Written April 2008
|Written February 2004
A few years ago Haiti was the first country to make me its chief economist. In my youthful enthusiasm I persuaded a number of international firms to invest in Haiti, and with the President's support initiated a national protean supplement program for poor Haitians, and with the help of UNICEF introduced solar cookers to help stem deforestation. It all went well for the first year, but then one by one the valuable parts of each project were stolen by corrupt Ministers or cronies of the President. Disillusioned, I quit. Determined to avoid governments and politicians as much as possible, I began to set up small NGOs, financed by me, to work in poor countries. I undertook to keep a low profile, but inevitably found it impossible not to speak out against corruption and abuse of power, two universal, endemic problems which constantly limited my ability to help the poor. Since Haiti I served as a national economist once more - it too ended in disappointment; not because the government was corrupt, but because one of the super powers deemed it an enemy on ideological grounds. In fact I have ended up on the wrong side of (sometimes in trouble with) a number of governments, and not just impoverished dictatorships. One or two economically successful countries, irritated by a campaign of criticism over their support of tyrants: took revenge. I have slept in jails on three continents. Perhaps it mellowed me, perhaps not. I have since spent the better part of two decades working more or less quietly in the third world, mostly feeding, clothing and educating street children. These have been happy fulfilling years, and we have managed to change the lives of a great many children. But when I consider our global situation, how poor people - especially their children - are getting on: I am forced to confess that my little efforts are but a tiny bandage on a great and growing wound. Every year more children die, more go to bed hungry, go uneducated than the year before. This web site is the beginning of one person's effort to come out of the closet and begin to push against the causes while continuing to work on the symptoms of our global dilemma.
There is one thing we can all push for - all of us, that is, who believe representative government is the best model, and the United Nations the obvious global representative body through which concerned governments can work in concert to begin to heal our global wounds. Take the case of Haiti. It and a dozen other poor countries around the world - who neither possess natural resources nor weapons of mass destruction to command front page attention - have demonstrated throughout their entire post colonial history that they are unable, without a major change, to govern themselves to the benefit of their people. Haitians have persistently failed to govern themselves successfully for exactly 200 years. This is not because Haitians are stupid or unpatriotic; they have a two hundred year old culture of corruption, poverty, little education and underdeveloped civic conscience. Everyone who rises above the masses enough to enter government ends up stealing all he can and fleeing the country; leaving the problems to his successor to solve:
who does the same.
If the electorate in a small number of the powerful democracies could persuade their politicians to determinedly address the plight of chronically failing countries, it might happen that the United Nations would receive a mandate to take over the administration of such failed states and nurture them for a time, develop a civil servant class, educate the populace, force an end to corruption until a new generation can be helped to develop a higher standard, and develop an economy. This is not work for a single powerful nation, but a global democratic institution, the United Nations.
It is February 2004 when I write this. A number of elections are coming up in some important countries. If you live and vote in one of these I beg you to find out if any electable candidate has a global vision and more than a short term political conscience. If so, support this candidate. In all events, please try to make this an election issue. For if we are aware of this problem, and know of a possible solution: we are bound to do something. We must. Bruce Thornton
"No man is an island, .Entire of itself. .Each is a piece of a continent, .A part of the main.. If a clod be washed away by the sea, .The world is the less..As well as if a promontory were.. As well as if a manner of thine own. Or of thine friend's were.. Each man's death diminishes me,. For I am involved in mankind. .Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls,. It tolls for thee." -- John Donne, 1605 (with liberties taken)
Trade Related Issues
|This web site relies on links to external web pages for illustration, background and evidence; and is largely dependent on the work of Anup Shah of globalissues.org .)|
|"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” -- Dom Helder Camara|