Can We Help Make Haiti Better Than Ever?
|January 19, 2010||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Can We Help Make Haiti Better Than Ever?
A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste
If a tragedy of the magnitude of the Haitian earthquake could have any silver lining, let it be a radical departure, a new way of living together. This 2010 article is from a discussion including Alanna Hartzok, Co-Director Earth Rights Institute, and Ame Johnson, PROUT New York.
by Alanna Hartzok, 19 January 2010
I assume most of us are among those who feel profound empathy and have some good ideas for bettering the world. Hence we feel acute frustration and “surplus powerlessness” to do anything except supply our ideas and maybe a little “pin money” in response to Haiti and the many other great tragedies of our world.
We are also often feel like beggars trying to get a bit of money donated for our non-profit organizations in order to carry forth with some good work or another, and never having nearly enough funding to do the projects that we envision.
Most non-profits do not have sufficient funds to play a significant role in securing basic needs for all. And most governments are ruled by the rich and thus are not really interested in fundamental economic justice and social change. Despite all, we must struggle on.
Our compassionate hearts are deeply touched by the catastrophe in Haiti. And from this event, many are learning about how it came to be that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world.
We as populist leaders and activists need to come together with great clarity concerning the fundamentals of economic justice in order to build a powerful force to create a fair global society — a world that works for everyone.
While we do not live in Haiti, we do communicate with some who do and do study the problem of poverty in every nation and concrete solutions that have worked everywhere tried. What we have learned, we offer to the world. Please take these suggestions seriously.
The calamity experienced by the people of Haiti can help serve this larger purpose. Here are the basics and a post acute crisis proposal:
A very few individuals and corporations own and control most of the land of Haiti. Their cash crops are exported. Most of the people are landless or have insecure land tenure. 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.
In order to build a just society with basic needs secured for all after this acute crisis the land problem in Haiti must be addressed via land reform and land value taxation.
What must come to pass in Haiti ASAP?
* 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 UN Habitat and the Global Land Tool Network.
On the basis of secure and equitable land tenure the following dozen are some details of what then can be established in order to meet basic human needs:
1, potable water
3, small industries
5, mangosteen, mango, pineapple, papaya, trees
6, nut trees, coconut trees, ground nuts (peanuts)
7, agricultural fields (rice and root crops) and appropriate technology
8, dairy farms (goats, cows)
9, cotton and hemp fields for fabric and building material
10, wind and solar energy
11, affordable heathcare
12, educational institutions
All of us can work to convince global creditors to cancel Haitis $890 million international debt. Doing that might help direct future dollars from servicing old debts to rebuilding a stronger Haiti.
JJS: What else could Americans do (beyond immediate charity to Haitian people directly to deal with the current catastrophe)? We could persuade our elected officials to swear off “aid”, a mere salve to our conscience. Its a funnel, via taxation, from those struggling here in the developed world to the elite in the supposedly developing world (just as trade is a funnel, via free trade agreements, from those struggling in the developing world to the elite in the developed world).
Instead of aid, the US could (1) abolish agri-business subsidies so Haitian crops could compete more fairly and (2) make every single import from Haiti totally duty free, sans tariff, no matter where its nation of origin, for a decade. International business people would realize that their exports, if routed through that island nation, would sell for less in the US; the resultant development in Haiti would be as close to overnight as humanly possible.
Then, if Haiti were to raise the rate of its tax on land (every place has one, no matter how puny) and actually collect it, then the US would extend the duty free window; 100% recovery would merit, say, a 20-year window. Next, if Haiti were to actually spend the revenue to benefit the populace by funding truly useful services and/or a dividend, then the US would make the policy permanent. After that, next time a Katrina-size disaster strikes the US, then Haitians could help us, theyd be so well off.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
Until we geonomize, some battles need re-winning
US pays off Kyrgyzstan for land
Land reformers south of the US border want you to know
What are your views? Share your opinions with The Progress Report!