WHAT IF NIKE’S LOGO MEANT FOOD FOR THE POOR? IT DOESN’T, BUT WHAT IF? (ISSUE 138)
By Diane Gold
What if Nike’s logo meant food for the poor plus water, clothing, shelter, health care? Or Apple’s or ExxonMobil’s? What if these multinational corporations’
“primary goals were to clothe and feed the world’s poor in environmentally beneficial ways?”
This quote is from John Perkins’ Confessions of An Economic Hit Man who worked for powerful non-governmental United States companies whose job it was to get contracts with greedy leaders to use US firms to build electric grids in poor developing countries causing unsustainable debt through bank loans that had to be paid back, through default, by giving US land access to house military bases or discounts to access natural resources like oil.
IMPORTANT: MISSION OF THIS ARTICLE
Although existing multinationals may not change their mission from money and power to ethics and humanitarian concern, WE CAN build companies whose logos symbolize provision of food, water, clothing, shelter and health care to the poor as well as other companies who teach us, the poor included, self-sufficiency. We are not waiting for any company named in this article. We are collaborating: people, strategies, creativity and technology. This includes you and me, so let us be creative now; for it is time to build the concept.
Imagine Nike 2.0 Corporation, worth the $18 billion it is now, focusing its primary attention on helping people get adequate and healthy food, clothing and shelter. And all their artists, designers, scientists and sports doctors who know health, shoes, clothing and style; all their marketers and advertisers who know how to create a market and spread the word would be working to this end.
Imagine Apple 2.0 Corporation, worth the $500 billion it is now, focusing its primary attention on helping people get adequate and healthy food, clothing and shelter. And all their artists, designers, technicians and computer scientists were putting full effort into creating the best ways to feed, hydrate, clothe, care for and house everyone adequately.
School children the world over would learn that the logos of these major companies meant safety from suffering because the major portion of these multinational companies had one focus: caring for the human condition.
Imagine if even 20% of the efforts of these companies was spent on ending the suffering we know exists from lack of food, clothing, shelter and health care. It would take a New York minute (this is fast) to be able to use these fine minds, already employed and experienced, to create workable strategies and technology that ethically insured care for everyone.
What does it mean to be civilized? Does it mean being more sophisticated by wearing upscale and fancy clothing while we pillage the environment to get raw materials to manufacture modern comforts OR does it mean living sustainably without taking more than is necessary for community survival while insuring the rebirth of the resources used for survival?
I just watched several movie clips about tribes that have not been very touched by “society,” as we of the written word know it. The most “untouched” tribes use what they need, then move their group further down within their tribe’s territory so that the earth can replenish itself. These untouched societies are an inspirational example of how to live, environmentally. Supposedly unsophisticated and less advanced, they live with respect for the earth and its resources.
What happens to us when we get the taste of wanting more? More adornment, more land, more drugs, more food, more power, a bigger house, car, office building, bank account? How does consumerism take over our brains? The answer is simple, although not so simple. It is society’s teachings.
We do trigger certain neurotransmitters in the brain (hormones), in some ways similar to the craving for external things is mostly a whim with no thought teaching ethically and being ethical. We can always run over someone who is weaker. Is this civilized?
MULTINATIONALS WORKING FOR THE GREATER GOOD
Back to the “solution” topic. So let’s say we had these multinationals giving part of their profit to food for the poor, including water, clothing, shelter. health care, not on a random donate basis, but as part of their corporate by-laws. Wouldn’t that fix the suffering, the hunger, the lack of health care? YES, it would.
Wouldn’t living less by manipulation be a good thing for our collective consciences? Wouldn’t we all be more productive because of it, rather than having to be burdened by the weight of knowing we are achieving profit through manipulation of developing countries, individuals or circumstance?
If we figured that among the top 22 companies that made over $100 billion in annual revenue in 2012, 2013 or 2014; we’d have $3.56 trillion dollars in revenue (Financial Times, 2012). If we calculate the profit at the lowest amount I found for any one of them, that’s 3% (according to Forbes’ World’s Biggest Public Companies as of May, 2014). That leaves $106 billion dollars.
If we take 10% of that as per the old British tithing system of one-tenth of the whole, that leaves $10 billion dollars. That would barely make a difference. In the US, alone, according to census.gov, it would take $175 billion to bring every American up to the poverty level.
