Consumers vs. the Consumed: The Grocery Store

'If you want produce grown on the farm down the road you'll have to go to Kuala Lumpur.'

In my past few blogs I have discussed different environmental based development practices, which negatively impact small farmers and local peoples across the globe.  While I have touched upon the role consumers play in the exploitative agricultural system, I have avoided diving more deeply into the matter.

The politics of blame vs. responsibility is crucial to understanding the role consumers play.  It is easy for consumers to shift the blame to larger and more powerful actors.  I mean it appears as if consumers have relatively little sway over the system, but in reality consumers are fueling the system.  Even though big agribusinesses, multinational corporations, and state governments are making most of the development decisions consumers still walk into the grocery store every day and buy into the system.  In order to break down the exploitative system consumers need to take responsibility for their actions, step up, and speak out.

When consumers walk into the grocery store they are presented with thousands of different options.  I live in Massachusetts, yet when I walk into the grocery store I can buy pineapples, mangos, and bananas year round.  I’m no botanist, but I am pretty sure pineapples don’t fare well in the snow.  As consumers we demand this variety in our diet, but we often disregard where this food comes from.

The rise of grocery stores in the United States and other developed countries encouraged the demand for foreign foods.  To meet the demand for foreign foods development practices have shifted to favor produce desired by consumers.  It is no coincidence that I discussed monoculture, GMO seeds, and land grabs in my past blogs; they all tie directly into the food system driven by consumers.

Each of the practices mentioned above promoted an easier way to streamline foreign produce to consumers in different regions of the globe.  In India traditional farming is no longer economically viable and farmers would profit more by transitioning to high-value crops; however, for many farmers the transition is hindered by high initial investment costs and environmental degradation (Gandhi 1).

On top of that, even if small farmers are making more money growing high-value crops the transition still predisposes them to food insecurity.  A Kiel Institute policy report found that in Ghana the standard pineapple market is dominated by multinational corporations; however, small farmers can enter the market by growing organic pineapples (Kleeman 6).  So small famers have a chance to become profitable, that’s good news right?

Yes and No

  • Organic agriculture looks like a path to success for small farmers, but in the long run small farmers will be unable to compete in the competitive global organic produce market (Raynolds 181). Jumping to conclusions and avoiding future predictions are dangerous in the development world, historically causing avoidable problems.
  • When looking at this situation it is important to understand that small famers in Ghana only have to change their agricultural practices because of the system forced upon them in the first place. Large corporations and state governments created situations in which small farmers were marginalized and then left to find their own way back to success.  These corporations are essentially sponsored by consumers demanding foreign produce.

Grocery stores are stocking their shelves with high-value crops because that is what consumers are asking for.

If consumers ask, grocery stores will give.

If grocery stores give, small farmers are consumed.

The global food system is an incredibly complicated, but the base structure of the system is crystal clear.  So this presents the question as to why consumers are not concerned with the current system?  I mean organic is the new fad right?

The answer to this question may lie in what parts of the food system are particularly concerning to consumers.  While climate concerns, environmental degradation, animal treatment, and farmer rights are important in the minds of many, health concerns usually hold more sway in the minds of consumers (Haspel 1).  This highlights the nature of privileged consumers to think only of themselves.

Is there a way to change the mindset of Americans and other prominent consumers?  If there is one, I don’t know it.  The most I can do is educate those who are willing to listen and participate in movements working to combat the corrupt food system.

Citations

Gandhi, Varun. “The Real Shoots of Economic Revival Lie in Agriculture.” Hindustantimes. Hindustan Times, 10 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Haspel, Tamar. “The Surprising Truth about the ‘food Movement’.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post Food, 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Kleemann, Linda. Organic pineapple farming in Ghana: A good choice for smallholders?. No. 1671. Kiel Working Papers, 2011.

Raynolds, Laura T. “The Organic Agro-Export Boom in the Dominican Republic: Maintaining Tradition or Fostering Transformation?.” Latin American research review 43.1 (2008): 161-184.

Something Called Colorism

colorism

My previous posts addressed the issues of post-colonization and the lack of development in Africa. The posts were a reflection about who was behind the lack of development and why. For my final post, I will be addressing the lasting after affects of post-colonialism that has also stunted development in Africa, but has nothing to do with money or greed. It has everything to do with lasting psychological and sociological affects on the indigenous people. It’s something called colorism.

According to Baruti (2000), colorism is a global prejudice that people of African ancestry have toward each other and seemingly use against or to the advantage of themselves and others with relatively similar complexion. Herring (2004) also defines colorism as “discriminatory treatment of individuals falling within the same ‘racial’ group on the basis of skin color” (p. 21).

Colorism has caused a social division among tribes in Africa. Due to colonization there is this perception that lighter skinned Africans are  Black seen as superior to their darker skinned brothers and sisters. For example the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The Europeans who colonized Rwanda turned indigenous Hutus against immigrant Tutsis. The Tutsis had more westernized features thus they were granted higher positions in society. The darker hutus were taking revenge on the Tutsis who had been favored and been in control for the longest time during colonial rule simply because they were lighter and more Caucasian looking. This genocide was caused by colorism used to maintain social order thanks to European imperialist.

European imperialists are to blame for bringing the “lighter skin is righter” mentality to indigenes of colonized lands in Africa. Pre-colonial colorism indoctrinated non-European populations with harmful racial ideologies. So, it wasn’t enough for the Western world to invaded, pressure, conquest, and colonize due to European nations scramble for African. It wasn’t enough for these once colonies to face poverty and be forced to take huge loans from theses wealthy western countries to sustain their countries leaving them with foreign debt. It wasn’t enough for the indigenous people to unwillingly give up their land to foreigners. It wasn’t enough. So, the Europeans instilled modern Western racism; light skin became a symbol of wealth and class.

