Want To Make Use Of $47 Billion To Spare? Help Haiti

My essay is up at NPR on why Wall Street should tithe its bonuses to Haiti as an act of propitiation and a recognition that a lot of this money was generated by their use of low-interest public funds for triage.

The only thing I’d add is that the bonuses of the six biggest banks are now estimated to come in at $150 billion. Ten percent of that would be two years worth of Haiti’s gdp.

With great wealth comes great responsibility. An economically flourishing Haiti would not only help the Caribbean but also help the American Deep South economically.

Contrary to Gordon Gekko, greed is not good. Growth and development and self-realization are good.

And, the history of Western neocolonial exploitation of the place calls out for redemption.

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5 Responses

  1. 10% to haiti

    the remaining 90% to the American People who need the help also.

    those wall street financial types are already handsomely paid – they do NOT deserve a PENNY of that bonus money.

  2. Actually, the reason Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere is because it had to pay France 90 million francs to keep from being re invaded & conquered:
    Haiti has called upon France — the ousted former colonizer of historical Saint-Domingue — to pay restitution of $21,685,135,571.48. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti first outlined that demand last April, in a speech honoring the 200th anniversary of the death of revolutionary hero Toussaint L'Ouverture. At every stop on the bicentennial trail, the president has repeated his cry. He declared in November, "Poverty today is the result of a 200-year plot . . .. In 1803 and in 2003, this is the same plot. Do you understand my message?" At Thursday's celebration, he announced a new 21-point development program to be funded with the restitution payments.

    Why $21 billion? It's the modern equivalent of the 90 million francs Haiti agreed to pay France in 1825, in return for official recognition of Haiti's sovereignty. For two decades following Haitian independence in 1804, the former mother country, with the support of the United States, Britain and Spain, enforced a crippling embargo, accompanied by a threat to recolonize and reenslave Haiti if indemnity wasn't paid for lost property — i.e., slaves. Haiti, once France's richest colony, agreed to pay the price — more than twice the value of the entire nation at the time — but could only afford to do so using high-interest loans from French banks.

    Two centuries later, the Haitian government's annual revenues are a mere $237 million, about 1,000 times less than those of France. In his 1994 book, "The Uses of Haiti," Dr. Paul Farmer of Harvard Medical School, a longtime public health advocate in Haiti, ironically described the indemnity as "a business expense," a political necessity that left the country so economically and politically ravaged that democracy could never take root. But in Haiti itself, since the call for restitution went out last April, it's more common to hear those 90 million francs referred to as "ransom."

    link to boston.com

  3. And that $150 billion in bonuses would also balance the books for ALL US states that have a budget deficit.

    But I vote to help Haiti.

  4. While it is tempting to place all the blame for Haiti's predicament at the doorstep of French colonialism and varied forms of neocolonialism, one chapter that is crucial in explaining the poor condition of the countryside is land tenure dating back to the era of Petion (ironically one of the more "liberal" leaders of the country), and Christophe:

    After the Dessalines coup d'état, the two main conspirators divided the country in two rival regimes. Christophe created the authoritarian State of Haiti in the north, and the Gens de couleur Pétion helped establish the Republic of Haiti in the south. Christophe attempted to maintain a strict system of labor and agricultural production akin to the former plantations. Although he did not establish slavery strictly speaking, he imposed a semi-feudal system, fermage, in which every able man was supposed to work in plantations (similar to Latifundios) to produce goods for the fledging country. His method, though undoubtedly oppressive, produced the most revenues of the two governments.

    By contrast, Pétion broke up the former colonial estates and parceled out the land into small holdings. In Pétion's south, the Gens de couleur minority led the government and feared losing popular support, and thus, sought to assuage class tensions with land redistribution. Because of the weak international position and its labor policies (most peasants lived through a subsistence economy), Pétion's government was perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy. Yet, for most of its time, it produced one of the most liberal and tolerant Haitian governments ever. In 1815, at a key period of Bolívar's fight for Venezuelan independence, he gave the Venezuelan leader asylum and provided him with soldiers and substantial material support. It also had the least of internal military skirmishes, despite its continuous conflicts with Christophe's northern kingdom. In 1816, however, after finding the burden of the Senate intolerable, he suspended the legislature and turned his post into President for Life. Not long after, he died of yellow fever, and his assistant Jean Pierre Boyer replaced him.

  5. this is a link to my comment,
    feel free to use an exerpt, have been a resident for 11 years and experienced american influence first hand. the few words of professor Cole were appropriate.

    link to

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