Progressive Calendar 04.22.10
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:47:35 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   04.22.10

1. Protest Rove      4.22 3pm
2. Zero Recruitment  4.22 3:30pm
3. Eagan peace vigil 4.22 4:30pm
4. Northtown vigil   4.22 5pm
5. NAACP/green       4.22 6pm
6. Fem genital cut   4.22 7pm
7. Nonviolence?      4.22 7pm

8. James Bovard        - The slippery definition of extremism
9. Christopher Ketcham - The real socialist threat is the military
10. Joel S Hirschhorn  - Americans deserve recall power
11. Walden Bello       - Does corruption create poverty?

--------1 of 11--------

From: Rowley Clan <rowleyclan [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Protest Rove 4.22 3pm

Guess Who's Coming to the Twin Cities on April 22nd?!  Everyone's favorite
war criminal, Karl Rove!!

Book Signing Party!  (But instead of asking for his autograph, we'll ask for
a set of his fingerprints!  Book him Danno!)

War Criminal Karl Rove is coming to town this coming Thursday, April 22!
He's peddling his book "Courage and Consequence" despite the fact that he's
trying to avoid facing any consequences from his war crimes of the Bush
years.  So we're going to ask where's his courage to do the time!

Author Event: Courage and Consequence

When: 04/22/2010 - 03:00 PM Where: Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Mall of America
118 E. Broadway Suite 238
Bloomington, MN 55425


--------2 of 11--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] GMAIL.COM>
Subject: Zero Recruitment 4.22 3:30pm

Zero Recruitment Day 2010

President Obama has failed to end the war in Iraq and has dramatically
escalated the war in Afghanistan. A surge of new U.S. combat forces has
brought mounting civilian casualties in Afghanistan, while the U.S.
military denies responsibility for recently revealed criminal attacks on
unarmed civilians in Iraq. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are occupied by more
than 100,000 American troops, and the people of both countries what U.S.
forces out.  Billions of our tax dollars are spent on brutal wars abroad,
yet at home we're facing cuts to education, health care, and affordable
housing. Military recruiters, who disproportionately target low income
people, are using the economic crisis to intensify pressure on vulnerable
youth. On Thursday April 22, Minnesotans will say no to war, military
recruitment, and cuts to social programs, with a day of coordinated
protests. There will be events throughout the Twin Cities.

The Anti-War Committee's action:

3:30 bannering & 4:30 -6:30 pm rally @ National Guard building @ 600
Cedar Ave. St Paul (12th & Cedar)

Protest the surge in Afghanistan and military recruitment.  For many of
you it'll be a reunion at the site of many RNC Day 4 arrests!  :)

Follow events of the day on Twitter!
>From your cell send a text to 40404
Your message should say "follow zrd"


--------3 of 11--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 4.22 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.


--------4 of 11--------

From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 4.22 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com.


--------5 of 11--------

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com>
Subject: NAACP/green 4.22 6pm

Join the NAACP & Sierra Club
Celebrating Green Heroes of Color on the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day
Thursday, April 22, 2010
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Minneapolis Urban League
2100 Plymouth Ave , N. Minneapolis , MN 55411

Details:  Youth performances, learn how environmental justice is the
people's justice plus:
Food, FUN and it's all free!

Keynote Speaker: Leslie Fields
Leslie G. Fields, ESQ. is the National Environmental Justice Advocate for
the Sierra Club. She brings twenty years of international, federal, state
and local environmental justice and environmental law and policy
experience to her work with the Sierra Club.

Contact:  Karen Monahan 612-436-5402 karenejam [at] yahoo.com


--------6 of 11--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Fem genital cut 4.22 7pm

April 22: Americans for UNFPA exclusive private screening of "Mrs.
Goundo's Daughter," a moving story of a west African mother's fight to
protect her daughter from female genital cutting (FGC). 5:15 PM, reception
with filmmaker Janet Goldwater at the Bulldog, N.E., Minneapolis. 7 PM,
film screening of Mrs. Goundo's Daughter as part of the Minneapolis
International Film Festival, St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis. Q&A to follow
the film. $25. Tickets.