Acknowledging the implications of pre-colonial colorism is the next step to ending this ideology. Some do not recognize that this ideology is wealth-based and encourages color prejudices. This ideology fail to see the role of social conditioning.

Works Cited

“Global Colorism: An Ethical Issue and Challenge in Bioethics.” Voices in Bioethics. N.p., 09 Sept. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Compass, Sociology. Sociology Compass 1/1 (2007): 237–254, 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2007.00006.x The Persistent Problem of Colorism: Skin Tone, Status, and Inequality (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

“Real Differences: History, Inequality and Oppression.” The Origins of Conflict in Rwanda. N.p., n.d. W

Rice Farmer suicide in Thailand

Last week, we read “Stuffed and Starved”. In that book, Pastel mentions the Korean farmer, named Lee Kyung Hae, who committed suicide because of his debt. Korean government lift restrictions on the import of Australian beef for free trade, even they knew that the price for cattle would fall with the entry of those cheap beef. In the Lee’s case, he made loans to increase the size of his herbs. However, the price of beef stayed low and flat. In order to pay off the interest on the loan, he sold cattle, land, and finally committed suicide. Free trade allowed the inflow of cheap products from other countries and those products torture the farmers.

I found a news video that informed a rice farmer, Thongma Kaisuan, committed suicide in Thailand. However, this case is a little different from Lee’s case. Thailand is one of the biggest exporter of rice. They don’t import rice from other country. So, why did he commit suicide?

According to the video, he committed suicide because of signify financial hardship, caused by the lack of payment for rice subsidy from the Thailand’s government. “The rice subsidy introduced in 2011 sought to buy rice from local farmers at around 50% above market prices, stockpile them to drive up global prices, and then sell them for increased revenue. Thailand was the world’s largest exporter of rice at the time and had the clout to affect prices of the staple. The program was earlier promoted by Yingluck’s brother Thaksin, who was the former prime minister (S. Sim, 2015). ” This program was one of the main campaign message of  Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. It supposed to provide stable and higher income for the local farmer.

THAI_RicePrice“The timing of the government’s rice program could scarcely have been worse.” Wall Street Journal argues that, “Just as Thailand began withholding rice from the international market, India resumed exports after a long absence. Major importers such as the Philippines, stung by the 2008 price spike, also began producing more rice. Instead of rising, global prices for rice fell from a peak of more than $1,000 a ton in 2008 to the current level of around $390 a ton for the most commonly traded grades.” Because the rice price in the global market has declined, rice subsidy program costed the government some 518 billion Thai baht ($15.7 billion) in losses (W.Chomchuen, 2014 ). Thus, the government run short of cash and finally became not to be able to pay rice subsidy for local farmers.

In the Lee’s case, Free trade allowed the inflow of cheap products from other countries and those products torture the farmers. In Kaisuan’s case, because India started to export their rice, rice price in the global markets decline. And, it tortured farmers. Thus, both cases are seemingly rooted in globalization. However, I think it’s more local government fault. In Lee’s case, Korean government encouraged farmers to make ends meet by upping the size of their herds, instead of imposing a high tariff on the Australian beef, even they knew the price for cattle would fall with the entry of the cheap Australian beef. In Kaisuan’s case, the government lacked to predict world market price and payment for the local farmer. Therefore, government has important role in the global market.

 

Citation

*Sim, S. (2015, January 23). Thailand Rice Subsidy Scheme: What It Is And How It Toppled Thai Leader Yingluck Shinawatra. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from http://www.ibtimes.com/thailand-rice-subsidy-scheme-what-it-how-it-toppled-thai-leader-yingluck-shinawatra-1792788

*Hookway, J. (2014, February 5). Thai Effort to Control Rice Market Backfires. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304428004579352590377530118

* Andersen, T. (2014, February 08). Thailand farmer suicides. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhNK2Mcm38Y

* Chomchuen, W. (2014, November 13). Thai Rice-Subsidy Loss Set at $15.7 Billion. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/thai-rice-subsidy-loss-set-at-15-7-billion-1415882258

 

 

Stranger Danger?

I find myself speaking about a new topic every week and it is due to the “new” information I view day to day about situations we as women face on a day to day basis. I do not want the viewer to feel that women are the only ones who go through these situations. Men do as well, but women are the main target and as a woman myself, subjects surrounding women are important to me. In this scenario, I am speaking on the subject of sexual abuse. We as human beings feel that strangers are the people we should keep our kids away from, hence the term stranger danger. But are strangers the people we should be careful of? In my blog post I will touch on the subject of sexual abuse, trust, and developing as a nation through this issue.

When we look out in to the world, children at an early age are taught to stay away from strangers because they could potentially harm them. In a sense, this is true, but are they the ones we should worry about?

According to an article called Child Sexual Abuse, statistics prove:

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE STATISTICS:

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
  • Over 58,000 children were sexually abused last year.
  • 8.3 % of reported child abuse cases were sexual abuse.
  • 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members.
  • 12.3% of girls were age 10 or younger at the time of their first
  • rape/victimization, and 30% of girls were between the ages of 11 and 17.
  • 96% of people who sexually abuse children are male, and 76.8% of people who sexually abuse children are adults.
  • The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14 years old

Brave

These statistics show that children how early children were forced to grow up and be silenced about their sexuality, fearing those around them because they were scarred from an interaction or many interactions involving sexual abuse. These statistics explain why many children cut themselves as a way to get out of their heads for a moment. After having their first encounter with a man be one of abuse and to have that abuse occur at such a young age, many women fear being around men in fear that all they want from her is sex. A woman begins to feel that her body is all men want, leading her into participating in acts of prostitution, etc.

