October 11th, 2005


Views of the world

I am nearing the end of Clinton's second volume, and there is one area I would have liked him to be more specific about. He speaks of "globalization" and helping other countries quite a bit. I believe he's sincere in his intent to improve the quality of life for all people. But what I know about our methods:

We (as in World Bank - really a United States institution)  loan money to an economically-down country. The money pays for OUR contractors to come in and build huge public works projects that have been justified by special "economic" teams - on the basis of flimsy evidence (See Confessions of an Economic Hit man). These projects reliably do not have the economic effects that are projected. The country defaults on the loan.

The World Bank insists on "austerity measures" - both when approving the loan and later, when the loan is in default. These measures usually mean "get rid of labor protections". The people doing the work get paid less, work more, create products that wealthier citizens sell to other countries (See The Uses of Haiti by Paul Farmer). The methods used for creating the public works projects usually mean clearing land, polluting the water, and thereby creating conditions that later cause devastating flooding (again see Farmer).

When the country defaults, it becomes our bitch. It will do our bidding, it is ours. (Amy Goodman, Samantha Power)

Clinton makes side comments that we "aren't doing enough" to protect the environment, to make sure everybody benefits from globalization, not just the few. But he doesn't explicitly explain how it works. I am not sure he really knows, although a reader and listener and world traveler like him probably does. He tried to insert protections into NAFTA but I don't believe they went far enough - mainly to prevent US companies from profiting.

These things are not discussed. If people knew them they would know this country is not the generous giving society we've been taught to believe. If people knew these things they would better understand the increase in terrorism and other means to fight back.

Even scarier right now: we are using these same methods on our own country.