Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Real Story

The food riots taking place around the world bring up some important points that few are looking at. Putting the blame on higher fuel prices, drought, and low food production, few news sources are looking at the impact of global trade and the bullies of global trade. Both of these articles take a closer look at the history behind the food riots in Haiti. Important things to know before we flip the TV channel...

From the BBC...
This valley used to produce nearly enough rice to feed the entire country, but back in the 1980s the International Monetary Fund and World Bank demanded that Haiti drop import tariffs in return for loans.

Haiti was soon flooded with cheap and heavily subsidised US food.

"We can't compete with imported rice," Maye says.

It is estimated that the US rice crop costs $1.8bn (£900m) to grow, but its farmers get subsidies of $1.3bn (£650m), and there was no way that Haiti could cope with competition like that. entire article

This is from a Human Rights Lawyer at Loyola University:
The New York Times lectured Haiti on April 18 that “Haiti, its agriculture industry in shambles, needs to better feed itself.” Unfortunately, the article did not talk at all about one of the main causes of the shortages -- the fact that the U.S. and other international financial bodies destroyed Haitian rice farmers to create a major market for the heavily subsidized rice from U.S. farmers. This is not the only cause of hunger in Haiti and other poor countries, but it is a major force. Whole article

This is also a shout out to my friend Kate who is spending her last days in Haiti, thanks for keeping us posted - besos!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Long Times Silence

Apologies to all for the long silence. Part of me has been waiting for something to write about, and it hasn't come. Most of my mental energies have been devoted to writing a thesis and figuring next year out. So I will write and see what comes to my mind.

I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness, or contentedness. Happiness seems to be considered a higher state of being here in the United States, the thing that advertisement companies bank on, literally. We are sold everything from food to cars with a pretty smile, the standard emblem of happiness. The obsession with happiness has even been capitalized on by the pharmaceutical companies who send a message that any unhappiness can be cured with a little pill as long as you don't mind the headaches, constipation, and dizziness that might come with it. I have noticed this obsession with happiness most in myself. When asking questions about the future, or current actions I measure their value in terms of potential happiness that I might experience.

This pattern has led me to question two things. One, is happiness really what i want, or have i just been suckered by everything around me? And second, what is it that will make me feel content? For some reason this word fits better for me than Happy. But really, what is it? Will it be working for a cause i believe in? Is it being a part of some sort of community? Or is it finding a way of fitting into the world. This also brings up the issue of why I am so focused on my own personal individual satisfaction, it shows how deeply runs the individual, self-entitlement that also runs rampant in this country. So here are a lot of big questions and no answers. I have felt moments of being right in the world, not in the I am right you are wrong sense, but in a I am alright in the world right now sense, doing the right things, being the person i want to be and enjoying those around me. This is what I think I am hoping for on a more permanent basis. It is more than just having a lack of pain, another thing consumerism tries to sell us, it is something constructive that i think requires a certain amount of challenge, not physical pain necessarily, but discomfort.