Video of mother who married a man who sexually abused her 15 year old daughter.

A BBC News report called One in 10 girls sexually abused, says UN report states:

Violence against children

  • 120m girls – one in 10 – are raped or sexually attacked by age of 20
  • Boys also report experiences of sexual violence, but to a lesser extent than girls
  • The most common form of sexual violence for both genders is cyber-victimisation
  • 95,000 children and teenagers were murdered in 2012
  • Slightly over one in three students aged 13-15 experience regular bullying in school
  • Six out of 10 children aged between two and 14 are physically punished by carers

Children are main victims of sexual abuse and are easy victims within their families. Instead of playing outside and slowly developing mentally and physically, these children are forced to know what things like sex are before they are even ready to learn to do long multiplication and division. This is a crime.

Sexual Abuse                                                                  I was 6

There is no way for us as a society to develop if we are struggling with issues of sexual abuse towards others, especially towards children. As individuals, the struggle to express that they were or are being sexually abused is difficult to speak about and that in itself makes it difficult to develop as individuals. Base on the lack of development personally, there is a low chance of development as a society. Based on an article called Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Mental Health Issue It states that “Some people feel very scared about reporting abuse. They may feel embarrassed, guilty or ashamed. Some people blame themselves or believe that they deserved to be abused. Others report abuse, but they aren’t taken seriously or believed. Sexual abuse is a crime. It can have a large impact on health and well-being.” What keeps abusers going is the thought that their victim will be too afraid to speak about their abuse. That in itself is why sexual abusers still exists. They feed on younger people to fill a disgusting satisfaction of theirs. The amount of trust that comes with being related means nothing when your own blood is your sexual abuser. The victim of this abuse feels that they can no longer trust anyone, not even their family. Along with that, they feel like they have no where to go and so they dwell on their sexual encounter and begin to feel like less of a person, being lowered to feeling that the only way they can get away from the thoughts and feelings of their encounter is by cutting along with other forms of emotional and physical self abuse. Children are being robbed of their childhood and innocence on a daily basis and this in terms of development is a major down fall. The only way to help develop society as a whole is to speak out. It took me a while to speak out. I know what it is like to what to say something, but fear being looked at with disgusted eyes or just simply not being believed. I was afraid. I was molested for 6 years and it ate away at me for years. I was 7 years old when it all started. I blamed myself and hated myself for being a victim and having had gone through what I did. Luckily I did not physically abuse my body although I did emotional abuse myself. The fear took me 6 years before I spoke out. I was 13 when I ran to my father crying because it happened again and I told him. I was so afraid of many things. I was afraid I was pregnant because I had just got my period and I was afraid my daddy would frown at me. He didn’t. He was enraged though. I just continued to cry.

In local newsfeed, WDBJ 7 to be specific called a Victim of child sexual abuse tells her story Javonda, who was a victim of sexual abuse states “Rage is the one word that I explain to people. I was very angry at everything, everybody,” Javonda explained. “When you’re carrying around that much locked inside it makes you sick.” There is a video of what she went through along with her story and I highly recommend that the viewer of this post watch it. Family can crush the way children see the world. A male relative can mold the way a woman views men as she matures and grows older. She won’t have a chance to think for herself because she has already been forced into thinking a certain way; a horrible way. I don’t know how I did it, but I was able to find myself through this scary and difficult time and no that is not the reason why I am gay. I am gay because that is how I am. Many people asked me that growing up. “Are you gay because you were sexually abused as a child?” Yes, I was sexually abused, but that doesn’t make me gay. That is not the reason why I am this way. I’m happy this way and that is all that matters.

Photo

In major newsfeed in the New York Times called New York State Judge Rejects Kesha’s Claims in Dr. Luke Case, “Kesha, whose full name is Kesha Rose Sebert, initially filed a civil suit in Los Angeles, in October 2014, in which she said that Dr. Luke had emotionally and sexually abused her, and in at least one instance raped her, in the years after he signed her in 2005.” Kesha is not a child, but she is a woman who is being taken advantage of and feels trapped because she is stuck with the man who initially sexually and emotionally abused her. To have to experience something like that is scary and she is not alone because myself along with many other girls have been through this and it is scary and all you feel you can do in these moments is cry and cry until you begin to feel something. For some that feeling comes quickly, but for others like me it can take up to 13 years or more before you can begin to feel anything again, let alone begin to trust again.

What about a child attracts a grown man or woman? This is one thing that is stunting the growth of this nation and world around us. This is a crime that not many people are paying much attention to and for that many people are in the wrong. People may say, I would never let that happen to my child or my child would tell me anything that goes on with them, but shutting off from your child and not believing anything they say, just builds a whole between you and them and inside them. I only write about subjects I feel strongly about and this just so happens to be one of them. We need to come together because that is the only way we can begin to seek the change we so desperately cry for. That is when we will begin to develop as one. Once we band together, nothing can break us, but that is a change so far from sight that I can only pray and hope things will at least show a sense of hope that things will get better.

Culture and Globalization

When globalization is discussed, it is often economically based and the people that are involved in this process are invisible. It is clear that globalization has a great impact on the economy. The people that are involved also suffer great harm from the process. Globalization is great because there is a flow of ideas and information. Additionally, communication among people beyond international borders  is facilitated. However, there is a loss of identity and originality is African nations. Culture is very important to African nations and there has been a history of the importance of these traditions and cultures.

