January 31, 2010

Rebuilding the 'New Haiti'

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government – Thomas Jefferson

The only thing in the way of a new approach to the redevelopment of Haiti is the lack of true servants of justice within the UN, the World Bank, the IMF, the USA and other nations who prefer to obtain the dependence of charity and aid rather than enable the independence of a self-sustaining society. We need to promote new leaders who have the courage to think outside of the conventional boxes and offer new ideas for empowering all Haitian citizens from the bottom-up.

This is a moment for new thinking. Every Haitan including the poorest of the poor, could have the means to acquire, control and enjoy the fruits of productive assets. From the rubble of Haiti a fair new society could so easily emerge.

Anything that can be owned by a government can and should be owned by the citizens a government is supposed to serve. The democratization of capital through universal access to asset ownership will end the power and opportunity gap between today's haves and have-nots. No property need be taken from today's owners.

Here is how:

• Money for the rebuilding of Haiti should be internally generated under a properly designed and citizen owned central bank, eliminating Haiti's dependency on external (and ruinous) financing sources. (Many countries printed new money to bail out the banks in 2008)

• A Citizens Land Co-operative would allow the community to share equally in the control and profits associated with land planning and development.

• Local Community Banks should be set up to aid the democratization of capital with interest-free credit.

• Newly issued shares in sustainable new enterprises would enable every man, woman and child to accumulate wealth and receive tax-free income. This would include those who have no remunerative employment, such as the disabled, the unemployed, homemakers, volunteers and children.

• Schools need to teach their students a commercial language such as French or English in addition to Creole.

• Haiti's huge current national debt must be forgiven.

A "New Haiti" can and should emerge out of this disaster. Funding for the rebuilding can be generated internally by the issuance by a citizen-owned bank of interest-free ‘new money’ which would be allocated equally from the bottom-up through each individuals’ bank account.

This new money would be invested in the sustainable growth of the New Haiti and each citizen would have the means to invest in newly issued shares in green companies involved in producing marketable goods and services.

The only thing in the way of developing a fairer society for Haiti, and indeed the rest of the world, is the mindset (or is it greed) of those who purport to act in our interests. But there are many bright, capable and fair-minded people out there who could manage the transition to a fairer society in all our worlds. Pull them out of the shadows and give them your support!

Attached is a link for the proposed restructuring any given economic system. This could easily be adapted for a New Haiti, a New Palestine, a New Afghanistan – indeed a new paradigm: http://www.cesj.org/thirdway/thirdway-intro.htm With thanks to Norman Kurland.

The framework for our previous mailing on Haiti began as a post on the Global Prout Policy egroup by Sister Ambika, Ame Johnson: www.proutinstitute.org

January 22, 2010

Haiti and a Fair New World

There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world. Those who are afraid to try themselves, and those who are afraid that you will succeed

Our money, credit and tax systems are confused and overly complicated. They are designed to discourage the subversion of justice by the greedy few, but no - one really understands them.

Systems are created by humans. If they are flawed or incomplete only humans can change them. Systems should be targeted by our emotions and minds, not by socialists or capitalists. The systems we have compelled ourselves to work with determine whether our behaviour and thoughts will encourage vices like greed or envy, or virtue and the good habit of justice.

Every citizen has the personal responsibility to organize with others to make their social system as fair as possible.

A simple tax shift would keep more money in the pockets of ordinary taxpayers to cover, education, housing and other basic household living expenses. Elected representatives could be more directly accountable and responsive. In one move we could eliminate the tax loopholes and exemptions for the super-rich that unjustly discriminate against poor and non-rich families.
You and I are the leaders and activists who need to come together with passionate clarity concerning the fundamentals of economic justice in order to build a powerful force and create a fair global society, a world that works for everyone, a Fair New World.

The rebuilding of Haiti can help serve this larger purpose.
Haiti's vulnerability to natural disasters, its food shortages, poverty, deforestation and lack of infrastructure, are not accidental. To say that it is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere is to miss the point; Haiti was made poor - by France, the United States, Great Britain, other Western powers and by the IMF and the World Bank.

Very few individuals and corporations in Haiti - less than 1% - own and control most of the land. The island is 99% deforested, the cash crops are exported under unfair trade deals which have led to greater and greater debt. Most of the people are landless or have no papers to show that the land they have lived on for generations is indeed theirs. Vast numbers have been trying to survive on just one or two dollars a day; children scavenge garbage dumps for scraps of food leftover from the plates of US soldiers stationed there; and that was before the earthquake.
Up to about 30 years ago, Haiti was self sufficient in the production of rice, but the terms of the IMF loan required that the island reduce tariff protections for its rice and other agricultural products.