--------7 of 11--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Nonviolence? 4.22 7pm

PETER GELDERLOOS: GUNS FOR GLOBAL WARMING
Climate Change and Social Control
THUR, APRIL 22, 7pm
Macalester College Olin Rice 250

The earliest NATO and Pentagon proposals for dealing with global warming
dealt with stronger border controls and greater internal security
measures.  Climate change isn't only about the environment--it's about
immigration, policing, border control, the global food supply and warfare.
Keeping human problems and interests separate from the problems and
interests of the natural world is one of the oldest forms of divide and
rule.

Peter Gelderloos is the author of "How Nonviolence Protects the State",
"Anarchy Works", "Consensus: A New Handbook for Grassroots Social,
Political, and Environmental Groups", and more... Gelderloos uncovers a
censored history of social justice struggles to ask critical questions
about how nonviolence as tactic has too often become a way to narrow
strategy, protest and dissent itself.


--------8 of 11--------

What About the Government?
The Slippery Definition of Extremism
By JAMES BOVARD
April 22, 2010
CounterPunch

Americans are once again hearing of the perils of extremism. But the
definition of this offense is slippier than a politician's campaign
promise. The definition of extremism has continually been amended to
permit government policies that few sober people previously advocated.

Prior to 2000, anyone who asserted that the Census Bureau was deeply
involved with the roundup of Japanese-Americans for internment camps in
1942 was considered an extremist. The Census Bureau spent 60 years denying
its role but finally admitted its culpability ten years ago after
academics uncovered undeniable proof. Regardless of the Census Bureau's
past abuses or perennial deceit, only extremists believe that their
answers to this year's census could ever be used against them.

Prior to September 2001, anyone who suggested that the U.S. government
lead a crusade to "rid the world of evil" would have been labeled both an
extremist and a loon. But when George W. Bush promised exactly that three
days after 9/11, the media cheered and his approval ratings soared.

Prior to November 2001, anyone who suggested that the president had the
power to suspend the right of habeas corpus and perpetually detain anyone
he accused of serious wrongdoing would have been considered an extremist.
But Bush's executive decree on enemy combatants made this the law - or at
least the policy - of the land.

Prior to 2002, anyone who suggested that the U.S. government create a
Total Information Awareness database of personal information on tens of
millions of Americans would have been considered an extremist. But federal
spy agencies rushed forward with exactly such plans, and the feds have
stockpiled far more data on citizens.

Prior to April 2004, anyone who asserted that the U.S. military was
torturing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan was seen as an anti-American
extremist. The leaking of the Abu Ghraib photos and official reports on
abuses at Guantanamo and elsewhere proved that the extremists' worst fear
had become national policy. And when Congress effectively ratified Bush's
torture policies in the 2006 Military Commissions Act, "extremists" came
to connote people who believed that American democracy had utterly
disgraced itself.

Prior to the war on terror, anyone who advocated using tortured
confessions in judicial proceedings would have been considered an
extremist and perhaps also a medievalist. But the Justice Department and
Pentagon effectively claimed a right to use confessions regardless of how
they were acquired.

Prior to late 2005, anyone who asserted that the National Security Agency
was routinely and massively illegally wiretapping Americans' phone calls
and email without a warrant was considered paranoid - as well as an
extremist. Within weeks of the New York Times' exposing the government's
warrantless surveillance apparatus, Republican congressmen stood and
cheered during Bush's State of the Union address when he boasted of his
intrusions.

