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[GreenYes] Turning Points
    For those chafing to make transformative turning points happen, read on (all others just ignore these musings).

    Here (below actually) is a young person's letter to the editor from yesterday's Wall Street Journal.  Before you get sick to your stomach with the level of callousness exalted by the Journal as an exemplar for the next generation, it made me think of the positive opportunities it might offer were we to prioritize redefining what American civilization in the 21st century is all about.  

    One of the few truly great people I have known is Pete Seeger. His dad had been a terrible academic snob in musicology, until one day on the eve of WWI he went to a cocktail party at UC Davis. There, propounding obnoxiously on some point that was unkind to the downtrodden, a radical sociology professor, out of sorts, shot back "you're a shit head." After the party was over the sociologist came up to Pete's dad to apologize, and asked if he would come with him the next day to see what had made him so upset. Thereupon early the next morning he took Pete's father to visit a nearby migrant camp. Seeger's dad went through a complete life change, opposed entry into WWI, got fired and blacklisted, and he and his wife converted a trailer and drove east to bring music the poor folks in Appalachia.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could raise a little bread to offer to send young Mr. Ulrich for a month's experience picking coffee beans in Columbia, during which we get a reporter from the Wall Street Journal to chronicle his experience of walking in someone else's moccasins.

    Some initial ideas... if we could raise perhaps $2,000 (20 contributions of $100 each), link up with any number of central america rights groups, call Nick Ulrich with an offer under the umbrella of some University department, and, if he bites, I have some contacts at the Journal to insure that a reporter would cover it. I would bet my bottom dollar that we could get probably the Journal, and if not, another paper like the Times, to cover it.
    Please get back to me if you'd like to explore this further, and let me know what other additional resources you could bring to this.

Letters to the Editor
April 4, 2001

Coffee and sympathy,
An Anticapitalist Brew

In regard to your March 28 editorial concerning Starbuck and the fact that it was forced to offer Free Trade Coffee so that its customers could overpay for coffee in order to provide "a living wage" for coffee farmers in Third World countries.
I am a student at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. Our student government recently passed (overwhelmingly, I might add) a resolution stating that the student body now wants coffee purchased at the fair price of $1.26 per pound, well above the going rate of coffee. One student senator said this "promotes global economic justice as an institution we have a responsibility to promote justice and fairness in this area." Another remarked, "Miami needs to take a stand."
My question is, a stand against what? Free markets? The basic fundamentals of economics? The cost of this issue was barely considered, meriting only a comment that the money is "nothing that the university can't afford when the advantages are taken into consideration." I am disappointed to see that my tuition dollars will now be wasted on overpaying for coffee that is priced according to the basic rules of supply and demand. Is anyone forcing these coffee farmers from moving into higher-paying jobs? The point of this bill essentially states that in some way it is our fault that coffee is priced at its current rate.
If these students are so concerned that people have willingly chosen to continue selling their product at a cost below a "fair standard of living," why don't we just mail them a donation? Or, better yet, a letter telling them we feel their pain and wish that globalization and evil corporate empires would just go away so that life for everyone would be improved?
     Oxford, Ohio
Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 231-1100/Fax (608) 233-0011

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