Culture:

The culture of Africa is vast as the continent is. Cultures are usually expressed in arts, crafts, music and much more. Just as Africa is vast in different peoples and culture, so are individual countries. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are many ethnic groups that have different cultures and traditions. However, the most common traditions are in greeting customs. A proper handshake is usually done by the right hand or 3 kisses on the cheek. Men share greetings by butting heads from right to left. The family is also very important in African Communities. Men hold the position to make important decisions. However, traditions are being demanded to the modern trend of society as globalization occurs. People even state that change customary traditions allow for the country to become more developed and globalized. “ If they remain stagnant, they actually hinder society’s development” (Kwame, 6). I do not agree with this statement because I don’t think that African nations should have to compromise their individuality in order to be advanced with the society. There are important things that African cultures can contribute to the global society that should not be undermined. “tapping on traditional medicine and knowledge systems to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS” (Kwame, 7). I think that having a one sided story of the West being the best solution is dangerous because we do not get to explore other traditions. There are inhumane cultural traditions such as gender mutilation or trokosi in Ghana. Cultures embedded in African nations are so unique and losing that uniqueness should not be traded for any sum of money. There is always this “white savior” complex that is perpetuated by Western countries. Believing that their ideas are “one size fits all” when it truly is not.  It is important for African nations to not lose their uniqueness and individuality in its rich culture.

Language:

An important component of African culture is its language. Language is important because it has been the way many people have been able to communicate. With the emergence of globalization, and the new flow of ideas and communications, African languages are lost in the mix. Additionally, as a result of colonialism, eurocentric languages such as English and French, Portuguese, were embedded in African societies. English in Africa has been equated to intelligence. A person who is fluent in English is more likely to hold a job than someone that doesn’t. These languages were made so that globalization would occur more easily. The loss of language can signify a loss of culture as language is a large component of culture.  The effect that development and globalization have on African nations is the denial of culture and heritage and acceptance of western values. When I was in the Congo, I saw both sides of this effect of globalization in the culture. When I was driving  down a tourist town in the neighborhood of Gombe, I stumbled upon a stop sign that was in English rather than French.  As a country that it national language is French, it was interesting and almost unsettling that the stop sign said “Stop” rather than “Arrete.” But then I had to remind myself that it was a tourist area. However, there was a different side of globalization and language that I noticed in my summer vacation in Congo. Chinese investors have been in the country and have attempted to learn the national language. Most of them communicated with their clients in poor French mixed with Lingala. It was interesting to view the role that globalization had on language. There was the side where English was romanticized while outsiders were attempting to learn the local and national languages.

Music:

Hip Hop and music has now flown into the African communities through the African diaspora of other African American artists. In Africa hip-hop has been awarded its popularity not due to only commercialization, but also due to its ability to express the realities of life in varying situations around the world” (Ntarangwi, 2010). The commercialization of globalization has contributed to the economy. Additionally, the stories told in hip-hop music perpetuates a way for the disadvantaged people as their voice. Hip Hop is often stated to emerge out of the Civil Rights movement ((Binfield, 2009, p. 175; Neal, 2008, p. 117).  The same way the marginalized people of America had a voice and knew how to use it properly and with style” Africans have used music as their voice. In Congo, the youth has taken it upon themselves to engage in pro-democracy through music. Although there has been a backlash from the government, music gave the youth of Eastern Congo a voice. “Yole! Africa” is a youth cultural center that attempts to create democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. How ironic is it that most countries with the word“ democratic” aren’t democracies.

 Thinking Face on Apple iOS 9.3

Through their songs, hip-hop artists at Yole call out the government’s corruption and ineptitude” (Lamb, 2015: 1). In a country where there is not free speech, music is their voice Through this, these youth also demand fair and free democratic elections in November 2016. It is interesting to see the effect that globalization had on influencing people through music. Youth in America uses Hip Hop as their voice to speak on topics such as police brutality while in the Congo, it is used to indicate the country’s corruption. Although through music, some African artist have lost authenticity, they have also found a way to voice their political opinions. Here is the video of the Congolese musicians. 

Works Cited

Binfield, Marnie-Ruth. “Bigger than Hip-hop : Music and Politics in the Hip-hop Generation.” Bigger than Hip-hop : Music and Politics in the Hip-hop Generation. N.p., 2009. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
Http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCufvkji7Wvo_4CHE5v47Dfg. “Uhaki “Justice” EP 2.” YouTube. YouTube, 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
Kwame, Yeboah. “Globalization and Culture.” Winners and Losers in Globalization (n.d.): 166-76. University of Southern Denmark. University of Southern Denmark. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.
Lamb, Kate. “In Congo, Hip-hop Gives Youth a Political Voice.” Congo Hip-Hop Politics. America Al Jazeera, 11 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
Neal, Mark Anthony. “Sold out on Soul: The Corporate Annexation of Black Popular Music.” Academia.edu. N.p., 24 July 2008. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.
Ntarangwi, Mwenda. “University of Illinois Press.” UI Press. N.p., 2010. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

The Rise of an Alternative to Free Trade

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about the impact of globalization on developing countries, but this final blog is going to examine an alternative to free trade. Many people have argued that free trade has allowed producers in developing countries, especially in the market for agriculture, to suffer from insufficient wages and safety hazards. The theory of Fair Trade attempts to solve these labor issues by encouraging local production of goods through government assistance.

