Friday, April 05, 2013

Unfair Trade | Foreign Affairs

Unfair Trade | Foreign Affairs:

"Last month, the Fairtrade Foundation staged a march on the British Parliament, a campaign featuring various celebrities and more than 13,000 petitioners, urging UK Prime Minister David Cameron to put issues of ethical consumerism at the center of the upcoming G-8 summit. At first glance, the decision by self-proclaimed ethical consumers to buy fair-trade products seems harmless. What could possibly be wrong if individuals, exercising their right as consumers, choose to promote certain niche markets? Quite a bit, as it turns out. ..."
I saw this linked on The Kruse Kronicle this morning and I think it is worth commenting on.

This is of particular interest to Christians, as many congregations are convinced by fair trade proponents to buy their coffee, since it serves to put more money in the pockets of the growers.  But is that really true?  According to the authors of this article, "only one or two percent of the retail price of an expensive cup of “ethical” coffee goes directly to poor farmers". In addition, the poorer of the farmers cannot afford the high cost of certification as "fair trade", thus limiting this subsidy to more affluent farmers.

I make no claims of knowing enough about economics to really understand all of what is going on, but the questions raised in this article are definitely worth pondering. Is this a move toward a more just economic system, or is it yet another "feel good", but ineffective response to real problems of justice and poverty?

Read the whole article....

NOTE:  the linked article makes several references to the OECD, but does not seem to clearly define it.  More information about the OECD can be found on their web site,

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