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Ronald Reagan, Our Most Demented President

March 31, 2015

A new analysis of Ronald Reagan’s news conferences shows that he showed evidence of dementia while he was still president, in fact during his campaign for a second term.  Everyone knows that Reagan wasn’t diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease until 1994, six years after he left the presidency.

The analysis, reported in the New York Times (NYT), shows that Reagan developed changes consistent with early Alzheimer’s Disease while he was still president.  He is not known to have displayed any clear loss of decision making ability or memory, but certain subtle changes were already obvious during his debates with Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale in 1984.  Compared to the elder President Bush, Reagan showed signs of using words repetitively and substituting nonspecific words like “thing” for specific nouns.  He also showed a progressive impoverishment in his vocabulary.

Another telltale symptom is the routine that Reagan used when participating in Cabinet meetings.  He had a set of index cards that spelled out how he was to respond to each Cabinet member’s speech.  The cards were prepared by his staff to cue him what questions to ask of each member; at the end, he was given an exit line, just as if he were reading from a script.

Although the author of the NYT article, Lawrence K. Altman, MD, claims that there was no evidence of loss of decision making ability, we can confidently conclude that Reagan entered office with a weak grasp of politics and a superficial knowledge level in general.  Reagan’s decision to dramatically lower taxes, especially on wealthy people, led to a sudden deficit in current accounts, and he was later forced to raise taxes again to close the gap.  He was warned by his economic advisers of the likely result of his tax reductions, but he clung to the mistaken belief that lowering taxes would somehow increase collections.

At the same time (August 1981), Reagan suddenly fired all the striking air traffic controllers, ignoring their legitimate grievances about working conditions that had prompted the strike.   The controllers had actually supported his candidacy for president, based on promises his campaign made to the union about how negotiations would go after he was elected.  After Reagan won the presidency, his negotiators took a hard line with the union, basically going back on the promises he had made to get elected.

The controllers had been losing money to inflation for the past decade, and their demands included a large pay raise.  This was unpopular with the general public, and sympathy was on Reagan’s side.  Since civil service employees were forbidden by law to strike, they were taking an extreme risk.  Reagan fired all the striking workers (the majority of the workforce) and banned them from civil service jobs for life.  It took almost ten years (according to Wikipedia) for the air traffic control system to return to full operation; ironically, many of the changes that the union had demanded were instituted because of the shortage of controllers caused by the firing.

Many controllers were forced into poverty by this action, and only 800 of them got their jobs back when Clinton rescinded Reagan’s orders blacklisting them.  The cost to the airlines and the flying public was vastly greater than if Reagan had acquiesced to the controller’s demands, but to Reagan it was the principle of the thing (an extremely simplistic point of view, as opposed to a nuanced perception.)

Reagan’s action gave private employers a tremendous boost in confidence in dealing with their own workers.  They began to treat them as if they could be hired and fired at will, without giving any cause.  The result has been a steady erosion in the number of workers represented by unions and the rights of workers in general.  The most negative result, indirectly, was to force down the average wage despite dramatic increases in productivity.  The average wage is less now than it was forty years ago, in part because of how Reagan treated the air traffic controllers.

The end result of Reagan’s actions was to reverse the improvements in conditions for workers that had occurred since WW II.  The level of income and wealth inequality has returned to the unsustainable levels that prevailed just prior to the Great Depression.  This inequality is destabilizing to society; if current trends continue, democratic government will be lost, and the United States will be governed by a small oligarchy, with a large police force and many people in jail.  Such a situation is conducive to social unrest and possibly even civil war.

Making Money From Prisons and Prisoners

March 30, 2015

The United States has the largest proportion of its population in prison, of any country in the world, including China and Russia.  A majority of these prisoners are of minority origin, either black(African-American) or brown (Mexican), and blacks in particular face a much greater risk of being arrested, incarcerated, and sentenced to longer prison terms, followed by long periods on parole.

While some uninformed persons may claim that blacks are in prison more because they commit more crimes, there is good evidence that blacks are the victims of prejudice rather than the perpetrators of crimes.  Blacks are suspected more, convicted more readily on less evidence, and sentenced to longer terms for the same crimes.  Considering that 95% of criminal cases are settled by plea bargains and blacks do not have the funds for high powered lawyers, most blacks are intimidated into pleading guilty by the specter of a longer prison term if they resist a plea bargain and are convicted at trial.

