A Fair Trade Song We Might Learn From St. Paddy's Day History and Pipelineistan Now is R-E-S-P-E-C-T

British tax policy once required landlords to pay the taxes of their tenant farmers, leading many landlords to forcibly evict struggling farmers.

Bill Bigelow's moving St. Paddy's day piece 'The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools' moved me to consider how the inhumane logic in the paragraph: "Thomas Gallagher points out in Paddy’s Lament, that during the first winter of famine, 1846-47, as perhaps 400,000 Irish peasants starved, landlords exported 17 million pounds sterling worth of grain, cattle, pigs, flour, eggs, and poultry—food that could have prevented those deaths. Throughout the famine, as Gallagher notes, there was an abundance of food produced in Ireland, yet the landlords exported it to markets abroad." related to the swarm of bees buzzing between my ears.

Today my bees are singing a Fair Trade not Free Trade song. The gentry of 1800's didn't use the term 'Free Trade' but they used the logic of globalization to steal the land base from under the feet of a population of peasants, which provided them with meaningful work and enough to have fed their families sustainably for thousands of years. For sure, peasants traded with other peasants, chickens for peat, or milk for produce or ?. It was FAIR TRADE because at it's base was respect for equal hard work, respect of each other, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Aretha Franklin taught us, is the key.

The gentry of those times morphed into the bankers and business people of our times. For sure, less folks are starved to death nowadays in our western world where land 'consolidation' has already succeeded in stealing our family farms. But in other parts it where the corporations and investors are busy grabbing agricultural land with fiat currency from poor peasants there are 800,000,000 starving people who could in large part live off those lands that now produce cash crops for corporate 'profits'. The trouble with the past is it ain't past, it's just re-labeled.

But right now my bees are saying stick to your topic - Fair Trade not Free Trade - in the present and in your area. i gotta agree with them, it's a huge world and this is one small blog, so i'll buzz back to how it relates to my 'Pipelineistan' issue of late.

About a year ago The Mud Report published 'Alberta's Budget Woes Began When Free Trade Forced MORE Resource Exports'. It made the point that back in the days before Mulroney, before 'Free Trade', Alberta had a much broader based economy, just like the rest of Canada. Back then Albertans didn't just export stuff they made stuff and most of the stuff they didn't make they bought from other places in Canada that made the stuff. In exchange the other folks in Canada bought stuff from Alberta. Much more of a respectful Fair Trade among equals type of economy eh.

For sure mosta that stuff we traded could be made cheaper in Mexico or China or India, and for sure the corporations and bankers would make lots more money by eliminating the duties that protected the well paid Canadian jobs. Today's jobs-jobs-jobs mantra is bullshit, as any parent of a boomerang-er or the lineup for minimum wage, low respect, jobs at Tim Horton's shows.

Almost immediately factories starting closing and well paid, family supporting, manufacturing jobs started disappearing. As government revenues from both employers and employees plummeted along with the jobs, governments, even Alberta's, were feeling the pinch. Along came the cash cow called the Tar Sands, surely if the extractors could just extract MORE of it fast enough [with the help of government subsidies of course] and export MORE of it fast enough all would be well. As the manufacturing jobs turned into 'service' jobs the price of oil climbed and the Tar Sands expended as fast as possible because everybody knew MORE was better.

In the good old days, only 30 years ago, Canada had a strong and stable economy, a proud workforce motivated by mutual respect and was envied around the world. Then it adopted 'Free Trade' which cut thousands of manufacturing jobs which in turn cut governments revenues. In response Canada opted for all out natural resource exploitation and export which caused Canadian currency value to jump which meant even larger job loses and lower government revenue. This is the Dutch Disease that led to the Pipelineistan of today..

In response Canada, and especially Alberta, doubled down and exported even more resources resulting in a flooded market that has sent the price of their Tarsands crud into the toilet and their budget into a deficit. Canada's Dutch Disease inflated currency makes it easier for those who still have a middle class lifestyle to buy more needless imported crap. But overall the quality of life in Canada has gone in the toilet along with the manufacturing base that used to provide decent jobs, that used to make Canadians happy and secure. Now Canadians have more folks lined up at Starbuck's for a job, more poverty, more stress, more, more, MORE of everything, except mutual respect.

Free Trade's most popular song is tittled 'Jobs-Jobs-Jobs', but all jobs aren't equal no matter how much they pay. For instance, pipeline jobs are temporary, but oil spills are forever. Fair Trade's most popular song might be R-E-S-P-E-C-T because Fair Trade is based on not only equal work but equal rights, equal protection from abusive landlords and bosses, equal protection against industrial and agricultural toxins, equal respect. Tomorrow the bees will still be buzzing about how Canada got itself into the Free Trade darkness and how it might find a way out.