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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fair Trade or UNFAIR SCAMS?

Recently I have heard a lot about supporting fair trade which is supposed to support companies which give better prices to their workers.

The question comes up. How do you KNOW that workers are being paid unfair prices?

How do you KNOW that a bag of coffee which says it is approved by "fair trade" is not a downright lie?

Research Helps: However anyone can put anything up on the internet but when published in newspapers, there is some chance of legally being sued if a reporter falsifies information. So I take note especially of the information published in the Telegraph below.

I think perhaps asking missionaries who work closely with the natives in any country would be the most reliable source of information but I have not heard from them.

Here are some answers to those questions.

More about “Fairtrade is a fraud” – nice pamphlet by the Institute of Economic Affairs

22 April, 2008 · 2 Comments

David Davis
Last month one of our experienced writers said that “Fairtrade is a Fraud”.  While this IEA pamphlet here today does not deny the inherent and (very) inconvenient truth of this statement, it enlarges on some of the relationships involved in the whole “Fairtrade” scam, and explains why the entire “Fairtrade” flim-flam-branding exercise has the welfare of the “growers” as the least of its concerns.
Or you can see it here.
Here is part of the article on Fair Trade is a Fraud

Fairtrade is a fraud

18 March, 2008 · 4 Comments

Thankfully “Fairtrade Fornight” is now over. But if you want to remember why Fairtrade is not a good idea, especially if you are having it rammed down your throat by do-gooders and busybodies, here’s what Alex Singleton had to say in The Sunday Telegraph:
Despite Fairtrade’s moral halo, there are other, more ethical forms of coffee available. Most Fairtrade coffee is roasted and packaged in Europe, principally in Belgium and Germany. That is unnecessary and retards development. Farmers working for Costa Rica’s Café Britt have climbed the economic ladder not just by growing beans but by doing the processing, roasting and packaging and branding themselves.
But Café Britt is not welcome on the Fairtrade scheme. Most Café Britt farmers are self-employed small business people who own the land they farm. That is unacceptable to the ideologues at FLO International, Fairtrade’s international certifiers, who will accredit farmers only if they give up their small-business status and join together into a co-operative.
As Brian Micklethwait puts it:
Fairtrade is, in other words, a front organisation, crafted by unregenerate collectivists to con believers in nice capitalism to buy something which is neither nice nor capitalist. And the way to deal with cons is to expose them for what they are, so that only those who really do believe in the actual values being promoted here continue to support the thing.

The Truth About "FAIR TRADE" IS HERE.

Big Surprise: Fair Trade Coffee is a Scam

September 21, 2006 9:14 PM by Justin Ptak (Archive)
The Financial Times reports that:
"'Ethical' coffee is being produced in Peru, the world’s top exporter of Fairtrade coffee, by labourers paid less than the legal minimum wage. Industry insiders have also told the FT of non-certified coffee being marked and exported as Fairtrade, and of certified coffee being illegally planted in protected rainforest.
This casts doubt on the certification process used by Fairtrade and similar marks that require producers to pay the minimum wage.
It also raises questions about the assurances certifiers give consumers about how premium-priced fair trade coffee is produced...
...Though certified coffee makes up less than 2 per cent of the global coffee trade it has become increasingly mainstream as large retailers such as Starbucks and McDonald’s adopt it."
Here is one set of intelligent comments from a gentleman in South America

  • Francisco Torres
    The thing is, those are developing countries, and almost by definition they lack the right sort of institutions to maintain equitable results during the development transition.
    What they lack is property rights. We in Latin America are drowning in institutions. However, even with the "right" kind of institutions, I fail to see how is it unfair to the peasants what others are doing with their own property, even if it is growing coffee.

    Subsistence farmers get displaced as land and/or water resources get taken up by export-oriented cash crops like coffee, and so on.