Prior to recent years, anyone who suggested that Uncle Sam should be able
to take naked snapshots of all airline passengers would have been
considered a lunatic, as well as an extremist. But the Transportation
Security Agency, with its Whole Body X-ray systems, is doing exactly that
in many airports around the nation. And the TSA's promises that such
photos will not be stored or abused are as credible as TSA's earlier
promises that no one would be delayed more than 10 minutes waiting in
airport checkpoint lines.

Prior to the post-9/11 era, if someone suggested that the federal
government should bloat its Terrorist Watch List with more than a million
names, the person would have been considered a fool and an extremist. But
this is exactly what the feds have done - and that is part of the reason
why the watch lists have become almost useless as well as a peril to
scores of thousands of innocent Americans.

Prior to this decade, only extremists believed that the president should
be permitted to order the assassination of American citizens - with no
attempt to arrest or try the suspected wrongdoer. Yet, President Obama
recently officially made this the national policy.

Time and again, the U.S. government has adopted policies that only
extremists advocated a few years earlier. And yet, no one is supposed to
think that the government has become the biggest extremist of them all.

James Bovard serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom
Foundation and is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush
Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books.


--------9 of 11--------

Watch Out for Those Pinko-Commies in Camo
The Real Socialist Threat is the Military
By CHRISTOPHER KETCHAM
April 22, 2010
CounterPunch

I got into an e-mail conversation recently with a former CIA officer and
ex-Marine, who, in horror at the Obama administration, went into a Tea
Partyist fit denouncing the "communists, socialists, wealth redistribution
folks, Democrats in Congress".  This was not his usual lucid style (he has
helped me as a source on several stories), and he seemed to have
momentarily lost his mind in considering the matter, or, at least, that
part of the mind wherein a cold assessment of facts might operate.  I
wrote him back: "Where are these communist/socialist/wealth-redistribution
folks?  I see none of their ilk anywhere in Congress".  He never replied.

Perhaps that's because the "right-wing" types such as my good pal refuse
to recognize - or perhaps recognize all too well, and therefore don't want
to talk about it - that whenever wealth needs to be redistributed for the
benefit of corporate personhood, our Congress goose-steps to the line.
It's "socialism" for the rich, the powerful, the influential, those able
to marshal cash incentives to get their cats' paws to pass laws that favor
their interests, for the doling out of public funds for private benefit.
It's socialism for banks and automakers and big pharma and big
agribusiness and the behemoths in energy and defense, and on and on.  So
much for the glorious independence and striving of the perceived paragons
of the free market.  The derangement of so many rightists in this country
- viz. the dingbat Tea Partiers - is clear: They fail to understand that
when large corporations hold sway over government there is no "capitalism"
and no "free market," certainly not as Adam Smith imagined it in The
Wealth of Nations.  And as businesses grow bigger to capture government,
so does government grow when captured - how else could it service big
business?

Then again, my ex-CIA/ex-Marine source may be on to something about the
socialist menace - as he would know all about it, having been trained,
directed, housed and pensioned by a grossly expanding branch of government
for most of his working life.  Consider the path to happiness paved by the
bomb-makers and the aircraft and tank and battleship manufacturers and the
makers of grenades and rifles and teargas and bullets, and all the
ancillaries of the military industrial complex, the "counterterror"
thinktanks and mercenary contractors and
intelligence-surveillance-security firms.  These would not, could not,
survive without government contracts, government intervention, government
swaddling and succoring and snuggling, and, of course, the perpetual
preparation for and making of government-run wars that feed their
industries.  The imperial war-machine is the great socialist enterprise of
our time.

Indeed, if we want real socialism for actual persons, we should all join
the US military: Everything is socialized in the military, the personnel
getting socialized medicine and socialized housing and socialized
transport and much else (socialized bullets and bombs),  the ideal and
modus operandi being one of purest collectivism, the training the kind
that teaches recognition of hierarchies and obedience in that long chain
of command - chain is the operative word - wherein you do what you're
told, you listen to the boss, you don't question, you don't fend for
yourself, you don't step out of line.   How totally un-American.  Thus
does the military man, having given up the struggle for self-command and
self-reliance, receive diapering and feeding and care, ideally from cradle
to grave, never opting to grow up and survive in the rigors of the
marketplace.  Those filthy pinko-commies in the US Army!  Who woulda thunk
it!

