BP #5: Conflict Minerals to Return?

Source Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/why-apple-and-intel-dont-want-to-see-the-conflict-minerals-rule-rolled-back/2017/02/23/b027671e-f565-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?utm_term=.152a02d4601e

Back in 2010 an act was signed into law called the US Conflict Minerals Law.  In short it required that no US company was to buy, use, or sell minerals that from groups part of or which directly funded conflicts in other regions of the world.  As well to prove this, companies were required to keep a detailed list of the purchasing of said minerals, from where they were purchased, and from who.  While this laws was seen as highly controversial and many believed it would devastate both the industries effected by it along with the nations involved in the trades, the opposite as become the truth as we have seen a massive increase in the legal trade of gold, diamonds, titanium, and tungsten from conflicted countries like Congo, where most of the mines were or still are controlled by militia forces, and large companies like Apple and Intel who buy large quantities of these minerals have made this law a core part of their business model.  Yet, now this law has come under threat as President Trump vows to continue his campaign of unrelenting deregulation of commerce and business.

Now this topic has may sides and viewpoints from which we can look at it as this is something that effects not only a majority of Americans who purchase products made with the minerals talked about in the article, but also because it calls into question the value of the lives of those in impoverished countries compared to our own pleasure.  The first way to look at it is a topic I discussed before as again major companies are rallying against actions by the current administration on the grounds of maintaining their integrity and “doing what is right.”  Seen from the one side you could say that these companies are just putting on a show as they know that the ones who have been the most open in their disapproval of President Trump are the younger generation and minorities.  Put together, these two groups make up both a majority and the future of the consumer market, so it would make sense to get in well with these groups so long as it doesn’t jeopardize their actual business.  On the other side they very well could just be standing up for what they believe in and standing by believes and ideals that have made their companies what they are today, if so, then they are companies that deserve our consumerism.

A second way to look at this is value of our happiness versus that of those in a country whose major export are these minerals, for this discussion Congo.  With major companies no longer able to purchase minerals from conflict mines, many militias in Congo were either forced to give up their mines as they were no longer profitable or end their aggression and provide a safer environment for the people working the mines.  Because of this Congo has seen more than 200 mines and smelter certified as “conflict-free.”  However, if we remove this regulation, the very security and peace of Congo could be lost as the nation could fall once again into a war for mineral rights and the people working the mines will return to a life of extortion.  So then, the question really becomes, is the pleasure we gain from what we make from these minerals worth the suffering of those less fortunate?  Both Aristotle and followers of utilitarianism would agree that it is not.  This because not only is the pleasure we gain from our phones, TVs, and diamonds not real happiness, but also the misery we would cause in order to gain such things could be easily out weigh the positive effects of such an act.

In the end however, if this law is repealed, it would come down to you and me as the consumers to determine for ourselves the value of another person’s life as we can either choose to ignore what’s happening or strive to only buy from companies which continue to follow this law whether or not it is still in place.


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