Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why I can never be a Capitalist

The world's attention is directed towards the devastation and destruction of Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world hit by a horrific earthquake. It's focused not only our attention to the human toll, but the shame for which we in the U.S. share responsibility.

Dating all the way back to President Jefferson, a slave owner, who refused to recognize the newly found government of Haiti after a slave revolt freed them from the French. That by the way is where Pat Robertson says the earthquake stemmed, the so called pact with the devil by slaves daring to want freedom. Pat, the real Satan was a system that literally worked and starved a people to death, treated as property and expendable to corporate profit.

In 1915, the U.S. invaded Haiti, leaving only after getting favored status for American businesses. Ever since then the profits have been pocketed by corporations rather than the people who work in their factories.

Surely that must be better today? Ummm NO.

Disney memorabilia is made there. Anyone bought any Disney stuff? Way overpriced imho. Yet they pay their workers 11 cents per hour, or around 1 dollar a day. Bought a dress at KMart? Some of those dresses are made in Haiti. Again 11 cents per hour. The Rice Corporation of Haiti, a subsidiary of U.S. owned Comet Rice has virtually swallowed all rice farmers in Haiti, taking their property and owning a virtual monopoly on rice production. We hear the altruism of former President Clinton in delivering aid to the Haitians. But take a glance at this report found at

The US – destroyer of the Haitian economy

Food First, a US NGO in a report identified US policies as directly responsible for the destruction of Haiti’s indigenous food production. Moreover, the Clinton administration demanded that the main condition for the removal of the military junta which had deposed Aristide’s government in 1991 was the acceptance of US-imposed conditions which included,

"[The] eliminat[ion] [of] the jobs of half its civil servants, massively privatize public services, dramatically slash tariffs and import restrictions, get rid of price and foreign exchange controls, grant "emergency" aid to the export sector, reinforce an "open foreign investment policy," create special corporate courts where "judges are more aware of the implications of their decisions for economic efficiency," rewrite its corporate laws, limit the scope of state activity and regulation and diminish the power of the executive branch in favor of the traditionally more conservative Parliament."

The Food First article continues,

"In 1994 USAID claimed it was feeding upwards of 70,000 Haitians per day. It insists U.S. food aid is not competing with Haitian production because the food provided is not grown in Haiti. But Haitian and U.S. researchers have concluded what Food First has argued for years-that U.S. food aid is undermining local production. Massive increases in U.S. food aid drove down the prices of Haitian agricultural goods in local markets. Rice production dropped 35 percent in 1991-1992. The U.S. owned Rice Corporation of Haiti's parent company has a virtual monopoly on rice imports to Haiti."

So now the U.N. is about to pay Haitians to rebuild their nation. Well that should help spread some money among the people, right? Indeed they are going to pay them more. A whole $3 per day! $3.00 a day for back breaking construction work.

Trends over the last several years suggest a shrinking middle class in our own country. Clearly corporations are not the friends of people, save the ones at the top who pocket the profits. Now our Supreme Court has ruled that corporations can buy our politicians by drowning out our voices with their ability to purchase available advertising. Haitians are not the only people in the world under attack from big business.

Today the people of Haiti are putting a face on a great tragedy. But that tragedy began over 200 years ago. Look closely. If unbridled capitalism is not controlled, you are looking into the eyes of our own future. For what has happened there, there is enough shame to go around. I know this. Corporate America is no friend of mine. We took back control in this country from their grasp back in the thirties. It's time to do it again. We need to demand fairness, not just for corporations operating in the U.S., but in places like Haiti and Korea and Indonesia and anywhere else they do business. If they register and do business in this country, we should demand no less. We may have to pay more. Just compare our standard of living with people who work virtually as slaves to corporate bosses. We cannot complain. It is our duty to the legitimate American dream.

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