Archive | August 2014

Grocery Tag Those People Please

Editor’s Short:

One generations educations, the next generations politics. ‘How true this is.’

The scene was one of men and women in their Saville Row suits running to and fro through the City (London’s old Square Mile). Each making sure to grab their Pret a Porter lattes; and with leather folder under arm. The scene was the same on Trafalgar Square. It was the mirrored at Canary Wharf. It was 10-15 years ago, remember, and everyone and their dog was choosing to do an MBA degree. Why not? It was the the fashion; and everyone was scrambling to enroll in one of those programs. It was a participation in the ways of ‘the City’ (the old Square Mile in downtown London, England). Each one confident and convinced of the direction they were proceeding in; unaware though then of a yet partially invisible technocracy becoming very visible they were unwittingly helping to construct by their submission.

For near a generation now we have sent our future managers, CEOs and COOs to take their Master’s in Business Administration. The thinking then had been to replace the earlier theoretical eggheads with new grads more practically trained and efficient. ‘The bottom line is the goal mantra.’ Well these grads have become our corporate heads.  The bottom line is all that counts right? So what is the result of this pursuit of bottom line without morals?

Now the fruit of this MBA generation has appeared  and we have employees being tagged like cows?

What drives this is a golden calf (‘a golden calf is an attempt to acquire salvation through making lots of money’).

This is a form of worship; and it ends up grinding 98% of the population for the temporary gain of a small few.

Story:

Read below what  TESCO is doing to their employees:

The notion that workers can be monitored and ‘kept fresh,’ like bread on a shelf, suggests an overbearing corporate worldview.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images
The notion that workers can be monitored and ‘kept fresh,’ like bread on a shelf, suggests an overbearing corporate worldview.

Every British cow is required to wear an ear tag that tracks its movements from birth, through various farms and feedlots, until it ends up on the grocery store shelf. If that meat ends up on the shelves of British grocery giant Tesco, it could be that it was put there by an employee wearing a similar tag.

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that “employees at the company’s Dublin distribution center are forced to wear armbands that measure their productivity so closely that the company even knows when they take a bathroom break.” Yes, Tesco workers must wear a device similar to that worn by “every bovine animal in the United Kingdom and the European Union.”

Well, it’s not quite the same: The employer tracks its cattle, errr, workers, only while they’re at work, not until they’re dead. But it’s creepy nonetheless.

Walter Russell Mead, writing for the American Interest, suggests this is the new normal. He notes: “You may think it sounds vaguely menacing and dehumanizing, but you’re probably going to be seeing a lot more of this kind of thing, especially when it comes to penalizing specific behaviors.”

Well, it doesn’t only sound vaguely menacing or dehumanizing. It is menacing and dehumanizing.

But if we are going to be “seeing a lot more of this type of thing,” we have to ask ourselves: On what principled grounds will we counter such activity? For purposes of making policy, the mere gut sense that something is creepy isn’t enough.

Some may ask: What about individual rights and the right to privacy?

But in fact, workers freely volunteer to exchange their labour at a given place for a wage. Those who work hard deserve to get rewarded. Those who slack off deserve to be penalized. A tagging system helps distinguish one from the other. Why isn’t that fair? Isn’t meritocracy a form of justice?

But the question remains: What happens to a workplace — what happens to a worker — when she is subjected to monitoring by a central mainframe? Will she work harder? Will she work better? Will she be as malleable as head office thinks?

Tesco isn’t just placing a cuff on its workers, it’s imposing a worldview

The answer depends largely on whether workers will respond to the set of incentives and disincentives placed on them by such a program. But to phrase it this way suggests that such programs are neutral techniques, rather than morally laden frameworks. And the notion that workers, like the bread they put on the shelf, can be monitored and “kept fresh” via a device that treats them like any other bar-coded item in the grocery store is just that. Tesco isn’t just placing a cuff on its workers, it’s imposing a worldview.

That worldview looks an awful like the one described by Yale professor James C. Scott in his 1999 book Seeing Like a State . The heart of this utopian vision, a temptation for both governments and corporations, Scott says, is an attempt to make the world universally legible. To do this, companies must “severely bracket all variables except those bearing directly” on its goal. For Tesco, that’s efficient distribution. It’s “a faith that … is uncritical, unskeptical, and thus unscientific in its optimism about the possibilities for the comprehensive planning of human … production.”

Firms that focus on employee engagement are 21% more productive, 22% more profitable, and experience dramatically lower rates of absenteeism, safety incidents and other key measures

Approaches such as Tesco’s are “as much an agency of homogenization, uniformity, grids, and heroic simplification” as those we saw in failed attempts at centrally planned states such as the USSR. “The difference being that, for capitalists, simplification must pay.”

So, will Tesco’s “banding” of its employees pay off?

Not likely.

A massive study by the polling firm Gallup shows that for companies, a focus on employee engagement with the company’s mission is a more likely driver of success. Firms that focus on employee engagement are 21% more productive, 22% more profitable, and experience dramatically lower rates of absenteeism, safety incidents and other key measures.

