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 Free For Me, Toxic For Thee

A former Harvard professor named Lawrence Summers was recently quoted in the National Catholic Review as saying, "The economic logic of dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable." Rich folks ' poisoned trash should be shipped to countries where "foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality is lowest."

Summers advocates depositing our deadly waste in countries where people normally don't live long enough to die from it. Measuring human worth entirely in terms of money, he argues that we not only have the right but the obligation to pay the poor to take our toxic trash, since these people are so economically desperate. The U.S. is accordingly rescuing our "lowest wage" neighbors by paying them to take our poison, which is then dumped on their most defenseless citizens. If such "landless peasants" protest their victimization, paramilitary death squads (trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas) will kill them off faster than any of our slower-acting disease-causing pollution ever could.

But lest we feel ashamed or guilty, we should humbly acknowledge that Dr. Lawrence Summers is an honorable man with the most impressive credentials. At 26, he was the youngest tenured professor in Harvard's entire history. While still in his early thirties, he served as the Chief Economist for the World Bank. The Atlanta Constitution describes him as a "pit bull," as a ruthlessly competitive boss who is merciless whith anyone he sees as his intellectual inferior. And now, at the relatively tender age of 43, Summers has been appointed the Secretary of the Treasury for the United States of America. Only one other economist in the world has power comparable to his, and that man is Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

Dr. Greenspan is also an honorable, highly-credentialed "professional," cut from the same cloth as our new Secretary of the Treasury. A self-acknowledged devotee of the late novelist and pop social philosopher Ayn Rand, Greenspan and the author of The Virtue of Selfishness were close friends until her death in 1982. Ayn Rand despised the weak, the sick and the poor; and so does her disciple Dr. Alan Greenspan.

Our Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board makes no secret of his admiration for this champion of greed and cruelty. Greenspan is notorious for his frequent public tirades against the very existence of a minimum wage, and he and Secretary Summers together champion a ruthless economic doctrine which bears the innocent-sounding name "free market capitalism." These economists are chief players in a very real global conspiracy against the poor, scheming to roll back the poverty-fighting reforms initiated by FDR's New Deal, to eliminate the minimum wage, to privatize Social Security, and to abolish the graduated income tax. Under the rules of their
"free market" conspiracy, only corporate money is free to cross over international borders, while workers would not be free to move abroad to find the best pay. Under free market capitalism, labor unions are discouraged and even outlawed. "Deregulation," as they call it, causes the rapid growth of corporate power while diminishing national sovereignty. Under free market capitalism, the tyranny of politicians is to be replaced with the tyranny of the Botttom Line.

In July of 1944 at an international conference held at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, plans for global free market capitalism first took written form. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were created at Bretton Woods to entice poor nations everywhere to take on ruinous debt. As a condition for getting IMF loans, so-called "developing" (poor) countries would be "restructured " so as to require them to export their wealth directly to IMF-linked creditors; then rich multi-national corporations would rush in to exploit the resulting economic chaos. The IMF calls this process a "bail-out," but what the mainstream press is less than eager to tell us, are its full consequences. To "rescue" Indonesia, the Nike Corporation sets up sweatshops to manufacture footwear; in Honduras, landless peasants work for almost nothing, harvesting bananas for the U.S.- based Chiquita Corporation; in Mexicio, General Motors hires teen-age girls for $3 a day, taking jobs from union labor in the United States. Poor Countries everywhere become toxic dumps for the rich. What's called "free" for the wealthy few means slavery for the destitute many.

Summers and Greenspan are toxic High Priests of the Bottom Line in a New World Order where Money is the Measure of all Things and where the only Holy Book is a Business Ledger. The work of these honorable men helps the Greedy Strong to poison, pillage and even kill those too weak to resist. Their ":free market capitalism" is little more than old-fashioned piracy with lap top computers and cellular telephones.

RESOURCES: "World Bank and Heritage Dump on Third World," by Carole Collins and Steve Askin. National Catholic Reporter, February 24, 1992. When Corporations Rule the World, by Davic C. Korten. San Francisco: Kumarian Press, 1996. "Treasury 'bad cop' is Known for Results," by Marcia Stepanek. Atlanta Constitution, January 13, 1998. back