But if we use the high number of 10-20% profit, common with multinationals, we get $356 billion or $713 billion, each, if divided by 10% achieve $35-$71 billion.
That’s a start and can change our mindsets as to our responsibility for each other. Plus we have to add in all the other companies that make between $1 and $99 billion dollars that I did not include.
Or what if each company making over $1 billion 20%-50% of its profit every other year to helping others. That would truly reduce suffering.
As John Perkins says, again in his Confessions Of An Economic Hitman,
“We must commit ourselves absolutely and unequivocally to shaking ourselves and everyone around us awake.”
What he means is it’s important to let people know that there is manipulation of developing countries who have US engineering firms arrange loans for them to build infrastructure for modernization, only to have the loans end up crippling the countries with debt as their leaders become wealthy.
The answer is not as mind boggling as I thought it was. It’s right in front of you and me. It’s tithing, an old English unit meaning one-tenth of something. Much of the developing country manipulation could be monitored, and every corporation that made over one billion one hundred eleven million dollars would be required to give 10% of its gross profit to those in need for food, clothing, shelter, water and health care. The collector of this profit would have to be an independent agent, a non-government, non-profit establishment that published all incoming and outgoing funding to the public.
One other caveat would be necessary. Any US companies doing business with developing countries would be responsible to fund 10% of their gross income back to these developing countries if these developing countries defaulted on their debt after the company engineered new. Also, projects done by US companies in developing countries would have to be posted in a daily column, like the horoscope or the ad necessary to be placed before a US citizen can hire and sponsor a foreign domestic worker.
These two items are food for thought and could make the change, although it’s difficult to see infrastructural deals with developing countries until these countries are already defaulting on their debts, some years later.
Here are several action steps that may be helpful.
1) Do some research, and decide on a cause to fund, or microloan to give if you had extra money.
2) For the next month, take 10% of your net salary and place it in a separate bank account or in a jar marked food for the poor. If you work for yourself, calculate your gross profit for the month, and give 10% of that. See how it feels to be without this income.
At least, we’re not living on $1.25 a day.
3) Once a week, the money in the separate bank account or jar to your favorite place. I know it might burn because we had just saved up enough to buy something important to us, which we will not have to sacrifice. But, as Rob Schneider says in Water Boy,
“You can do it!”
This will give each of us the experience akin to the multinationals. We don’t want to part with the money, but we can. Once we do it and realize we are helping others with it; we will adjust to it.
4) Evaluate whether you can continue to do steps 2) and 3) for another month or two. If yes, do it. If it’s not something you can continue, you might want to think about using that money for long term care insurance since longtermcare.gov suggests that 70% of over 65-ers will need it. And the younger we are when we get it, the more affordable it is. Of course, if we eat well with regard for eating a balanced plant-based diet, this statistic may turn out to be quite high.
5) Pass on this experiment and the general concept for the major players. It takes some getting used to. But, so did the first time our society began teaching that it was OK to bend our ethics.
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DIANE GOLD, PUBLISHER AND AUTHOR
Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Turning Habits Into Health, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music, fitness and stress expert, dedicated mom, studying plant-based nutrition, conflict resolution and habit change with an internet show about health and peace making, Tuesdays at 2 pm, HERE.
She believes it’s her duty to help some others. She has been able to pick the circumstances, but there is much to do. She says,
“My eyes have been opened by John Perkins and his discussion of his life as an economic hit man. In 1968, while at a community college for 6 months, I joined a protesting group because I believed in democracy. We talked about big business and that the War In Vietnam was wrong, but I had a minimal view of the big picture, until now. I knew big business controlled politics. I didn’t know that bankers and engineering firms could control resources, countries and war, until now.
“I am grateful to have my eyes open. I am saddened that my beautiful United States has not developed a system of checks and balances to prevent the corporate mindset from overstepping its ethical boundaries.
“We are an ethical nation. Each of us individually, for the most part, is ethical. When we stand as a group, and each of us steps slightly over the ethical line, disaster hits. And we fall into the quagmire of personal deception. Let us understand why other countries see us as imperialistic, those words I remember from 1968 and why so many citizens in developing countries know about the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank and how these institutions tried to cause debt or did.
“When I told one of my best friends from the Dominican Republic about my having read Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man, she acknowledged having to combat the grasp of these banking institutions on the Dominican Republic.
“We are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers. Let us act that way from this point on!”
“Finally, let us all take good care of ourselves because we are so worth it!”
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