Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Waste alot, Want alot

America’s Ethel Grodzin Romm once said, “What could our worst enemy do to damage this strong and beautiful country? He could do no better than to get us to squander our human and natural resources on dubious missions and then trick us into plugging our ears against the howls of those who object” and when Ken Costa openly said, "Anyone familiar with banking and finance will know that it is completely impossible to legislate out bad practise" it is difficult not to assume his condoning words are designed to encourage us to plug our ears to the public outcry at proposals to pay bonuses for failure and persuade us to discard the messy process of bringing the criminal actions of errant executive bankers to account.

Thankfully Lloyds banking groups CEO Antonio Horta Osorio and, after much media attention, RBS CEO Stephen Hester, have both seen fit to decline the proposed million pound bonuses which were heading their way from their largely tax payer owned employers. Their actions may well be the first chink of light at the end of a well established self serving banking tunnel of personal reward which not only highlights the importance of moral accountability within our corporations but clearly illustrates responsible capitalism can never be responsible if the people at the top are not. Although the banks remain an easy target when it comes to double standards, remuneration excesses and the squandering of tax payers money, I can’t help but find myself equally outraged at the news brought home by my husband regarding a recent Marks and Spencer’s initiative.
While I do not pretend to know the ins and outs of all things retail, I cannot begin to understand how M & S can, against a back drop of real hardship for many individuals caught up in the fall out of an ongoing global recession and in spite of their staff's willingness to run it for free, truly believe it is best practise to terminate the nightly waste sale of unsold food to their employees. Instead they now insist these very same people render unsold produce inedible before assigning it to land fill, or at best animal feed and compost. The impact of being unable to purchase discounted produce for their families will undoubtedly be hugely detrimental to every M & S employee but, above all else, it is immoral to squander food in this way.

With mounting evidence that irresponsible capitalism lives on in the majority of our banks as well as in retail giant Marks and Spencer’s too, it is no surprise to discover M&S executives remain deaf to protests of those of us who object. It appears English writer Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864) was correct in his belief that written words are “the only riches our posterity cannot squander” because it seems, as a race, we are collectively doing pretty well when it comes to the squandering of everything else.

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