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Made in USA right size
Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Aug 24, 2015

Buy America? Of Course. But You Can Do Even Better

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/buy-america-of-course-but-you-can-do-even-better/

“Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act,” Pope Francis announced early this year. How can we spend our money as if our values matter?

In some sectors and for some values this is fairly easy. Food is an obvious example. Those who want to protect the environment and human and animal health will find abundant labels guiding them to the appropriate product: USDA Organic, free range, hormone free, grass fed. For those who want to strengthen community, shrink the distance between producer and consumer and support family farmers a growing number of grocery stores label locally grown or raised.

For those who want to support farmworkers as well as farmers, however, little guidance is available. The recently launched Equitable Food Initiative and Food Justice Certified labels hope to fill this gap. The former identifies food that has been harvested by workers paid a fair wage and laboring under safe and fair conditions. The latter offers three tiers of certification covering farm, processor and vendor/retailer. Only farms have been certified.

As for grocery stores, we can easily identify those cooperatively or locally owned. Going one step further along the supply chain we can use the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC)’s Diners Guide to Ethical Eating downloadable app to identify restaurants that treat their workers well. Extra credit is given to non-chain businesses. To earn a favorable rating the restaurant must pay its non-tipped workers at least $10 an hour and tipped staff at least $7 an hour, grant all employees paid sick days and enable internal promotion.

The ethical consumer who wants to patronize a locally owned retail store in general can visit Independent We Stand and download its mobile app. Or go to AMIBA and BALLE to find a list of independent business alliances in over 100 cities many of which have hundreds and even thousands of individual member businesses.

There are few guides to locally and rooted manufacturers. But 3-year-old San Francisco Made offers an excellent model, interconnecting and nurturing its 325 member manufacturers located in that city.

The vast majority of products we purchase will come from regional and national firms. One can easily check to see if the company is American and sometimes that will be necessary even when we think we know from the product’s name what nationality the company is. As Roger Simmermaker, author of How Americans Can Buy American and My Country ‘Tis of Thee points out, “Swiss Miss is American (based in Menomonie, Wisconsin) and Carnation is owned by the Swiss.” Continue reading

Words mixed up
Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Aug 23, 2015

Conservatives Have Hijacked Our Language

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/conservatives-have-kidnapped-our-language/

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.” A fine sentiment, but any child subjected to cyber bullying knows that words do indeed matter. Language evolves. Sometimes a word that once was negative becomes positive, like “terrific” which originally meant terrifying. Sometimes a word that was once positive becomes negative,… Continue reading

TPP ship and statue of liberty
Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Jun 21, 2015

Trade and Sovereignty

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/trade-and-sovereignty/

On May 8th at Nike’s headquarters, President Obama denounced opponents of the hotly contested Trans-Pacific Partnership as ill informed. “(C)ritics warn that parts of this deal would undermine American regulation….They’re making this stuff up. This is just not true. No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.” On May 18th the… Continue reading

greek_0_0
Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Jul 18, 2015

Greece, The Troika and Maggie Thatcher

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/greece-the-troika-and-maggie-thatcher/

In its policies toward Greece, the “Troika” — a new shorthand for the combined will of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund — has actively and enthusiastically embraced Maggie Thatcher’s social and political philosophy, memorably captured in her chilling assertion, “There is no such thing as society.” That philosophy has found… Continue reading

We_People
Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Jun 15, 2015

Treaties, Trade Agreements and Government by the People

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/treaties-trade-agreements-and-government-by-the-people/

For much of our history, trade agreements were considered treaties. According to the Constitution they had to be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate. The House does not participate in ratification of treaties (Article II, Section 2). By the late 19th century Congress realized it was far too cumbersome to require a Congressional… Continue reading