It's astonishing, though, that these same government-trained and -paid
personnel so often are to be found griping about the shape and size of the
tit that keeps them alive.   I have a close relative, for example, who
talks the hard-core right-winger line, complaining endlessly about big
government and "socialism" - yet he works for the ever-metastasizing State
Department.  When he calls me a "leftist," I like to tell him I have never
worked for government, never gotten a government paycheck, nor any grant
or subsidy from government, nor any loans, never profited from government
personally (as opposed, say, to profiting from government roads), never
gotten food stamps or welfare or Medicaid or workman's compensation or
unemployment insurance, nor cashed in my Social Security benefits (forced
to pay for them in the first place), nor received any other scrap of
so-called "wealth redistribution".  What a leftist I must be.

Christopher Ketcham, a freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY, is working on a
book about U.S. secession movements.  Find more of his work at
www.christopherketcham.com or contact him at cketcham99 [at] mindspring.com.


--------10 of 11--------

Americans Deserve Recall Power
by Joel S. Hirschhorn
April 22nd, 2010
Dissident Voice

Nothing is more powerful in a democracy than fed up citizens lawfully
yanking public officials out of their jobs. Considering all the
frustration and anger about government that is too big, expensive, corrupt
and dysfunctional, it is wise to consider how much better American
democracy would be if citizens could recall members of Congress, the
President and even Supreme Court Justices. In a world moving at faster and
faster speeds why wait for the usual ways to fix government, especially
when none of them seem to work?

Fearful politicians have given citizens in relatively few states and local
governments the right to recall government officials. A most memorable and
recent recall was the governor of California, Gray Davis, in 2003.

Direct voting to recall government officials is a prime example of direct
democracy. The action may be called a recall election or a recall
referendum. It is needed when representative democracy fails the public.
Which most Americans definitely think is the case for Congress.

Only eighteen states allow recall of state officials. Specific grounds for
recall are required in only eight states. Eleven states allow recall of
judicial officials. In at least 29 states (some sources place this number
at 36), recall elections may be held in local jurisdictions. Three-fourths
of recall actions in the US are at the city council or school board level.

Here are some other recent successful recalls.

1983 recall efforts of two Michigan state senators

1988 recall of Oregon state legislator

1995 recall of two California Assembly members

2002 recall of mayor of Flint, Michigan.

2002 recall of multiple Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, elected county
officials

2003 recall of Wisconsin State Senator

2005 recall of mayor of Spokane, Washington.

2006 recall of mayor of Roosevelt, New Jersey

In 1988, Arizona voters filed enough signatures to trigger a recall
election for Governor Evan Mecham, but he was impeached by the state's
House of Representatives before the date of the scheduled recall election.

In some places the successor to a recalled official is elected at the same
time, others in a special election afterwards and in others by
appointment.

Right now there is no way to recall federal officials. Don't you think it
is time to change this? If you do, then understand that there must be a
constitutional amendment and clearly Congress will never propose such an
amendment.

What is the alternative? The Founders gave us the path to such reform.
They gave us the option in Article V of a convention of state delegates
that has the same power as Congress to propose constitutional amendments.
Learn about it at Friends of the Article V Convention website, and learn
why Congress has refused to obey the Constitution and give us the
convention that over 700 applications from all 50 states have asked for.

Recall should be seen as a serious alternative to voting federal
incumbents out of office. This has never worked to any significant degree
for a host of reasons, despite serious attempts to vote out congressional
incumbents. Prime among them is that once in office members of Congress
become addicted to power and corrupted by money used to stay in office.

