All God’s children got to eat

One thing that separates the Green Party from other parties is the Four Pillars, which make the foundation of the international green movement. These four pillars are, Ecological Wisdom, Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice and Non-violence.

In addition to these four, the Green Party in the United States has adopted six more, including Community Based Economics. Other nations may have other additional values.

Even if Community Based Economics is not an “official” value elsewhere, it does seem to be an undercurrent at least in New Zealand.

The Otago Daily Times is reporting that there are calls in New Zealand for “Buy Kiwi” programs similar to the “Buy USA” provisions of the recently passed “stimulus”. Among those calling for “Buy Kiwi” programs are the Green Party. In plain language they make it clear that the purpose of the “Buy Kiwi” program would be to preserve jobs in New Zealand.

The Green Party in the United States has not, as far as I am aware, ever endorsed a “Buy American” program. The party does support community based economics, but that community could, potentially, be a community of union members in several nations, or a community of co-operatives in several countries. Many greens make carefully thought use of their income, and as such may be looking for a community of recyclers as much as for a bargain when we go to Goodwill. But there is no doubt that one of the most meaningful ways to see community is as a place where you live, and the people who live near you.

The New Zealanders were brought to this position, in large part, because a local manufacturer lost a government contract to a Chinese company. Scoop Independent News reports that

Government procurement practices are costing Kiwi workers their jobs, Green Party MP Sue Bradford said today.

“The Army’s decision to allow a $2 million clothing contract with Levin-based company Swazi to shift to China highlights the gross inadequacy of Government procurement practices,” said Ms Bradford, who championed the Government’s Buy Kiwi Made programme in the last term of Parliament.

“On the eve of the Employment Summit it is hugely ironic that the Defence Force is signing off on a contract which will undermine workers’ jobs and the viability of a small business that has loyally supported its staff and the Levin community for 15 years.”

In addition to Community Based Economics, buying locally produced goods serves to fulfill several values as well as other laudable goals. Decentralization, a US Green Party key value, would suggest that not only would we want those government contracts to be American manufactured, but that the best approach would be to identify as many experienced entrepreneurs as we can, tell them what we need, and get the benefit of perhaps thousands of people and companies trying to answer the nation’s most vital questions.

All that said, the article is titled “All God’s children got to eat” for a reason. International trade that comes organically from travelers exposing new people to new thoughts and experiences seems perfectly natural to me. I visit Greece and enjoy a glass of wine. I decide it would be perfect for a party I am throwing and take ten bottles with me. Forty people drink the wine, and several ask where they can buy it. Now I face a choice. Shrug, or try to make some money by importing the wine to the US.

Unfortunately it feels that what actually happens is, low quality wines, perhaps even dangerous wines, get sold at low prices to slum dwellers to help them handle the grind. If a low quality wine can be turned into good wine by virtue of endorsements, advertisements, slipping a “something extra” into the bottle or any other deciept, then the profits rise with the higher price of the low quality wine now in demand because of trickery.

You see, regardless of where we live, we must consume. Our government must buy. Our friends, families and neighborhoods must buy things. If we can advance Decentralization by encouraging the nation’s manufacture infrastructure to move to smaller and more diversified manufacturing, that would be a good thing.

We also must understand that migration of people happens all across the globe. Hunters hunt where the prey is. Many people willing to sell their labor will go where they can get the highest price. By allowing for each nation to pursue a community based economy would not mean that you would never be able to travel to Italy, buy a Heineken, buy the Toronto Mail or grapes from Chile. What it might mean, however, is that US grape producers might be doing the importing.

If the goal of “Buy American” programs or “Buy Kiwi” programs is to keep other nations and companies from their rightful share of a marketplace, then it is not socially just, and not green. If, however, the goal is “World wide, work small, work local, and work in community wherever you are” it would have the added benefit of expanding the economy of basic goods and services in the poorer world. Then, all God’s children will be able to eat.

  1. Gray Newman says:

    How people of faith can relieve hunger and support local agriculture in North Carolina

    http://www.cometothetablenc.org/charlotte.html

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