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UnFair Fair-Trade Coffee

I'm a big proponent of the Fair Trade movement. It's a market solution to a problem that legislators haven't done anything on except for Berkely where they tried (and failed) to pass something. Regulation would be too rigid and cumbersome - this is a problem that needs a market solution.

So, you can imagine my sadness when I got these articles in my "articles from dad" bin: ‘Fair’ coffee workers paid below minimum wage and The bitter cost of ‘fair trade’ coffee. The FT (Financial Times) is a newspaper that I respect pretty well. It's the salmon colored one read by all the executives in your company. And it's not just some crud like Forbes FYI that caters to their expensive taste - it's solid analysis.

When the FT points out that a Fairtrade organization isn't doing it's job of actually, I don't know, certifying that laborers make above minimum wage it makes me mad.

I'm not sure what needs to be done about this. For one thing I'd say that all consumers should print out these articles and take them into their local coffee shop. Demand to know what your fair-trade coffee shop is doing to make sure that the premiums they pay are getting down to the workers. Complaints and offers to take our business across the street are about the only thing we've got as consumers. We used that voice to get fair trade coffee in the first place - let's use them again to make sure the system keeps working.

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