Monday, June 22, 2009

Cellphones, a Love/Hate Relationship--Are We Guilty as Charged?

This could be a post with the usual Top Ten Reasons to Hate Cellphones, including folks who think everyone within a 40 ft radius should be interested or impressed with either their love life or their importance at the office or the drivers who would rather talk than watch where they're going or those who bump into you while they are texting or are rude enough to text while having a conversation.

But tonight we're going to dig a little deeper. And you can call it the political angle if you want, because it's not too much of a stretch to make the connection.

This is from an article in the Catholic Times by a Comboni Missionary apparently based in Cincinnati, Ohio. And if you were concerned about kids making T-shirts for Nike in China, or genocide in Rwanda or starvation and violence in Darfur be prepared to add this one to your list and then, I hope, we will start to wonder what we can do about it. And it takes place in Democratic Republic of Congo.

"People in Congo, including little kids, mine a mineral called Columbite-tantalite, or coltan for short. Without coltan, our phones wouldn't work and 80% of the world's supply comes from Congo. The average Congolese makes about $10 a month, but if you're lucky enough to work in the coltan mines, that can become $10+ per week. That would be true if it happened, but it doesn't."

Why? Because much of the ore is mined illegally and smuggled by militias from Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda into those countries and they, including the Rwandan army, makes the millions of dollars from the sale of the stolen ore.

The 'coltan rush' has both Congolese adults and kids forced at gunpoint to work in the mines. They're underpaid, poorly fed, get no health care and work terrible hours. If they die in the process, they're tossed aside.

No one is going to give up their cell phone, but in my opinion we should all be willing to put a target on Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Motorola, Nokia, etc., etc. and let them know that this would be one tax or fee we would willingly pay if they would change their purchasing practices. Their offers of Buy 1 Blackberry and get the next one free or half price or whatever the "deal of the day" might be, could very well include the nickel, dime or quarter which would enable them, when multiplied by the millions of phones, to ease our consciences and we'd all smile more and sleep better.

Ideas, anyone?

God bless............

1 comment: said...

This is the first I'd heard of that.

Thank you for sharing, Lola! I suddenly feel inspired to keep my phone running as long as possible to avoid having to ever purchase a new one.