Showing posts with label World Bank. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Bank. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Trump Signs Feminist Foreign Aid Policy Into Law


Sources: White House, Congress, Center for Family and Human Rights, USAID

Trump signed the little noticed Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act January 9th, likely at the behest of his daughter, who lobbied for it in congress where it was put on hold in the senate. While the new law seems well meaning and does contain some good provisions, it also gives professional feminists or 'gender advisers' power to dictate foreign aid policy mired in inter-sectional feminist restrictions on the design and implementation of all USAID policies, grants and programs.

As the Center for Family and Human Rights noted, it is very ironic that Trump would enact Obama's gender policies, especially ones informed by a radical left-wing cultural perspective that includes the whole spectrum of LGBTQ (and whatever other letters they'll add in the future). It is very likely that he didn't even read the bill and just signed it to make his princess happy. Whether he agrees with the law or not is irrelevant at this point. He approved it; he put his name to it; he owns it now, especially the parts that seem to run counter to his domestic policies. The Obama era gender policies in question are outlined in ADS chapter 205. The document details steps for implementing 'gender integration' through all USAID programs, making gender equality the main focus of all USAID projects, and by equality they don't mean legal equality or equality of opportunity. Apparently, the goal is to close gender gaps in status, access to resources, participation in the labor force, and leadership positions, presumably until they are about the same. The Bureau for Policy Planing and Learning, which shapes development policy, is mandated to have a full time gender adviser for this purpose.

Section 3 of the law subjects all USAID strategies, projects, and activities to 'gender analysis' and 'gender integration'. Gender analysis is defined as:

a socioeconomic analysis of available or gathered quantitative and qualitative information to identify, understand,
and explain gaps between men and women which typically
involves examining differences in the status of women and men and their differential access to and control over assets, resources, education, opportunities, and services

This could be interpreted in several different ways, but it seems to imply that the goal is equal outcomes between genders, rather than equal opportunities or more practically equal liberty. If they meant to imply equal opportunities or equal liberty they could have made this clearer by wording it different by, for instance, stating their goal was to remove legal and cultural market barriers for women in developing nations; however, this is not the case. It becomes clear that the goal is equal outcomes in section 4 (b), which introduces a gender quota for financial assistance.

50 percent of all small and medium-sized enterprise resources shall be targeted to activities that reach enterprises owned, managed, and controlled by women.

However well meaning this may be for women's' empowerment abroad, it will also have the unintended consequence of hurting entrepreneurs in developing countries where women are nowhere near 50% of total small and medium-sized enterprise owners or managers. Hypothetically, lets say a certain developing country x has 20 small and medium-sized businesses in need of financing; 15 of them are owned by men and 5 are owned by women. Under the provision in section 4 (b), we would only be able to provide financial resources to 5 businesses owned by men and 5 owned by women, leaving 10 small and medium sized businesses without assistance. This is especially damaging given the fact that the authors' of this bill own findings that '50% of small and medium-sized businesses, in emerging markets, lack access to formal credit'. Imposing a gender quota on these businesses isn't going to make it any easier for them to get credit through any USAID development program.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Libertarian Approach To Protecting The Environment


Most of my posts address the topic of property rights, which at a cursory glance doesn’t seem to be related to the environment. Over time, though, I’ve started to notice a commonality between the two subjects. For instance, property rights tend to be a major obstacle for pipeline companies and the fossil fuel industry in general, which is often solved through eminent domain. Examples are furnished by the 2016 debacle over the Dakota Access Pipeline, in which at least one landowner was arrested for protesting construction on her own land, as well as the current holdouts against the Mariner East 2 pipeline. This not only happens in the U.S., but also in other regions of the world where property/land rights are more ill defined. For instance, in the Amazon rainforest drilling is often conducted on Indian land without the informed consent of the communities which reside there. Such was the case in the legal battle between the Achuar and the Canadian company Talismen Energy. Protecting land rights would also be a bulwark against other extractive industries both legal and illegal. For instance, respecting the land rights of the Baka would go a long way to curbing deforestation in the Congo. A series ofstudies conducted by the World Bank provides ample evidence to corroborate this conclusion.