    Again, this indicates that the problem is one of property rights. The US should have the "right" kind of institutions (being a developed country) and yet private property rights are not assured either - I do not believe that not having the "right" kind of institutions is the problem here.

    with sound institutions already in place, they would have been bought out for fair compensation - but that doesn't happen.
    Only problem is that "fair compensation" is a subjective term. The only sound compensation is that which the market provides, and not some institution, the reason being that institutions fall into the economic calculation problem whenever they try to make decisions on what is "fair" and what is not.
    Growing coffee by itself should not displace peasants. If I own a piece of land and a coffee grower wants to have it, he or she should offer to buy it at a price I like. That is the market solution. The "Institutional" solution would be one of expropriation, a la Eminent Domain or through bribing a State bureaucrat.

Or if that one didn't make you think, how about this comment?

  • According to information published on Fair Trade Labelling Organization's (FLO) website (Fair Trade's umbrella organization), the Fair Trade price paid to coffee farmers is set at $US 1.06 per pound or $US 2.35 per kg (inclusive of a Fair Trade "premium" of $US 5 cents/Ib to be used for development projects within the community).
    The same coffee - after having been processed in northern countries - is marketed and sold to socially-conscious (and naive) consumers under the Fair Trade label at an average retail price of $US 40- $US 50/kg, which means that the HUGE difference between the price paid to small-scale farmers ($US 2.35/KG) and the average retail price of coffee labelled, marketed and sold as Fair Trade ($US 40 to $US 50 per KG) generated from value-addition has ended up enriching the numerous mostly foreign economic agents within the supply chain(i.e. traders, exporters, shippers, processors, marketing agents, wholesalers and retailers, etc.)In this context, one wonders who is helping who...?
    Furthermore, the coffee has not been processed in the country of origin, thus failing to create much needed local employment and to generate income within the local economy. Processing the coffee in the country of origin would also enable coffee producing nations to break free from the dictate of the world market and from the vicious trap cycle of declining prices of coffee on the world market accentuated by increases in production to offset the initial price decline, thus further decreasing world prices and further impoverishing coffee and other primary agricultural commodity producers in poor nations. This is a vicious trap cycle, which the Fair Trade "business" is brilliantly using to its advantage...The Fair Trade "business" is capitalizing and prospering on both declining prices of primary commodities on the world market and on the good conscious and naivete on Western consumers...
    Fair Trade coffee statistics
    -The Fair Trade price paid to coffee farmers ($US 2.35/kg) only represents about 5% of the average retail value of coffee beans sold to consumers under the Fair Trade label ($US 40/kg -$US 50/kg).
    -1 KG of coffee makes on average 50 cups of coffee.
    -The average starting retail price for a cup of coffee in coffee shops or restaurants in the West is $US1-$US2: Thus, the equivalent price paid for a cup of coffee is $US 50/kg to $US 100/kg. The "Fair" Trade price paid to small-scale farmers only represents 2.5%-5% of the average retail price of a cup of coffee in the West.
    In this context, one wonders how "fair" the Fair Trade price paid to coffee farmers is and who is helping who...?

Or you may wish to check out or purchase the book explaining the Fair Trade Fraud


Or you may want to go to the source of a lot of this controversy and ask "IS FAIR-TRADE HELPING FARMERS OR HELPING THEMSELVES?"

Here is part of the article ...

Alex Singleton

Alex Singleton writes about politics from a free-market perspective. You can get his insightful email bulletin (sent every few weeks) by clicking here and you can follow him on Twitter at alexsingletonuk.

The poverty of Fairtrade coffee

“Fairtrade purports to work within the market economy but its rise has been largely based on marketing subsidies and public-sector procurement,” says Tom Clougherty, policy director of the Adam Smith Institute. Despite huge pressures on the public purse, local councils are squandering large sums becoming Fairtrade towns and cities, distributing posters and leaflets to nanny people into only buying Fairtrade. Meanwhile, the Fairtrade Foundation has received over £1.5m from the Department for International Development. It wants more. In December, reminiscent of 1970s-style industrial policy, it called for £50m of development aid to be spent as “strategic investment” on Fairtrade.

