hell, Pure Bullshit

Fair Trade for Whom?

It started creeping up a few months ago. In some context in the political arena, it was mentioned, “We need fair trade, not free trade!”

And I appreciated that. I got excited. I mean, I work for Fairtrade America. This is the kind of stuff that could drive interest through the roof.

Boy howdy, I thought, well here we go. Someone really gets it. Someone who understands that many of our current problems result from exploitation of those less fortunate. The fact that costs on store shelves hardly ever consider externalities – the true costs. The horrible way power is consolidated in trade houses and risk is heaped on farmers, the ones with the most to lose. Someone who realizes that bigger isn’t always better.

Then I realized who said it.

Shit.

This phrase sounds great, so great in fact, that I like to think he stole the headline from Fairtrade America. But I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing.

In fact, reading this article, I came to understand that this misguided nincompoop is pouring slurry on the very foundation of the noble ‘fair trade’ movement (with its proud history tracing back to the Quakers (Remember those honest, humble folks who put their nose to the grindstone, worked hard, asked little and stood up for those less fortunate?).

And as with most things out of his mouth, it’s clear he has no idea what he’s saying.

Fair trade was founded on the idea of creating an alternative to the current system of trade where capital is forever chasing the turds down the toilet taking all of us  with it. The type of system where we try to maximize our benefit while giving up as little possible to the detriment of others. The relentless focus on maximum profit at all costs. Environmental degradation and overextended industrial agriculture.

True ‘fair trade’ encourages greater diversity in supply chains, promotes the organization of producers so they can negotiate for more equitable terms and benefits, delights in open and transparent trading relationships. It’s trade that at least tries to account for externalities.

I really don’t have much more to say on this as the whole concept of this person spouting the words ‘fair trade’ is an insult to nearly every person who has ever worked to make trade fairer.

So I’ll cut this short.

Instead of dwelling on the village idiot, you should read this blog that does a better job of making a more intellectual argument around this. Oh, and you should get out and vote.

 

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