So this has been gone over before, but it still needs to be said again.
First, I like the idea of "fair trade" as much as anyone. It can work to at least a partial degree, but only in respect to country/region specific natural resources available nowhere else. Only examples of diamonds of a certain quality, precious metals (as in some platinum group metals), and some indigenous flora or fauna. And that is great!
But when you do it with something like, say petroleum, increasing the cost of importation simply increases the incentive to source from elsewhere, or domestically.
And here is the explanation of the flaw in the concept with regards to kiteboarding equipment-
A particular product, capable of being produced locally for a higher cost OR produced in a 2nd/3rd world country for a lower cost, is selected. The end user (say UK consumer) is given the choice of buying:
(A) a cheaper foreign produced item
(B) a MORE expensive foreign produced item
(C) a locally produced item the same cost as (B).
In the ideal world, (B) is chosen, and both (A) and (C) are passed over. This is out of the kindness of the heart of the end user (UK customer) and concern for the plight of those in a foreign country. But here is the effect that this decision has:
IF the additional money sent to the 2nd/3rd world country ever makes it to the worker on the line (pretty big if), it has some negative consequences itself. First, increasing wages increases rents and taxes - taking a huge portion of that additional money. Then the price of goods (groceries, transportation, etc...) goes up as there is more money to be passed around. Thus some more of that increase is taken up. And with an increase in wages and potential prosperity, more people move into an already crowded area. This increases the use of utilities, sewers, and pollution in countries with virtually no environmental regulations.
So you can see that in a way, the lower prices we pay for foreign produced goods has some to do with the labor costs, but also with the lack of environmental protection associated with that production and the laborers living standards.
Thus in the end, the environmentally conscientious end user (UK customer) looks to locally produced goods, if for nothing else - just to save the environment in that foreign country and to not pollute the earth so much. Many other benefits are realized by this, such as not having to ship the goods across the ocean, and having a much faster "production to market" time line.
Then, those formerly well paid line workers in the foreign country can go back to farming or other labor available, if any. If not, then they have no jobs at all.
So my personal opinion, as well as the opinion (at least in the end) of the "sweat shop" workers is - send them money if you can, but don't eliminate their job by sending that money. It is a sad state of affairs as it is now, just try not to make it worse for those you are concerned for.
Last edited by Matteo V
on Fri May 03, 2019 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.