The most disturbing factor in this insane policy of locking up everyone is the rise of for-profit prisons.  States have sold out their prisons to private companies, which make a profit on incarcerating people.  There is no incentive to reduce prison populations when private companies show healthy profits for doing this work.

A particularly egregious form of profit-making is the practice of charging inmates ridiculously large fees for making telephone calls.  Here is a quote from a New York Times (NYT) article that shows clearly, in a nut shell, how excessive this practice is:

“Until the 1990s, inmates could place and receive calls to lawyers and family members at rates similar to those outside prison walls. But the prison phone system is now a $1.2 billion-a-year industry dominated by a few private companies that manage phones in prisons and jails in all 50 states, setting rates and fees far in excess of those established by regular commercial providers. The business is so considerable — some 500 million prison and jail phone calls totaling more than six billion minutes in 2014 — that it has caught the eye of private equity firms.”

The article can be found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/31/us/steep-costs-of-inmate-phone-calls-are-under-scrutiny.html

It seems that there are only a few companies dominating this business: one company, Global Tel-Link, takes 50 percent of all revenue.  These companies are being taken over by private equity firms because of their tremendous profit potential.  The states are using these companies as a source of revenue, and the companies are obliging by paying enormous commission fees to the prisons for the privilege of controlling their phone service.  Then the companies turn around and charge the inmates through the nose for making phone calls.  Some charge as much as $1.22 a minute for in-state phone calls.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has limited out of state phone charges to 20 cents a minute, but the companies have responded by jacking up the charges on in-state calls, which the FCC does not control, and which make up 90 percent of the calls.  In addition, there are multiple charges for various aspects of the telephone service, such as paying your bill or maintaining a prepaid account.

The states are using the commissions that these companies pay (a total of $460 million last year) to subsidize many other aspects of incarceration, even unrelated expenses like the states’ general revenue funds.  These charges result in another aspect of the retrogressive charges that poor people pay to support their government.  These charges are similar to a retrogressive income tax, which places the greatest burden of taxation on those least able to pay.

The practice of incarcerating so many people is an unconscionable expense paid by taxpayers, and the way the incarceration is implemented places the greatest burden on those least able to afford it.  This is just one more unjust practice that diminishes our faith in government and damages the social contract that is supposed to bind all people together in a fair and equitable society.  We must fight to make all expenses of government progressive– paid for by those most able to pay and not those least able to resist.

Those who benefit most from government– wealthy people who obtain protection for their wealth from government services– must be made to pay the most for the administration of government: a progressive scale that charges the most to those most able to afford it.

March 25, 2015

The “situation” in Israel-Palestine is, in my humble opinion, the result of two opposing forces which have no interest in negotiation; both sides are interested only in conquering.  The Zionist side made a strategically brilliant secret offensive that was conceived as early as the late 1800’s.  The Arab side was at first completely disorganized, then completely brainwashed into a millenial monotheist dictatorship that is still militarily inadequate.  There are dominant elements on both sides that make reasonable negotiation impossible.  The current situation can only be separation by armed elements of the United Nations.  Jerusalem should always have been a demilitarized, transnational territory. In particular, the Western Wall and the area that used to comprise the Temple in Jerusalem should be opened to archaeological inspection to determine what specific writings can be located that bear on the history of the three main monotheistic religions.  The areas that ’til now have been restricted from archaeological exploration need to be opened up because there are likely to be writings that contradict elements of our history of religions.

This is also likely to be true of the Ka’ba in Mecca that has been occupied for thousands of years and reconstructed many times.  There is only one entity that can impose archaeological exploration on all these sites.  That is an alien that is able to impose its will by the use of superior force.

In “The Day the Earth Stood Still” the alien demonstrates his power by shutting off all the internal combustion and electric engines in the world for an hour.  After this demonstration, he explains that the earth cannot be allowed to export its destructive behavior to other worlds or it will be destroyed.

It is clear that our self-destructive behavior will continue unless we are somehow forcefully explained that we are making a mistake.

Here’s a couple of comments from the New York Times (NYT) that bear repeating:

“[March 20 , 2015]

How do the right-wingers who voted for the prime minister based on his no-Palestinian-state pledge feel now? How do the Palestinians feel, hearing two diametrically opposed positions in the same week from their negotiating “partner”? Which position is accurate?

Will anyone trust Benjamin Netanyahu now or believe anything that he says? Why would they, given that he has proved himself to be nothing but a typical politician, one who seeks to have it both ways, to say or do anything to be re-elected?