Tesco’s myopic focus on the movements of workers at the expense of focusing on the moral worth of their work suggests they are, to paraphrase the Harvard Business Review, “measuring the wrong things.” What is profitable is not bands that measure one variable, but a deeper, more human view of work. It used to be that trade unions brought these matters into the public consciousness. This labour day, we should ask them to take up this old task with renewed vigour.

Why? Because work is about more than the number of crumpets you can place on a shelf, and involves things such as pride, satisfaction, camaraderie, love. Profit comes from people who truly want the company to succeed.

So, Tesco, go ahead and treat your workers like cows. Just don’t expect them to respond as humans.

Credit: Brian Dijkema
National Post

Advertisements

Ukraine & the GMO Conquest

Editor’s Short:

What is the conflict in Ukraine all about? Yes the Russians have their own ambitions we are aware of this. Yet is this conflict really about ‘Russian aggression’ as all the mainstream western media is papered with?

Ukraine, we all know, is one of the primary breadbasket regions of the world. It possesses the richest black growing soil (chernazom) in the world.

Until the recent coup Ukraine has been outside the reach of multinationals. Now they will have a free hand in Ukraine.

What could Monsanto and the Ukrainian conflict possibly have in common? Let’s just take a look:

The stakes around Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector, the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute a critical factor that has been overlooked. With ample fields of fertile black soil that allow for high production volumes of grains, Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe.

http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/08/what-do-the-world-bank-and-imf-have-to-do-with-the-ukraine-conflict/

Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe and it is GMO-Free, but not for long.

It appears that an alignment with the EU carries with it a mandate to implement genetic engineering into its farming practices.

Article 404 of the EU agreement, which relates to agriculture, includes a clause that has generally gone unnoticed: it indicates, among other things, that both parties will cooperate to extend the use of biotechnologies.

There is no doubt that this provision meets the expectations of the agribusiness industry.

As observed by Michael Cox, research director at the investment bank Piper Jaffray, “Ukraine and, to a wider extent, Eastern Europe, are among the “most promising growth markets for farm-equipment giant Deere, as well as seed producers Monsanto and DuPont.

http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/OurBiz_Brief_Ukraine.pdf

I think it is ironic, to say the least, that the EU, which has GMO labeling laws, is playing a key role in forcing Ukraine to accept GMOs. So much for labeling, eh? But let’s just keep on fooling ourselves into believing that the labeling movement is not about misdirection and spreading the cultivation of GMOs. It’s so much more comfortable that way.

Here is a map of the current worldwide area of GMO cultivation:

map of approved crops

(http://en.biosafetyscanner.org/mappa_colture_autorizzate.php)

There are two key issues involved in the GMO debate: eating and cultivating. Approximately 2% of GMOs cultivated are actually used in our food supply. The other 98% are used for feed, fuel, and other purposes.

dusty-labeling-final-copy

If cultivation goes unchecked, labeling will become a moot point since everything will be contaminated. Game, set, match. So, if I was a biotech pirate, I might want to concentrate the fight on labeling while cultivating as many GMOs as I could force down any weaker nation’s throat.

This is how it is done:

A major factor in the crisis that led to deadly protests and eventually President Yanukovych’s removal from office was his rejection of an EU association agreement that would have further opened trade and integrated Ukraine with the EU.

The agreement was tied to a $17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Instead of the EU and IMF deal, Yanukovych chose a Russian aid package worth $15 billion plus a 33% discount on Russian natural gas.

This deal has since gone off the table with the pro-EU interim government accepting the new multimillion dollar IMF package in May 2014.

http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/OurBiz_Brief_Ukraine.pdf

Don’t want the GMO package deal? Too bad, you’re out and pro-GMO forces are in. Just like that.

The project proposes to improve the agricultural business environment by streamlining or eliminating 58 different procedures and practices by 2015. For instance, IFC advised the country to “delete provisions regarding mandatory certification of food in the listed laws of Ukraine and Government decree,” and to harmonize its laws with international standards around pesticides, additives, and flavoring, to avoid “unnecessary cost for businesses.

http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/OurBiz_Brief_Ukraine.pdf

http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/OurBiz_Brief_Ukraine.pdf

When you see “harmonize” think Monsanto GMO takeover.

On May 27, 2014, the New York Times unveiled how the allegiance to the West was certainly not just about geopolitics and democracy. The newspaper observed that “Western interests are pressing for change” and that “big multinationals have expressed tentative interest in Ukrainian agriculture.”

It further revealed how the reforms of the Ukrainian economy and particularly of its agricultural sector that were tied to the $17 billion IMF deal sought to “bolster the confidence of foreign investors” by addressing the Ukrainian agricultural sector’s “red tape and inefficiencies.

http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/OurBiz_Brief_Ukraine.pdf

 

And this is not the first time something like this has happened. Just look at Iraq and El Salvador. El Salvador’s aid is tied to biotech agriculture, and Iraq was force-fed GMOs via Order 81. This is not a game, it is a wholesale takeover by biotech interests implemented by multi-national corporations masquerading as government entities.

