SPIRITUALITY, FAIR TRADE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
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15
October
2013

Dollars, Sense, and Dignity - Conchy Bretos

Text #1: "I have never been afraid to fail, and in fact I suggested to the president of Ashoka that they should start recognizing people for their failures and not their accomplishments. It shows the true caliber of people when they fail and come back. I have tried and failed many times, but I have never failed to try."

Response #1: I thought this was, in a sense, motivational. The basic meaning is never give up and it's something heard throughout one's life, but I think it's probably one of the truest statements. Bretos is proof that failure can lead to success if you continue doing what you think is right. At some point, those who are against what you think is right will eventually "see the light." There's no harm in trying, which is why I don't see why someone won't continue to strive and try to get what they want if they are able to do so. In the end, after all the failures, Bretos was able to get better housing for the elderly so they don't have to live in nursing home where they're uncomfortable. With Mia, you're allowed to live in your own home, which is amazing because how much freedom do you really have in a nursing home? You can't do what you would in your own home. I would say Bretos is letting them live their life until the end instead of ending it prematurely by placing them in a nursing home.

Text #2: "The public also mistrusts corporate America. The good news about this has been an increased motivation on the part of corporations to engage with social service organizations and show their commitment toward the communities in which they operate."

Response #2: I agree completely with the first sentence, especially after this recession. The public has no reason to trust corporate America when the goal of businesses is to maximize their profit, sometimes in the most unethical way. If companies, who rake in all the money, are only interested in stuffing their pockets and not helping the public, then who will? The gap between the rich and poor is continually increasing, and the is a less chance of the public being able to adequately help themselves. In the article, it said, "Five people had died, and eleven more had continued to living in the building, which had been totally destroyed, because they had no place to go. When I arrived there, I saw things that put me to shame. I saw rat-infested apartments, rotten food, and people lying on beds of feces, surrounded by worms." A horrible condition to live in, yet these people had no choice because they had no where to go. We often see corporate executives living in nice houses and conditions, but here are people, who are definitely not the first, to be forced to live in rubble. My question to corporate America is, do you not care?

Mia has gained enough attention from media outlets to catch the attention of corporate America, because of which they are now putting their money to use - helping those who need it the most. Although the companies are getting attention for themselves and are showing that they are ethical, at least they are trying to do good and help their communities.

24
September
2013

What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Market

Actual Text #1: "The reason gift giving is not always an irrational departure from efficient utility maximizing is that gifts aren't only about utility. Some gifts are expressive of relationships that engage, challenge, and reinterpret our identities. This is because friendship is about more than being useful to one another. It is also about growing in character and self-knowledge in the company of others. As Aristotle taught, friendship at its best has a formative, educative purpose. To monetize all forms of giving among friends can corrupt friendship by suffusing it with utilitarian norms." -p. 102

Response #1: Gifts have long been given and are given at any time of the year, specially for birthdays or Christmas. For children, these holidays are all about the presents. However, as adults, we know that there is more to gifts. Thoughts put into gifts not count as Sandel has said before. Although gifts can be bought with money, the amount of thought put into it is all you - no money. Money is simply used to display your thoughts. As Sandel said with the wedding toast, it means far more to actually write the toast to your best friend yourself than to have someone else write it and you try to pass it off as your own.

I think the thoughts related to gift giving and nice gestures have changed over time as more services are being available for people to buy. People now assume that anything can be bought. However, I strongly disagree here. Happiness for one, can definitely not be bought. Families in third world countries who have absolutely nothing, still find some way to be happy, yet they have no money. They may find happiness in their family or a idol. As more people became able to get money and as more goods and services became available, happiness being a priceless emotion began to have a price tag on it. I'll admit that even I find happiness in some material object that can be bought for whatever it says on the price tag. However, I often think back to when my parents took me to visit the orphanage the Guyana. I saw so many little kids, who were abandoned by their parents or who's parents died or some other unfortunate event occurred that landed them in the orphanage. Yet these children were able to run around in torn and dirty clothing with true, genuine smiles on their face. Maybe it's because they're children and don't quite know what the outside world is like yet or because the ones with nothing are the ones who have true happiness.

The beauty of gift giving is it does reveal of pieces of ourselves to others. Only those that really do know you will be able to buy the perfect gift, even though Sandel says such gifts don't exist.

Actual Text #2: "The fairness objection points to the injustice that can arise when people buy and sell things under conditions of inequality or dire economic necessity. According to this objection, market exchanges are not always as voluntary as market enthusiasts suggest." - p. 111

Response #2: When I read this paragraph in the article, I thought back to the countless Bollywood and Hollywood movies I've seen where one character must give up, or sell, something so that they may put food on the table for their family or save someone they care about. One such movie was The Hunger Games where the protagonist sacrificed herself and entered the dangerous hunger games so that her sister may be saved and not have to enter it. Although, I find this brave, I do think society is to blame for people having to do this. I see society as being more concerned with the wealthy than the poor because to them, the wealthy occur far more than the poor ever can. This brings about the topic of fairness that Sandel was talking about. Society is not being fair to those less fortunate.

EMPI-Fordham
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