When we seek to understand why so many voters and potential voters have become apathetic, if not hostile, to government at all levels, look at the Netanyahu farce of 2015. Disgraceful.

OREN M. SPIEGLER
Upper St. Clair, Pa.

 

“[March 20, 2015]

In focusing the blame entirely on Israel by stating that a change in the current situation cannot and will not come from within Israel, he completely ignores recent history regarding the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership.

In the waning days of the Clinton administration nearly 15 years ago, Israel made a very reasonable offer of land to the Palestinians for a state of their own. This offer was rebuffed outright with nary a counterproposal. Instead, the Palestinians launched a second intifada.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in the summer of 2005, which was the only time in history that anyone gave the Palestinians even an acre of land for themselves. The Palestinians responded by converting the territory into a rocket launching pad, directly provoking two wars.

The two-state solution has indeed “seen more funerals than a reverend,” but the main reason for that has been a Palestinian leadership apparently more interested in embracing a culture of death and destruction rather than one of life and hope.

JERRY RAPP
New York

How to Be Undetectable

March 22, 2015

“If you didn’t pick up the phone, if you didn’t go on the Internet, you didn’t use technology, you’re virtually undetectable,” a second law enforcement official said, speaking anonymously in order to discuss the investigation.

 

Haiti: the Population and the People

March 22, 2015

Population of Haiti, and Growth Rate Reduction With Rising Economy:

The Federal Survey that was extensively quoted in the last post also stated that the population of Haiti was about  8.3 million and that the growth rate was about 2.3 percent.  Now the population is estimated at 10.6 million, despite a huge level of emigration to other countries such as the United States and a huge death rate from the earthquake of 2010. (See http://populationpyramid.net/haiti/2015/ )

The reason for the increase in population despite local deprivation is that each woman has an average of 4.9 children in her lifetime.  There is a high death rate but the population is largely young and relatively dynamic, with a median age of 18.

There is clearly a tendency for women in poor countries to have more children.  There is also a clear trend towards fewer children in countries that have higher economic status than before.  Improved economic status over time frequently results in a lowered birth rate; this has been seen in some counties in India.  What happens here is that the overpopulation problem tends to solve itself when the economic status of the society involved is increased significantly.  This phenomenon has been demonstrated repeatedly in other situations.  Economic improvement alone will reduce the number of children that each woman has (whether it is due to better education or more access to birth control and abortion is immaterial.)  In a way, this is automatic women’s rights, because there is less stress on women when each has an average of only two children.  There is more time between and after having children to engage in political activity in print and to demonstrate in favor of one’s cause.

Therefore, raising the economic status of a group of people will reduce population growth and show the way to solve the problem of overpopulation.  In countries like the United States, the average birth rate is 1.8 children per mother, less than the replacement rate; population growth occurs only by immigration.  This is the simplest way to solve Haiti’s problems, in particular their problem of overpopulation, where without excess children there would be no need to emigrate to the United States, which is quite the same as their problem of economic salvation.

To return to Haiti’s current situation:

We suggest that some of Haiti’s problems are related to their youthful population and rate of dynamic change secondary to that youth.  As noted previously, the country’s median age is 18.  The life expectancy at birth is an average of 53 years.  The resulting population is unusually young and unstable.

There is, in addition, a group of unusually healthy and intelligent men and women who have been raised in privilege; in myth there are 400 citizens at the top who make all the decisions.  This myth reflects the unusual degree of mythology involved in what appears to be decision making apparatus.  We need only mention the use of voodoo in the administrations of Papa Doc and Baby Doc.

Another important transformation has to be discussed, which is that of the Aristide party.  At first it was a civilly elected, democratic party which was saved by American intervention but later on, Aristide’s loyalty seemed to shift towards Russia and the administration of Vladimir Putin, now an enemy of the United States in Latin America for reasons that may be obscure to the average American.

Relief Plans, Why They Don’t Work:

The decisions of virtually all relief plans have resulted in large amounts of relief money going to the central administrative areas with relatively less distributed to the rural areas.  There is clearly an enormous amount of money wasted on the administrative apparatus that goes with distribution of aid in the normal way– a sort of injection at the center that takes a long time to reach the periphery, with a great deal of material lost along the way.  That’s how aid programs have always worked,  because of the belief that other methods will result in lost material due to waste and fraud.

Pie in the Sky Solutions:

In a reversal of this pattern, there may be a way to route the relief to peripheral areas more quickly if one determines the pattern of very small administrative areas and uses single flights to distribute complete and comprehensive packages with ridiculously simple instructions to individual administrative centers.