What about term limits? This sounds good, but here too many people once in
office may do things that the public condemns while still within their
allowed terms. Better to have them fearful of being recalled rather than
not being reelected. Also note that impeachment and criminal prosecution
are difficult legal processes to remove an official from office. Usually
it is incompetence, dishonesty and non-responsiveness to constituents that
angers people.

There is probably more discussion now about constitutional amendments than
in a very long time. But, oddly, those who seek true reforms seem
oblivious to the enormous power of the recall option. Think about it. We,
the people, should have the sovereign right to fire federal officials,
especially members of Congress, but even the President and Supreme Court
Justices. That way they are more likely to respect the Constitution and
really listen to we, the people, rather than the corporate and other
special interests that feed them big money so they can keep telling us big
lies. If we don't get the power to fire bad government officials, then
future generations will pay a very, very high price.

Don't be a constitutional hypocrite. Support using the Article V
convention option. Let your members of Congress know that you want one.
Let everyone know you support having the recall option for federal
officials. If all government officials work for us, then we need the
constitutional right to fire them. If you want to take back your country
from the rich and powerful, then recall power is needed. Power to the
people!

Joel S. Hirschhorn has a new book, Delusional Democracy: Fixing the
Republic Without Overthrowing the Government, which supports
constitutional conventions and other peaceful ways to restore American
democracy.


--------11 of 11--------

Does Corruption Create Poverty?
by Walden Bello
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Foreign Policy in Focus
Common Dreams

The issue of corruption resonates in developing countries. In the
Philippines, for instance, the slogan of the coalition that is likely to
win the 2010 presidential elections is "Without corrupt officials, there
are no poor people."

Not surprisingly, the international financial institutions have weighed
in. The World Bank has made "good governance" a major thrust of its work,
asserting that the "World Bank Group focus on governance and
anticorruption (GAC) follows from its mandate to reduce poverty - a
capable and accountable state creates opportunities for poor people,
provides better services, and improves development outcomes."

Because it erodes trust in government, corruption must certainly be
condemned and corrupt officials resolutely prosecuted. Corruption also
weakens the moral bonds of civil society on which democratic practices and
processes rest. But although research suggests it has some bearing on the
spread of poverty, corruption is not the principal cause of poverty and
economic stagnation, popular opinion notwithstanding.

World Bank and Transparency International data show that the Philippines
and China exhibit the same level of corruption, yet China grew by 10.3
percent per year between 1990 and 2000, while the Philippines grew by only
3.3 percent. Moreover, as a recent study by Shaomin Lee and Judy Wu shows,
"China is not alone; there are other countries that have relatively high
corruption and high growth rates."

              Limits of a Hegemonic Narrative

The "corruption-causes-poverty narrative" has become so hegemonic that it
has often marginalized policy issues from political discourse. This
narrative appeals to the elite and middle class, which dominate the
shaping of public opinion. It's also a safe language of political
competition among politicians. Political leaders can deploy accusations of
corruption against one another for electoral effect without resorting to
the destabilizing discourse of class.

Yet this narrative of corruption has increasingly less appeal for the
poorer classes. Despite the corruption that marked his reign, Joseph
Estrada is running a respectable third in the presidential contest in the
Philippines, with solid support among many urban poor communities. But it
is perhaps in Thailand where lower classes have most decisively rejected
the corruption discourse, which the elites and Bangkok-based middle class
deployed to oust Thaksin Shinawatra from the premiership in 2006.

While in power, Thaksin brazenly used his office to enlarge his corporate
empire. But the rural masses and urban lower classes - the base of the
so-called "Red Shirts" - have ignored this corruption and are fighting to
restore his coalition to power. They remember the Thaksin period from 2001
to 2006 as a golden time. Thailand recovered from the Asian financial
crisis after Thaksin kicked out the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and
the Thai leader promoted expansionary policies with a redistributive
dimension, such as cheap universal health care, a one-million-baht
development fund for each town, and a moratorium on farmers' servicing of
their debt. These policies made a difference in their lives.

