Why is an article extolling the virtues of a Kiwi Fairtrader sick? Well Fairtrade has recently been exposed in no less a left wing journal than the Guardian as being one of the main methods whereby rich capitalist business bosses keep poor workers even poorer. Is the hero of the article, Simon Coley, in reality nothing more a businessman getting rich through exploitation of cheap labour.
Whaleoil is typically brutal to the phoney, heart-on-sleeve, lycra-clad brigade.
The left-wingers who buy so-called Fair Trade products to balance their middle class guilt have been delivered a wake up call courtesy of the Guardian, no less.
“Sales of Fairtrade-certified products from Uganda and Ethiopia are not benefiting poor farmworkers as profits fail to trickle down to much of the workforce, says a groundbreaking study.
The Fairtrade Foundation is committed to “better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world”.
But a UK government-sponsored study, which investigated the production of flowers, coffee and tea in Ethiopia and Uganda, found that “where Fairtrade flowers were grown, and where there were farmers’ groups selling coffee and tea into Fairtrade certified markets, wages were very low”.
That will ruin the taste of the Fair Trade coffee for the suckers who have bought into this fantasy. And worse is to come:
Generally, the study found, wages were higher on farms that were larger, commercial and not Fairtrade-certified. Even comparing different smallholder sites, wages were generally lower in the areas dominated by Fairtrade producer organisations.
And the socialism and stupidity of the do-gooders also got a spanking:
“Fairtrade attempts to support and subsidise co-operative groups of ‘smallholder’ producers on the remarkably naïve assumption that the benefits of this support are distributed evenly amongst the group. This assumption about egalitarian distribution is unwarranted.”
So there you have it. Behind all the emotion and guilt, Fair Trade makes about as much sense as planting a tree to offset a so-called carbon footprint when someone takes a plane journey.
This isn’t I hasten to add, the result of a study done by some hateful neoliberal like myself. No, this is the result from a four year long research program by the impeccably liberal (and veering over into Marxian third world nonsense at times) School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
There is a substantial premium paid for Fairtrade products. If it’s not going to those peasants and the community projects then where is it all going? The answer being that there’s an awful lot of Sebastians and Jocastas being employed on western world middle class wages to run these schemes. And that’s where the money is going. Sure, non Fairtrade products have marketing systems too but which do you think is going to be more efficient? That of Nestle or that of some well meaning and not very driven do-gooders?