SPIRITUALITY, FAIR TRADE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
10
September
2013

Week 1: Using Purchasing Power for Justice and Hope (9/10)

Actual Responses to Text
1) The flow chart on page 35 provided a lot of impact for me. As a member of the business school we take an operations class that discusses flow charting. The class focuses on getting a product through as quick as possible and eliminating costs where ever possible to be able to offer a cheap product to consumers and maximize profits. This is not what the Fair Trade diagram looks like. Instead of starting at the end and setting a price (as Walmart does), this sets a price for the designer/producer/ builder.
2) The second part of the reading that impacted me was Deuteronomy 15:7-11. This one is about giving to your fellow "humans" and not to ask for debts to be repaid. I find this interesting because this is a problem we struggle with, especially when interacting with FT in Africa, South America and India. The issue is that if we just give money to them then they will accept it, maybe waste it, and they will feel no obligation to pad it back since we are not (according to Deuteronomy) supposed to ask for debts to be repaid. So this is a challenging thought, do you give to someone and make it possible for them to be dependent on you or only to business with them.

Actual Response
1) In response to the first point above about the flow charts, there is a lot to say about the our society. We must first be willing to accept that there may be higher prices if we are going to buy social just products. As we see in the flow chart if the producer is getting 20% of the product price instead of 1-5% then the price will go up (because owners will want to maintain some profits). This means that we as the end consumers will have to accept that our purchasing power, as the article describes, will come at a premium. This is something that will take a lot of convincing of consumers to do, especially because natural price increases already bother people. This is going to be, and has already proven to be, a tough sell to many consumers. (If companies do this then it may look like we are posing a 'tax' on people in the US who are already struggling to make ends meet. All at the cost of helping people in another country. And although this may be the right thing to do since our standard of living is higher, but it will be a tough sell to law makers and politicians.)

2) I am going to respond to the second point that I wrote about above. This has to do with giving to the poor or doing business with the poor in developing nations. Many economists believe that the United States could do more for African and South American developing countries by doing business with them and having them create wealth rather than have the US give hand outs. This economic theory goes against the bible verse that tells us to give and not to seek for repayment of debts. I would agree with the economic theory due to how its visible and clear and we have seen it work in other economies. For me it is more sustainable than the handouts that the bible suggests, that being said we have to look after the poorest of the poor. There I see nothing wrong with giving food out to those who have nothing to eat or drink.



Blog #1: In-Class Video and "Using our Purchasing Power for Justice and Hope" »


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