Thursday, June 08, 2006

Letter to Wal-Mart

(In case you haven't heard, Wal-Mart has announced that it's going to start selling organic foods, and that they will cost no more than 10% more than conventionally-produced foods. Michael Pollan has a great discussion of this in the NY Times Magazine: .)

To: Wal-Mart

Only Wal-Mart could make a commitment to organic foods sound like bad news. The arbitrary +10% price ceiling is so utterly tone-deaf to the entire concept of organics, sustainable production, and responsible pricing, that it can only be seen as a cynical attempt to co-opt and destroy perhaps the last remaining bright spot in American agriculture.

Once giant, "quasi-organic" factory farms spring up to satisfy your demand, the pressure to water down organic standards--by deceit if not by law--will become irresistible. True organic producers will be driven out of business, and you will have destroyed yet another cornerstone of American society.

I won't be buying any of your "organic" grapes flown in from Chile (and hence drenched in petroleum), or your "organic" poultry whose "access" to the outdoors consists of a crowded pen from which they perhaps can see the outdoors.

Truly, you make me sick.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Dying for What?

from recent news reports:

More and more American soldiers are choosing to risk their lives in Iraq because it's the only way they can secure health care for themselves and their families. As reported in the L.A. Times, for Staff Seargent Michael Kruger "who returned to a war zone for his third tour in December, the danger of losing his family's health insurance was more real and immediate than the danger of dying in combat."

Think about that for a second. I guess the Army's recruitment ads, which pathetically tout "health care" as one of the big benefits of enlisting, are working. With decent jobs and decent medical insurance fast disappearing at home, more and more young adults have nowhere else to turn.

More (from Editor and Publisher magazine):
"A new Gallup Poll released Tuesday reveals that the issue cited by most Americans as the one they worry about the most is "the availability and affordability of health care."
A total of 68% said they worried about this a "great deal." Coming in second is the social security system at 51%. Following close behind that were "availability and affordability of energy," drug use, crime and violence--and only then "the possibility of terrorist attacks in the U.S." (at 45%).

Think about that for another second: Half again as many people worry most about health care as worry about terrorism. Two thirds of Americans cite health care as their biggest worry!

And Money Magazine just surveyed parents of school-age children, and found that their biggest worry for their kids was the cost of college. Not crime, not terrorism, not violent video games.

As this poster asks:

"When we've created a society in which people are more fearful of college tuition costs, lousy job opportunities and lack of health care than being blown to bits in a war zone, we have to ask ourselves what are we asking our troops to fight for in the end? Traditionally, warriors have gone off to battle ostensibly to preserve a nation's way of life at home. What happens when that way of life becomes so gutted by a culture of individualistic greed and self-preservation that communitarian cooperation and goals no longer exist?"


"At what point can the question be raised: Is a country worth dying for that cannot ensure that a child's heart condition will be treated?"

Could it be any clearer that the system is badly broken? Anybody prepared to say that the Republicans are the ones to fix it?