Tuesday :: Feb 17, 2004

He Who Has The Gold Makes Us Fools

by pessimist

The economic policies of the Bush (mis)Administration are used to grease the slides in the race to the bottom. Workers continue to lose jobs, the dollar sinks lower daily, the balance of trade hasn't been like this for many years. All of these things hurt the American people in their daily lives. But its the illegal alien amnesty that is going to hurt us the worst.

Already, many local contractors do not have regular employees. When they have a job to do, as when I had my roof retiled a few years ago, they pull in to the local Home Depot and collect their labor. Their pay is in cash, no benefits, taxes, workman's comp or any guarantee that if they get hurt they will even get paid for the day.

This leads to a "mongrelization" of the workforce as employers vie to be the next one to push wages down, and with few (if any) alternatives, people take these jobs for the wages offered.

So let's take this out a few years, and assume that Bush steals the election again and continues his disasterous economic policies.

Haiti has to be one of the poorest nations in the world. Ever since the slaves of the French plantation owners revolted and overthrew their masters, Haiti has been the bastard step-child in the world's eyes, as if "How DARE those inferior beings not know their place!"

Haiti is once again a hotbed of danger and destruction, and just might be a harbinger of what we in America have to look forward to if we continue to allow George Warmonger Bush to give the wealth of the nation to Halliburton.

Haiti's Collapse

No one can argue that Jean-Bertrand Aristide's presidency has been in any way successful other than this: It exists. He was elected in 1990 with enormous hope by an overwhelming majority in a legitimate election--and quickly overthrown by the Haitian Army and its friends. In 1994 he was returned to power through the good will of the Clinton Administration, in the optimistic expectation that he would be able to turn Haiti around. He was not able to do so for a combination of reasons, some political, some personal and most having to do with his inability to conduct a happy relationship either with the Bush Administration or with his own business and intellectual elite. Washington also cut off huge portions of aid, which cannot have helped Aristide's standing. Still, a fatal combination of arrogance and na´vetÚ on his part made Aristide's difficult position much more intractable. Meanwhile, the Haitian opposition has been coddled and pushed toward the depths of intransigence by Aristide's detractors in the US government, in both Haiti and in Washington. By now, with the country well on its way to chaos, many argue that Aristide has exhausted the electorate's patience and must be replaced.

As part of the unrest, a gang element managed to take over Gona´ves, one of Haiti's largest cities--a ramshackle affair of shantytowns and gingerbread houses atop salt flats and roads made undrivable by potholes, with few enough institutions as it is. This gang, which styles itself the Cannibal Army or, in its latest incarnation, the Artibonite Resistance Front (perhaps more palatable to the international community), has burned down the courthouse and the prison in Gona´ves, released the prison population and forced the mayor to flee. Though there may be elaborate and in some cases good excuses for these actions, taken as a trend they do not bode well for the rule of law. In the wake of the Gona´ves takeover, ten lesser cities have fallen to such forces, each in differing circumstances but all motivated by encouragement from sectors of the opposition and by the sense that Aristide is about to fall. That will not be helped by State Department spokesman Richard Boucher's hints on February 9 that a solution to the situation might not necessarily include President Aristide. Three of the towns have been retaken by the government.

The numbers of Aristide's detractors, their unwillingness to stop their protests even in the face of police brutality and killings and their takeover of Gona´ves and other towns have brought a new humility to Aristide, which sits rather uncomfortably on his proud shoulders. Still, the situation has been volatile enough to force him to make necessary concessions, under pressure from the Organization of American States and Caribbean Community, to the opposition. Because the opposition is swollen with self-importance in the wake of so many bloody victories in the countryside, it may not respond to Aristide's eleventh-hour overtures. It was not moved by a huge outpouring of support for him in the streets of Port-au-Prince on the recent anniversary of the fall of Duvalier.

When he returned to power, he bravely disbanded the Haitian Army and then promptly permitted a kind of mass civilian militarization without insuring his continuing control over it. A remnant of the old army is supporting and perhaps leading the current chaos. But in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of instances, it is Aristide's own toughs who have turned against him. Someone has convinced them that he no longer represents Haiti's future; no doubt someone with money. In a country as poor as Haiti, the man with more money to spend will win in the end (as in the favelas of Brazil and the slums of Colombia), because it is so very hard to maintain the high moral ground when no one's paying you to do it and the kids are starving back in the village or your one-room shack.

And the miserable street--with its thugs and its slum-dwellers, with its students and bricklayers and flat-tire fixers and car-wash boys, with its orphans and preachers and market ladies and tap-tap drivers, with its cart-pullers and trough-cleaners, its seamstresses and tailors, its cock-fighters and garbage-pickers, numbers-runners, whores and money-changers--is Haiti's political steamroller.

It will be interesting to see who will reward the "resistance" for its courage, and how.

Welcome to the future.

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pessimist :: 5:13 PM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!