"Teaching the lepers how to sing."
The ways one can "teach the lepers how to sing" are manifold. Buying a solar-powered vehicle made of 100% post-consumer hemp fiber content is one. Turns out that buying Fair Trade coffee might be another.
Now, if we go strictly by the P.R. buzz of the thing, you'd think Fair Trade Coffee was simply a group getting together to make sure certain coffees were grown by, say, non-slave labor and ensured the prices paid would afford the people involved a living wage and that'd be pretty much it. And maybe that nobody is burying nuclear waste under the indigenous tribes.
Of course, just because that should be it, doesn't mean it is. Instead, according to Starbucked* author Taylor Clark (hardly a vast right-wing conspirator), the reality of the thing is quite different, since those who wish to qualify for the coveted FT status:
"...must obey a structure of rules that often seems more like a socialist wish list than a structure designed to help growers[.]"
"All aspiring farms must be small, family-run plots that are part of democratic, worker-owned cooperatives. Private ownership and capitalist practices are completely off limits — even hiring day laborers can take your farm out of the running."
Mind you, I was dimly (very dimly, truth be told) aware of the not-quite-sympatico vibe of the FT bureaucrats and I'm happy to have found guys who pay their growers FT prices without the "liberation theology" dog and pony show.
* It's a "better than OK/not as good as good" library read.