There is also the relation to amount of aid given to the country to which the United States gives the most money in the world: Israel, at $3 billion a year.  What if, instead of $250 million, Haiti was to get $3 billion a year in aid?  How much would be wasted on graft and embezzlement?  How much would go to the starving “farmer” with a tenuous relationship to a piece of land to lives in Port-au-Prince looking for a job, any job?  With a wife and five children, he has a family, but one in eight of his family are living abroad.  Likely with so much money , some of it would get to almost all of the people but a lot would go to those who control the top of the food chain.

Long Term Problems and Solutions:

There are ways to reduce the graft that inevitably reaches into aid programs but they may be unattractive, even violent to the average viewer. At present, I do not have all the answers to this problem, but I hope to present some in future posts.

In addition, I would like to go over Haiti’s history since its recognition as a country and discuss its significance, although this is a much more fraught discussion.

 

 

” Haiti has a uniquely tragic history.”

March 20, 2015

So goes the first sentence in the Federal Research Division profile of Haiti for 2006.  Here follow key facts from the rest of the study:

“Slopes of more than a 20 percent grade cover nearly two-thirds of the country.”

“By agronomic standards, the majority of Haiti’s land (63 percent) is too steep for agricultural production, and only about 28 percent is considered arable. Despite this fact, nearly 80 percent of the country’s area functions, at least temporarily, as agricultural land. These less  than ideal conditions make yields low and stability difficult. Only 11.5 percent of the land is used for permanent crops. Irrigation is limited, and the government’s recent commitment to irrigating 40,000 hectares within five years was called off with only 5,600 hectares improved. Mountains take up a significant portion of the country, and concentrated urban areas house most of the country’s population. ”

” Haiti faces a severe deforestation problem. In 1923 forests covered nearly 60 percent of the country; today they cover less than 2 percent. Until recently the government had done little to combat this problem. Because most Haitians still depend on wood and charcoal as their primary fuel source, energy alternatives are needed to save the forests.”

A number of plans have been proposed to help control these problems, but they have not shown significant progress to date.

“Haiti has extremely low life expectancy– about 53 years in 2006 (51.9 years for males and 54.6 years for females). Haiti had an estimated birthrate of 36.4 births per 1,000 population and a death rate of 12.2 deaths per 1,000 population in 2006. Haiti’s death rate ranks as the worst in the western hemisphere, as does its 2006 infant mortality rate of nearly 72 deaths per 1,000 live births.”

“In 2006 Haiti had an estimated population of 8.3 million, with an annual growth rate of about 2.3 percent. Haiti is the western hemisphere’s second most densely populated country (248 persons per square kilometer), trailing only Barbados.”

” Haitian women have an average of 4.9 children… The country’s median age is 18. About 42 percent of the population is 14 or younger…”

“Haiti’s literacy rate of about 53 percent (55 percent for males and 51 percent for females) falls well below the 90 percent average literacy rate for Latin American and Caribbean countries.”

“Currently, most Haitian schools are private rather than state-funded. International private schools (run by Canada, France, or the United States) and church-run schools educate 90 percent of students. ”

” 80 percent of Haiti’s population lives below the poverty line… half of all Haitian children are undersized as a result of malnutrition…only 43 percent of the target population receives the recommended immunizations… Per capita, Haiti spends about US$83 annually on health care… ”

“Haiti has the highest incidence of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) outside of Africa… the United Nations projects the national prevalence rate to be 4.5 percent of the population. Other estimates place the rate as high as 12 percent in the urban population and 5 percent in rural regions…”

” The annual per capita income is about US$450, and most of the population (60 percent) faces underemployment… working and living conditions have been so poor that emigration, often by any means possible, has become a popular avenue of escape. About one out of every eight Haitians presently lives outside the country’s borders. ”

” Between 1995 and 2003, the United States contributed more than US$850 million to Haiti’s development. ”

” Only one in 50 Haitians has a steady wage-earning job… In 2005 Haiti had an estimated GDP of US$4.3 billion… In 2005 Haiti had an estimated GDP of US$4.3 billion… ”

” Some estimates suggest that two-thirds of the country’s 3.6 million workers are without consistent work. Many Haitians survive through subsistence farming rather than looking for jobs in the overcrowded urban areas…”

“Agriculture, together with forestry and fishing, accounts for about one-quarter (28 percent in 2004) of Haiti’s annual gross domestic product and employs about two-thirds (66 percent in 2004) of the labor force… Of the total arable land of 550,000 hectares, 125,000 hectares are suited for irrigation, and of those only 75,000 hectares actually have been improved with irrigation… ”

 

The inflation rate has fluctuated wildly and has reached 40 percent a year at times.  In 2004 it was 22 percent and in 2005, about 15 percent.

