October is Fair Trade Month.
Now how can supporting that be a bad thing?
Fair Trade is important because conventional "free trade" often leaves farmers and artisans living in extreme poverty, sometimes even facing malnutrition and starvation when world market prices swing dramatically. These are the conditions that have led in some cases to the use of illegal child labor, including child slave labor, and to the use of unsustainable environmental practices such as cutting down trees in the rainforest.
Fair Trade, by contrast, ensures that farmers and artisans are paid a living wage, and that the products they produce aren't made in sweatshops or by exploited child laborers. Fair Trade also promotes production techniques that will not harm the environment.
"Well, workers in those countries are just happy to have a job at all. They won't strive for something better." Okay. So we'll keep their morale nice and low so that they never imagine that something better is possible.
"Well, Fair Trade gives an unfair advantage to smaller producers." And tariffs and subsidies by developed countries don't give an unfair advantage to big freaking corporations? Plus if one of the big coffee companies goes under, the government might consider bailing them out. So not to worry. [/sarcasm]
Happy Fair Trade Month.