Friday, August 12, 2011

I did not see the "Unseen" of this policy coming and helped support a policy that hurt people in The Congo...I must remember to think with my head, keeping my heart in mind. I got that backwards on this one...

I should have known better since I pride myself on teaching my students to discern between the "seen and the unseen" when it comes to policies of a political nature.  I teach the "unseen" is actually very visible if you look hard enough.

I advocated among students for inserting a reporting mechanism in the Dodd-Frank Bill of 2010 that requires corporations, mostly cell phone producers, to publicly report the amount of "conflict minerals" they use to manufacture phones.  These highly coveted minerals are found in large quantities in the Eastern Congo and the fight for control of the mines has lead to unspeakable human rights violations. The passage of this law with this particular provision has not helped the people of The Congo, but has cruelly done just the opposite (in the short run):

""The “Loi Obama” or Obama Law — as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act of 2010 has become known in the region — includes an obscure provision that requires public companies to indicate what measures they are taking to ensure that minerals in their supply chain don’t benefit warlords in conflict-ravaged Congo. The provision came about in no small part because of the work of high-profile advocacy groups like the Enough Project and Global Witness, which have been working for an end to what they call “conflict minerals.”

Unfortunately, the Dodd-Frank law has had unintended and devastating consequences, as I saw firsthand on a trip to eastern Congo this summer. The law has brought about a de facto embargo on the minerals mined in the region, including tin, tungsten and the tantalum that is essential for making cellphones.

The smelting companies that used to buy from eastern Congo have stopped. No one wants to be tarred with financing African warlords — especially the glamorous high-tech firms like Apple and Intel that are often the ultimate buyers of these minerals. It’s easier to sidestep Congo than to sort out the complexities of Congolese politics — especially when minerals are readily available from other, safer countries.       ...""NYTimes

Lesson learned for me...Think with your head with your heart in mind, not the other way around..
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