Skip to comments.Help with research on Oxfam NGO; "Fair trade not free trade"
Posted on 04/27/2005 8:56:45 AM PDT by jdsteel
A "Fair Trade not Free Trade" (The taste of justice) presentation is going to be held at my (I can't believe this is actually happening) church, which is fairly conservative. I have done a few hours research on the web and found some info on Oxfam, the parent organization. I'd like to ask the fine freeper folks to help me add to my ammunition to be able to counter with facts & figures that outline how the whole thing is not only counter-productive but a farm system for socialists, the democrats push into houses of worship and what is probably a corrupt and un-accountable organization. I've scratched the surface in my research, but I'd like some help to get deeper. I KNOW that this is a growing strategy of the left.
Probably the most damning evidence of the problems re Oxfam is the long linkage between George Soros and Oxfam.
Soros hates America, GW, pushes death, abortion, and other normally anti Christian values.
Below is the link of the search between Soros and Oxfam.
The left says that FTAs benefit business and industry at the expense of labor, social welfare, and the environment.
The tool used to do this is the "investor protections" found in the FTAs. The best known is Chap 11 of NAFTA.
The way it works is that the participating countries have regulatory laws that protect labor, social welfare, and the environment. "Investor Protections" say that these regulatory laws are only hidden taxes and consequently they are actually regulatory "takings". This applies to legislated, judiciated, and administrative regulations.
A good example is that of the Mexican trucks. The Teamsters, Public Citizen, and Earth Justice sue to prevent entry of the trucks. Mexico then takes the US into arbitration and they win a judgement. The US can then either let the trucks in or pay the judgement each year.
The dems see this as a big conspiricy by thr VRWC to undermine all that they accomplished in the 20th century. That is why you hear Hillary make statements such as the republicans are trying to "roll back the New Deal" or "roll back the 20th Century".
The dems also think that it is the Federalist Society that is behind it and that is why the Senate dems will do anything to keep Bush's feddie judicial nominations from being approved.
For a quick overview from a libertarian perspective here is a report of a speech recently given in London at a similar event. I received it just the other day as I'm on the email list.
Free Life Commentary
Issue Number 135
Saturday, 16 April 2005
Free Trade v Fair Trade
A Debate Organised by Christian Aid
St Margaret's Church, Westminster
The Evening of Friday 15th April 2005
12:15am - 1:15 am
A Speech Together with Introduction and Brief Commentary
by Sean Gabb
I took a telephone call about a week ago from a young man called
Leo Bryant. He worked for Christian Aid, he said, and was
organising a joint conference with Oxfam on world poverty. Would
I like to sit on the panel and debate the issue? The provisional
title of the debate was "Free Trade v Fair Trade". Would I speak
for free trade? I should normally have said yes at once. The
conference was to be in St Margaret's Church in Westminster, and
would draw an audience of around 700. I had long been
scandalised by the socialist takeover of English Christianity,
and this would be the closest I might ever get to addressing one
of my sermons to a real congregation.
The problem was the timing. The whole event was set for Friday
evening, and my debate was to be after midnight. I thought of
having to wander round Central London with nowhere to go between
the closing of my university and the beginning of the debate,
and was inclined to turn Mr Bryant down. But he offered me a bed
for the night, and urged on me the size of the audience. So I
As it happened, Central London was just as cold and lonely as I
had expected. But there I finally sat last night, about 20 feet
in front of the altar in St Margaret's. Beside me was Alex
Singleton from the Globalisation Institute. Beside him was Alan
Beattie of The Financial Times, who would chair the meeting.
Beyond sat Martin Khor from Third World Network and Prosper
Heoyi from Oxfam. Before me was the large audience I had been
promised. They were a fragment of a vast procession that had
streamed all evening through Westminster, waving banners and
candles and singing the rather feeble stuff that has since the
1960s passed for religious music.
Not all was grim, though. I had some friends there. David Carr,
David Goldstone, Paul Coulam and a few others had braved cold
and boredom to be there. More would have come, but were appalled
by the timing of the event.
We began with Alex Singleton. He put the case for free trade in
its most orthodox form. Trade benefitted both parties, he said.
It was not an act of charity for us to open our markets to poor
countries, but obvious self-interest. As for the poor countries
themselves, those that had liberalised their domestic economies
and opened up to foreign trade and investment had enjoyed the
best growth rates over the past few decades. It was all true and
all very well said.
