I don’t usually write to air my views or pet peeves but something has been on my mind lately that I need to get off my chest….. I got sumpin’ to say! It’s about our culture of excess and gluttony and the waste that follows. It’s about the ‘haves and the have-nots’ and the ever-widening gap between them. The rich get richer and the poor work their asses off for a pittance.
On the ‘other side’ of my family is a man who has retired and done very well for himself. I don’t begrudge him this or anyone who has done well. He worked hard, invested his savings and made lots of money. It’s his attitude about it that I take issue with.
John likes to complain about paying taxes and having to support all the lazy people who are “just sucking the system dry”. He bragged he made $48,000 in interest on his stocks this year but was angry he had to pay taxes on it.
I wouldn’t know where to begin to tell him why this is so offensive to me….. but I can lay out my thoughts and write in my blog. It’s been bugging me for a long time that corporations have taken over so much of our everyday life and those corporations answer to the stock holders. The prime target is profits and more specifically, profits to the stock holders. These are people with more money than they need so they can invest it in corporations that will make their money grow
fatter faster than it could in a bank. They don’t work for the company or enhance it; they skim money from the profits. It’s the people who are employed by the corporation that do the work and its the people doing the lowest jobs, the physical labour, who are barely making enough money to pay their bills.
But that’s not my whole beef, (although beef plays a huge part in this beef)
Working in a grocery store, in the bakery, I see so much waste. In the winter I would go through the cakes on display, check the dates and throw many out into the garbage; they can’t be marked down or sent to the poor. They are thrown out along with their plastic containers. Two shopping carts of breads and rolls would be thrown out in one day. From what I’ve been told you can’t give away food that has “expired”. But it all has to be made to be displayed, it all has to be there in case someone wants that particular product. And, for sure, what isn’t there will be the thing someone wants. They would be mad that thing they wanted wasn’t available that day, right now.
My store doesn’t have a place for overripe fruits and vegetables…. they are composted, at least, and not thrown in the garbage but I can’t get bag of marked down limes. It’s the policy of the corporation I work for. We can’t take home anything that has expired that is still good….. even if it’s out of the freezer. We can’t even get it marked down….. it’s going in the garbage. It has to be counted as ‘a loss’.
We are just one fairly small grocery store. This is going on every day on a massive scale; tons of food being thrown out. And now the corporations of hardware stores, car supply stores and drug stores are all expanding to sell food so you can make them your ‘one stop place to shop’. I go into Canadian TIre or Shoppers’ Drug Mart and they have long aisles of food but empty of customers. Walls lined with refrigerators filled with milk and juices and lots of other perishables but hardly anyone shopping for food there. The dates expire before it goes bad and fresh items are re-stocked so it always looks full. People are paid wages to stock and re-stock the shelves.
Just take milk as one example; tons and tons of milk, cheese, yogurt in these fridges, stocked then thrown out. The millions of cows, kept pregnant and given steroids to make them produce even more milk, pumping out millions of vats of milk a day. Then it’s driven in trucks to distributors who put it in containers and truck it out to stores. The truck drivers, the people who make containers, the employees that stock the shelves, all these people earn wages getting that product to us.
Think about orange juice; all those orchards keeping up production, the farm workers, people who ship the product, people who work at squeezing and packaging the product. And we complain about the price!
There are so many people employed in bringing us that product. All those people being paid for producing and moving these items, all the items that are thrown out can be ‘written off’ as a ‘loss’…. everyone gets a little piece of the pie; including the stock holders. How can this be sustainable?
This brings me to my complaint about John. How dare he make enough money off the backs of others and then bitch that he has to pitch in for health care, roads and other government services? All I can think is, “You greedy bastard! You are the one sucking the system dry!”
My last piece of this beef is beef. There is a commercial on TV advertising a burger that is going for $1.49. Are you kidding me? One dollar and forty-nine cents for beef? I’m a vegetarian; even if I could find a restaurant to buy a plate of rice and beans would cost over $10. What’s wrong with this picture? Producing beef requires vast amounts of grain, beans ,water, and the health care of cows. In a book “The Value of Nothing” by Raj Patel, he figured out the true cost of a hamburger is about $148. That’s when you include feed, care, water and ecological costs. Interestingly, 10 times the price you are paying! How can that be? Because of government farm subsidies and the lobbying of corporations for tax breaks: they can supply you with a burger cheaper than you could make one when you consider all the ingredients, energy costs and time making it. Millions of burgers are sold every minute; profits are made and the wheels keep turning.
It all sickens me. It’s insanity! I can’t see how it can be sustainable. It’s like a giant Ponzi scheme with all the money on top but no strong foundation to keep it stable. It just has to change or it will topple over.
I met a man in Alabama, a poor and uneducated man, who summed it all up succinctly, “You can’t put five pounds of shit in a two pound bag!”