The main mechanisms for Fair Trade, as explained in the Journal of Economic Perspectives:

  • A price floor is set so that there is a minimum price that a Fair Trade buyer can buy from a Fair Trade producer. Prices can be negotiated higher when considering the quality and other aspects of the goods. This price floor also acts a cushion for when economic recession occurs and there may be cause for worry about being able to sell goods. Only in very recent years has the market price actually exceeded the fair trade price for coffee.
  • There is a Fair Trade premium that is paid from the buyer to the cooperative in addition to the price of the good being sold. The premium is supposed to be used by cooperatives in a democratic style to determine how to enhance production or community infrastructure.
  • Fair Trade buyers gain stable access to credit by agreeing to a long-term contract of at least one year and must “provide some advance crop financing to producer groups (up to 60 percent if requested”.
  • “Free Trade workers must have the freedom of association, safe working conditions, and wages at least equal to the legal minimum. Some forms of child labor are prohibited.”
  • Farmers are encouraged to organize democratic associations or cooperatives that can facilitate sales and manage the premium received from sold products.
  • Fair Trade production prohibits harmful chemicals from being used in food production to maintain a healthier environment. Producers are required to provide basic environmental reports that describe their impacts on the environment. Genetically modified crops are not allowed.
  • For a product to be sold under the mark of Fair Trade, both the buyer and seller must be Fair Trade certified. Standards vary on the particular crop being produced and are analyzed by different Fair Trade leaders such as Fairtrade International and FLO-CERT. Organizations obtain a Fair Trade certification by successfully applying to FLO-CERT and passing an initial inspection. Certifications can only be maintained by renewing with FLO-CERT and allowing for another inspection of the Fair Trade organization. (Dragusanu et al., 219-221)

The Institute for the Study of Labor, a non-profit project that allows scholars to engage in research about labor economics, conducted a study on the economic impact of Fair Trade. The findings, although still in its earliest stages, suggest that there is a positive impact on the prices and income of producers. In contract, the Fair Trade premiums were only earned on a fraction of the producers’ output due to the limited world demand of Fair Trade buyers, and thus the average amount of premium per producer is fairly small. Unfortunately, many other attempted empirical findings from the study were said to come inconclusive, which has become standard due to the inconsistency of studies trying to quantify the negative and positive effects internally and externally of Fair Trade policies and the growth of cooperatives (Dammert and Mohan, 24-25).

Fair Trade has been on the rise over the past couple of decades. In 2006, consumers spent $2.2 billion on Fair Trade certified products, which was a 42% increase over the previous year, ultimately benefitting over seven million producers in developing countries. 3.3% of all coffee sold was Fair Trade certified in 2006 which was eight times the amount sold in 2001 (Downie). Mexico examined its own use of Fair Trade policies and determined the main obstacles to the economic reform are its lack of power in the current world market, its lack of participation from small farmers, unawareness by consumers, and a necessity for more government aid. Regardless, Mexican farmers have expressed optimism in regards to the implementation of Fair Trade throughout the country, which has already developed largely in its market for coffee (Godoy).

Fair Trade is definitely an innovative way to challenge some of the labor issues that plague the current neoliberal practices in agricultural markets. The word of certified Fair Trade companies and foods has spread all over the world, and it has become part of a growing discussion in development and labor economics. If there were enough room in this blog post, I would’ve described a real life example of how Fair Trade has been implemented in the coffee industry for decades and how it compared to similar markets that participated in Free Trade. Thank you for taking a look at the impact of globalization on developing economics with me over the last few weeks.

Sources:
Dammert, Ana C., and Sarah Mohan. “A Survey Of The Economics Of Fair Trade.” Journal of Economic Surveys 29.5 (2014): 855-68. Web.

Downie, Andrew. “Fair Trade in Bloom.” NY Times. 2 Oct. 2007. Web.

Dragusanu, Raluca, Daniele Giovannucci, and Nathan Nunn. “The Economics of Fair Trade.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 28.3 (2014): 217-36. Web.

Godoy, Emilio. “Fair Trade Will Become Major Trend, Say Mexico Growers.” Banderas News. Inter Press Service, 12 Oct. 2009. Web.

Does Globalization Represent Capitalism or Democracy?

While I have criticized Globalization throughout these blog posts, I still believe that when the First World nations began this program, it was genuinely out of a desire to help get the Third World out of an economic funk. I doubt any of them expected this many problems to come out of such an idea, but ironically that’s exactly what happened. This got me thinking about something I kept describing Globalization to be: a spread of capitalist beliefs, not democratic ones. With the spread of ideology was a core aspect of the Cold War era, Development and Globalization were used as a means to spread democratic neoliberal capitalism to other countries so that they would not be swayed to the side of Communism. And in a way, Globalization did end up promoting a form of political and economic openness, one that offered a chance to achieve their own economic success without persecution. However, at some point between the Bretton Woods Conference and today, the democratic aspect of Globalization was somewhat diminished, with corporation needs and business ethics replacing it as the primary driving focus. While something of a hypothetical conclusion, I feel like this division of democratic and capitalist ideology ended up playing a larger role in why Globalization went from being viewed as a helpful policy to the go-to source of Third World economic problems.

