Monday 15 August 2005

Unfair trade

Why am I not surprised by this news from Perthshire:
But, following pressure from local schoolchildren, the council is set to introduce fair trade goods to school canteens and cafeterias.
It's so sad to think that a few children have fallen for the "fair" trade con. But no - it's not just a few:
An 800-signature petition was created by pupils from Kinross, Crieff, Pitlochry, Auchterarder and Perth asking that Fairtrade produce be sold in their schools.
And, unsurprisingly:
It was backed by local MSP Roseanna Cunningham and other politicians.
I find it deeply disturbing that a bunch of economic illiterates have brainwashed 800 schoolchildren into advocating policies that harm people in the third world. On the other hand, perhaps I'm wrong. After all, there was a 97.3% pass rate in this year's Standard Grade exams, although the rate did fall to a disturbing low of 96.7% in economics.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Neil Craig
"Today children, instead of doing maths we are going to have sign petitition to help all the poor people in the world. Hands up all those who think it would be nice to help poor people by trading fairly all over the world. All right you get in line & sign here." 
"No Davie you don't have to & if you feel that a government mandatory regulatory system will tend to depress the long term prospects of GNP expansion then you don't have to sign. Of course I will have to mark down you non-cooperative attitude on your report card"

19 August 2005, 22:12:36 GMT+01:00
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Bishop Hill
80/20 Rule has an interesting posting on the subject of fairtrade coffee. He points out that a large proportion of it is Mexican Robusta (poor quality from poor people) and explains why there is no Ethiopian Arabica (high quality from destitute people. 
Worth a look

17 August 2005, 21:26:23 GMT+01:00
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Hector Maclean
"I was horrified to see the Christian Aid banners at the recent G8 demonstrations proclaiming "Fair Trade NOT Free Trade" 
Churchmen are a total bunch of socialist suckers though. Don't really know why, they are usually better educated than the average man in the street. Nevertheless they are. 
One prominent churchman even described Tommy Sheridan as "a man who talks a lot of sense". I mean that is how thick some of them are.

16 August 2005, 18:26:24 GMT+01:00
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Tom Garrard
Good post David, but what if the Free Trade goods simply taste nicer than the tat they're probably eating at the moment?

16 August 2005, 16:51:31 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

David Farrer
It's fine to give one's own money voluntarily to whatever supplier one wants. I do that myself - I tend to patronise Scottish suppliers (other things being equal), as I like to do my wee bit to boost the local economy. But the "fair" trade advocates invariably mean something else. I was horrified to see the Christian Aid banners at the recent G8 demonstrations proclaiming "Fair Trade NOT Free Trade". That's wicked. Free trade is simply what happens naturally without the interference of politicians. Political interference is the cause of misery in Africa (and elsewhere).

16 August 2005, 15:59:54 GMT+01:00
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steve shackleton
Fairtrade is typically socialists, it cheery picks "poor" farmers, usually the richest in world terms, the ones who would find it easier to change crops or occupations. This leaves the unselected ones poorer because supply then always outstrips demand, reducing prices. If the world markets were allowed to operate properly the farmers who could change crops would do so (be they GM or DDT protected) lowering supply and increasing prices. This would be helped immensly if as you say they could do the added value bits as well. 
Then again as you say you have nithing against charity, but with fairtrade do you know that the money is going to the most deserving, and what criteria is used to calculate most deserving?

16 August 2005, 12:44:11 GMT+01:00
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Jim H
Giving to Fairtrade is fine as a form of freely given private charity. Not that I'm particuarly keen on the idea, but people are free to give charity to whatever scheme they choose. Of course, when the state uses taxation to fund the scheme that's another matter. 
Fairtrade itself is something I'm really in two minds about. In the current system our tarifs pretty much lock poorer countries out of the bits of the chain that add the most value (roasting branded coffee etc), and fairtrade seems like the best that can be done from inside a bad system. 
Of course, a free market would bring the 3rd world the most advantage, especially in agriculture where they have several natural advantages. But getting Europe and the US to open their markets could take decades. In comparison to alternatives that are doable in the short term, how does fairtrade make the 3rd world poorer?

15 August 2005, 18:40:04 GMT+01:00