By 1988, so much American rice had invaded the country (the US has by far the largest voice in decisions of the IMF),that it became unprofitable for many Haitian farmers to continue planting. The US rice farmers were enjoying subsidies totalling around US$1B per year. The farmers in Haiti got nothing and were forced to move to the cities to find work. That is why so many have died.
Development beyond the current crisis:

It is possible for a fair and just society to be raised from this human disaster. For basic needs to be secured for all, the land problem in Haiti must be addressed through land reform and land value taxation.

There needs to be:

• Establishment of community land trusts and allocation of land for ecological villages.
• Implementation of a transparent public finance system based on land value taxation as called for by the UN Habitat and the Global Land Tool Network.

When secure and equitable land tenure is established, the following basic human needs can be met:

1. potable water
2. reforestation
3. agricultural fields (rice and root crops) and appropriate technology
4. wind and solar energy
5. dairy farms (goats, cows)
6. cotton and hemp fields for fabric and building material
7. mangosteen, mango, pineapple, papaya, trees, nut trees/ coconut trees,
8. holistic heath centres.
9. educational institutions
10. cooperatives.
11. small industries.

One way we can help Haitians build a better tomorrow is to convince global creditors to cancel Haiti’s $890 million international debt. Doing so will help make sure that every possible future dollar goes towards rebuilding a stronger Haiti, not to servicing old debts. This is not charity – it is justice.

With thanks to Allanna Hartzok http://www.earthrights.net/about/hartzok.html
and Don Killoran

January 10, 2010

Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction

We live in a society which tends to reduce everything to a commodity with a price tag. In these conditions, lack of motivation at work, sickness and absenteeism, disinterest in the wider society, different kinds of escapism, crime and antisocial behaviour will tend to flourish.

The cyclical crises (boom and bust) of the current economic and social order become increasingly alarming as companies go to the wall, labour and machinery are thrown onto the scrapheap and public services are depleted.

A minority of big shareholders own the world’s capital - the big money - and employ almost everyone else to work for them. For these big shareholders and directors the sole purpose of any endeavour is to maximise their wealth. Production is not carried out to meet the needs of people or the needs of society as a whole. Houses are not built by private developers so that people can have homes. They are built only when a big enough profit can be made from selling the houses. There could be a million people in need of a home – but unless they can pay a price which guarantees a profit (usually by taking out a mortgage to pay at least five times the actual building cost of the house) those houses will not be supplied because the speculative land alone will increase in value regardless of whether or not a house is built on it.

If capital can gain a higher rate of return in arms production, banking, or through the employment of child labour overseas, its owners will invest it there. Similarly technology is developed and deployed primarily in the interests of profit. There is little or no profit to be made in the development of medicines for afflictions linked to poverty, and the technology will not be pursued or applied unless public money is forthcoming. On the other hand, in hugely profitable sectors such as hi-tech entertainment systems, innovation is relentlessly pursued in order to ensure speedy obsolescence. The two world wars of the 20th century multiplied and strengthened the bonds between big business and the state - indeed the whole system is lubricated by the circulation of money, personnel and posts between big business and the state. As a matter of priority a capitalist state will devote substantial funds to military research and development.

Globalisation has intensified the contradictions of laissez faire capitalism. Its uneven economic and political development, it’s periodic financial crises bringing mass unemployment, poverty, insecurity and exploitation, have widened further the gap between rich and poor on a domestic and global level.

Globalisation is a strategy driven by the world’s most powerful monopolies and their states. Its’ primary goal is the unhindered penetration of every part of the globe. International organisations (such as the IMF, WTO and World Bank) are dominated by the US, Japan, Germany, Britain and France in order to drive through free movement of capital, deregulation of labour and the privatisation of almost all public sector industries and services. This power and freedom for transnational corporations has problems. In Britain for example, the export of capital has eroded the country’s manufacturing base and the privatisation of essential public services is proving to be inefficient and expensive.

Society is losing its’ optimism. Many people are experiencing psychological problems – often arising from stress – and ever larger sections of the population demonstrate their disaffection through self-destructive or escapist behaviour. Politics has become increasingly corrupted and the mass media have largely abandoned any notion of inquiry, integrity and improvement in favour of vulgar populism, cynicism, defeatism and consumerism.