While capitalism and democracy are compatible with one another, that does not necessarily mean that they are two sides of the same coin. By definition, capitalism is an system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by individual private owners and companies instead of the state as a whole. In this sense, control usually lies in the hands of whomever owns a dominant share of the capital/ assets that a country is dependent on. In contrast to capitalism, which is either political or economic by nature, democracy is strictly political and gathers its strength from the majority of its people, some of whom might not even have a desire for capitalist needs in general (Santos, 2013.) That being said, while their core policies aren’t necessarily similar, combined together they form a symbiotic relationship that is capable of benefitting both sides. Since the market sponsors private property, it can to provide its own citizens with a sphere of autonomy that creates individual liberties reminiscent of democracy’s focus on individual rights. On the other side of this relationship, the spread of democracy through the market, rather than through global warfare, promotes ethnics reminiscent of capitalist policy and the individual’s right to own property in general (Coyne, 2007.) In other words, they are both fully capable of collaboration, but the bond that they share remains fragile throughout it all.

So if globalization was used as a means to spread democratic and capitalist ideas across the world, what has changed to weaken the former’s involvement? I think what happened is that this new form of democracy placed a greater focus on the needs and freedoms of businesses than that of the actual people. As a result of economic conflicts causing state-wide inflation and indebtedness during the 70’s, attempts to solve such problems ended up putting more and more power into the demands of the capital, with those of the people gradually being pushed aside. The end result was a rise in social inequality and a loss of government to enforce economic power over both state autonomy and authority, rendering them pretty much obsolete (Santos, 2013.) For the most part, I agree that the government should not have total authority over the market, lest we end up with a system close to that of communism; however, by leaving such market up for individual grabs, we are essentially opening the doors for large-scale corporations to sink their claws into money designed to be shared amongst the people. As much as the West would like to promote the idea that Globalization can help everyone, the people it helps the most are the multi-national business owners, with everyone else scrambling to collect the remaining scraps. This creates something of a survival-of-the-fittest scenario, in which the individual is much more willing to pursue their own economic interest than be concerned with the needs of the public (Crockett, 2011.) To corporate owners looking to outclass the competition, this maybe a viable strategy, but in terms of creating a strong democratic policy, something heavily focused on the power of the majority, this is not the right way to go.

The solution to this problem, at least in theory, is to put a greater focus on balancing the interests of the people with that of the capital, creating a system that can both deliver on its promises of economic and social equality. This means not just dropping down in a country and exchanging a faulty democracy in exchange for resources, but rather making one that is capable of upholding social needs and withstanding economic consequences. And for that, we need to break some of the most hardcore Capitalist ideologies and do the one thing they loath above all else: include the government. As mentioned earlier, I don’t believe that the government should be involved in every little economic decision a la Big Brother, but if they remain unable to step in and put a stop to corrupt or unfair deals made by the multi-nationals, then this program will truly be one-sided. We need them to not only place a greater focus on what the people need to emerge successful, such as better nutrition value and education, but strive towards creating programs and organizations that can help them achieve such goals. By cutting the government off near-entirely from their involvement amongst the people, we have allowed capitalist Globalization policies to spiral out of control, leaving the rich in luxury and the poor in debt, poverty and inequality, all things that we want to see removed for good (Sachs 2011).

The things I have talked about across this blog might seem pretty generic, discussing the problems that globalization has brought upon the Third World and what needs to be done to stop them, but it is through these simple points that we can learn an awful lot. When I first started writing, my perspective on Globalization was that it was just another broken system that started out good but ended up corrupt and self-serving. Now however, I’m not so sure. The problems that need to be fixed in order to start a new path towards change may seem simple enough on paper, but it’s the human ego and greed/luxury that are the real enemies in this mess, the people who took advantage of such policies and used them to their own personal advantage without thinking about the consequences. Sadly, we cannot rewind the clock back to warn the Bretton Woods Conference about what will eventually happen, and we are too far deep in this mess to scrap everything under the table and pretend it was not our fault. What we can do, however, is take a good look at these policies that most people (understandably) blame for the Third World’s current state and try to figure out what should stay and what needs to go. The process of reforming Globalization, should the world attempt to do so, will be long, challenging and definitely experience opposition, but if there is a chance of making positive progress in the Third World, it’s a solid place to start.

Thanks for listening.

 

References

  1. Coyne, Chris. “Capitalism and Democracy: Take Two.” The Economist. August 31, 2007. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2007/08/capitalism_and_democracy.
  1. Santos, Boaventura De Sousa. “Democracy or Capitalism?” Critical Legal Thinking. June 10, 2013. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/06/10/democracy-or-capitalism/.
  1. Dalpino, Catharin E. “Does Globalization Promote Democracy?: An Early Assessment.” The Brookings Institution. Fall 2001. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2001/09/fall-democracy-dalpino.
  1. Sachs, Jeffrey D. “Globalization’s Government.” Project Syndicate. September 31, 2011. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.earthinstitute.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/Sachs Writing/2011/ProjectSyndicate_2011_Globalization’sGovernment_09_30_11.pdf.
  1. Crockett, Sophie. “Has Globalization Spread Democracy around the World?” EInternational Relations. August 27, 2011. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.e-ir.info/2011/08/27/has-globalization-spread-democracy-around-the-world/.
  1. “Democracy and Capitalism.” Democracy and Capitalism. April 1996. Accessed April 15, 2016. http://www.spectacle.org/496/demo.html.

Slaves at a Shrimp Factory in Thailand

In the previous post, I mentioned Thailand traditionally produced and exported rice, sugar, pineapples, and rubber. But, its traditional role complemented with an expanding array of non national exports, such as canned tuna, shrimp, processed meats, and fresh and processed fruits and vegetable (McMichael, 2000, p.102).

