AID with chains attached
On January 23, the Haitian government called off the search and rescue efforts, but in spite of this, live people are still being found. Does anyone really think that it is the non-functional Haitian government behind this proclamation or are they merely the scapegoats? If there were 10 American, 5 French and/or an assortment of Europeans still unaccounted for, would the efforts be curtailed? Another question to ask, how long after 9/11 was there the expectation of finding live ones. Compare that thought to New Orleans and HaitiLet me tell you what I think. Haitians lives like the lives of those in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Jamaica, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Niger, Angola, Sudan, Uganda, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Malaya, Philippines and so on, are considered much less valuable than a European life. So at some point, the COST of the rescue of a Haitian becomes too high in regards to any further recovery. However that point is lower than the cost marked for a European life. A New York life after 9/11 had a higher threshold than a New Orleans life after Katrina. Is that moral? You decide… but also separately factor in what is the value of your family member’s life if they were the ones trapped below rubble.A day after the announcement was made by a UN spokesperson, ‘on behalf’ of the Haitian government, 2 survivors were pulled from the rubble. Did that send back the rescuers back to the searches? In economic principle, No.I have been taken to task regarding my comments in my last blog. But my comments were forged by the knowledge of how things worked especially when it comes to the United States. One can’t argue that the American people aren’t very generous when it comes to opening their hearts and pockets to disaster-struck areas. But most Americans have no idea how their government and organizations work with their money.In situations as Haiti, many countries ask “How can we help?” and then later worry about cost. Some give their help while at the same time considering cost. American institutions tend to first ask, “How can we profit?”.It is interesting to hear comments from non-Americans who are in Haiti… an entirely different perception than what is broadcast on the American news media. Jamaican artist Natalie Barnes says, “…interestingly enough the aid that we see in the western media is largely absent on the ground, only 2 weeks after a devastation of this magnitude. The one’s that are present, seem to be strategically placed where the media is and not where the people are…and the aid that is being given is done in a way that strips our people of their humanity and dignity. We went to areas that hasn’t even seen any form of assistance from international agencies as well as local governmental institutions……which shows how fragile Haiti is right now and the displacement of government right now… And even though the aid workers have given up hope the people continue to dig with their bare hands because they refuse to give up hope”. This report is backed up by other first and second-hand reports coming to me.***Edward Seaga wrote an interesting piece in the Jamaica Gleaner, Sunday January 31 and makes several interesting points. One is about the outbreak of African swine fever in Haiti in the 1980’s, the American response and results, and also about the occurrences surrounding the departure from Haiti of ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier. His account of what transpired in the days leading up to ‘Baby Docs’ departure differs. The US government and media claims give most of the credit to the United States. It is clear by Seaga’s story that the US was more of a hindrance than anything else http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20100131/news/news6.html.But understanding what is happening in Haiti means that one has to dig deep in history. Well, you don’t have to do that. Others have:Hilary Beckles: http://www.jamaicagleaner.com/gleaner/20100124/cleisure/cleisure5.htmlJohn Maxwell : http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Maxwell-Jan-31Another; http://www.democracynow.org/2004/3/2/ramsey_clark_on_haiti_a_clearAnd: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/haiti/politics-baby-doc.htmAnd: http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1985/12/ebert-porkbarrel.html Contrast these with what’s on wikipedia for instance. The last link is particularly interesting in that it underscores how US aid works and American arrogance. The latter reminded me about our own “Life and Debt”, a film by Stephanie Black… worth getting. It also reminds me about the clip I saw on CNN years ago of this American soldiers teaching Iraq youth the rudiments of construction. Quite laudable except for the fact that he was using inches and feet… while the world including Iraq had long converted to metric. America hasn’t.***One prime example of American arrogance was the ‘missionaries’ who were smuggling Haitian kids out of the country. Now I don’t think that the majority of them had evil intent. I believe that they thought that they were doing ‘god’s work’. But they typically ignored the biblical injunction to “Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”, thinking that this is just Haiti… whose laws and rules don’t matter.But even more arrogant was that in the middle of an earthquake disaster, with over 2,00,00 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, they were selfish enough to want better conditions in jail than the Haitians lying on the streets or in camps. Heck, they even got pizza.