“Between 1999 and 2004, Haiti’s foreign benefactors—the United States, the European Union, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank—jointly suspended aid disbursements in response to evidence of systematic electoral fraud and the failure of the Haitian government to implement accountability measures. Aid was restored in July 2004 after an interim administration was named. Haiti was scheduled to receive more than US$1 billion in pledged aid for 2005 and 2006. The United States pledged US$230 million in aid through fiscal year 2006. ”

The above quotes are merely a brief snatch from a very large and comprehensive document that describes Haiti in minute detail, particularly including its history.  The long history of political instability is well described, and includes the stories of corruption and violence that helped destroy many regimes.

It appears that most Haitians who remain in Haiti are primarily suited to be subsistence farmers and the farming way of life has been severely impacted by soil erosion poor irrigation, loss of the native Creole pig, and price competition from cheap foreign rice.  The amounts of money that have been provided in foreign aid look like a drop in the bucket compared to Haiti’s need.

The kind of help that it would appear Haiti needs most is agricultural: seeds, pigs, instruction in new techniques of farming, provision of anti-erosion materials and techniques, and most of all support to stay on the farm and encouragement to return to productivity.  As a part of that massive farming aid program, it may be necessary to have land reform because there are indications that many farmers are stuck with small, multiply divided plots that are impossible to work efficiently.

Housing and building programs are also needed.  Most Haitians live in substandard houses and conduct government business in buildings susceptible to earthquakes.  A building program that includes structures resistant to earthquakes and to hurricanes as well is what the construction sector really needs.

There was a severely misguided attempt to bring Haiti from the agricultural world into the industrial world during the 1990’s and this led only to increased misery for the Haitian peasant.  Since most of the people are still in the farm-living stage of development, aid is needed to make that stage strong enough to support them rather than to try to suddenly raise their stage of development.

All of this sounds like pie in the sky when I list it here.  But there is little sense in untargeted, diffuse aid programs that provide little more than a handout.

Working directly with the people who need aid and bypassing government may be necessary to avoid corruption.  The people in Haiti who are in control of politics and governance are probably too corrupt to be trusted.  Resistance is to be expected from those sectors which feel slighted by this procedure and may even be violent.

Only by massive, targeted aid programs can Haiti be transformed from the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere into a semblance of a prosperous underdeveloped nation.

 

Haiti’s Problems Part 2: Pigs and Rice

March 19, 2015

Web sites used for this post:

http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1985/12/ebert-porkbarrel.html (a particularly scathing review of the pig situation.)

http://repeatingislands.com/2009/04/28/haiti%E2%80%99s-creole-pig-and-the-other-swine-flu-epidemic/

http://www1.american.edu/ted/haitirice.htm

http://www.povertycure.org/media/blog/beyond-aid-the-flood-of-rice-in-haiti/

1. Loss of self-sufficiency in rice production

In 1995, Haiti’s government reduced its tariff on imported rice from 50 percent to 3 percent.  Other Caribbean countries generally have tariffs in the 25 percent range.  The near-elimination of Haiti’s import tariff was a requirement of International Monetary Fund (IMF) support in the form of loans.  There were other requirements, which we will discuss at another time, but suffice it to say now that those requirements, generally referred to as “belt-tightening”, include reductions in salaries, reduction in social security payments, and measures to encourage an export-oriented economy.  Some have said that the IMF’s requirements for emergency loans have a negative impact on the poor and the social systems (including schools and health) of the countries affected.

As a result of the tariff reduction as well as internal policies of the American government, imported rice became significantly cheaper than locally grown rice, and rice production collapsed.  In the 1970’s,  it was said that Haiti was self-sufficient in rice production.   Now, 80 percent of rice consumed in Haiti is imported.  The locally grown varieties of rice have achieved a sort of “artisanal” status, and are sought after by Haitians who can afford them.

With the loss of local rice production, the Haitian farmer (60% of the population) became more impoverished.   Increasing numbers of farmers abandoned their land and moved to Port-au-Prince to look for work.  Haitian farmers were (and are) primitive in comparison to Americans, and have less than half the yield per acre under cultivation.   In addition, many years of poor practices have led to erosion and loss of topsoil from large areas of Haitian agricultural land, making restorative practices essential.  Haitian farmers have received little or no support, and are too poor to buy better rice varieties or invest in restoration of irrigation canals.