Thaksin's Red Shirts are probably right in their implicit assessment that
pro-people policies are more decisive than corruption when it comes to
addressing poverty. Indeed, in Thailand and elsewhere, clean-cut
technocrats have probably been responsible for greater poverty than the
most corrupt politicians. The corruption-causes-poverty discourse is no
doubt popular with elites and international financial institutions because
it serves as a smokescreen for the structural causes of poverty, and
stagnation and wrong policy choices of the more transparent technocrats.

                         The Philippine Case

The case of the Philippines since 1986 illustrates the greater explanatory
power of the "wrong-policy narrative" than the corruption narrative.
According to an ahistorical narrative, massive corruption suffocated the
promise of the post-Marcos democratic republic. In contrast, the
wrong-policy narrative locates the key causes of Philippine
underdevelopment and poverty in historical events and developments.

The complex of policies that pushed the Philippines into the economic
quagmire over the last 30 years can be summed up by a formidable term:
structural adjustment. Also known as neoliberal restructuring, it involves
prioritizing debt repayment, conservative macroeconomic management, huge
cutbacks in government spending, trade and financial liberalization,
privatization and deregulation, and export-oriented production. Structural
adjustment came to the Philippines courtesy of the World Bank, the IMF,
and the World Trade Organization (WTO), but local technocrats and
economists internalized and disseminated the doctrine.

Corazon Aquino was personally honest - indeed the epitome of
non-corruption - and her contribution to the reestablishment of democracy
was indispensable. But her acceptance of the IMF's demand to prioritize
debt repayment over development brought about a decade of stagnation and
continuing poverty. Interest payments as a percentage of total government
expenditures went from 7 percent in 1980 to 28 percent in 1994. Capital
expenditures, on the other hand, plunged from 26 percent to 16 percent.
Since government is the biggest investor in the Philippines - indeed in
any economy - the radical stripping away of capital expenditures helps
explain the stagnant 1 percent average yearly growth in gross domestic
product in the 1980s, and the 2.3 percent rate in the first half of the
1990s.

In contrast, the Philippines' Southeast Asian neighbors ignored the IMF's
prescriptions. They limited debt servicing while ramping up government
capital expenditures in support of growth. Not surprisingly, they grew by
6 to 10 percent from 1985 to 1995, attracting massive Japanese investment,
while the Philippines barely grew and gained the reputation of a depressed
market that repelled investors.

When Aquino's successor, Fidel Ramos, came to power in 1992, the main
agenda of his technocrats was to bring down all tariffs to 0.5 percent and
bring the Philippines into the WTO and the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA),
moves intended to make trade liberalization irreversible. A pick-up in the
growth rate in the early years of Ramos sparked hope, but the green shoots
were short-lived. Another neoliberal policy, financial liberalization,
crushed this early promise. The elimination of foreign exchange controls
and speculative investment restrictions attracted billions of dollars from
1993-1997. But this also meant that when panic hit Asian foreign investors
in summer 1997, the same lack of capital controls facilitated the stampede
of billions of dollars from the country in a few short weeks. This capital
flight pushed the economy into recession and stagnation in the next few
years.

The administration of the next president, Joseph Estrada, did not reverse
course, and under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, neoliberal
policies continued to reign. Over the next few years, the Philippine
government instituted new liberalization measures on the trade front,
entering into free-trade agreements with Japan and China despite clear
evidence that trade liberalization was destroying the two pillars of the
economy: industry and agriculture. Radical unilateral trade liberalization
severely destabilized the Philippine manufacturing sector. The number of
textile and garments firms, for instance, drastically reduced from 200 in
1970 to 10 in recent years. As one of Arroyo's finance secretaries
admitted, "There's an uneven implementation of trade liberalization, which
was to our disadvantage." While he speculated that consumers might have
benefited from the tariff liberalization, he acknowledged that "it has
killed so many local industries."

