Monday, June 18, 2012

Ecologic and a Defense of Fair Trade

Does Fair Trade artificially inflate the market?  Well, I recently read Ecologic by Brian Clegg... so the basic premise of the book is to re-examine green issues and green-washing using reason/logic to as not to get too crazy.  Overall, the book makes some good arguments but tends to take giant leaps in the opposite direction.  For example, experiments on electromagnetic sensitivity didn't prove it existed (far from it) but they could not and were not designed to prove that such a thing does not exist as he suggests.  Proving something does not exist is pretty damn difficult - or perhaps impossible, if it's something we are not able to measure.  You may have no reason to believe in fairies but proving they don't exist is a whole different ball game.  Science isn't supposed to focus on immeasurable things, true, but assuming they don't exist is a tad arrogant and scientifically, just as preposterous as assuming they do exist.  I'm not one to wear tinfoil hats but I do tend to lean towards the side of least corporate interest in 'green' issues like climate change, GE, etc.  

One thing this book fails to do is acknowledge the huge influence of corporate interests like Monsanto and the ownership of genetically engineered grains (owning DNA is a concept I can't get my head around).  From a food sovereignty perspective, the point that Clegg makes about vitamin A in GE grains is null and void if it's owned by a corporation that only has an interest in its own profit margin.

Anyway, back to Fair Trade.  I cannot believe that someone attempting to use 'logic' can so easily adopt the obviously neo-liberal argument that Fair Trade could be artificially inflating the market.  Sure, it means that people start to get a fair living wage for their work (and when fair trade is done properly it shouldn't be just the small farmer who benefits, it should be the seasonal workers as well).  Oh, goodness, someone is being paid a fair amount that their neighbors are getting less - this seems like more impetus to promote Fair Trade to the people who can afford to pay for it so that it isn't just a couple of coffee farmers.  The more awareness is raised, theoretically, the better this could get.  The 'artificially inflating the market idea' seems particularly ironic: Fair Trade should really be the most free-market version of justice there is - it's entirely based on consumer demand.  Perhaps it is the concept of justice and morality (heaven forbid!) interfering with the market (which is the most natural and sacred structure on earth, evidently) that makes these economists so uncomfortable - I mean, if it was just fashion creating market inflation - say diamonds becoming popular due to clever marketing, well, that would be more natural, somehow - and the money would be going to the people (not artificially) shaping the market and those who own the shares.  Excuse the sarcasm.

Anyway, that is enough angry ranting for one day.  Wait a minute... stupid F^*(#@&(@%# neo-liberal bull#!@$!@$#% exploitation%#$&@$% that's everything wrong with the world!

Okay.  That's enough.