A six-nation study for the World Bank’s Program on Forests found deforestation rates are significantly lower where communities have legal rights to the forests and government support for management and enforcement, compared with areas elsewhere.

Elsewhere being places where governments have forced communities out of their ancestral lands and handed stewardship over to corrupt eco-guards, something that happens often throughout Africa.

Research from Indonesia showed conflict over land was minimized and investment was encouraged when local communities were involved in designing transportation corridors around proposed mining projects. Another study from Indonesia showed granting long-term rights over mangrove swamps to indigenous people has better protected the critical coastal ecosystems than in areas where the endangered buffers between land and sea are not locally managed.

I am not suggesting that governments shouldn’t have any role in addressing environmental problems. What I am suggesting is that they would be more effective to this end if they did what they are suppose to do in theory, which is to protect property rights, regardless of whether it’s the property rights of farmers and ranchers in the midwest or the indigenous peoples of tropical rainforests. Nothing further should be done until they get this right.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Conservation Is A Pretext For Genocide (part 8)


Conservation and Pygmy Slavery


Read: Pygmies in the Congo treated like pets, Slaves of the Congo, The Pygmies Plight

The last article was written by a foreign correspondent for the Smithsonian about a decade ago, but the information he provides in his first hand account is still relevant today. Since the French colonial era, pygmy clans in the Congo basin have been gradually forced out of their ancestral forests, which they are adapted to living in, and into villages inhabited mostly by Bantu tribes. As a result of being dispossessed of their land and forbidden to hunt or forge in the newly designated ‘protected areas’, pygmies live in extreme poverty. Their only option to survive is to perform hard labor for Bantu landlords for next to nothing in compensation, although a few enterprising clans have made a meager living growing cannabis, which is illegal in countries like the Central African Republic, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. Even though slavery is illegal in all African countries (on paper), the Bantu landlords treat the pygmies like property and give them only enough subsistence to keep them alive. Instead of eating bushmeat and wild herbs as they had done when they occupied the forest , the main staple of their diet now consists of a starchy plant called cassava root. This diet provides very little protein and has resulted in increased malnutrition and the outbreak of disease among pygmy clans, which has taken a toll on their numbers. European ‘human rights’ observers have acknowledged all of these problems to some extent, but they have failed to acknowledge the role their own civil societies and governments have played in creating them. Illegal logging and civil war have certainly played a role in forcing pygmies out of the forest, but so has the creation of so called ‘protected areas’ and national parks, which has been done, in no small part, with enticement and financing from USAID, the EU, the World Bank, as well as multi-billion dollar conservation groups like WWF and WCS.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Conservation Is A Pretext For Genocide (part 6)

Kenyan Government Continues Persecution of Sengwer tribe With EU Backing


Source: Forest Peoples Programme



More than 22 times now, our community has been forcefully evicted from our ancestral land in Embobut forest, Cherangany Hills, by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), a government agency that is supposed to be responsible for the protection of forests in the country.

The Sengwer have been forced from their homeland since the time of British colonialism. Now they are persecuted under a different kind of colonialism: one that uses corrupt African governments, who receive financial and PR support from European NGOs, to steal land and other resources from indigenous populations under the pretext of conservation and 'sustainable development'. In this case, the Kenyan government, through the Kenyan Forest Service, has continued the genocidal campaign against the Sengwer: burning their houses, killing their livestock, and destroying their culture. The Sengwer that have been forced from Embobut forest live in squalor, often on the side of roads with no means to provide for themselves, leading to a rise in diseases and higher mortality rates. The World Bank partly supported the government land grab of Embobut forest by funding the Natural Resource and Management Project from 2007 until 2013. Now the EU is spearheading a water tower project on the same land that the Sengwer community was forced out of in 2013.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Haiti Open for Plunder: Neocolonialism in Haiti

Some things never seem to change. The manner in which multinationals plunder the resource wealth of third world countries and exploit their populace for cheap labor, enabled by institutions like the IMF and World Bank as well as Washington, is not much different from the colonialism that predominated Herbert Spencer’s time. The only difference is that it is now done under the pretense of ‘humanitarianism', a phony ideology cooked up in executive board rooms to justify egregious violation of moral law; it is the tired tactic of bypassing people’s rational faculties (lateral prefrontal cortex) by appealing to their passions (amygdala). Behind every self-proclaimed philanthropist is an ulterior motive, hidden from public view by the media’s omission. A more startling example of this could not be found outside of Haiti, which for the last century has persisted under the iron fist of Washington, and especially in the after math of the 2010 earth quake.

