‘Some things I don’t understand’

| Staff Columnist

They brought tomatoes back the other day. This fruit’s return made me realize that I never really understood why it was taken away in the first place. That made me think that there are really a lot of things that go on that I don’t understand. Here are some of them.

Let’s start with the tomatoes. Someone somewhere was upset because the tomato vendors Bon Appétit was buying from were not Fair Trade certified. Someone had some sort of power or influence and got them temporarily banned. That much I get. What I don’t understand is why.

First of all, no one here benefits from a lack of tomatoes. So clearly the ban was not in our best interests.

Second, I do not understand Fair Trade. I think the logic goes something like this: People in other countries are paid less money than people in America or other economically leading countries for different jobs, and that this is somehow inhumane. Is that all? Where’s the problem there? One of my main problems with this is that that statement is totally meaningless. The wage rate in one industry in one country by itself is indicative of almost nothing. It must be compared to prevailing costs of living, wages in other industries and at other companies in the same industry, etc. When this comparison is made, all of that data suggest that the companies being protested pay their workers much more than the laborers would make elsewhere.

But you don’t even need data to figure that out. It’s simple common sense. No one is forcing these people to work the jobs they work, but they do anyway. Therefore, there must be some reason. That reason is that these jobs are better than the other jobs or having no job. If things were really as bad as they are made out to be, no one would stand for it.

These workers are standing for it. No one asked for a champion here, and all the data suggests that they don’t need one. Literally every modern, economically great country, from America and Britain to China and Japan, has reached its place in the world the same way that the countries under heavy fire from Fair Trade protestors are doing now. If this path works to get countries to the top, why do people want to keep them off it?

Another thing I don’t understand: The other day, I saw a sign in Ursa’s that was supposed to make me outraged by saying that health insurance companies “discriminate” against the elderly, women and people with preexisting conditions. The flyer cited no source, so therefore we must go with common sense again. I will assume that these three groups actually do have to pay more in premiums than other people. They are also the people most likely to get sick, though. Of course the insurance companies are going to charge them more money. They are the people the insurance companies are going to have to give the most money to, on average. This seems more like good business than discrimination.

And even if it is discrimination, why does no one complain that auto insurance companies charge teenage males higher premiums than anyone else? Or why does no one claim that they discriminate against people with red cars?

I guess the point is that a lot of people are very upset about a lot of things that just don’t make a wink of sense. How about we start thinking a little bit before we judge evil? Then maybe we can actually do some good.

Randy is a sophomore in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at r.brachman@gmail.com.

  • Enlightened Student

    Actually, the tomato ban is for the same reason as fair trade. They wanted “fair” prices for the workers. It’s essentially the same premise. This was a great op-ed and about time someone said something that wasn’t sucking up to the liberal agenda but wasn’t a hate filled rant from the right.

  • a student

    Actually, the tomato ban had nothing to do with Fair Trade but rather was part of effort to ensure that American workers were paid a fair wage.

    But hey, at least your entire column isn’t based on a faulty premise that could have been rectified with even the most basic research, including in your own newspaper or the myriad of signs displayed at the DUC and other Bon Appetit locations.

    Oh wait.