American rice producers, especially in Arkansas, benefited from the minimal tariff required by IMF, particularly because their production was supported by grants from the American government.   Arkansas was said to have received $2 billion in direct agricultural support payments over the period 1995-2011, half of which was for rice production.

Former President Bill Clinton has gone on record as apologizing for the rice tariff fiasco, which occurred on his watch.   He stated that the intent was to free farmers to participate in the global economy by taking industrial jobs.  He said that the policy was a mistake and did no good for the Haitian farmer, whether by giving him industrial work (for example, in factories that produce goods for export) or allowing him to restore his land.  Clearly, the result of these policies was further impoverishment for the Haitian peasants.

2. Destruction of the local variety of pig

In 1978, a new form of swine flu, African Swine Fever, swept through the Dominican Republic and threatened Haiti.  The government’s initial response was to destroy all Haitian pigs in the border area with the Dominicans.  No compensation was provided to the peasants for these pigs killed.  The border kill was ineffective, however, and the swine flu continued to spread.  American, Canadian, and Mexican governments, and the United Nations, launched a program in 1981 to destroy all of Haiti’s pigs.

An estimated 400,000 pigs were killed over a period of a year.   Over 500,000 pigs were said to have died of the swine flu.  Under the total destruction program, compensation was provided to the owners, but it was grossly inadequate in view of the central role that the local pig played in Haitian agriculture.  The replacement pigs were much more expensive to keep and were more susceptible to the marginal environment.  Many farmers were unable to support production of the new pig.

The Haitian pig, known as the Creole, was black and smaller than American-style pigs.  It roamed freely and ate many different foods, including roots, tubers, and underground insects, some of which were damaging the Haitian food crops.  Its excrement, manure, was used for fertilizer.  There was significant risk of transmission of human diseases through the pig because of the primitive sanitary conditions, but there was no mention in my sources of epidemics caused by this pig.

Most importantly, the Creole pig was adapted to the primitive style of agriculture that was practiced, and formed an important link in the fertilization of crops.  The replacement pig had to be kept in a roofed pig pen, given clean water and vaccinations, and was forbidden to consume human waste.  Because of extremely primitive sanitary conditions, the loss of the Creole pig left wastes of all kinds unconsumed and rotting on the ground.

The Creole pig also served as a form of wealth for the Haitian peasant, and it was said that one pig could provide the funding for two children to go to school for a year.   This wealth was transformed into debt if the farmer tried to raise the American pig according to instructions, and only wealthy Haitians were able to raise the new type of pig.

An American food company entered the pig market in Haiti and was contracted to provide the new pig along with all the ancillary equipment required.  The company was said to ” stand to gain nearly $1 billion from ” the new pig program, while the Haitian farmers were reimbursed a total of $7 million for the loss of all of their pigs.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide (admittedly not an objective observer) estimated that the destruction of the Creole pig cost the Haitian people $600 million.

There has been an effort underway for some years to breed the Creole pig and re-introduce it to the island.

3. Chronic indebtedness of the Haitian national government

Haitian debt started with independence.  When the slaves and mulattos overthrew the French-supported government, France instituted an embargo on the island which was only lifted when Haiti agreed to pay 150 million francs (the equivalent today of $21 billion) for the loss of its slaves and property on the island.  This was later reduced to 90 million francs.  The amount was based on detailed records kept by French plantation owners of the number of slaves they had kept.  This money demand was inappropriate since, according to modern human rights standards, no-one has a right to own another person.  Haiti was forced to pay the money because it was a small, poor island country with no other countries supporting it, and the French embargo prevented trade with any other country.  The debt was acknowledged as paid in 1893.  Nowadays, it is considered an example of “odious debt.”

In the twentieth century, Haiti accumulated debt under the administration of the oppressive Duvalier family.  The total debt was estimated at $1.8 billion in 2000; perhaps 40% of it went directly into the pockets of the Duvaliers.  Most of this debt was cancelled by the IMF, but some still remains.  Currently, the US is paying $9 million a year on Haiti’s behalf as debt service.  Because of multiple agencies’ efforts to cancel debt, most activists feel that what remains is not a priority.

Additional problems: maladministration of government, catastrophic storms and earthquakes (the first recorded in 1750), epidemics, destruction of farming land, and others will be discussed in a later post.

 

 

 

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