So, what do we in the US do? Why, we march, protest, and yell our heads off for what? A ban on the cultivation of GMOs? Hell no! We call for labeling. We literally, fall down on our knees, accept defeat, and beg for Monsanto et al to please, pretty please, label the GMOs that we have given up on banning.

We are being lied to, and it is time for a change.

It is difficult at best when you realize that you have been unwittingly fighting for that which you thought you were fighting against. However, banning GMOs is the key. Labeling? Not so much. In fact, all of that energy spent on the labeling misdirection would be so much more useful if put to instituting local bans. Think about it. What good does a label do if what is behind that label is still GMO due to wholesale contamination?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

GMO labeling is a false fight. It is a distraction from the real fight of banning them completely. It is also a compromise. Labeling does absolutely nothing to stop the spread of GMOs. Just ask the people of Ukraine.

Credit:  Barbara H. Peterson

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Editor’s Short:
When it started several years ago only a few employment areas required a person do a Police Information or Criminal Check. Now this procedure is being required for almost every job these days…
Personally, I am for supporting police and good policing.  Yet whatever voice or spirit is moving the RCMP into asking volunteer groups to submit to fingerprinting is clearly – the wrong direction.
We are talking about fingerprinting any volunteer aged 14 to age 80. Where no crime has been committed. Just local people wanting to help in their communities – free of charge. As to those who say this will be okay because the RCMP will purge the files… we all know how ‘diligent’ police services have been in scrubbing files. Even if they agree to purge hackers hit the databases every day.  This will be like trying to fix a mistake in your credit history.  Try right now to fix a file that has been stolen and mass copied into other data bases. This idea would create ‘big issues’ for those fingerprinted persons in the future; especially when they travel.
Q: ‘Airport Security’:  ‘Have you ever been fingerprinted’?
A: [Confused, hesitating response]
Arguing “child safety” is very convenient. Yet  to stigmatize people who have never committed a crime and remove their liberties in slow motion is not the answer for us.
This fingerprinting argument is like the airport body scanner argument:
“It’s all for your safety” we are told…
Even if not misused by another, allowing fingerprinting, will serve to darken ones self-image.
Snapshot from the Past:
RCMP tried to have all the Inuit fingerprinted. Even though these Inuit had never committed any crime.

RCMP fingerprint proposal irks Edmonton-area charity

Original Story by ,Edmonton Sun

First posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 09:39 PM MDT | Updated: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 08:40 AM MDT

finger

RCMP proposal

A proposal has been made by the RCMP that would require police information check applicants to be fingerprinted prior to receiving a criminal record check. The new procedures are supposed to increase public safety and reduce the likelihood that somebody could obtain a criminal record check or police information check using false identity.

Boudreau is pleased the proposal would add consistency for volunteers across all jurisdictions, but he believes the move would have a large impact on the volunteer sector as a whole.

“It’s just another thing to do. Our volunteerism in general is reaching a point of exhaustion,” said Boudreau, noting the festival lost close to five per cent of its volunteers this year because they didn’t feel comfortable getting the criminal record or vulnerable sector check.

“To donate your time to an organization for a good cause, there’s more hoops to jump through and more administrative work. That’s all volunteers want to do is just help out. Not a lot of people would really feel comfortable going to that level to really help out a cause they believe in, which is really unfortunate.”

Dave Elanik, manager of the Edmonton police information check section, isn’t a fan of the plan.

A former police inspector, Elanik has never known any false identity occurrences happening with criminal record checks and is concerned about the impact it would have on volunteerism since anyone wanting to volunteer for any organization would have to be fingerprinted.

“That would mean we would be fingerprinting volunteers from as young as 12 years old or someone over 80 who wants to volunteer at their church. To me, that just doesn’t make sense. There’s no public safety benefit,” said Elanik.

“I recognize how important volunteerism is to a strong community. I don’t think we should be doing anything to deter volunteering. We should be doing more things to promote volunteerism in our community.”

Edmonton police received 69,103 information check applications last year, mainly for volunteering and employment purposes. Of those, only 3,733 were fingerprinted for the purposes of a vulnerable sector check. With the proposal, however, everyone would have to be fingerprinted.

Improve service

Last year police went through great lengths in order to improve customer service and process applications in a more timely manner. Prior to these improvements, people were waiting as long as six weeks to get a police check done. Now those requiring a criminal record check for employment purposes can get it done on the spot by attending the office. The proposal, said Elanik, would create additional fees and delays due to fingerprinting and waiting on results.

Elanik recently sent a notice to all volunteer agencies advising of the proposed change. Within a day, he received 75 replies.

“They are saying this will have a significant impact on their ability to retain and recruit volunteers,” said Elanik, who’s concerned the proposal might cause some volunteer organizations to simply forgo criminal record checks, opening the door to dangerous offenders.

“There’s a lot of people that have that stigma around being fingerprinted. If you have no reason, if you have the proper identity, to me it just doesn’t make any sense why we would need to fingerprint someone.”

The new procedures were initially scheduled to be implemented in July 2015, but the timeline is now on hold as late as 2017 to allow more consultation with stakeholders. Elanik said there was no public consultation with volunteer agencies before it was approved by the national police services committee.

pamela.roth@sunmedia.ca