Sunday, January 15, 2012

Consider this ~

 Fair Trade in Education matters too: why not certify institutions of higher ed as providers of a Fair Trade Education? Combat exploitation in higher ed degree production. Although relevant in explaining structures and ethics of consumption, the excerpt below from Combating Slavery in Coffee and Chocolate Production is not intended as a direct comparison of adjunct faculty and other precariously employed knowledge workers in higher education with slave and child labor. The moral obligation of ethical production is also a cornerstone of Talmudic Law.

"Morality requires American consumers to purchase fair-trade products whenever possible. Whether one is a egalitarian, believing that people have an obligation to help others, or a libertarian, believing that people are only obligated to not coerce, harm or unjustifiably restrain innocent others, it seems clear that consumers have an obligation to ensure that the people who produce the goods they consume are both not enslaved and basically compensated. Just as a morally decent person understands that it is wrong to purchase cheap goods from a provider who is known to regularly sell stolen goods, so, too, is it wrong to purchase cheap chocolate, coffee, sugar, and other goods that are cultivated through stolen, forced, or exploited labor.

It is also important to point out that buying fair-trade products is not the same as donating to help others. When it comes to the moral uses of money people often think of donating funds to the needy or those who are suffering. While donating to the needy is an important component of a moral life, fewer donations would be necessary if people were justly rewarded for the often very hard work they do. Ideally, no one should purchase fair-trade products with the idea that they are donating to improve the lives of coffee and cocoa growers. Buying fair-trade products is not "donating" to a cause, it is merely doing the decent thing: paying people a reasonable sum for the work that they are doing for you.

.... For the contemporary American consumer our purchasing practices are moral proclamations. To the extent that we refuse to contemplate the people whose labor produces the foods we put in our bodies and the objects we use in our daily lives, we conveniently deny our moral obligation to consider the well being of not only those nearest to us, but also workers living in the shadows of production who also have the basic rights to living a decent life."

Truthout, January 15, 2012: Combating Slavery in Coffee and Chocolate Production by Jeffery Alan Nall PhD (Scholar, Teacher, Culture Critic ~ and one of us: Instructor, Indian River State College and Florida Atlantic University)

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