Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, December 21, 2007

"Teaching the lepers how to sing."

Over at my house the above is an oft-used phrase. In a nutshell it means that one is doing something of nebulous goodness strictly to assuage one's mind and possibly broadcast a more-virtuous-than-thou to one's putative lessers.

The ways one can "teach the lepers how to sing" are manifold. Buying a hybrid vehicle made of 100% post-consumer content is one. Turns out that buying Fair Trade coffee is another.

Normally, I do not bother reading The New York Tass Times, seeing as how hypertension runs in my family but if PJ O'Rourke hath penned a piece for them, the least I could do is show open-mindedness and read it, skipping merrily past all the articles explaining to murderous terrorists insurgents how and why and when the various military and intelligence forces of the USA and its allies intend to combat them.

If we go strictly by the P.R. buzz of the thing, you'd think Fair Trade Coffee was simply a group getting together to make sure certain coffees were grown by, say, non-slave labor and paid a price which would afford the people involved a living wage and that'd be pretty much it. Of course, just because that should be it, doesn't mean it is. Instead, according to Starbucked author Taylor Clark (hardly a vast right-wing conspirator), the reality of the thing is quite different, since those who wish to qualify for the coveted FT status:
"...must obey a structure of rules that often seems more like a socialist wish list than a structure designed to help growers[.]"
"All aspiring farms must be small, family-run plots that are part of democratic, worker-owned cooperatives. Private ownership and capitalist practices are completely off limits — even hiring day laborers can take your farm out of the running."
Mind you, I was dimly (very dimly, truth be told) aware of the not-quite-sympatico vibe of the FT bureaucrats and always went with these guys who paid their growers FT prices without the liberation dog and pony show.

...and I'm a coffee snob.



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