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OfflineGazzBut
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Registered: 10/15/02
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Surely all agree this is wrong?
    #3422042 - 11/29/04 03:46 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

US dumping of subsidised rice on Haiti has had devastating effects on local rice producers, and gone hand in hand with rising child malnutrition

"Rice producers want a better life. We work hard for it. But when we get to market we are bombarded with an invasion of cheap imported rice, so we have to sell at any price that a buyer is prepared to give us. How can we compete against the big guys?"
- Inodil Fils, rice farmer, Artibonite Valley, Haiti

At the start of the 1980s, Haiti produced almost all of its own rice. But pressure from the international community - from the USA in particular - forced Haiti to open up its markets to foreign imports. As a result, Haiti has been flooded by cheap, subsidised rice from the USA. This has driven down the price of local rice, with appalling consequences for the people - one-fifth of Haiti's population - who rely on rice production for a living.

Some rice farmers have had to leave their land in search of work in neighbouring Dominican Republic. Many have had to take their children out of school because they can't pay the fees. And people are going hungry. As their incomes shrink, rice growers are unable to buy the foods that would give them and their families a well-balanced diet. Fifty per cent of chilren in Haiti are malnourished, with the highest rate in the rice-growing areas.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
The USA is the richest country in the world.

http://www.maketradefair.com/en/index.php?file=21032002102721.htm


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Offlinemethikist
Mushroom Pirate.

Registered: 03/16/04
Posts: 138
Loc: PNW
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: GazzBut]
    #3422055 - 11/29/04 03:54 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

b-b-but it's free trade!


Your post is only a small fraction of the aftermath of NAFTA, CAFTA, and now SHAFTA.

The rich get rich, while the poor stay poor and die of easily cureable diseases.


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Invisiblepsilomonkey
Twisted brainwrong of a oneoff man mental

Registered: 08/08/03
Posts: 812
Loc: Airstrip One
Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: methikist]
    #3422109 - 11/29/04 04:27 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

I agree this is bad, but it is hypocritical to single out the US. Europe's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), does the exact same thing to farmers in Africa.


http://www.agobservatory.org/library/upl...cultural_Po.htm


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: psilomonkey]
    #3422195 - 11/29/04 06:03 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

Im not singling anybody out. Im fully aware that this behaviour is symptomatic of western capitalism not just the US. I just felt the fact that this is an example of the richest country in the world abusing one of the poorest was striking.


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OfflineSeussA
Error: divide byzero

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Registered: 04/27/01
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: GazzBut]
    #3422231 - 11/29/04 07:13 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

So it is better to starve a population so that the local farmers can make money? I'm not sure that this is what would happen, but I think there is more to this than, "The US and capitalism are bad, m'kay".

I find it sad that when something as horrible as starving children happens, the blame gets attached not to the people wielding the knife, but rather to a far away third party. It is much easier to call somebody we don't know the devil than to admit that our next door neighbor is a bad person. Even if what the US is doing is really really bad, it does not give somebody an excuse to maim or kill another, yet obviously the US is at fault. It must be nice for the rest of the world to have somebody to blame for all of their problems.


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Invisiblepsilomonkey
Twisted brainwrong of a oneoff man mental

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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: GazzBut]
    #3422232 - 11/29/04 07:14 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

Indeed, it is a good example. I wanted to illustrate that the same goes on in Europe, it is a serious issue.

The CAP is something that I have quite a few issues with, putting aside the terrible impact it has on poor nations, it is accounts for over a third of the EUC budget, and as a taxpayer I object subsidizing a corrupt and unnecessary dinosaur.


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Invisiblepsilomonkey
Twisted brainwrong of a oneoff man mental

Registered: 08/08/03
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: Seuss]
    #3422240 - 11/29/04 07:29 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

Seuss said:
So it is better to starve a population so that the local farmers can make money? I'm not sure that this is what would happen, but I think there is more to this than, "The US and capitalism are bad, m'kay".


State agricultural subsidies don't seem like a very capitalist idea to me, taking money (by force if you like) from the taxpayer to provide an unfair advantage to an industry, so that it can operate outside market forces is anti-capitalist IMO.


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: Seuss]
    #3422245 - 11/29/04 07:47 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

I tried looking for something relevant to the topic in your post but couldnt find it and concluded you must be feeling a little tired and emotional. Poor thing.


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OfflineSeussA
Error: divide byzero

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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: GazzBut]
    #3422270 - 11/29/04 08:24 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

> I tried looking for something relevant to the topic in your post

I am trying to say that there is more than one side to any debate. In this case, if the US dumps food on a population, then part of that population cries because they are out of a job. If the US doesn't dump food on a population, then part of that population cries because they starve. The US is damned if they do, and damned if they do not.

> you must be feeling a little tired and emotional. Poor thing.

Tired yes, emotional no. Please debate the topic rather than the poster.


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: Seuss]
    #3422278 - 11/29/04 08:43 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

Quote:

the US doesn't dump food on a population, then part of that population cries because they starve. The US is damned if they do, and damned if they do not.





Source please? Anyway why couldnt the US just make up the shortfall, if any, left by the local producers which is what probabaly happened before the Haiti governement were "persuaded" to drop some of the trade restrictions they imposed.

Quote:

Tired yes, emotional no. Please debate the topic rather than the poster. 




You obviously are slightly emotional if you object to a little bit of pointed humour... :smirk:


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: Seuss]
    #3422364 - 11/29/04 10:03 AM (12 years, 13 days ago)

Seuss writes:

So it is better to starve a population so that the local farmers can make money?

