure is powered by brutish and artificial sources of energy that are environmentally depleting. It pours waste into the water and smoke into the sky. It attempts to work by its own rules, which are contrary to those of nature. Although it may seem invincible, the fundamental flaws in its design presage tragedy and disaster.” ~ William McDonough & Michael Braungart
“This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many.” ~ Barack Obama
“The lifestyle of the majority should be changed so that the material standard of living in the Western countries becomes universalisable within this century. A consumption over and above that which everyone can attain within the foreseeable future cannot be justified.” ~ Arne Naess
“Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” ~ Benito Mussolini
“We live at a time when almost everything can be bought and sold. Over the past three decades, markets – and market values – have come to govern our lives as never before.” ~ Michael J. Sandel
“Consider this: all the ants on the planet, taken together, have a biomass greater than that of humans. Ants have been incredibly industrious for millions of years. Yet their productiveness nourishes plants, animals, and soil. Human industry has been in full swing for little over a century, yet it has brought about a decline in almost every ecosystem on the planet. Nature doesn’t have a design problem – people do.” ~ William McDonough & Michael Braungart
“If the work makes money, it is time well spent. If the work is not profitable, it is a waste of our time; we have come to define ourselves by what we do to pay the bills. The question: ‘What do you do?’ generally means: ‘How do you make your living?’ It rarely has anything to do with the calling in one’s heart or the time we spend on creative work.” ~ Jan Phillips & Ruth Westreich
“Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching – even when doing the wrong thing is legal.” ~ Aldo Leopold
“Few of us are only our economic interests. We have beliefs. We have convictions. Corporations engage the political process in an entirely different way, and this is what makes them so much more damaging.” ~ Elena Kagan
“In national balance sheets economists seldom use full-cost accounting, which includes the loss of natural resources. A country can cut down all its trees, mine out its most profitable minerals, exhaust its fisheries, erode most of its soil, draw down its underground water, and count all the proceeds as income and none of the depletion as cost. It can pollute the environment and promote policies that crowd its populace into urban slums, without charging the result to overhead.” ~ Edward O. Wilson
“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” ~ Henry Ford
“Catch a man a fish, and you can sell it to him. Teach a man to fish, and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity.” ~ Karl Marx
“Many Americans hunger for a different kind of society – one based on principles of caring, ethical and spiritual sensitivity, and communal solidarity. Their need for meaning is just as intense as their need for economic security.” ~ Michael Lerner
“If we define an American fascist as one who, in case of conflict, puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. …They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.” ~ Henry A. Wallace
“From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America. From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America. From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick – come home, America.” ~ George S. McGovern
We could now reproduce our 1948 standard of living (measured in marketed goods and services) in less than half the time it took in 1948. We actually could have chosen the four-hour day. Or a working year of six months. ~ Juliet B. Schor
I welcome you to look up quotes about values in the Wisdom Archive. In it, you will find quotations, thoughts, paragraphs, sayings, and proverbs relevant to money values and life values.
Here is an interesting story about Kevin.