Conundrum Dumbdrum

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Is Fair Trade Really Fair?

What happens when doing good goes terribly wrong?  Well meaning folkss across the world want to be a do gooder. Thats great that we are so considerate and want to effect change in our world for its betterment.  When you take a good thought, and good intentions, and wrap them in a poorly thought out or researched plan you may just be adding fuel to the fire.

Ikea is one that stands out in the forefront of such a dilemma. it was found that Ikea was buying rugs from a textile manufacturer in India that employed children. Seeing how the civilized Western world doesn’t want to be bad, Ikea pulled the plug on the textile producing tikes. As a result of the children not making any income the parents were forced to sell them off to the highest bidder. Not many good people buy children at wholesale auction i wouldn’t think.

This was not the outcome that was expected from such good intentioned people half a world apart. What Ikea did do was set up a program to begin helping the children and their parents pay off the indentured servitude by giving small loans at no interest. They set up schools in the factories and in short order young girls were getting an education that they could use to get real jobs later. The children were taught real world skills instead of simply being exploited. Everyone wins, and most importantly, the children were no longer stuck in a tragic and vicious circle.

New cars create more pollution than just driving the old ones. Since much of the pollution from cars is made in the manufacturing process it stands to make sense driving a well maintained is better than buying a new car built with mostly plastics and rare earth metals. That old beater might get a few less miles per gallon but it doesn’t have blood stained batteries and oil produced plastics.

African rare earth is mined in such environments that create violence with youth of the area. Being such devout humanitarians, the United States quit buying Rare Earth Metals from Africa. China quickly stepped up, and since the competition had simply walked away, it pays 30 to 40 percent less than what it had been getting with a wider demand.

hens_roostersWe now buy most rare earth metals from China, seeing how they are conflict free, as far as we care. The conflict and death still surround the mines, however out of sight out of mind makes us all have a warm fuzzy feeling knowing we stopped buying rare earth metals that make our iPhones, iPads, and similar electronic devices we cruise the web and neighborhoods with. Can you say electric car? Its far enough away that you cant hear the ruckus at the mines if you roll your window up.

While its great to be thoughtful and to consider your fellow human with such outstanding appeal, use your head for something beside a hat rack. Simply doing something and not thinking it out well and considering the consequences doesn’t always mean your best laid plans will one to tuition a you had hoped. Cut once and measure twice.

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