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RE: [GreenYes] Turning Points
OK, you all can blast me if this is too far off topic, but I would be very
curious to know where Miami University gets its coffee now, if < the fair
price of $1.26 per pound [is] well above the going rate of coffee >
I spent 10 minutes on the 'net, and I found coffee prices ranging from $1.76
at my local supermarket to $11.68 for Starbucks supermarket coffee, from
$10.90 for "fair trade" coffee and $5.60 for whole bean ($4.90 in the
5-pound size).  Now, I realize food service and wholesale prices are lower,
but I checked with my chef/husband, and they pay $8.00 per pound (special
roasted blend, even if I don't like it!)

I think that Mr. Ulrich has too much time on his hands, and I agree that he
needs to learn some life lessons about his place in the world relative to
the other 6 billion people.  However, my dear Mr. Anderson (and I do enjoy
your philosophical comments to our list!), I think sending Mr. Ulrich to
Colombia might be a bit extreme. Let's just wait till he gets out of college
and has to go grocery shopping, pay his own insurance, and try to make ends
meet (especially someplace outside of Oxford, Ohio) on the average
first-year college grad's salary (or, if we're still mad at his callousness,
on the average Colombian coffee farmers wages!)

Seeking balance, 

 -----Original Message-----
From: 	Peter Anderson [] 
Sent:	Thursday, April 05, 2001 4:11 PM
To:	multiple recipients of
Subject:	[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
    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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