Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Major Persuasion Paper Rough Draft

I emailed it to everyone. Check your inboxes.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

PETA: Imagery

In the case of PETA, I feel like they have the right and the responsibility to show the "real world" of animal cruelty. Not only is it strong support for their cause, but people have the right to know what happens especially within international brands and eateries.

Personally, I cannot watch much of any of the movies on their website. Its a harsh reality that bothers me enormously. But knowing that, I should watch more, but choose not to for my own sanity.

People like me know the lengths that PETA goes to demonstrate their point. It is clear and effective and at times hard to watch. Knowing that, individuals who wish not to see it should just choose not to go to their site.

PETA has the right to show reality and the truth behind animal cruelty. It is socially responsible, just, and worth of our applause. They are uncovering problems with our society's treatment of living creatures. It is somewhat extreme, but I believe necessary to get peoples' attention and education the public of the magnitude of our own actions.

Although I have always wondered where the group gets its footage from...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

MPP 2: Op-ed

When "Fair Trade" is Not

Fair trade certification classifies over 180 different products. From bananas, to cut flowers and coffee, the organization TransFair USA certifies products that were grown in safe working conditions and sold by the farmers at a fair price. Although it is an honorable concept, the "fairness" of fair trade is questionable.

The fair trade system has not been appropriately scrutinized. The classification of fair trade itself connotates a positive and just system; after all, who would want to buy something called "exploitation coffee?" Most businesses boast their involvement with fair trade and the ethics of their products with the certification. However, a little digging produces a starkly different reality.

In theory, the customer pays a little more for fair trade products so the farmers can gain more financially. In truth, it doesn't work as smoothly or ethically as one would assume. To receive certification, farmers must navigate accreditation bureaucracies and make unnecessary sacrifices. For instance, despite cultural and personal objections, farmers must give up their small business status and join cooperatives, just to be candidates for the fair trade stamp of approval.

"Its like outlawing private enterprise," said Dan Cox, former head of the Speciality Coffee Association of America.

Since co-operatives are mandatory, many African farmers, organized along tribal lines, are excluded from even pursuing fair trade status. And even within co-ops, there is overwhelming evidence of leadership corruption and worker abuse. Annual inspections by fair trade certifiers fail to even check the farmers' wages.

What's more troubling is the irony of fair trade products being sold at infamous discount stores such as Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart chain seems to epitomize everything that the fair trade movement is working against: Wal-Mart's poor treatment of its own workers, its anti-union stance, and accusations of sweatshop issues. Selling "fair trade" anything at Wal-Mart is an oxymoron. Nevertheless, TransFair has approved three of Wal-Mart's house-brand coffees as fair trade certified.

The problem with including Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, and other big businesses, is that they prefer importing the "fair trade" items from big plantations. They would rather to continue their relationships with mass producers than taking the traditional route of identifying small farmers and purchasing directly from them.

It has been called "fair trade lite" by some and rightfully so. "There may be reforms, but it is a kindler, gentler, version of of the same old thing and fall short of what some of us are advocating," said Rink Dickinson, the president and co-founder a company committed to buying only from farmer-run co-ops.

TransFair sets different standards in the certification of fair trade plantations. But the very fact that plantations (repressive symbols of Euro-American colonialism) are now considered "fair trade" should be appalling. Many overseas plantations are still owned by their original rich white European colonizers. Plantation owners got where they are by exploiting the land and people in developing countries. The bottom line is, farmers need the chance to move forward. Repressive history shall not be repeated, especially disguised as something ethical and fair.

TransFair needs to go back to its roots and make their decisions on good motives, not business profit gains. Fair trade was started to benefit the farmers and should continue to work toward the good of developing countries. Whether Americans like it or not, we are active in the world of unjust trade and impoverishing practices. Fair trade certification must guarantee more than a marketing technique that clears our consciousness. The values and principles behind this movement need to be fully incorporated into the organization, its certification process, and decisions regarding fair trade distribution. Trade can be fair, but only under a new definition of justice and ethics. Let us work toward that goal together, fully aware of the impact our buying habits have on people around the world.

Responsible Motherhood

From my perspective as a female and someone who hopes to have children some day, I that both 1. entering the military when you have children or 2. having children when you cannot support them are not good decisions from a parenting standpoint. Although Applebaum made a strong argument for a preferential treatment of single mothers and maternity benefits for women serving in the military, it is hard to fathom the justification of such a preference when part of the job description includes serving in the war and being deployed for lengths of time. It is commendable that women are now joining to serve the country and attempting to support their children in a non-traditional manner, but it is not a good career for either fathers or mothers who want to raise their children and be there for them in the future. The very nature of a military occupation makes it a questional occupation for both fathers and mothers, and especially single parents. Sticking to a safer job would be ideal in the situation of parenting. I was somewhat upset that Applebaum took such a stereotypical view of mothers and females. She didn't take into account the hardships faced by military fathers and seemed to overemphasize the motherly instincts.