I had expected to speak at the end of the debate. I had agreed
with Mr Singleton that he should use the first five minutes to
put the case for, and that I should use the next to last five
minutes. However, Mr Beattie turned to me and asked me to go
next. This was a nuisance. I had been settling into a gentle
doze in preparation for the fair traders, and I think it was
amusingly plain to the audience how I unprepared I was for
immediate action. However, I had written and largely memorised a
speech, and I delivered this, cutting where necessary to fit it
into the time available.
Though I was praised afterwards, I know that I am a poor speaker
for short occasions. I am not frightened by large audiences. I
can speak clearly and grammatically. Give me 40 minutes to
outline a case, and I can do a fine job. I am, after all, a
lecturer. But I do not shine when it comes to the short speech.
So it was last night. I had been awake for nearly 20 hours. I
had given four lectures during the day. was half asleep. I found
my eyes wandering to my text. If praise was due at all, it was
for the content of what I was saying, not for my manner of
saying it. Yet the speech was a good one. I can write well.
These reservations being made, here is what I said::
If you think that I came here tonight to defend multinational
corporations and the international government institutions, you
have chosen the wrong person. These are dishonest. They are
corrupt. They are incompetent. They have blood on their hands.
But do not suppose for a moment that the world trading order as
it actually exists is liberal or more than incidentally
connected with free markets. A free market is a place where
individuals and groups of individuals come together to transact
voluntary exchanges without any backing of government force. To
call the actually existing order liberal - or "neo-liberal" - is
as taxonomically accurate as calling the old Soviet Communist
Party syndicalist. That order is based on tariffs, subsidies and
a web of other often invisible regulations. The international
institutions are a projection of Western states. The
multinational corporations are creatures of these states. They
shelter behind the privilege of limited liability. They get
their political friends to cartelise markets, and do favours in
This is not market liberalism. It is a fraud played on us all by
our ruling classes - these being those politicians, bureaucrats,
educators, lawyers and media and business people who derive
wealth, power and status from an enlarged and activist state.
But this being said, the fair trade solution is easily worse
than the problem. The ruling classes in any country never have
at heart the best interests of their subjects. But in the West,
we can just about afford corporatism. We still have some
heritage of market liberalism. Our ruling classes are to some
degree restrained in their predations. That is not so in poor
countries. The ruling classes there are naked kleptocracies. All
that keeps them from utterly starving their unfortunate subjects
is their own idleness and incompetence. The fair trade talk may
well be of "import substitution" or "rational planning" or
"picking local winners". The reality will be to turn poor
countries into sealed territories ruled by the law of the jungle
- a jungle in which only the well-connected will survive.
Presented in the lilting, caring tones of "helping the poor",
what we have is nothing more than the old Nazi policy of autarky.
Let me give one example of how fair trade works in practice. On
the 1st January this year, import taxes were raised in Kenya and
in several other African countries on second hand clothing from
the West. The stated purpose of this was to give local textile
manufacturers the chance to grow big enough to face foreign
competition. Of course, the textile interests will never be able
to face open competition. Infant industries never grow up.
Protect them, and prices rise. Money that would otherwise be
saved and invested is spent on paying the higher prices. Money
that would otherwise be spent on other goods is spent on paying
the higher prices. The country gains a sector in which it may
have no comparative advantage - or in which it might have a
comparative advantage only in less well-connected hands. Those
sectors in which there might be a comparative advantage suffer.
But the lucky capitalists who are protected make big profits,
and their friends in government collect the usual gifts. And the
people at the bottom? Norman Nyaga, a Kenyan Member of
Parliament can answer here. Writing in The Kenya Times last
month, he accused the Government of deliberately rigging the
textile market in favour of some foreign investors. He said the
effect would be to damage the livelihood of 10 million Kenyans
who work in the second hand clothing sector, and to lower the
incomes still further of the 56 per cent of Kenyans who live
below the official poverty line and who must buy second hand
clothes or go without.
I do not support the present system of world trade. But give me
a straight choice between this and the economics of the jungle
that is fair trade, and I will choose the present system. Global
corporatism may be unfair. But it does at least allow some
wealth to be created. It does allow at least some rational
economic calculation. Fair trade simply gives even more power to
politicians and bureaucrats and favoured business interests in
poor countries - that is, to the very people and interests that
made and have kept these countries poor.