Fairtrade coffee is not actually the most ethical form available
Monday sees the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, the time each year when we are hectored into paying more for a cup of coffee. Charities, politicians and primary school teachers will deliver the scheme as an undisputed good. With all this effort, it is a pity Fairtrade does not work.
Fairtrade’s supporters blame the plight of coffee farmers on world prices and ruthless multinational companies. But supporters ignore the real causes of poverty among growers. Farmers I interviewed in Kenya told me that the problems they face are not caused by global influences but their own government’s interference. They are forced to use milling companies granted regional monopolies, who fleece them. They want to boost productivity by using fertiliser, but they cannot afford the inflated prices demanded by the government fertiliser monopoly. Imported tools and machinery would transform their output but are subject to punitive tariffs. Police roadblocks slow their goods and involve money exchanging hands.
Brazil, conversely, pursued free-market reforms and the farmers have mechanised. This has enabled five people and a machine to enjoy the same output as 500 unaided farmers. Yet the Fairtrade Foundation, the lobby group behind the scheme in the UK, seems oblivious to this and admits it has no programmes to encourage the use of technology. Even worse, it is giving counterproductive advice to farmers, encouraging them mix different crops in the same field, thereby cutting productivity and making future mechanisation more difficult.
Despite Fairtrade’s moral halo, there are other, more ethical forms of coffee available. Most Fairtrade coffee on sale in UK supermarkets and on the high street is roasted and packaged in Europe, principally in Belgium and Germany. This is unnecessary and retards development. Farmers working for Costa Rica’s Café Britt have been climbing the economic ladder by not just growing beans but by also doing all of the processing, roasting and packaging and branding themselves. Shipping unroasted green beans to Europe causes them to deteriorate, so not only is Café Britt doing far more to promote economic development than Fairtrade rivals, it is also creating better tasting coffee.
But Café Britt is not welcome on the Fairtrade scheme. Most of Café Britt’s farmers are self-employed small businesspeople who own the land they farm. This is wholly unacceptable to the rigid ideologues at FLO International, Fairtrade’s international certifiers, who will only accredit the farmers if they give up their small business status and join together into a co-operative. “It’s like outlawing private enterprise,” says Dan Cox, former head of the Speciality Coffee Association of America. Many African farmers, organised along tribal lines, are similarly excluded from the scheme. Other producers complain that accreditation is needlessly bureaucratic and costs five times as much as organic certifications.
Café Britt accuses the Fairtrade scheme of failing to understand the cultural realities in countries like Costa Rica where many farmers simply do not want to become part of co-operatives. Unlike campaigners’ romantic vision of developing country co-ops, the overwhelming evidence is that they are breeding grounds for corruption and abuse of workers. Co-operative leaders, who routinely get re-elected in fiddled votes, rake money from ordinary farmers, keeping them in the dark about their output’s true worth.
While true that certification requires an annual inspection (for a fee) these can range from simple visits to requests for paperwork by post. The scheme does not verify wages paid to labourers. Those co-operatives who run free elections are little better, with leaders often unwilling to make tough but necessary choices for fear of losing popularity with their voters. Moreover, an independent investigation into Peruvian Fartraide farms found breaches of Fairtrade rules, with many workers being paid less that that country’s minimum wage and non-certified coffee being passed off as Fairtrade.
Meanwhile, Fairtrade has the effect of encouraging relatively affluent, but not very efficient, producers to stay in the market. Being more affluent, they find it easier to jump the bureaucratic hurdles the scheme imposes. Accordingly, Mexico is the largest single Fairtrade coffee producer, despite the country having free access to US markets and enjoying average wages eighteen times those of its coffee rival Ethiopia, which loses out as a result.
Unfortunately, the juggernaut of Fairtrade marketing has been extremely damaging by crowding out other ethical approaches. While Café Britt’s products are sold globally, its products have found competing in the UK very difficult. Its UK distributor, 100% Arabica, was recently forced out of business. Good African Coffee, a non-Fairtrade Ugandan firm that packages and brands its coffee in Uganda, has done better but has still only gained a very small part Britain’s ethical coffee market.
While high-street chains like Starbucks and Caffe Nero have encouraged consumers to favour higher-quality, speciality coffee, there is growing evidence that Fairtrade is damaging quality, too. Fairtrade farmers typically sell in both Fairtrade and open markets. Because the price in the open market is solely determined by quality, they sell their better quality beans in that market, and then dump their poorer beans into the Fairtrade market, where they are guaranteed a good price regardless. Moreover, because co-operatives mix every farmer’s beans together, farmers who improve quality receive the same payment as those who do not, which discourages improvements. That’s worth considering next time you pop out for a double espresso.
There are often two sides to "truth" and sometimes the side that claims to be on the side of the "poor", "developing nations" are actually more interested in destroying FREE TRADE not helping farmers in developing countries at all.
I guess you will have to decide. However I have been scammed myself too often to simply accept the word of a large organization that seems to be making MORE MONEY themselves than that which is HELPING the farmers they claim to help.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Tongue: From Idioms to Idiocy

