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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Health Care: Greeley Colorado Sings the JBS Swift Blues

JBS Swift is in process of acquiring Pilgrim's Pride. JBS Swift is embroiled in fraud and finance scandals in Brazil. JBS is being sued by more than one family over damage from eating E.Coli infected meat products this summer. JBS Swift has just been found guilty by a government agency of treating their workers like '1940's dog-meat" here in Greeley Colorado by firing people for having specific religious needs outside the boundaries of the local mainstream and having the courage to express those needs.

Reuters: The dispute began last year during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when the workers walked off the job after managers denied them a prayer break at sunset.

Supervisors had initially agreed to adjust work schedules to accommodate the requests by Muslim workers but later reversed their decisions after non-Muslim workers protested the changes.

So now we understand what gets Greeley citizens moving their feet--the idea that other people who are different might want to be treated humanely too. Is the rest of Greeley just watching from their patios while they grill their steaks and vote the religious conservatives into public office? I like my meat rare and my religion in the church--not in my politics please. Can you imagine the heat JBS Swift would take locally if it refused to allow community Baptists to adjust their schedules so they could attend Sunday Easter Service? Yikes! Now that would outrage the locals. But not much else seems to stir the pot.

And, it looks like, JBS Swift just raised the $2 billion IPO they needed to acquire Pilgrim's Pride. Tasty chicken legs on your grocer's table. Yum. I'll pay the price for organic chicken first, thank you very much.

JBS is currently the world's largest beef producer and exporter with a daily harvesting capacity of 73.9 thousand heads of cattle and the largest global exporter of processed beef. The company's operations include 25 plants located in nine Brazilian states and six plants located in four Argentine provinces, in addition to 16 plants in the USA, 10 in Australia and eight in Italy.

JBS lept to the forefront of world beef production when it bought Swift & Co. of Greeley, Colo., for around $225 million in 2007. Additionally, JBS S.A. is the third largest pork producer in the USA, with a harvesting capacity of 48.5 thousand heads per day.
Does anyone besides me wonder how companies with infamous track records, like JBS Swift above, stay in business?

One thought is, as I have stated early on, the consumers do not know they are buying JBS products when they go to the store. As long as JBS Swift doesn't have to clearly label and brand their products their retailers will take the hit and the FDA, apparently, will protect JBS from having to disclose who they sell their products to.

I'm going to start asking at my local meat departments, "Could you point out the JBS products please so I can avoid giving a dollar to this company?" At least until there is a federal law made that makes it illegal for the meat department worker to disclose any information that might harm JBS Swift's sales by leaning over the counter and whispering into a customer's ear. Now that would be a Dickensonian novel in the making. I keep returning to the Bush era nightmare of protectionism. It has been a traumatic journey for individual consumers and the "little-guy".

And, truthfully, some consumers don't care--as long as they don't get sick or their family member doesn't have to work in a modern pseudo rendition of a Dickens slave ship. I always get that weird-feeling cynical sneer when I think about these "It's not in my backyard so it's not a problem" people. I've met more than a few folks that go to church on Sunday and talk about the importance of community and shared ideas along with their particular philosophy of life yet when it comes down to it--as long as they don't have to pick up that extended price tag for harming people with less political and monetary power, the problem belongs to someone else. As long as the apple trees in their own backyard look ripe and healthy--why bother looking over the fence.

To be fair, I've also seen people in the same situation above who just feel they have no power or know what to do in order to bring about change.

My answer to the situation is "stop putting your dollars on the counter". You'd be amazed at the protection each consumer vote buys for a company like JBS Swift. They don't have to listen to any one, even if they are inclined to do so, as long as their investors still think JBS Swift is a good bet to line their pockets with. Forget the neighbors... what's a little E.Coli in exchange for a 10% growth in my 401k?

Consumers have a lot of power. They are the market after all. But investors, like those still willing to put their bucks into JBS's Swift machine, count on consumers not being able to organize well enough to put a stop to poor corporate practices. How many people in America today have the time to research the background of any company--unless they are paid to do so? Do we just shop on blind trust that the government will protect us? Well as a matter of fact that is mostly just what we do. And the people who make money on blind faith will continue to do so. Investors count on their stock brokers and investment bankers not to hold up a mirror of consequences to their faces when that monthly investment statement comes in the mail.

By the way, do you know whose pockets your 401k is lining? Or was lining? My guess is probably not. You just know how much it lost or gained last year.

In reality consumers, as well as investors, are also lazy. That plays into the hands of those manipulating for profit just like ignorance plays into political accomplishments. But the game isn't so transparent any more. The game has become very good at disguising the winning pot the gamers take home. It is getting harder and harder to keep a check and balance on companies with seemingly poor ethical human management. When layers of protectionism are nurtured in government watch-dog agencies and when local politicians can't do the real math and instead just jump up on that platform of "jobs-at any cost-for any wage" you just have to wonder if we haven't already slid over that slippery slope of having our systems and mechanisms manage us rather than us, the voters, managing the system.

In the meantime we have tea-baggers and blue-doggers running about screaming about how the government is evil and private enterprise is the victim. Give me a break. Take the sheep's wool off that delusion please and let's see how big the wolves teeth truly have become over the past two decades.

And you thought this article is all about JBS Swift.

Folks, in my opinion, putting the balance back in the hands of the consumer is what health care reform is really about, taking back the system from the inhuman processes that want control. Megolithic insurance companies, banks, snail-snot mega-internationals like JBS Swift, get a monetary bonus that comes with "herding" people for profit. The government hasn't changed or altered our lives nearly as much in the last two decades as corporations have through the unchecked market power and purchasing of protectionist legislation.

I'd rather be in the hands of government than a corporation--I can vote government out of office. I can't vote out insurance companies or snail-snot corporations like JBS Swift. These elements are more like ticks--they burrow in and hang on for the sweet taste of life until someone puts a little heat to their arses and makes them let go.

JBS Swift is just a symptom of a much bigger problem. And as long as we keep buying into these problems and as long as wealth is the status symbol of higher achievement in society the boil is going to continue to fester.

And now we have to worry about our chickens.

More on JBS Swift
Butchertown News
Unhapppy butchertown people
And more

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