Sunday, July 07, 2002

Berkeley to vote to hamper economic development in third-world countries



In this story, Rick Jones is doing his part to rob third-world coffee workers of their jobs. You see, Rick takes his coffee "Fair Trade," that is, businesses in Berkeley will be forced to buy coffee from businesses that are certified "Free Trade." Right now, "Free Trade" means that the coffee business

guarantees a so-called living wage for small farmers in developing countries. Or the coffee would be shade-grown, protecting rain forests and other sensitive environments. Or it would be grown without pesticides.

So Rick, a newbie lawyer, wishes to dictate which coffee brews people can drink. To Berkeley's credit, even it's mayor is reluctant to tell people which type of coffee they want to drink.

Here's the deal: either people will buy the coffee produced by poor, poor workers who are paid cents per day, or the poor, poor, workers will have to go find a different job which pays a few cents a day. This stage is necessary in the economic history of a country, even our own. Prosperity has to start somewhere. Those who would boycott the work of those in sweatshops, "child labor camps," and other politically incorrect jobs only work stump economic development in third-world countries.

Prosperity cannot be legislated. It cannot be boycotted into existence. Just as swimming against a riptide yields no progress, so working against economic principle usually accomplishes little that is desirable.

If you want to help a country develop, don't dictate to people what coffee they can drink.