Most people would also agree that parents should budget to ensure they can support their potential offspring. In the case of Nadya Suleman, she is neither a competent mother nor a responsible one. She has obviously overstepped the boundaries in female rights to reproduction. It is upsetting because she has seemingly single-handedly made a joke of women's right to choose.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grant Writing: Letter of Intent

The Human Rights Initiative is a Seattle organization that addresses issues of human rights and promotes racial, ethnic, and religious diversity. We are located in the Greenlake neighborhood in Seattle, Washington and serve citizens of King County. The organization was established shortly after September 11th in response to racial profiling and hate crimes.

The Human Rights Initiative hopes to have a community event where local children and citizens can learn about other cultures and meet refugees and people from various backgrounds. The costs involved would include materials for kids' interactive activities, the rental of a location to host the event, and transportation and other associated reimbursements for volunteer performers. We are hoping to host the event in a central location such as downtown or Key Arena, which would be accessible to a greater number of local residents.

To the Human Rights Initiative and American citizens in general, there is a substantial need for acceptance and cultural awareness education, especially among young adults and children. As a result of September 11th and fears that followed, certain communities, especially Middle Easterners, have been ostracized and misrepresented by the media. We hope to counteract the negativity and work to...

Grant Writing: Idea and What to Do

In the same arena of torture and interrogation, I would want to focus on human rights and the the public perception of foreigners, especially people who may look like the suspects in recent terrorist attacks. Once the public an associate and accept people who may look like the perceived "bad" guys, people will grow to be more understanding toward those communities. I would propose to have public lectures about Islam and events to share Middle Eastern culture. I think it would be especially beneficial to target a younger audience and have events at some of the local elementary-high schools. When students and others can appreciate and befriend people like this, the public's tolerance and compassion can grow. Potentially in the future, there would be no distinction based on religion or appearance. If kids learn when they are young, torture and inhumane interrogation techniques may no longer be an issue for America. I also believe that with efforts like this, the image of responsible and accepting Americans will grow out of it.

Minor Persuasive Paper #1

Part I:

On the topic of fair trade my credibility will be questioned, so I need to explain my authority on the matter. To prove good sense, it would be best for me to explain my background at Starbucks and the close relationship that the company has in supporting fair trade. Based on the “insider” view that I provide, I can prove that I am informed and knowledgeable on the issue and controversy behind fair trade products (especially coffee) and have done my homework.

To establish my good character, I would cite the positive things that professors and employers have said about my personality. More importantly, since fair trade addresses issues of international affairs and justice, I would highlight my credential as an international studies major. Especially since I am interested and advocate for the issues of developing countries, pointing out that fact would help boost my credibility.

My final work will primarily be a way to inform the my readers/viewer. In order to demonstrate goodwill, I will try to present factual information and demonstrate the importance of fair trade. I will use ethical means of persuasion.

Part II:

Shachar Erez:
http://psdblog.worldbank.org/psdblog/2006/01/what_is_fair_tr.html#comments

Peter James:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/alex_singleton/blog/2008/02/23/the_poverty_of_fairtrade_coffee


The first emotionally effective post was on the Private Sector Development Blog by the World Bank Group in response to the question “What is Fair Trade for?”. Shachar Erez advocates for fair trade and targets a very broad audience . The argument is emotionally persuasive because Erez devotes most it to the principles behind fair trade. Erez points out that the gains from fair trade certification are more than monetary. The post starts with the statement: “I ask myself, ‘What kind of world do I want to live in, and how can I make that possible?” Erez honors fair trade by stating that it is “justice,” not charity. The larger issue behind fair trade is respect.

Erez also uses enargeia to raise the readers’ emotional intensity. He/she encourages people to imagine being a farmer. The farmers’ economic limitations are described in detail. Tragic outcomes such as a forced move to city slums or illegally immigrating for work also tug on readers’ heartstrings. In the end, the obvious ethical choice for everyone, he/she argues, should be fair trade.

Another post was in response to a journalist article written on the blog of British newspaper The Telegraph. The original article “The Poverty of Fairtrade Coffee” was written by Alex Singleton. In a particularly effective anti-fair trade post, Peter James describes a world where farmers are “thrown to the wolves.” Like Erez, James uses enargeia, but in this case, to depict the distributor-controlled food chain and current world of globalization. He claims that governments have rejected farmers and instead favored free trade. Those farmers in the developing world are left poor because they lack the technology required in the world distribution system.

James employs pejorative language to criticize fair trade. He said says fair trade is “fighting the inevitable” and “hopelessly na├»ve.” The efforts of fair trade are described as “misguided.” Since it is written for ethically minded shoppers, the argument is especially effective since it attacks the “brand name” of fair trade by highlighting its misleading advertising and propaganda.

Both posts appeal to basic human principles and values that most people share. For instance Erez makes the argument for the justice and respect that comes with fair trade. James, on the other hand, makes a negative association with fair trade and demonstrates how consumers have been deceived and violated. They also use pejorative language to criticize their opposition.

The posts are effective because they address issues brought up by the opposite point of view. Erez acknowledges that some people consider fair trade charity, but is quick to point out why that opinion is wrong. Both authors recognize opinions that are contrary to their beliefs, but then they use it to enhance their own argument. Erez and James try to appeal to people who would initially disagree with their attitudes toward fair trade. Erez tries to address a general audience with and frames it as a human rights issue. James works with the internationally concerned group and attempts to prove the inefficiency of the fair trade system.