Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Michael Moore Interview

Democracy Now interviewed Michael Moore today. Can you imagine a White House that would ignore almost 12,000 nurses volunteering to go to Haiti? Can you imagine them getting so desperate that they contact Michael Moore to see if he could get the President's attention?


When you look at this last year, besides better words from the President, what has changed? Did we vote Barack, or Jeb?


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quotes about Haiti

I have collected quotes about Haiti. Most are from the last few days. These are provided without comment. Following the quotes I have a brief list of important events in the history of Haiti.

“Haiti is Like Gaza” - Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Producer, Democracy Now!, reporting on the damage after the earth quake, January 19, 2010

"Children In Gaza Donate To Haiti" - Headline, News One January 22, 2010 5:30 pm

"They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Ok it’s a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another." - Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 13, 2010

"We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax" - Rush Limbaugh, January 13, 2010

"(President Obama will use Haiti to) build 'credibility' with the black community -- in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country." - Rush Limbaugh, January 13, 2010

The U.S. government response should be bold and decisive. It must mobilize U.S. civilian and military capabilities for short-term rescue and relief and long-term recovery and reform. President Obama should tap high-level, bipartisan leadership. Clearly former President Clinton, who was already named as the U.N. envoy on Haiti, is a logical choice. President Obama should also reach out to a senior Republican figure, perhaps former President George W. Bush, to lead the bipartisan effort for the Republicans. - Conservative Think Tank, Heritage Foundation

"Obama isn't that naive Good joke though. Repube conservatives are the most disgusting people on the planet. I hate that I even responded to this crap!" - Comment left on Open Left blog about the previous quote

“Amidst the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S. In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the image of the United States in the region.” - Heritage Foundation (within hours they changed the wording, and worked to get this language out of Google's cache.)

"Now, I don’t know whether things are improving or not, because it took the Heritage Foundation thirteen days before they issued thirty-two free market solutions for Hurricane Katrina. We put that document up on our website, as well. It was close down the housing projects, turn the Gulf Coast into a tax-free free enterprise zone, get rid of the labor laws that forces contractors to pay a living wage. Yeah, so it took them thirteen days before they did that in the case of Katrina. In the case of Haiti, they didn’t even wait twenty-four hours." - Journalist and author Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

"The helicopter came down to the ground, landed, and they should have given to the responsible on the ground to distribute to the rest of the people here, and not when they go back up in the air, throw the bread out like they were throwing bones to dogs." - Man on the streets of Leogane, Haiti after a helicopter landed, took off, and then threw food out to the people.

"It’s a private plane from New Mission. New Mission is an institution of United States. You know, it’s a church." - Mayor Santos Alexis of Leogane when asked who's helicopter it was

"I don’t see any problem, except, you know, like things happen and people try to steal things from stores, you know, food maybe. That’s about it. But there’s no violence really in Léogâne." - Mayor Santos Alexis of Leogane when asked if it was safe for aid workers

"Soldiers spread out to other ravaged towns outside the capital, to Leogane to the west and Jacmel on the southern coast, to guard and supply aid distribution points there." - Reuters

"I am appalled by the decision of the Bush administration to pick up
fleeing Haitians on the high seas and forcibly return them to Haiti before
considering their claim to political asylum.... If I were President, I
would -- in the absence of clear and compelling evidence that they weren't
political refugees -- give them temporary asylum until we restored the
elected government of Haiti." - Candidate Bill Clinton, May 27, 1992

"For Haitians who do seek to leave Haiti, boat departure is a terrible and
dangerous choice.... For this reason, the practice of returning those who
fled Haiti by boat will continue, for the time being, after I become
President. Those who do leave Haiti...by boat will be stopped and directly
returned by the United States Coast Guard." - President Clinton, January 14, 1993

In a previous post I suggested studying the history of Haiti. Understanding the history is important to understanding why Haiti is not prepared to deal with natural disasters, and is important in understanding what we need to do to help that country be self sufficient.

January 1, 1804 - Haiti declares it's independence from France.

1825 - France recognizes the Haiti independence in exchange for 150 million gold francs (later reduced to 90 million) as payment for lost property. Haiti agrees to pay because it will end a crippling embargo imposed by France, Great Britain, and the United States. Haiti must borrow the money at a high interest rate.

