Gold mining horrors, responsive suppliers, and the visible hand of
What a mouthful. I just wanted to catch the attention of as many of
you as possible.
If you haven’t read the Metalsmith article on the true price of
gold, you can (thank you, Hanuman) read it here:
If, however, you have a tendency towards despair or nightmares, or
have a weak stomach, you can skip it and just trust me when I say:
the price really %$^.
When I posted a question here about a possible price to the
environment of the torches we use, our generous and brilliant experts
indicated, to my relief, that the price is actually minimal. Peter
Rowe, however, did refer to the horrors of current gold mining
practices as a serious issue in which many of us are implicated.
Unlike, however, those who complained about Stuller’s price
structure, Peter only received one response (thank you, Nan)–and it
wasn’t from Stuller.
This isn’t a personal issue for me, the way the torch issue was,
because I’m not working in gold now. But I did find the article
pretty horrifying and I do believe in a kind of “professional
activism,” i.e. that we can often have the most influence if we
focus on creating change in an area that intersects with our work.
So, as someone who makes jewelry (but wouldn’t consider calling
herself a “jeweler”) and belongs to a community of people who also
are involved with jewelry-making, I want to encourage my community to
use its influence regarding this issue. (Obviously, we all use other
materials, but the Metalsmith article has shoved the gold issue
right under our noses.)
You may have heard about Adam Smith’s theory that capitalism
maximizes all good things by means of its “invisible hand.” Some of
us think he really missed the boat on this one and feel compelled to
put in our own hand, as it were. When we join hands, these hands can
become quite visible. And even effective.
The “straight skinny” thread ended abruptly when Andy Kroungold
indicated that he wants us to complain if we don’t like what
Stuller is doing–how could he know it needs fixing otherwise? We
have considerable evidence that other suppliers, like Hoover and
Strong, respond to this forum. And Rio, led by the “Big Bells,” has
been responsive way beyond anything most of us would expect of a
business. (If you want another reason to buy from Rio, go to their
site and check out their attitude towards their employees.)
I think all of us, including our suppliers, would be well advised to
re-read Peter’s post–
He makes it clear that an individual supplier can’t do much about
this horror. But I believe that, if they joined hands, and those
hands became visible, they could very possibly develop some
influence over those who mine gold.
And they might just do that, if Orchidians join hands and keep
encouraging them to do so. Maybe, together, we can make enough
trouble that the profit being maximized by these destructive
practices isn’t so high anymore–that’s usually how I’ve seen such
So… this may be a skillful place to focus some of our energy. Do