Haiti Everywhere

“Much was said this night against the parliament. I said that, as it seemed to be agreed that all Members of Parliament became corrupted, letter to chuse men already bad, and so save good.”

James Boswell

In my book, The Pathology of the US Economy, I wrote about how I was witnessing the United States following when I called “The Haitian Road to Development.” What I meant was an economic strategy based on pushing wages down to make the economy productive.

Over the last two days, I have been thinking about the Haitian Road to Development more broadly.  We lost our power.  I don’t mean political power; I mean electricity that powers our house. Without electricity, the computer was dead.  Reading was possible only during particular hours. We were dependent upon a corporation that has been attempting to maximize profits by cutting back on maintenance.

Yesterday I had to ride my bike about 12 miles in a heavy rainstorm with winds up to 60 miles an hour.  The rains stung my face. At times, I had to dismount and walk the bicycle to avoid getting pushed into oncoming cars.

Finding myself at the mercy of the elements, for brief moments, I would think about my minor difficulties and inconveniences for brief moments, then imagining how conditions in Haiti were infinitely worse. Everybody who knows anything about Haiti realizes the way that outside forces (largely the United States) have crippled the public sphere. Poor people have no choice but to denude hillsides for charcoal and build shanties that are vulnerable to the inevitable mudslides.

To much of the outside world (well, maybe just United States), the cause of the miserable conditions in Haiti are obvious: the voodoo religion, insufficient markets, ….

In many ways, I was thinking about how the US was coming to resemble Haiti.  Of course, the decline in this country is of our own making, wasting our fortunes on wars that have no possibility of a long-term positive outcome — as if any wars do. But the mudslides in California would be familiar to Haitians. The destroyed houses are more affluent. The missing trees were not chopped down by poor people needing fuel.  The inhabitants are not left without water or food. Even so, I suspect that Haitians might have more understanding of the destruction than we do.

The Haitian state is incapable of protecting the people, but it weakness is not self-inflicted. In the prologue to The Confiscation of American Prosperity, I wrote “since the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, every Democratic administration with the exception of Lyndon Johnson’s has been more conservative—often far more conservative—than the previous Democratic administration. Similarly, every elected Republican administration, with the single exception of George Herbert Walker Bush’s, has been more conservative than the previous Republican administration.” Obama has done nothing to reverse this destructive trend.

The US state’s idea of protecting people is to launch wars elsewhere and collect dossiers on people within the country. In the face of Hurricane Katrina or other disasters, it proves itself totally incompetent. The state is even less capable in protecting the people who fall between the cracks — a child who cannot study because of a toothache. An elderly person who requires care and home — care which the state of California keeps restricting.  Instead, the state takes on the responsibility of caring for more than 2 million prisoners.

In effect, the state is fast ceding power to the corporate world, which threatens to go much further in Haitianizing our society.

1 comment so far

  1. mark hansen on

    so long as the supreme court thinks that corporations are people and that money is speech,
    humans have no chance.


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