Guest Essay "Rising up angry"
Vanishing Business Ethics
Why don't corporations behave more ethically? And why don't their customers show more outrage at unethical behavior? Here is a viewpoint from a college student.
I can't tell you how often I attempt to engage a fellow student in a friendly debate, only to hear that they don't follow the news and don't care about politics.
by Annie Spiro
This indifference is a common and scary phenomenon, and if we don't start to care it can only get worse.
I consider myself a knowledgeable adult, but I'm sure I could pay more attention.
Perhaps if I had, I would not have wasted as much money, or eaten as much filth as I have.
Last April I was betrayed by one of my closest friends and confidants -- the fast food industry. Following this gross breach of trust, I felt the only right thing to do was to quit giving them my hard earned money.
In short, I ended this close relationship with my beloved Quarter Pounders and Whoppers with cheese.
I quit fast food, cold turkey.
In his groundbreaking book "Fast Food Nation," author Eric Schlosser reveals the shocking lack of business ethics practiced by our favorite sources for late-night munchies.
McDonald's, while doubtlessly outraged by the negative publicity it has received as a result of this book, has done little or nothing to dispute what Schlosser puts forth as facts.
The book has been out for over two years, and few real changes have been made.
It's a modern day "The Jungle," with enough gory details to make Upton Sinclair proud.
Among myriad other things, the atrocities the book discusses include hiring illegal aliens who can't complain to do grunt work, marketing to children in an effort to produce "customers for life," and feeding the cows rendered animal protein.
Yes, rendered animal protein.
The leftovers from chickens, pigs, and even man's best friend (after strays are euthanized) are systematically boiled down and fed to your Big Mac.
In my innocence, I had always assumed that cows were fed grain. Wow, was I wrong.
In a strange way, I suppose I have to thank the outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in the late 1990s.
Because of all that suffering, it is now illegal to feed rendered beef to cows.
The scary thing is that this is just an example of something that is allowed to happen because no one is blowing the whistle.
The Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago was home to a left-wing activist group in the late 1960s called Rising Up Angry.
Dedicated to raising awareness and community service, this organization embodies my ideal: informed people who are paying attention.
And there are others. Chicago is also home to at least one chapter of Food Not Bombs, a group that gets together every week to cook donated food for the hungry and homeless.
I would like to stop right here and say that although I myself definitely lean more toward the liberal, I support well-informed conservatives as well. A caring Republican is much preferred to a malaise-stricken moderate.
But despite the folly that George W. Bush has made of the presidency, and the sheep-like Americans who blindly follow rules, I have not lost respect for my fellow citizens.
Clearly, we just don't have enough information to stand up and stop what these corporations are doing. As Schlosser says, McDonald's didn't start out operating this way, and it has the ability to change.
It is the lack of public outcry that lets people get away with such wrongdoing, and the only way to save ourselves from it is to care.
Wake up and pay attention, the meek don't inherit the earth; the intelligent and the aware do.
Annie Spiro is a columnist and reporter at the Daily Vidette. This article appears with her permission.
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