Out of the billions spent on the recovery effort, most of the funding went to for-profit U.S. contractors, U.S. NGOs, and foreign multinationals.The state department awarded the vast majority of rebuilding contracts to American instead of Haitian contractors and Washington spent $156,380,000 on development of Caracol Industrial Park and another $170,300,000 on its power plant and port, a quarter of the USAID budget for disaster recovery. The plan to build a venue for foreign manufacturers, especially textile and garment contractors, had been conceived well before the earth quake.

The World Bank, that bastion of neoliberal orthodoxy, along with the Inter-American Development Bank and a few Haitian officials rewrote Haitian mining laws, in a closed door meeting, to make extraction more convenient and cheaper. Specifically, they waived the requirement to have a mining convention ratified by parliament, privatized Haitian subsoils (previously considered the state’s domain) and removed environmental protections.

Canadian mining company Eurasian minerals has a license to 1,770 square kilometers or about 1/3 of Haiti’s North.

Another Canadian company, Majescor, and a small U.S. company, VCS Mining, and their subsidiaries have licenses or conventions for tracts totaling over 750 square kilometers.

Altogether, about 15 percent of Haiti’s territory is under license to North American mining firms and its partners. The price for being handed the privilege of controlling Haiti’s gold mining industry and 15% of its land is a paltry 2.5% royalty rate.

Before the industrial park was built, some 720 farm workers were evicted from their land, an aggregate of 246 hectares, without due process and only a pittance in compensation for lost wages. Evicting hundreds of farm workers to make room for the industrial park not only had the immediate effect of depriving them of both their present and future earnings, it also raised food prices in Caracol by making them more dependent on food imports, for which they already depend on for 50% of their food, and put downward pressure on all wages by lowering the margin of production, effectively creating conditions not far removed form their pre 1804 circumstances. To further elaborate on the last point, I’d like to bring to the readers attention that there is a very good reason why USAID, the State Department, and the World Bank, among other criminal enterprises, did not choose to build the industrial park on land devastated by the 2010 earthquake or any other less valuable site: two words, cheaper labor.

Cinic Antoine Iréné, a farmer who lost his land when the Caracol Industrial Park was constructed, said:“The land at Caracol was used for food production for all the North East – plantain and other food. They’ve taken these lands and put concrete on them. The industrial park is the biggest injustice done to the North East because they could have chosen other, less productive places”.

What this farmer does not understand is that by monopolizing all of the valuable land in Haiti, which includes the 15% licensed to mining companies, foreign corporations reduce the margin of production, the wages Haitians could earn working on rent free land. By the law of rent, wages are determined by the productive capacity of free land, and thus the margin of production is the floor for wages. The intended consequence of monopolizing the most valuable land is to reduce the bargaining power of labor, and thus wages. And despite what the Inter-American Development Bank and USAID have said about 65,000 jobs, the foreign manufacturers will eventually leave when wages rise and they find cheaper labor elsewhere, as they have historically done.

Evicting farmers from their land, agricultural dumping and allowing foreign companies to monopolize the most valuable land had the intended effect that anyone could have foreseen: higher food prices and lower wages for industrial workers. And that is exactly what unfolded, the current wage is $0.64 per hour ($5 per day), most of which is depleted by the cost of transportation and food. But even this low wage floor had to be mandated by Haiti's parliament, a mandate that USAID and then secretary of state Clinton fiercely opposed in favor of a much smaller increment of $0.31 per hour.  Add to these atrocities the fact that Haiti is currently under the foreign military occupation of 10,000 UN 'peacekeepers', keeping the 'peace' through rape and disease, one finds a frightening resemblance to the bygone era of European colonialism.