Fair trade vs. free trade showdown

Scholars will duke it out next week on the pros and cons for the poor of free trade or fair trade.

American Enterprise Institute, one of the world’s leading think tanks, is sponsoring the event, which will feature a Washington-based AEI economist, CEO of Ten Thousand Villages Paul Myers and economics author Victor Claar.

Assistant professor of philosophy Jay Bruce, who will be moderating, is excited to raise the issue on a campus so active in promoting using business to help people.

“JBU students are interested in helping the poor, and they are also interested in doing business as Christians,” said Bruce.

Bruce also sees the issue playing out far beyond the campus because of the convenient way of thinking that what feels best is the best idea.

“That’s one question, the question of how we feel versus the results,” said Bruce. “That applies to a wide range of issues, from whether or not to extend unemployment benefits to the extent of U.S. foreign aid.”

The scholars will offer their unique insights into fair trade vs. free trade.

Paul Myers is the CEO of Ten Thousand Villages. It is a fair trade organization that helps disadvantaged artisans market their products. It operates with more than 120 artisan groups in more than 38 countries and has strong ties to the Mennonite Christian community.

Victor Claar is a professor of economics at Henderson State University and the author of “Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices” and “Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution.”

The American Enterprise Institute is a conservative think tank headquarter in Washington D.C. Many of its scholars have served as government officials and advisors including presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.