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As this pie chart indicates, the shrimp occupied 16% of the Thailand exports. Thailand’s biggest export market is the United States with a share of 42%, against Japan’s 24 % and 13% for the EU (BOI, 2013). Thailand changed their tradition to fill the demand from First World nations.

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But, today, I would like to inform about the working condition of the slaves in a shrimp factory, named Gig Peeling factory, at Samut Sakhon, Thailand. In this factory,most of the laborer’s works are ripping the guts, heads, tails and shelling off shrimp bound for overseas market such as the US, Japan and Europe (Mason, 2015). Most of the laborers are migrants from Burma. The writer from Associated Press reported,”Every morning  at 2 am, they heard a kick on the door and a threat; Get up or get beaten. No names were ever used, only numbers given by their boss. Some had been there for months, even years, getting little or no pay. Always, someone was watching (Mason, 2015).” They are terribly treated like slaves or prisoner in the factory.

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According to the report, “abuse is common in Samut Sakhon, which attracts workers from some of the world’s poorest countries, mostly from Burma and Myanmar (Mason, 2015).” “An International Labor Organization report estimated 10,000 migrant children aged 13 to 15 work in the city. Another U.N. agency study found nearly 60 percent of Burmese laborers toiling in its seafood processing industry were victims of forced labor.(Mason, 2015)”

Historically, Thailand have many immigrants from other Southeast Asian countries. In 1975, since communist governance was established in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, over three million people have migrated out of those countries. At that time, about 750 thousands immigrants arrived at Thailand (Frost,1980). Therefore, it is  hard for Thai government to grasp fully immigrants.

In 2008, a Thai low against human trafficking was passed. “It insisted that every illegal immigrant should now get temporary papers and be properly registered, or face deportation (The Economist, 2013).” However, arresting and prosecuting those factory owner are rare because of theCorruption and complicity among police and authorities. Moreover, “raids can end up sending migrants without proper paperwork to jail, while owners go unpunished (Mason, 2015).”

According to the article, more than 2,000 trapped fishermen have been freed this year as a result of an ongoing Associated Press investigative series into slavery in the Thai seafood industry. However, there are still many people who are suffering under the similar working conditions. Globalization allow the people easily move from country to other countries. Migrants move to other country in pursuit of higher livelihood. However, the profit from cheap labor cost of migrants goes to the factory in Thailand and to the First World nations’s consumers as well.

 

Citation

 

*Jittapong, K., & Dhanananphorn, M. (2014). Thailand’s shrimp output seen recovering from disease woes in 2015. Retrieved April 09, 2016, from http://www.reuters.com/article/thailand-shrimp-exports-idUSL3N0U22KB20141218

*Mason, M., McDowell, R., & Mendoza, M. (2015, December 14). AP: Global supermarkets selling shrimp peeled by slaves. Retrieved April 09, 2016, from http://bigstory.ap.org/article/8f64fb25931242a985bc30e3f5a9a0b2/ap-global-supermarkets-selling-shrimp-peeled-slaves

* Board of Investment Thailand(2013, October). Thailad: Food Exports Soaring.Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://www.boi.go.th/tir/issue/201310_23_10/42.htm

*Frost, F.. (1980). VIETNAM, ASEAN AND THE INDOCHINA REFUGEE CRISIS.Southeast Asian Affairs, 347–367. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27908412

*A deadly cocktail. (2013, March 02). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21572800-long-standing-worker-abuses-get-some-serious-attention-deadly-cocktail

Land Grabbing in Africa: The New Colonialism

african-farm

In my last post about post-colonization in African I discussed dependency theory and how it was a way for former colonizers to continue to exploit their former colonial countries with economic dependence. Essentially, trapping poor countries by large debts which prevent them from developing. To understand how Africa was trying to unscramble itself from foreign debt we have to look at land grabbing. “Land grabbing is the buying or leasing of large pieces of land in developing countries, by domestic and transnational companies, governments, and individuals” -(Stopafricanlandgrab).

I see land grabbing as a step towards re-colonization in Africa. Like the 19th century colonization, the new wave of land grabbing is well-intentioned. It is also well-planned, in the same way the 19th century colonization was by European powers of the time. But, this time around the African Union is complicit in this new plan. Introducing the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa” and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).The  African Centre for Bio-Safety has labelled the plans as a “new wave of colonialism” (Mwesigire, 2014). The plans includes direct foreign investment in agriculture, allows the use of genetically modified seeds, and allows land ownership laws to favor these foreign companies. This takes away major opportunities from small-scale farmers. The foreign companies who will grow food for their own consumption are disempowering local farmers. How? They are essentially controlling their lives by turning them into consumers of products they cannot produce. Also, these genetically modified seeds the foreign companies are using are destroying the continents sustainability.

In Lorenzo Cotula’s book The Great African Land Grab? (2013). Provided evidence about the current situation by focusing on a handful of countries where land inventories have been conducted: Sudan, Nigeria, Mozambique, Liberia, and Ethiopia. The evidence Cotula provides about these five countries show that 10 million hectares of land was taken from the citizens and given to investors between 2004 to 2009. Also, a study reviewed in Cotula’s book showed that about half of all the land acquired in Africa between 2005 and 2011 was by Western companies; with European companies leading the way. This is a situation that resembles the colonial era land grabs.

In Ethiopia it was reported that the government has forced tens of thousands of people off their land, and given it to ‘investors’ in 2012. That land was bought Saudi Arabian and Chinese investors with the intention to grow rice and export that rice to their countries. Also, in Liberia, around 169,000 hectares had allegedly been given to the Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) (a British palm oil company) by the government, without consulting over 7,000 people of the Jogbahn clan who have lived on the land for several generations.

