Brian Pugh: Fair Trade for a Fair Economy

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To the Editor:
I would like to thank Holy Name of Mary parish for organizing its annual fair trade Christmas sale.
As explained by those working in this ministry, “the small farmers who grow coffee or other commodities often struggle to make a simple living. Cut off from markets, they are forced to accept low prices…[t]rading directly with democratically-organized small farmer cooperatives…facilitates farmers’ access to credit, pays them a guaranteed minimum price that provides a stable source of income as well as improved social services, and teaches them…environmentally-sound business practices.”
Now more than ever, we need this kind of “dollar democracy,” where we shop with a higher type of value in mind.
“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment,” Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical on “Care for Our Common Home.”
Consumer spending represents some ⅔ of the US Economy.  This means that, collectively, ordinary people have a tremendous amount of power.  Elections come every few years, but we have a chance to “vote our values” with how we spend, invest and give our money every day.
From our fair trade holiday shopping and beyond, we can fight back against policies and practices that have negative effects on human dignity and the natural environment.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh
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