If you really want to improve the lives of the poorest, forget
all this "kumbaya socialism" - which is a cocktail of bad
economics and bad theology, held together by self-righteous
candle-waving. Either settle for what we have - which, unfair as
it is, delivers something - or campaign for a system of real
voluntary exchange. Fair trade can never be fair. But free trade
can be free.
Had I been giving a lecture rather than a brief speech, I could
usefully have elaborated on some of my points. I have written at
length elsewhere about the political and economic implications
of the Christian faith, and so will not repeat myself here. But
I grow increasingly convinced that allowing the creation of
joint stock limited liability corporations was one of the
greatest legislative mistakes of the 19th century. Their
existence is based on a separation of ownership from control.
The owners are released from all responsibility. The controllers
form a separate class of corporate bureaucrats little different
in outlook from civil servants. The usual psychology operates.
They will commit immoral acts for their organisations they might
not consider committing for themselves. The owners will assent.
The legal privileges and unlimited lifespan of these
corporations let them grow to enormous size and wealth. The
opportunities exist for highly effective immorality.
Collectively, they become part of the state apparatus, and work
to destroy true, unregulated enterprise.
These corporations could not exist in any natural economic
order. I have heard other libertarians argue that they might
emerge without legal privilege on some loose contractual basis.
But I do not agree. The shareholders would still be liable in
tort, and that alone would deter them from any involvement with
a business that they did not personally control. As for the
utilitarian argument, that large undertakings need large
companies, I also disagree. So long as it showed an acceptable
return on investment, there is no project too big to be taken on
by clusters of sole traders and partnerships. No doubt, things
like the Channel Tunnel would not have been built - but I fail
to see how not having that would have made the world a poorer
place. Even if some highly valuable projects might not be
undertaken, their lack would be compensated by the greater
general innovation to be expected in an order of small,
Indeed, the matter of what to do about the corporations is more
interesting to me than world poverty. As I said in my speech,
people in places like black Africa are poor because they have
maniacally corrupt and oppressive governments. They would do
better even with the most cartelised global corporatism than
left in the clutches of their own rulers. And that is it. But
how can this corporatism be replaced by a system of voluntary
exchange between legally responsible small firms? I think I have
a few answers here, but will give these at another time.
Outside the church, I bumped into the personal assistant for one
of the Conservative leaders. The usual sort of well-dressed,
well-connected young man on the make who appeals to such people,
he insisted I might have brought a few people over to my side
had my speech been less "abrasive". I replied by noting how
eight years of being soft and gentle had got his Party nowhere.
I also pointed out that five minutes speaking time is best given
up to blunt expression, when what is expressed is probably new
to the audience. I know that a few mouths had fallen open at my
dismissal of "self-righteous candle waving". But that effect was
my intention. I wanted the audience to go away with a few
memorable phrases. These might eventually provoke a chain of
thought in the hearer's mind, or be passed on in conversation to
someone else more receptive.
There are times when arguments can be won by moderate expression
and compromise. But this was not such a time. It was not even a
time for argument. An hour chopped into little blocks of
comments from the panel and questions from the audience does not
allow for argument in any meaningful sense. As said, it was a
time for blunt expression.
I wish I had been able to stay longer and have some real
arguments, but I could now feel great waves of tiredness
sweeping over me. So I went off to bed. The audience remained in
the church, singing responses in a language unknown to me and
set to music that might have been more suited to lullabies for
an idiot child. The rest of the procession had taken to resolute
candle waving, and had moved down Whitehall to Downing Street,
where hopes were expressed of waking up Tony Blair. A pity, I
thought at the time, the Salvation Army had not sent a few of
its brass bands to join in the parade.
And that is it. A fuller account would mention the grotesque
nonsense uttered by the other speakers. They had obviously never
opened an economics textbook in their lives. Nor had most of the
audience that so warmly applauded their nonsense. But I cannot
be bothered to record any of what was said on the other side.
There will be a DVD of the whole event, and this will speak for
On balance, it was worth attending. I waved the flag for the
Libertarian Alliance. I handed out several dozen business cards.
I might be invited to speak at other events where I can outline
my objections in more detail to the heresies of theological
socialism. Together with Mr Singleton, I might even have started
a few trains of thought in unknown minds.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.