***So under tea-party pressure for less government, Obama pushes through an interesting budget intending to convince the nation that he is serious about fixing the economy (apparently after fooling around with something as frivolous as ‘health care for all’). I won’t try to dissect the budget but it is important to note that America has by far, the world’s largest military spending… almost 10x larger than the nearest big spender China. American military spending is 42% of the world’s military budget. And this year’s budget as is usual, shows a larger allocation.Of course, the republicans don’t object to this, though they are quick to complain Obama’s $3.72 trillion budget is unsustainable. But to cut military spending… no way Jose! Trying to parse the spending on Iraq and Afghanistan actually hurts my head but it is certain that over $150 billion was spent in the two last years and will increase in 2010.Now when one considers that both the taliban and al qaeda, perhaps spend less than $100,000 annually in both countries, then there is a problem. When we compare the 300,000 strong coalition force with that of the taliban‘s 25,000 and al qaeda’s few hundred (if as much. It has been reported that both parties don’t get along), then what the hell we are doing spending so much to lose a fight.But American politicians love a war… good or bad doesn’t matter. That was a holdover from the days when wars contributed jobs but those days are near gone. With increased spending, less jobs are created, less money spread around in those towns that are linked totally to military procurements.Some people can’t see the writing on the wall, and think that more war will bring them the power, glory, and fear that they want. Instead they’re getting just hate, contempt and failure. Obama buddies up those guys because, hell, its ok if a couple thousand more die in Afghanistan as long as he gets the vote for health care. Well, as Sarah Palin says, “How’s that working out for ya?”.***And speaking of both Obama and Palin, if there is anybody in the world who should be legally required to keep their mouths shut, it should be those two.Obama can’t seem to let a good sound-bite go by. Recently, he criticized as odious, a proposal, note a proposal in Uganda to increase the penalties of those found to be gay. “Its unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are”, he sanctimoniously asserts to a ‘prayer breakfast’. Boss, you should just have eaten.Its hypocritical because in America there is a rise in hate crimes against gays. In America, gays can’t get married and in many states cannot get the benefits that accrue to a man and woman living together or married. In America, gays in the military are urged to be silent… and those who want to fight for their country, are not given the chance if they declare their sexual preferences.The only difference between America and Uganda is in the details and the degree. In reality both are the same. Bredrin, shut up.As for Sarah. Its suffice to say she should just shut up. The more she speaks is the more I either burst out laughing or cringe. I wouldn’t be surprised if America elects her in 2012. But that only speaks to the intellectual morass that this country continues to wade in, to the dearth of leadership of which Obama might be the last ‘golden child’.***I’ve never seen people confuse words with reality as Americans do. Recently, Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel made a stupid reference “F…ing retards” (not my words, editor). He himself is retarded in the context that he made the remark but also because he apologized to the wrong persons for the remark. He was slamming liberal democrats but apologized to the chairman of Special Olympics. That’s retarded.Sarah Palin grabbed some headlines about it, and apparently there is move afoot to ‘…eliminate the word (retard) from our vocabulary…’. What!!?!!. Yes. It is insensitive to retarded people. Oh, I shouldn’t have said that.But you know what? Soon we will be running out of words to have a conversation. So here it is. Screw political correctness. Screw all retards, handicapped, floozie niggers, whitey, white trash, moron, snatch, dwarf, midget, jew, spic, rice eater, slant eyes, redskin, fatty, obese, slob, hooker, gimp, monkey, kike, aunt jemima, macaca, uncle tom, faggot, philistine, cripple, battyman, cracker, russki, boche, boonga, camel jockie, honkie, pommie, sand nigger, towel head, redneck, slopehead, wog, wop, blind, dumb, wetback, gypsy, neegrow, papist, mackerel snapper, polack, chink, chineyman, stoopid, clamhead, jesus freak, burkha boy, fundy, fatass, trainables, hoochie, ho, diet (yes, ‘diet’ is a new no-no. It causes kids to have low self-esteem)… And I have a lot more if you want. But most of all, Screw me. They are just words. What you call me doesn’t define me. And just because you don’t use the ‘N’ word, doesn’t mean that you won’t continue thinking that I’m just a nigger.Now, if we can get that crap out of our system, perhaps we can actually settle down and deal with meaningful issues. Damn!