Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fair Trade Coffee Discussion on Campus This Tuesday

Via an e-mail to all faculty:
Area roasters to discuss fair trade coffee

Five area coffee roasters will participate in “Brewing Social Justice: a Conversation about Fair Trade Coffee,” a panel discussion on Tuesday, March 20, from 7 to 9 p.m. in Raynor Library conference rooms B & C. The panel will address the workings of the fair trade system, its goals, accomplishments and its future direction. The event is organized by Dr. Molly Doane, assistant professor of anthropology, and Melanie Benesh, Arts ’06, United Students for Fair Trade. It is sponsored by JUSTICE, SEAC, Anthropology Club, and The Institute for Transnational Justice.
Missing from the panel? Anybody who is critical of the Fair Trade movement.

Also: any of the larger coffee firms such as Starbucks. But this is simply the result of the fact that large corporate firms have nobody in Milwaukee able to discuss policy issues, and willing to come to Marquette.

Look for a split between the true believers, who think they are striking a blow against the Evils of Corporate Capitalism, and the capitalists, who are happy to use “Fair Trade” as a marketing gimmick.

How do you tell the difference? Ask the following questions.
  1. Do you approve or disapprove of NAFTA?
  2. Do you approve or disapprove of CAFTA?
  3. What do you think of Hugo Chavez?
People who say (1.) disapprove (2.) disapprove and (3.) “I like him” are putting their own ideological passions ahead of any genuine concern for the world’s poor.

Indeed, we aren’t impressed by a movement that appeals to smug yuppies who are willing to pay a few cents more for a cup of coffee in order to feel self-righteous.

And the beneficiaries in the Third World are business people who are rather savvy and able to jump through the hoops that the “Fair Trade” movement makes them navigate. It’s a form of imperialism, in reality.

For a good debunking of the whole idea, check this.

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