Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fair Trade Heroin

I always wondered about fair trade. They take a product and pay above the market rate for it. This is done on the grounds that this extra cost improves the farmers standard of living and is thus beneficial to everyone because the buyer gets to feel like they are not exploiting poor third world farmers.

How much help to farmers get? Well they get about a third above the market rate.
“Fair Trade partners with cooperatives of subsistence farmers to ensure higher-than-market prices – they can usually guarantee cooperatives about $1.26 per pound of beans – 28 cents higher than the commercial market price.”

When these beans are then sold the mark up for the conventional coffee seller is about 5 times the original cost. For the Fair trade coffee company it is about 4 times. So essentially making 5 times the market rate is classed as immoral whereas making 4 times is more ethical according to the fair trade advocates.


Now here is what annoys me. The same standards that apply to fair trade commodities are not applied to other commodities produced by third world farmers. For someone to lecture you on the morality of fair trade they should not consume any third world produce (that has not been extensively processed) that has more then a 4 times mark up.

Heroin has a 400 times mark up. I believe and look for evidence that cocaine and marijuana have similar “price gouging” levels of mark up. So next time someone lectures you on fair trade coffee ask them if they have ever taken drugs and what was the fair trade efforts they made in this purchase?

Obviously a dealer cannot start a fair trade smack den, my point is that drug users should consider the production of their drugs in the same way they might with any other product. Also anti-drug enforcers should realise the effect their actions have on causing the exploitation of third world farmers.

Strangely this is both a pro legalisation and anti legalisation argument. What would the consequences of having heroin available at one eightieth the cost be? Junkies would no longer have to steal for heroin as it would be so cheap. But given the rules of supply and demand the use of heroin would soar.

2 comments:

Luke said...

What about fair trade heroin? Economically conscious dealers selling at higher rates in order to pass more money back to the original farmers.

"Yeah, man, I know you can get it cheaper down the corner but he's not socially responsible, y'know?"

Peter` said...

Is that all there is to fair trade? are there no other prerequisites to the fair trade standard? isn't the point about the heroin trade that the opium farmers are paid a higher price for opium than they would be for other crops?