Before 1860 - Haiti is recognized by Great Britain, Spain, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Hanover and Austria

1864 - The United States recognizes Haiti

1910, 11 - United States State Department backs the purchase of Banque National d'Haïti which is the government treasury

February 1915 - Vilbrun Guillaume Sam established a dictatorship. Bankers in this country worried about their investments in Haitian debts convince President Woodrow Wilson to invade Haiti. We stay there until 1934.

1937 - The United States gave up control of Haiti's external finances

1945 - Haiti pays off the debt from 1825

1980's - Haiti's farmers supplied all the rice needed by the country

1990 - Aristide was elected President with 67% of the vote. Aristide is a radical populist which alarmed the countries elite.

1991 - Aristide was overthrown in a military coup. There is evidence that the coup was backed by the U.S.

1994 - The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank negotiated loan agreements that reduced rice tariffs to 3%, lower than other regional governments. U.S. rice producers get significant government subsides, and rice starts to be sold to Haiti at below the actual cost of production.

September 1994 - Large numbers of Haitian were fleeing Haiti's violence, and arriving in Florida. President Clinton orders U.S. troups into Haiti to restore democracy. Many believe that the real motivation was to stop the emigration into the U.S.

It should be noted that President Clinton and both Presidents Bush supported the "free market reforms" that moved Haitians into the cities to work for low wages, and at the same time destroyed their agricultural self sufficiency.

Monday, January 18, 2010

In one of the classes I took while studying for my masters degree we studied a theory that economies mature through stages. We start out hunter/gatherers, progress to an agriculture based economy. Further progress enables us to become industrial. Then the next progression is to a service economy. That bothered me. How can an economy survive without the production of food, and how can it prosper without production. How can an economy survive without a visible means of support?

This weekend I was waiting to check my own groceries when, years later it finally hit me. The theory is correct. We have progress to a service economy. I service my own groceries. I service my own gas for my cars. I no longer have “retirement” through work, I service my own. Health care? I have a High Deductible Health Saving Account; I service my own.

But, I can’t complain. My money is still serviced by the Federal Reserve! My time is serviced by my employer! My constitutionally guaranteed freedoms are serviced the Federal Government.

So, how can someone flipping hamburgers afford a cell phone made half way around the world? How can a car jack that is able to lift a two ton car be so cheap that it is cheaper to buy it than fix it? It is simple. We are a service economy. The U.S services the money.

The U.S. Government borrows money from China, Japan, and others, and loan it to developing economies. Then we tell these economies that they will loan the money to U.S. corporations, and the corporations hire local people to do the work. And if a developing country doesn’t go along with the idea we overthrow their government. The U.S. companies keep wages low. We get cheap merchandise.

We can afford to buy the cheap goods because the Federal Reserve loans money to U.S financial companies, and they loan us the money to buy the cheap good.

We know what happens when the financial companies are in trouble. The Government loans them money.

We are a service economy. The developing countries serve us. The countries with cash serve us. We serve the rich. We are a service economy.

I have two questions.

1. Is our place in this economy moral? The computer I am posting this with and the computer you are reading this on most likely enslaved someone in another country. The clothes we wear most likely enslaved someone. Almost every thing we use has some component created in low wage factories.

2. Our economy is based upon borrowing from other governments and giving this money to corporations. The money ends up in the hands of the super rich. If the money stream stops our economy collapses. Do you think that the super rich will give a damn, or will they leave the tax paying public holding the debt?

We are a service economy, and we are an integral member of it. We oppress the majority of the world, and in the process we agree to be oppressed. It is time to throw off the shackles. It is time to digress into a manufacturing economy. It is time to make the car jack too expensive to throw away, and raise the price of a cell phone. It is time to digress into an agricultural economy. It is time for the food to become more important than the stock price. It is time to take back our economy.

King's Birthday and Haiti's Crisis

"You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery." Martin Luther King Jr.

Within 24 hours after speaking these words Rev. King was dead.

I have a question: Why is Haiti the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere? I am not answering that question. I am hoping that you will research the answer for your self. Read the history back to 1802. Read what Pat Robertson said. Read what Rush Limbaugh Said. Then reread Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote above.