Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Obama's Shithole Countries

For the umpteenth time indignation soars to record highs over alleged remarks by the Baboon-In-Chief at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Donald's alleged reference to Africa as "shit-hole" countries has liberals reaching for the smelling salts yet again.

Surely Barack Obama (the first "clean" African American presidential candidate according to Joe Biden) never stooped so low. But of course he did. Our first African-American president appointed Larry Summers to his economic team, a man who had openly argued for maximizing the dumping of toxic waste in Africa. In the infamous "Toxic Memo" that was leaked to the Economist, Summers wrote (when he was the World Bank's Chief Economist and Vice-President for Development Economics) to his colleagues that the World Bank should be encouraging more migration of "dirty industries" to Less Developed Countries, which is the prevailing euphemism for highly exploited regions of the world. Summers argued, sensibly enough, that African countries were "vastly underpolluted." Since cancer-causing agents have greater economic impact where people survive to old age than they do where infant mortality rates are twenty percent, Summers argued that it was only reasonable to encourage "dirty industries" to migrate to the Third World where premature death means less foregone earnings and lost productivity. "The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that," he said nonchalantly.

In other words, in savagely exploited parts of the world where millions of people die young from countless causes, what's the point in NOT dumping as much toxic waste as we want? In affluent areas a single death is a tragedy, but in the Third World millions of deaths are just a statistic.

Folks, this is the very definition of "shit-hole country" and Donald Trump is merely stating openly (allegedly) what all of official Washington knows and agrees with. In a rigged economy where the winners specialize in winning and the losers in losing there is no alternative to dumping toxic garbage on "shit-hole countries." Do we really think that the owners of the private economy - permanently awash in gluttonous excess -  are going to dump toxic waste on themselves? 

We can't seriously be surprised at any of this, or at the fact that the World Bank, Agency for International Development, and the International Monetary Fund once regarded sex tourism as a development strategy for the Third World. What else would their rich patrons propose - that the Third World become powerful and independent and compete with the developed world for profits and market share?  Sure.

We would do well to recall what development theorist Susan George of the Transnational Institute said in response to Larry Summers' infamous remarks: "Mr. Summers is a perfect example of what the Bank thinks and is, except that the PR staff usually manages to hide the reality. It's been a long time since we've had such an unreconstructed and frank free-marketer and I say, keep him talking."

Indeed. Many thanks to Donald Trump for openly championing the disgusting values upon which capitalism has always been based. May he never shut up. 


Susan George and Fabrizio Sabelli, "Faith and Credit - The World Bank's Secular Empire," (Penguin, 1994)

Noam Chomsky, "Year 501," (South End, 1993)

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