That is the relevant question.

What is immoral here is not that Haitians are allowed to import rice more cheaply than they can produce it themselves, the immoral part is the subsidies given to rice producers. If they can produce rice cheaply enough on their own to find foreign markets (or any markets), good for them. If they can't, they should find a different line of work.

This is one of the biggest problems with foreign aid in general -- its suppression of local producers. I object to government-sponsored foreign aid on the principle that the government has no right to seize my money to give to others. This is a moral objection. I do not object to anyone voluntarily giving their money to others. But there is also the practical problem with foreign aid -- its chilling effect on the development of local industry required to supply that which is received at no cost through foreign aid.

And yes, I realize that this may seem to some to be tangential to the topic of subsidies on rice, but it is in fact identical in principle. The difference is one of degree.

Here's a question for you, GazzBut -- would you be asking people if this was "wrong" if the rice producers selling their rice to Haitians were able to do so with no government subsidies whatsoever?


pinky


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Edited by pinksharkmark (11/29/04 10:09 AM)


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Invisiblepsilomonkey
Twisted brainwrong of a oneoff man mental

Registered: 08/08/03
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: Phred]
    #3422927 - 11/29/04 02:13 PM (12 years, 12 days ago)

Nicely put.  :thumbup:


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: psilomonkey]
    #3423423 - 11/29/04 04:30 PM (12 years, 12 days ago)

Another question would be what percentage of the population are rice farmers? I suspect that it is somewhat less than 1%, probably less than 0.1%. Should the rest of the Haitian public be rquired to support this tiny group by paying higher prices? And just how much do government subsidies lower the cost of a bushel of rice anyway? 10%? 20%? Probably not enough to offset the cost of transporting the rice. I agree that there should be no government subsidies for any business but would you take the same position if some humanitarian organization decided to supply Haiti with totally free rice? Would that act of charity beneficial to more than 99% of the population be a bad thing, even if it forced the other 1% to find useful employment elsewhere?


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: zappaisgod]
    #3423429 - 11/29/04 04:31 PM (12 years, 12 days ago)

Meant to reply to GazzButt. Surely we don't all agree


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: Phred]
    #3426699 - 11/30/04 05:54 AM (12 years, 12 days ago)

Quote:

Here's a question for you, GazzBut -- would you be asking people if this was "wrong" if the rice producers selling their rice to Haitians were able to do so with no government subsidies whatsoever?





Well if they were causing more harm than good then I definitely wouldnt support it. You would support it even if it could be proven that it was ruining the local economy? Free trade is one thing but free trade without any kind of ethics is quite another.


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: zappaisgod]
    #3426880 - 11/30/04 08:00 AM (12 years, 12 days ago)

The point I am making Zappa is that the government of Haiti were forced to stop imposing their trade restrictions on the sale of rice which then allowed the US to bring in GOVERNMENT subsidised produce. To me this seems grossly unfair.

Quote:

even if it forced the other 1% to find useful employment elsewhere?




What starts as a suspicion seems to have been accepted as fact by the end of your post. How convenient. It would be interesting to know the percentage now and the percentage before tarifs were removed.


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OfflineSeussA
Error: divide byzero

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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: GazzBut]
    #3426887 - 11/30/04 08:11 AM (12 years, 12 days ago)

> then allowed the US to bring in GOVERNMENT subsidised produce

This is what I dislike. I have no problems with fair competition, but this is far from fair. US government subsidised produce should be given freely to the hungry and homeless in the US first, then freely to the hungry and homeless of friendly countries. (By freely, I mean reduced in price by the amount given by the Government.)

This seems no different from when Japanese cars were being sold in the US below cost in order to force US car producers out of business.


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: GazzBut]
    #3426892 - 11/30/04 08:22 AM (12 years, 12 days ago)

Since I am in favor of free trade, yes I would support it. As for "ruining" the economy, define "ruining". The invention of modern computerized phone switching systems "ruined" that part of the economy which employed telephone operators. The invention of the fax machine, e-mail, and private courier companies "ruined" that part of the economy which employed mail sorters and mail carriers. The invention of the automobile "ruined" that part of the economy which employed horse breeders and buggy makers, as well as eventually leading to the decline of the railroads.

Things change, and some people must alter their means of making a living in response to those changes. While it is true that cheap imported rice hurts Haitian rice producers, it frees up desperately needed money for every other Haitian who eats rice. Since those who don't produce rice greatly outnumber those who do, cheap imported rice yields a net gain in the number of Haitians who are better off. Can this result reasonably be categorized as "ruining" the Haitian economy?

pinky


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: Phred]
    #3431581 - 12/01/04 06:45 AM (12 years, 11 days ago)

Quote:

While it is true that cheap imported rice hurts Haitian rice producers, it frees up desperately needed money for every other Haitian who eats rice.




But when they buy their rice from local producers the money stays in the local economy instead of being leeched out. Anyway the main point is - can US farmers compete with the local farmers without the help of government subsidies?


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Surely all agree this is wrong? [Re: GazzBut]
    #3431608 - 12/01/04 07:18 AM (12 years, 11 days ago)

So your point is that government subsidies to agriculture are bad. On this we agree, as you can tell by re-reading my first post. As you are well aware by now, I disagree with all government subsidies. No need to invoke Haiti in order to demonstrate the folly of government subsidies.

I'm more interested in pursuing the scenario of Haitians being allowed to buy from a non-subsidized rice producer. You seem to think that would be less bad, but still not a good thing for Haiti. I disagree.

pinky


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