Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, November 17, 2014

Beware the impact of shallow thinking greed.

When I grew up things were repaired. Our shoes were taken to the cobbler and new soles were stuck on to them, or sometimes the stitching was repaired. As teenagers we learned how to repair our cars. I reconditioned many engines over the years. I have renewed wires in electric motors, cleaned up  commutators and brushes on vacuums, starter motors and generators. But these days we accept the limited lifespan of appliances and the things we buy. Instead of repairing we just purchase new things. Well I still like to repair and recycle where I can. It may seem stupid, but it is my way or rebelling against consumerism, and saving at least some expenses. In the last twenty four hours I have repaired a coffee machine, a door latch and a wallet at no cost. 
The latch on my garden tool shed rusted out. I had this one I rescued from rubbish being discarded and using recycled screws repaired the door. 
When the plastic hinge broke on the coffee machine, three recycled screws and a bit of recycled dowel made it stronger than the original.
A new wallet does not cost much, but a bit of cotton and five minutes of spare time costs even less. This wallet has been repaired twice. 
Centre of town mayhem...
The centre of our city is an area called the Octagon. It is an octagon shaped grassed area surrounded by a road and buildings. There is a Cathedral, a film theatre, the Art gallery and the Town Hall. Many of the other buildings house pubs, clubs, places where people go to party or to have a quiet drink from time to time. Often it is a fine, picturesque place to walk through, and indeed I have enjoyed a quiet drink in the local bars. But in recent times it has gathered a bad reputation. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, late at night or in the early hours of the morning it has gained a reputation as an unsafe place where drunkenness, disorder and violence happens. I have talked to emergency service workers, a man who worked in the twenty-four hour store there and Maori wardens who patrol the area, and have heard of the messiness, the sadness and the violence. The city council have been trying to introduce some bylaws moderating the sale of alcohol, trying to bring a semblance of safety and pleasantness back to the area. The people running the businesses are crying "unfair"! It seems it doesn't matter to them who gets hurt, what happens to our city reputation nor the cost to emergency services and others, so long as they can sell their liquor! They plead that the suggested changes are interfering with economic success, that the naysayers are "anti-business". In feels like they are saying the economic "god" of business and money is being blasphemed against. "How dare you! - That is unforgivable."  In my view, when that economic god takes precedence over the well-being of humans and a community it must be challenged! Greed, hiding behind the desire for business success, can be a destructive force in our society.
Pigs and their owners squeal 
When a New Zealand celebrity, who once was used in advertising pork, was invited to inspect the way pig farmers raised the pork and bacon we enjoy, he exposed it on national TV. We were exposed to sad, disgusting and cruel practices in our pork industry. Such was the exposure that the Government was forced to look into it and signal changes. The pig farmers squealed.... well...  like stuck pigs! It does not seem to matter to them that most fair minded New Zealanders were offended by their practices, that pigs were living terrible lives before being butchered, the god of profitability at any cost was once more blasphemed against! "How dare they question the right to make big profits?"  It is the same when people question the plight of battery hens. The poultry industry clucks madly about offensive criticism. I have bought battery hens when the farmers discard them. They are poor, featherless, unhealthy, creatures who cannot stand or perch, who are scared of sunlight. It is cruel, and the economic god deserves to be challenged.
Depending on fossil fuels damages our planet!
Something like 98% of climate change scientists are convinced that the way humans rely on burning fossil fuel for energy is damaging our planet! There are more and more people who challenge the oil barons and encourage exploring other forms of energy. They try to discourage further spread of fossil fuel burning. The economic god once again is being challenged. The oil companies spend thousands trying to discredit and challenge the truth. They plead the economic benefits of fossil fuel exploration, discounting all the risks involved. If the money poured into exploration for fossil fuels was put into developing alternatives, the planet would be better off. But greed, and big business, does not care about the consequences for the planet and its people. Once again in the name of the god "economics" they put their heads in the sand and do anything to make their money by destroying the planet! It becomes even more scary when they seem to have politicians in their pocket, worshipping the same god!  Many people are exploring solar power, or wind generation. People are creating systems for their own households. They are generating energy in cost effective ways that do not hurt the planet. But they find there are forces lined up against them. In some countries the power company still charges them for the power they are generating. The companies are missing out on revenue. How dare they generate power outside of the "system"? So there are systems in place to discourage it, to still make them pay. In some places people who have generated their own power have gone to prison because they did not connect to the power company controlled "grid".   Beware of big business worshipping the economic god at any cost.  Beware of governments linking with such big businesses and endorsing the destructive greed in the name of economics. 

There are many other examples where people, community, the environment, or animal life are sacrificed to the god of economics, and "respectable" destructive greed has its wicked way.  Human wholeness is bigger than riches. The writer of 1st Timothy expressed a truth when he wrote; "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

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