[Editor: I sometimes have a tongue problem. Do you? God has corrected most of it but I still give retorts when others insult or mock me. My prayer is that I can be like Jesus and give no answer to those who misuse their tongue against me.]

When we cut down or insult another person, what is it that is in us that wants to put someone else down?

Is that the only way we can feel lifted up by mocking others? WWJD?

If we are Christians, even if we think we are teasing, can you picture Jesus insulting his disciples or mocking their traits? Did Jesus ever mock Peter because he reacted too quickly and sometimes foolishly? Those that have an ear to hear know what Peter did in the Garden of Gethsemane.

For those who care, is it godly to insult and mock others for real or imagined characteristics? If God created and the Evil One destroys, whose side are you on when you mock or destroy a person's sense of self-esteem?

There is a fantastic TRUE book which illustrates very well the power of the tongue to build someone up or to destroy them verbally.

It is called "Positive Words, Powerful Results" by Hal Urban subtitled Simple Ways to Honor, Affirm, and Celebrate Life.

Hal Urban was a high school teacher for many years and also taught at the University of San Francisco. He is a well-known leader in the Character Education movement and is in constant demand as a speaker at national conferences and school and community events. He raised three sons as a single father, and now lives in Redwood City, California with his wife, Cathy.

Part One of the book has these telling chapters ...
  1. Words Make Us Human
  2. Words Can Change Lives
  3. Words Can Hurt and Offend
  4. Words Come from the Heart
  5. Words are Choices
Then in Part Two he goes on to explain the WIN-WIN REWARDS OF POSITIVE WORDS

It is one of the best books I have ever read to explain the Biblical principles presented in excerpt below.

I found this article for your consideration. The article is presented in excerpts...
Here are the Excerpts that Apply Most Commonly

Sins of the Tongue

Much can be said of a person's character by the way they use their tongue. Sanaca once said, "Speech is the index of the mind." Jesus said that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Mat. 12:34)

According to Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." In James 3:6, the Bible says that the tongue is "a fire, a world of iniquity", and James 3:8 calls the tongue a "deadly poison."

As a fool would carelessly play and prank with a loaded gun, so many Christians today do likewise with their deadly tongue. If only we could fully realize the untold damage that we are doing to the body of Christ! If only we could see the full effect of the words we use!

Perhaps a closer look into the Bible can help. God made man, and God made man's tongue, so surely God should be qualified to comment on the subject. Surely God should have some good counsel concerning the use and misuse of the human tongue. Let us consider some sins of the tongue as we find them revealed in God's word.

The Lying Tongue

Proverbs 25:18 says, "A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow." So a lying tongue is a misuse of a deadly weapon. It can be used to harm others near at hand (a maul), a few feet away (a sword), or a great distance away (an arrow). Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and God said that he hates a lying tongue (Pro. 6:17). All liars will have their part in the lake of fire, according to Revelation 21:8.

