To the Editor,
I was most pleasantly surprised when I read the editorial “Going After Globalization” in the Pro Jo’s Sept 14 edition. For years Greens and other advocates for the poor, the environment, and for a fair economy have been making the case that fair trade will benefit the world and the people who live in it, but that free trade, essentially trade that benefits only large corporations and the very wealthy, was undermining the American Economy, provided few benefits to the poor countries around the world, undermined local food supplies and farmers in both rich and poor countries, and destroyed manufacturing economies at home and in most countries except those willing to pay nearly slave wages.
After years of the Pro Jo attacking people who made this case it was extremely gratifying to see the Pro Jo come out for Fair Trade during the meeting of the World Trade Organization. It was also pretty cool for this editorial to come out on the day the WTO meeting was declared a failure by all those observing the meeting who care about the poor and the planet. The corporations are too greedy and their greed will be their undoing.
Another 2003 paper on poverty
For RI Green. Poverty and the Green Party. Greg Gerritt 4/5/03
The Green Party has a reputation that it is primarily focused on environmental issues, that Greens are primarily tree huggers. Recent events, with Greens being among the leaders of the anti war movement world wide, belie that reputation. What would convince an observer even more that the Greens are not primarily tree huggers even if they love trees, is that if one attends a green meeting, here, or anywhere in the world, while the issues of ecology do influence the thinking going on in the room, most of the focus is on issues other than environmental issues. Greens right now are focused on undoing racism, ending other forms of oppression, stopping violence and the war machine, and making sure the economy works for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Ecological issues were an important part of Green campaigns in Providence in 2002, but if you actually talked to Green candidates you would have heard alot more about poverty, housing, violence, prosperity, and economic development than about ecology. More time was spent in the hoods than in the woods. Affordable housing and job development for the people that actually live in the city rather than those the Chamber of Commerce wants to replace them with was at the top of the agenda, followed by good government, schools, and everything else the people of the city are concerned about.
But even the mostly standard responses to the traditional issues the city faces have an ecological component in the hands of a Green. But in reality lots of folks have followed the Green lead and now understand that effective development in low income communities requires ecosystem healing acts. Affordable housing is only truly affordable if it uses very little energy. Solar power is part of affordable housing, and so is the recycling of buildings and materials, as well as proper insulation. Community gardens feed people who are hungry better quality food at a much lower ecological cost than buying it in the supermarket. Clean brownfields create opportunities, toxic ones preclude opportunities. Lead and other toxins that children are exposed to close doors and add to the costs of living in a community, money that would be better spent on creating the positive rather than fixing the negative. City budgets that reduce fossil fuel consumption and increase environmental health lighten the burden for city tax payers.
Another part of why Greens spend so much effort working to alleviate poverty is that so much of poverty flows out of violence and inequality. It is violence to allow the systematic oppression that keeps poor communities poor, that enables outsiders to skim off the wealth. It is violence that enforces the inequitable distribution of resources that result from millionaires and mega-corporations demanding an ever bigger share of the pie. A non violent world is the only kind that will see the end of poverty, and not just from the savings that eliminating the military industrial complex would provide. Creating environments that allow children to flower is crucial to ending poverty and when we see the violence that helps create the poverty and allows the creation of toxic ghettos that hold children back, all of our Green values come together in the struggle to end poverty, and it takes its rightful place in the overall Green Agenda.