As a result of the growing situation, the first Africa Conference on Land Grab is being organized at the Pan African Parliament. The goal of this conference is to halt the recolonization of the continent.

Works Cited:

“African Land Grabs; We Cannot Expect Companies and Financiers to Regulate Themselves.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Mar. 2015. Web

“The Land Grabs in Africa You Don’t Hear about.” Africa Is a Country. 13 Nov. 2015.

“Land Grabbing in Africa, the New Colonialism.” This Is Africa. Web

Cotula, Lorenzo. The Great African Land Grab?: Agricultural Investments and the Global Food System. Print.

“Stop Africa Land Grab – The Global Movement to Rollback Africa Land Grab.” Stop Africa Land Grab – The Global Movement to Rollback Africa Land Grab. Web.

White Savior

I will be taking a slight turn on my usual topic of interest about violence against women, to speak on the issue of the white savior complex that is eating away at many third world countries. The white savior complex is an ongoing topic that describes the white man coming to “save” those of color from their “tragic” and “hopeless” lives, which we people of color know is not the case. There is no need for the white man to push his nose into every situation that takes place throughout the world, and without any cry for help from any of these countries, they simply happen to waltz on in and “fix” things without asking what these people need help with.

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If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.

In the article, The White-Savior Industrial Complex, people of the white complexion feel as though it is their duty to “save” those who do not live a life that is as privileged as theirs. With that thought in mind, these white men feel that it is their soul purpose in life to “fix” the living status of those in third world countries, so they move in and start working. The only problem with this is that is these white people never ask the people that live in these areas what they need. They just move in and adjust things in ways they see fit. Two tweets made within this article state:

Teju Cole

  ‎@tejucole

2- The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.

Teju Cole

  ‎@tejucole

5- The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.

How can a person move in and place things however they see fit unless they felt privileged enough to do so. There is no development when people within a country do not want what someone else feels they need. The development process for those in third world countries plummets due to the fact that their land and way of life is different from those of the white man, so when the white man comes to “save” them from their “poor” and “underdeveloped” lives, the people within that country are enraged and no longer want them their. The process of trying to “fix” other countries destroys so much land and kills many people as shown in a video called Good Fortune, which is about people from Kenya who had been treated as animals instead of humans when the white man came in and worked to change their lives for the “better” so that they could develop along with all other countries.  While white saviors feel as though they are fixing things and making the lives better for those who live in world countries better, that is not the case for those who live there. These people do not want the white man their. Have white people ever thought that  people are different and with that difference comes culture? Have white saviors ever thought that these people love their lives and are happy with their way of life? Have white saviors ever thought that not every place is like the United States and does not want to be like the United States? I don’t believe these white saviors are putting much thought in to their actions and if they are, they are thinking the wrong thoughts. Katie Warner, who wrote a report called White Savior Industrial Complex? To Volunteer or Not  states:

“In hindsight and with full transparency I am forced to admit that much of the work and the service provided in those weeks would have to be thoroughly rationalized in order for me to justify the “help” that was really provided to those we “served.”…Now I realize that those are all I-statements, Me-focused concepts. What is the point of a “Volunteer” experience if the only person I am truly aiding is myself? Well there in lies the trap of voluntourism, which I will (somewhat begrudgingly) agree is becoming a disturbing trend promoted through the propagation of social media which despairingly for some results in a narcisstic, self-centered form of service in which people with time and money take it upon themselves to “give” simply for the potential of a new profile picture and a pat on the back.” This is clearly a problem that NEEDS to be solved. The white man lives to be the hero of those who do not look like him because he thinks and “feels” it is his duty to make sure that every country is developing in the same manner as their and that is a problem in itself.

Op-Ed: Why Won’t White Savior Complex Go Away?

In a major western newspaper called Op-Ed: Why Won’t White Savior Complex Go Away?, The issue revolving around the white savior complex explains that these white folks are “helping” those who are of a lower status than them to feel better about themselves and not be seen as horrible people because they are using their privilege for good. (This states makes me laugh because it is just more white people trying to make everything “better”. Come save me white man because that is what you think I need). As stated within this newspaper, ” Most damning is the idea that these activists are driven not by the compulsion to effect change per se, but primarily by a desire to feel good about themselves.”

In a local newspaper called the Huffington Post, the issue of the white savior complex is confronted in a post called White Saviour Complex, when a few people commented on what they think about this whole white people saving those of color process. Two people stated:

Mario Machado Mario Machado“While I applaud the intentions of the voluntourists of the world, I think it is important for them to remain grounded in reality. They need to be constantly cognizant of their privileged positions to be doing development work in the first place and the limitations of both their time commitments and outsider status.”

The White Feminist Savior Complex

Anne Theriault Anne Theriault

“My intentions are good and my heart is, as they say, in the right place. All of our hearts are in the right places. All of our intentions are good. But intent isn’t magic, and sometimes the ways that we carry out our intentions cause more harm than they do good.”

The white savior complex is a truly disturbing and degrading concept that white people have developed to cover up all of the horrible things they have done in the past, but it only make them look worse. I am one of those people the white man felt he needed to “save”. I am from an island called Barbados and within that country I have noticed a drastic change in my community and culture as there are places like Burger Kings and Payless shoes store built through my own island and I am not ok with it at all. We were never asked what we wanted. They was just placed there without consent and now things are slowly chancing on my island and it saddens me to see it all. We are not here for you to “save” us white man. We are happy and content with how we live and we don’t need your thoughts and opinions on our way of life. Thank you.