The Overused Tongue

Some people sin by simply overusing their tongue. Ecclesiastes 5:3 says that "a fool's voice is known by multitude of words." People think they appear smart by much talking, but the Bible states just the opposite. Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few." God doesn't like a blabber mouth. You say, "Well, that's just the way I am!" Then REPENT! Confess your sin and repent. Stop justifying your wickedness and ask God to help you repent.

The Swift Tongue

Some people are guilty of speaking too swiftly when they really need to wait before saying anything. God's word says the following in Proverbs 18:13: "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." How many times have you had to "eat" your words because you spoke too swiftly? James 1:19 warns us to be swift to HEAR and SLOW to speak. Why do you suppose God gave us two ears but only one mouth?

The Talebearing Tongue

Proverbs 18:8 says, "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." Leviticus 19:16 says, "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people. . ." Every Christian has the duty to deny his own desires and seek to edify other Christians (Rom. 14:19; Philip. 2:3). Talebearing runs wholly contrary to Christian edification. Talebearing (carrying and telling tales. or gossip) spreads all sorts of hurtful information around, and Satan uses such information to hinder and tear down God's work. A victim of talebearing, according to Proverbs, is a "wounded" person. God forbid that a Christian should wound another Christian, but it does happen all the time! Some Christians live as though they think God has "called" them to bear tales on other Christians. Many "Christian" newsletters are dedicated to informing the body of Christ on the latest news about someone's ministry or personal life. There are many nice words and phrases used to justify such conduct, but the Bible word is TALEBEARING.

The Cursing Tongue

Some people, Christians included, have a nasty habit of using their tongue for cursing. Romans 3:13-14 says, "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness."

The Piercing Tongue

Another sinful tongue is the piercing tongue. Proverbs 12:18 speaks of this tongue by saying, "There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health." Some people have a sharp piercing tongue which Satan uses to offend and insult others. The Bible commands Christians to have their speech dominated by GRACE (Col. 4:6), yet most churches have a few people who use their tongue like a sword to pierce their brethren in Christ.

It was Teddy Roosevelt who said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick," but the truth is that if you speak softly you won't need a big stick!
Titus 2:8 commands us to use sound speech which cannot be condemned. Friend, do you use graceful speech which cannot be evil spoken of, or do you possess a piercing tongue? Every Christian's prayer should be, "Lord, make my words gracious and tender, for tomorrow I may have to eat them."

"For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body." (James 3:2)

Copyright © 2001 James L. Melton

Isn't it time for us to grow up and stop getting our jollies from putting others down? How childish is that? What effect does it have on you when others compliment you sincerely about something you do or something you are?

What effect does it have when others belittle you?

Which would you or I rather be remembered for? Building others up or tearing them down?


Monday, November 2, 2009

Bashing Walmart

I just saw a video bashing Walmart because a mom and pop store is struggling.

Just go to Google videos if you want to search for it. I won't give you the address.
That is a sad story. It is unfortunate. There are a LOT of things that are worse because of our modern age.

