The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, May 23, 2004
 

The road to hell...


A nice (in one sense) example of do-gooding doing bad from the Observer today.

The phenomenon of charity shops is, I think, largely a British one. The concept is simple: a charity takes over a hard-to-let shop (awaiting demolition, that sort of thing), receives donations of goods, which it sells with volunteer staff. After perhaps two or three decades in operation, a number of charities each have their own chain of such shops.

Typically, clothing forms a large part of the merchandise. However,
In Britain, only 20 per cent of the clothes given to good causes are sold in charity shops. The rest are rejected. Much is collected by companies which grade clothes, then ship them abroad.

Which does no favours to the local textile industries of the poor countries in which the cast-off clothing ends up. (The piece looks at Zambia - Northern Rhodesia, as was - as an example.)

The real villain in the piece - naturally - is the IMF/World Bank/WTO doctrines forcing poor countries to drop trade barriers.

I'm no economist. But I can't help having some sympathy for those who mock the hypocrisy of the West on free trade. Two-way hypocrisy, in fact:
  • While proclaiming the doctrine of free trade, the West (Europe in the van) practice protectionist policies (eg, in agriculture) that disproportionately affect poorer countries (more reliant on primary products than richer ones).

  • Western countries at earlier stages of economic development freely employed protectionist measures.

Unfortunately, the globalophobes alienate with their McDonalds-smashing many who would find such an argument persuasive.

These the fruits of onanism practised on an epic scale.


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