Tuesday, July 14, 2009

First two days of school (part dos)

My class schedule was a bit off. One of the classes, Culture, Power and Wealth, which in the catalogue claimed to be a semester class was only a term class according to my print out. This was a problem because a term class is only worth two US credits, whereas a semester class is worth three US credits, which is what I counted on. So I went to the faculty of arts enquires to ask about it. I waited in line for two hours! The first ½ hour was fine because Adam was there and we entertained ourselves pretty effectively. But after he left, boredom set in and I tired to entertain myself with a book I’m reading. It’s called “To be young, gifted, and black” by Lorraine Hansberry. She is someone I know very little about but my grandfather had this old book (from the 1960s) at his house and since we’re constantly trying to get rid of stuff, I took it. I like it so far, although I have yet to get to the real content. I’ve read the introduction, the forward, and I think I have one more part to read before I actually start the book. However, reading while standing up isn’t exactly my forte so I eventually settled on playing snake on my cell phone (its an old Nokia). Needless to say, I got pretty good at it. Once I actually got to talk to someone. I was told to go to class and find out from the professor if it was a semester/term class, which is exactly what I’m doing (waiting for class to start). Luckily, the class is a semester so we’re all good.

I just came from that class. I’m really excited about it. The professor seems enthusiastic about it and I even talked more than once today. Right now I’m in the library, high enough so I can see most of campus and basking in the morning sun. Its freezing and I didn’t bring enough warm clothing. There’s no heat in the buildings but I’m surviving.

But back to class, we’re talking a lot about economics. Today the professor told us about “free trading spaces” which I still don’t get why they’re called that but whatever. According to him, the West which is basically synonymise with the economically developed are able to have high trading standard whereby all countries must compile with in order to sell their goods there. By the same token, if the West wants to build a factory overseas, they require that the third world country stifle strikes, maintain low wages and keep a labour force of poor young woman so that they are easy to exploit. Then he went on to talk about chocolate and how all of it (is is really all of it?) is picked by slaves. So now am I supposed to stop eating chocolate? It seems absolutely impossibly to buy affordable goods without the exploitation of others. I know it has become a sort of fads where places like Chipotle and Kaldi’s freely share their good business practice but does that mean I only shop there? What about clothing? Though I guess for the most part I buy second-had, but I’m not even sure if that’s much better.

The professor also talked about all the smoke and mirrors involved with the capitalist system. For example, when they say that the Dow Jones is up what does that really mean to me? Basically if its up, I assume all is well and nothing more. The numbers completely take away from the human aspect of it. I feel like they should redo that whole system so its more like: 100,000 woman were exploited and died for your Nike shoes, but don’t worry you’ll still be able to afford them. Whose hands made my clothes so I could buy them? Who is starving for my wealth? I know the world’s messed up, but it seems like I keep on finding out more and it never seems to end. I think what’s worse is the fact that you nor I can see it. I can look up right now and see a beautiful day and beautiful things and the reality of someone else’s life doesn’t even register. I feel like going on a crusade and liberating all those little girls (I say little girls because they are easier to exploit or that’s what the professor claims). But then what? How can we make this world better for not just some but all? Is that even possible? I can’t even begin to imagine what that world would look like. It would probably start with things Americans and I guess most people wouldn’t want to see the prize of their precious goods skyrocket. I can’t even imagine how much things would cost if fair labour were globab.

I guess all I can do is try to research businesses who do adhere to good business tactics, but honestly I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve heard Khol’s is bad and I know damn well, Walmart is probably one of the worst, but besides Kaldi’s and Chipotle, most businesses have me mystified to think only about the product and price not thinking about the people who made it possible.

I have been thinking about this and I’ve come up with a plan. I’m not sure if its plausible but I also feel like it needs to be done. What if I subjected myself to what the typical factory worker does? Something like the 30 day thing that that one guy did with McDonald’s but longer. Then I could write about it. The best way to understand people and therefore help is to subject yourself to the same. Just an idea throwing it out there to see if its worth the time. Though honestly I feel so helpless to do anything change this whole system that perhaps this one thing, this one book would make a small difference. I got some thinking to do…

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