Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fair Trade sounds nice...

Article 9 on the Fall Town Meeting Warrant is all about Fair Trade.

I'm flip-flopping between feeling indifferent and feeling slightly annoyed by it.

If it mandated that the Town Manager buy only Fair Trade Certified coffee and chocolate, or that stores in Amherst sell only Fair Trade Certified coffee and chocolate then I'd be Very Upset Indeed. But it doesn't, it just suggests that the Select Board promote Fair Trade and that the Town Manager ensure that Fair Trade goods get proper consideration in the normal Town Chocolate Procurement Process (for the humor-impaired-- just kidding, I'm sure the Town does NOT have a separate process just for buying chocolate).

I get slightly annoyed when I imagine how this will play out at Town Meeting. There will be pretty pictures of coffee plantations and happy, smiling Fair Trade plantation workers. And then the Grumpy Curmudgeons will stand up and say that it's dumb for the Town Manager to spend Precious Taxpayer Money thinking about Fair Trade, and what is Town Hall doing buying coffee and chocolate anyway when the employees could just bring their own from home or buy some from Amherst Coffee and save the Town some money?

Overall, I'm very skeptical of the whole Fair Trade movement. If you want to really help people overseas or help the environment, then switch from drinking $3 cups of coffee to taking a 10-cent caffeine pill every morning with some water.

Then send the $2.90 you saved to your favorite organization trying to make other countries as nice as this one (I like the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity) or your favorite environmental non-profit (I like The Nature Conservancy).

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