As for agriculture, the liberalization of the country's agricultural trade
after the country joined the WTO in 1995 transformed the Philippines from
a net food-exporting country into a net food-importing country after the
mid-1990s. This year the China ASEAN Trade Agreement (CAFTA), negotiated
by the Arroyo administration, goes into effect, and the prospect of cheap
Chinese produce flooding the Philippines has made Filipino vegetable
farmers fatalistic about their survival.

During the long Arroyo reign, the debt-repayment-oriented macroeconomic
management policy that came with structural adjustment stifled the
economy. With 20-25 percent of the national budget reserved for debt
service payments because of the draconian Automatic Appropriations Law,
government finances were in a state of permanent and widening deficit,
which the administration tried to solve by contracting more loans. Indeed,
the Arroyo administration contracted more loans than the previous three
administrations combined.

When the deficit reached gargantuan proportions, the government refused to
declare a debt moratorium or at least renegotiate debt repayment terms to
make them less punitive. At the same time, the administration did not have
the political will to force the rich to take the brunt of bridging the
deficit, by increasing taxes on their income and improving revenue
collection. Under pressure from the IMF, the government levied this burden
on the poor and the middle class by adopting an expanded value added tax
(EVAT) of 12 percent on purchases. Commercial establishments passed on
this tax to poor and middle-class consumers, forcing them to cut back on
consumption. This then boomeranged back on small merchants and
entrepreneurs in the form of reduced profits, forcing many out of
business.

The straitjacket of conservative macroeconomic management, trade and
financial liberalization, as well as a subservient debt policy, kept the
economy from expanding significantly. As a result, the percentage of the
population living in poverty increased from 30 to 33 percent between 2003
and 2006, according to World Bank figures. By 2006, there were more poor
people in the Philippines than at any other time in the country's history.

            Policy and Poverty in the Third World

The Philippine story is paradigmatic. Many countries in Latin America,
Africa, and Asia saw the same story unfold. Taking advantage of the Third
World debt crisis, the IMF and the World Bank imposed structural
adjustment in over 70 developing countries in the course of the 1980s.
Trade liberalization followed adjustment in the 1990s as the WTO, and
later rich countries, dragooned developing countries into free-trade
agreements.

Because of this trade liberalization, gains in economic growth and poverty
reduction posted by developing countries in the 1960s and 1970s had
disappeared by the 1980s and 1990s. In practically all structurally
adjusted countries, trade liberalization wiped out huge swathes of
industry, and countries enjoying a surplus in agricultural trade became
deficit countries. By the beginning of the millennium, the number of
people living in extreme poverty had increased globally by 28 million from
the decade before. The number of poor increased in Latin America and the
Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, the Arab states, and sub-Saharan
Africa. The reduction in the number of the world's poor mainly occurred in
China and countries in East Asia, which spurned structural readjustment
policies and trade liberalization multilateral institutions and local
neoliberal technocrats imposed other developing economies.

China and the rapidly growing newly industrializing countries of East and
Southeast Asia, where most of the global reduction in poverty took place,
were marked by high degrees of corruption. The decisive difference between
their performance and that of countries subjected to structural adjustment
was not corruption but economic policy.

Despite its malign effect on democracy and civil society, corruption is
not the main cause of poverty. The "anti poverty, anti-corruption"
crusades that so enamor the middle classes and the World Bank will not
meet the challenge of poverty. Bad economic policies create and entrench
poverty. Unless and until we reverse the policies of structural
adjustment, trade liberalization, and conservative macroeconomic
management, we will not escape the poverty trap.

FPIF columnist Walden Bello is a representative of the party-list Akbayan
in the Philippine House of Representatives.


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   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
                     over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02
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                          vote third party
                           for president
                           for congress
                          now and forever


                           Socialism YES
                           Capitalism NO


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 --8

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