notes from
the MUCK . . .

How does your garden grow? With muck, muck and more muck! I spent much of today finishing the final muck box and then shifting muck from one box to the next. The first box, which the Big Lad is enthusiastically pointing out, has been rotting down for two years now and once we’d removed the top quarter of unrotted material, we found we’d hit the pay dirt.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Get Out of Jail Free, collect $2 billion...

Red, the colour of blood, santa's suit, the inside of the submarine in Crimson Tide, and now the symbol of multinationals Nike, Gap, Armani and American Express' way of helping those in need rather than exploiting them for all they have. Bono, famed frontman of U2, has persuaded them to create a special "Red" line, and devote a percentage of the profits from that range to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. That percentage? A whopping 1%.

Maybe I shouldn't scoff, that 1% will make a lot of difference;

Prof Feachem says the Red brand could raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year within five years if the idea catches on and spreads to 40 or so companies. "I need Red", he said

Maybe I should be grateful to the multinational companies, their money will probabaly save and enhance lives across the world. However, I'm left in agreement with the author;

There was, as you can imagine, a whole load of corporate self-love, with the Fat Cats in the Snow (Bono's phrase) emoting all over the place about how they really, really cared about the plight of poor people in Africa. It was decidedly sick-making.

My question to Bono was this: aren't you being used here?

How much of this is down to philanthropy and idealism and how much is it a cynical marketing ploy on the part of companies who have made billions out of exploiting poor people and are now looking for a way to repair their reputations?

The very fact that such a paltry percentage could have such an impact on people's lives makes it all the more galling that they do not do more to help, especially when their profit margins are hugely dependent on the tireless labour of the developing world. In no way should this be cited as an example of the capitalist model working to the benefit of all rather than the tiny minority. This does nothing to address the disparity between the rich and the poor in the world, and may in fact help maintain it. By all means, buy red, but don't for one second think that Nike et al are doing this out of anything other than concern for profits and global image. In a fair world, maybe they would be legally obliged to do more good, to do less evil, and maybe if we keep pressuring them we will.

Red or dead? Thanks Gap, but you shouldn't get to decide.

The CEO of Nike relaxes at home before donating the proceeds of his litter tray to fight poverty. BAD CAT!!