It was probably also unfortunate that:
  • We still do not use horse and buggies because blacksmiths and their families  are extinct
  • There are no liveries in town so the liverymen are unemployed or have gone elsewhere
  • There are no more shoemakers because we cannot get our shoes repaired and they are so cheap imported from China.
  • That there are very few passenger trains so there are few jobs for firemen, trainmen, conductors and station hands
  • Section hands that tend track are a thing of the past, not needed any more
  • We import things from China because even though very poor Chinese people are employed, much poorer than any North American, Americans and Canadians cannot have those jobs because the Chinese have them
  • General stores are a thing of the past so all the people that worked there are unemployed
  • Tim Horton's has probably put many small restaurants out of business
  • Unions have probably made cars so expensive by much higher than average wage demands that new cars are now out of the reach of one-income families
  • Newspapers a long time ago put press operators out of business by computerizing
  • GM used to hire more people until they brought in computers which take away men's jobs
  • Barrel-makers have been out of business for some time since we started using separate boxes to put the crackers in
  • Coopers who made the rings which hold the barrels together are unemployed for the same reason
  • Are there any tailors in your town? Not in ours because clothes are so cheap we don't need to repair clothes any more
  • When I was young there were icemen that used to sell ice on the street. Where are they now? Unemployed since refrigerators were invented and cheap enough for the average person to buy.
  • Also there used to be junkmen pulling a wagon down the street asking for your old scrap metal and materials. Where are they now? Now they just all go to the dump.
  • Yep. When you think about it we were a lot better off in the 1800's.
  •  I think we should get rid of all our cars and buy horses, take off all our Chinese clothing, throw away our Chinese runners, crowd out the existing railway stations so that they will put on more trains, hire more firemen, engineers, trainmen and conductors and section-hands,
  • We should stop buying newspapers until they go back to printing presses.
  • We need to start getting a tailor to make all your clothes, throw out your refrigerator, energy star or not, and get an icebox, ask someone to collect your junk metal instead of putting it in recycling, ask if anyone can repair your shoes even tho it does cost a lot more just so a shoemaker can have a job.
  • Some of us need to learn how to make barrels and let's get those crackers OUT of the boxes and back into the barrels.
  • All coffee shops should be closed down within 2 miles of a small restaurant even if the coffee is worse, so those mom and pop restaurants can stay in business.
  •  Yes sir, we would be so much better off, even if more people die because of the spread of germs from food in open barrels, it was a better day to which we should return.
  • Or NOT.

Anybody can say anything about anything on the internet which does not make it true.

Anybody also can make a video and upload it to YouTube. I always reserve judgement whenever I see something like this since it is the agenda of the far left to belittle Walmart usually because they shop at the Gap or other high-class store and do not see that Walmart is for the average person, the poorer person who cannot afford Gap prices.

Walmart helps people in every community it exists in including Mexico and third-world countries.

I have not even looked at the video yet but I am assuming when I see the words "prepared for .... class" that some kid did this. Even if it was CNN, there have been notable errors in CNN, CBS [Dan Rather], and absolute lying in articles in the New York Times.

So even before I look at the video my suspicion level goes up. Liberals are taught that Walmart and stores like them are using people and treating them poorly and not giving them the same benefits as American citizens...

Well, duh of course! They AREN'T usually American citizens in other countries, in fact very few would be, and when Walmart comes to Mexico, as I learned when I was down there the Mexicans that are hired think they have died and gone to heaven. They can finally make a decent stable living whether the pay is $5 an hour [which is about $5 more an hour than they WERE getting] or $15 an hour.

Who stands to gain by discrediting Walmart? Would UNIONS be one? Do unions ever see Walmart as taking their jobs and giving them to people overseas like China because Walmart buys so much overseas?

Are unions always honest and upright?

Would they like to discredit Walmart so that people would go to stores that  ALWAYS sell American-made products?

And of course we know Walmart has no competition. There are no Target stores anywhere. No Ace or Value hardware, no Best Buy, no Radio Shack. No dollar stores.

There should be laws against buying ANYTHING outside of our country so that more people in OUR country can work. Forget those Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and Taiwanese. Just because they don't have bread; let them eat cake!

As for those poorer people who obviously shop at Walmart because the prices are low, they should just wake up and get a higher-paying job so that they can afford to shop at the Gap.

Those lazy ...... protect MY $75 an hour job [including benefits]! I don't care about yours! So there!

Yup. I think the real problem is that CHANGE should be OUTLAWED! We should NOT ALLOW CHANGE! Look what it is doing to our country! Actually making things affordable! (:-)

And then we should protest in front of Walmart stores and prevent shoppers from coming in! That'll teach 'em!

Then when they close down and move farther away who cares about the lost jobs? It's all Walmart's fault.

(:-) Like I say, anyone can make a heart-rending video. However when your heart is rent you tend not to be able to use your brain.

EMOTION OVER THINKING makes you look like you've been drinking!