The world-wide scramble for profit is depleting the Earth’s non-renewable resources without regard for the immediate environmental or longer term ecological consequences. Vital research, development and utilization of renewable and less harmful energy sources are neglected because bigger profits can be made elsewhere.

Globalization often appears to be a force of nature, a phenomenon without bounds or alternatives. But peoples’ movements have shown that it is neither unalterable nor inevitable. Citizens all over the world—ordinary people from the global North and South—can work together to shape alternate futures, to build a globalization of cooperation, solidarity and respect for our common planetary environment. It need not be all about profit.

The deepening contradiction between the economic, environmental and democratic needs of society as a whole, and the requirements of big business profits can only be resolved peacefully through the political will of self-empowered, self-educated and responsible voters.



January 03, 2010

How do you teach ‘thou shalt not kill’ by killing?

The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice.

The death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it. It is an affront to human dignity. Where the death penalty exists, there is no proof whatsoever that it is a deterrent to crime.

Tax evasion, fraud, bigamy, publication of pornographic material, hacking and other cyber crimes, blasphemy, apostasy, adultery, prostitution and homosexuality, murder, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking all attract the death penalty.

Forms of death by state decree include electrocution, hanging, gassing, beheading, lethal injection, stoning, and shooting.

Many executions are not the humane and peaceful end to life we are led to believe, they are hideous unbearable torture. Lethal injection is no more humane than any other means of execution. It can cause excruciating pain. Many executions are botched. These atrocities are carried out in the name of all who support the antiquated ‘eye for an eye’ doctrine, and all who stay silent on the subject. http://www.ccadp.org/botchedx.htm .

Because of the potential for masking pain, the American Veterinary Medical Association has rejected the use of paralyzing agents like pancuronium bromide in animal euthanasia. In Tennessee and Texas pancuronium bromide is banned for use on animals; yet it continues to be used on humans.

Execution constitutes an extreme physical and mental assault on an individual. The physical pain caused by the action of killing a human being cannot be quantified, nor can the psychological suffering caused by foreknowledge of death at the hands of the state; knowledge in many cases that the sentence is wrongful.

As long as human justice remains fallible, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated. The fundamental nature of the right to life; the unacceptable risk of executing innocent people by mistake; the absence of proof that the death penalty serves as a deterrent; all this makes the sentence of death, for any crime, inappropriate, irreversible and vengeful .

The recent case of British Citizen Akmal Shaikh, in China, has highlighted the problem of cross border judicial process and cultural norms. In China the judicial process is not public and therefore it is impossible know if the accused has had a fair trial. One in 10 executions in China is for non-violent, economic crimes. The Chinese courts describe themselves as independent, but in reality the Communist Party controls them.

China carries out by far the greatest number of actual executions. While Amnesty International has confirmed at least 1718 executions during 2008 the true figure is certain to be much higher. Estimates suggest the annual figure may have been as high as 7,500.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran it is illegal to execute a woman if she is a virgin. Members of Iran's feared Basij militia forcibly marry female virgin prisoners the night before scheduled executions, raping their new "wives" and making it religiously acceptable to execute them. In a November 2007 meeting with his British counterpart, Iranian MP Mohsen Yahyavi admitted that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality. According to Yahyavi, gays deserve to be tortured, executed, or both.

In Somalia, October, 2008, a girl, Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow was buried up to her neck at a football stadium and stoned to death in front of more than 1,000 people. Amnesty International has learned that the girl was 13 years old and had been arrested by al-Shabab militia after she had reported being gang-raped by three men.

A survey carried out in August 2009 found that 83% of Pakistanis believe that adulterers should be stoned. (Pew Report)

The vast majority of those executed are poor. About 90% could not afford a lawyer when they went to trial.

A recent US study has found that the murder rate in states that do not have the death penalty is consistently lower than in states with the death penalty. The South, which carries out over 80% of the executions in the U. S., has the highest murder rate. Police chiefs do not believe that the death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides.


An execution is not simply death. It is just as different from the privation of life as a concentration camp is from prison. It adds to death a rule, a public premeditation known to the future victim, an organization which is itself a source of moral sufferings more terrible than death. Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated can be compared. Albert Camus---"Reflections on the Guillotine, Resistance, Rebellion & Death" (1957).

At least 8,864 people (and probably considerably more) were sentenced to death during 2008, and at the end of the year as many as 30,000 were on death row around the world - with the largest death row populations being in Pakistan (approximately 7500) and the USA (over 3000).

Enlightened contributions are always welcome. Catch up with past mailings at www.coexister.blogspot.com