In 2003, while living in the Netherlands, our daughters received small gifts of money in Canadian dollars. When we approached Rabobank to convert the money to euros we were informed of exhorbitant fees – something like 25 euros each to convert the funds. Even upon appeal to a manager at the bank, the answer was just: “Sorry, these are the rules.” Our daughters ended up with almost nothing from their gifts while the bank profited. The girls’ aunt, the source of the gifts, obviously received little satisfaction from her act of giving.
The following story from Avaaz is even more shocking. Please take the time to read it and to sign the petition. There is no doubt in my mind that we will halt the increasing occurrence of greed-based actions of the banks and corporates through persistent heart-based resistance.
Western Union is taking critical money from the world’s working poor by charging predatory transfer fees. As we move through the giving season, let’s urgently shame them into action! Add your voice to the petition for fair fees:
This holiday season, Josh, a Kenyan student in the Netherlands, scraped together a year’s worth of savings and sent it home to support 10 struggling family members. Shockingly, the giant money transfer company Western Union skimmed off 20% of the cash meant for Josh’s family in fees.
Josh’s story is painfully retold every day, the world over, on a staggering scale — an estimated $44.3 billion worldwide was lost in transfer fees last year! The World Bank recommends that transaction costs not exceed 5% of the total, but Western Union has never faced serious pressure to lower its crippling charges. If we unite in a global outcry now, we can expose its predatory practices when its carefully crafted, family-friendly image is most vulnerable: the giving season.
Josh’s generosity — and that of millions of workers around the world — shouldn’t go to waste! Let’s call on Western Union to lower its fees to 5% for the poorest countries, and when the petition reaches 250,000 we’ll deliver it to the company’s image-sensitive board of directors. Sign now:
Sacrifices like Josh’s dwarf foreign governmental aid every year and provide a vital lifeline to the world’s poorest economies. Slashing the obscene profits of companies like Western Union would dramatically increase assistance flowing into developing countries. Instead, families around the world received far less than they deserved so that Western Union’s CEO could take home $8.1 million in 2009.
The World Bank recommends that transfer companies limit fees to 5% of the amount being transferred, but some banks and companies have astronomical hidden charges. Perversely, the neediest countries coming out of war or disaster suffer the greatest losses, because of transfer companies’ monopolistic privileges and exclusive deals with local banks.
The yearly savings of men and women laboring in hospitals, construction sites and restaurants end up padding Western Union’s profits. The company funds charity projects to improve its corporate image – but these do nothing to hide the massive inequity that their business model perpetrates. Let’s raise our voices loudly to support true generosity during the holiday season – and help bring immediate benefits to workers and the relatives they sustain. Together we can make sure that needy families – rather than CEOs – benefit from holiday giving:
When citizens around the world stand together to protest injustice, we can force back unchecked greed and inequality – as we’ve done together before. Buoyed by the warmth and empathy of the holiday season, let’s make sure that generous gifts arrive where they’re most needed.
With hope and gratitude,
Luis, Stephanie, Graziela, David, Paula, Ben, and the rest of the Avaaz team
Western Union CEO’s pay more than triples in 2009, Associated Press:
Past Time for Remittance Justice, ACORN International:
World Bank Remittance Pricing resource:
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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.
“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”
Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/
“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”
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