We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Liberty Log now looking good

Alex Singleton has got the Liberty Log cranked up and running again, after a spell of very thin posting. (It’s not as if they had nothing to blog about up there, what with the Germaine Greer for University Vice Minister, or whatever it is, row.) Something to do with student lodgings, he said in a phone call to me just now – no internet connection, blah blah.

Anyway Alex has been thinking about coffee, and in particular “fair trade” coffee.

Several hours of research later, I found what I suspected: fair trade isn’t as fair as it seems. Most of the extra money charged fills the pockets of big business, not the coffee growers. Fair trade coffee is roughly 2.5p more expensive per cup. However, Costa charges 10p per cup extra. In other words 7.5p simply goes to Costa, or its first world suppliers, as profit.

World coffee prices have declined rapidly over the past ten years, and the reason is simple: since 1990, supply has increased by 15%. Much of the blame can be laid at organisations supposedly aiming to reduce poverty. The World Bank gave loans to Vietnam to set up coffee plantations. In Brazil and Columbia, producers were encouraged to switch from coca, used to make cocaine, to coffee. Oxfam and other charities have consistently encouraged existing farmers to increase production of coffee.

So there. My real reason for linking to Liberty Log is not coffee, nor even LL’s recent springing back to life. No, my main message is simply how good it is now starting to look. I particularly like the headings, but thank god also that the text (as here at Samizdata) is big enough to read. What is it with all the tiny lettering that lots of blogs use? Am I getting old? Is my screen too small and blurry? Anway, I can read Liberty Log.

More to the point, I still want to. As do others, or so Alex tells me. During the recent dry spell, LL was still getting plenty of hits, presumably from folks like me who were hoping that normal service – or what passes for normal service at a university – would soon be resumed.

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