cj#987> Two views on globalization: Znet; a Bulgarian activist

1999-09-24

Richard Moore


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Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 03:45:04 -0500
To: •••@••.•••
From: Mark Douglas Whitaker <•••@••.•••>
Subject: [Fwd: ZNet commentary: "The State of the World" by Stephen
  Shalom based on1999 Human Development Report

---<fwd>---
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 15:01:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: walda katz fishman <•••@••.•••>
Subject: ZNet commentary: "The State of the World" by Stephen Shalom based on
 1999 Human Development Report  & "The Criminal Element" By Russell Mokhiber
 and Robert Weissman

Here is today's ZNet Commentary Delivery from Stephen Shalom.

To pass this comment along to friends, relatives, etc. please note that the
Commentaries are a premium sent to Sustainer Donors of Z/ZNet and that to
learn more about the project folks can consult ZNet (http://www.zmag.org)
and specifically the Sustainer Pages
(http://www.zmag.org/Commentaries/donorform.htm) which include lists of
writers, writer biographies, and other features of the Z Sustainer Program.
Please do not send the pages repeatedly to the same people -- people need to
become Sustainers themselves.

Here then is today's ZNet Commentary...

----------------------------

The State of the World
Stephen R. Shalom

This summer, the United Nations Development Programme issued its annual
Human Development Report. The document is a stinging indictment of
globalization and its horrific impact on the well-being of so many of the
world's people.

According to the Report, in developing countries nearly 1.3 billion people
do not have access to clean water, one in seven children of primary school
age is out of school, 840 million people are malnourished, and an estimated
1.3 billion people live on incomes of less than $1 a day. Even in the
industrial countries, globalization has taken a grim toll. One person in
eight suffers from either long-term unemployment, illiteracy, a
life-expectancy of less than 60 years, or an income below the national
poverty line.

This human misery is not a consequence of globalization's insufficient
advance. "More than 80 countries still have per capita incomes lower than
they were a decade or more ago," comments the Report. In sub-Saharan
African and some other least developed countries, per capita incomes are
lower than they were in 1970. And some of the countries that are worst off
are those that are most integrated into the global economy. Exports account
for close to 30% of the gross domestic product of impoverished sub-Saharan
Africa, for example, compared to less than 20% for the industrial nations.
In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, where privatization and the
market have expanded most rapidly, "the dismantling and weakening of the
welfare state have meant cuts and deterioration in services in health and
education -- across the board -- contributing to the deteriorating human
outcomes. Life expectancy was lower in 1995 than in 1989 in 7 of 18
countries -- falling as much as five years since 1987. Enrolment in
kindergarten declined dramatically."

The gap between rich and poor has, in the words of the report, today
"reached grotesque proportions." In 1960, the countries with the wealthiest
fifth of the world's people had per capita incomes 30 times that of the
poorest fifth. By 1990, the ratio had doubled to 60 to one, and by 1995 it
stood at 74 to one. And the Asian economic crisis of the past few years has
exacerbated the marginalization of the poorest countries.

Within nations, the income gap has been growing as well. Eastern Europe and
the former Soviet Union have experienced "the fastest rise in inequality
ever." Russia now has the world's greatest inequality, with the richest 20%
having 11 times the income of the bottom 20%. Income inequalities have also
grown dramatically in China, Indonesia, Thailand, other East and South-East
Asian countries, and in the industrialized countries, especially Sweden,
Britain, and the United States. A recent study by the Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities (reported in the New York Times of Sept. 5, 1999) found
that the richest 1 percent of Americans earned as much after taxes as the
poorest 100 million; in 1977 the top 1 percent only (!) had as much as the
bottom 49 million. The poorest 20 percent are making less today in real
terms (adjusting for inflation) than they were in 1977.

The assets of the world's three richest people, notes the Human Development
Report, are more than the combined GNP of all least developed countries on
the planet. (This piece of information is already out of date: the statement

was based on a report in Forbes magazine for Oct. 12, 1998, when Bill
Gates, Warren Buffett, and Paul Allen had combined assets of $110 billion;
on July 17, 1999, the NYT reported that the first two of these individuals
alone were worth more than $140 billion.) The assets of the 200 richest
people in 1998 were more than the total income of 41% of the world's
people. The Report observes that a measly 1% tax on the wealth of these 200
people could fund primary education for all the world's children who lack
access to schooling.

One major source for the growing inequality and the global suffering is the
spread of markets. For example, as the Report points out, for much of human
history care-giving -- attending to the young, the old, the sick, and the
rest of us -- was performed by women outside the market, based on a gender
division of labor and female subordination. As women have entered the
market -- partly by choice and partly by economic pressures -- they are
still largely responsible for care-giving activities, which has forced a
reduction in the time devoted to care, just as state services are being cut
back as well. The "expansion of markets tends to penalize altruism and
care."

Markets also undermine the environment. "Despite widespread public support
for environmental action, the driving forces of globalization still put
profit before environmental protection, preservation and sustainability."
The World Trade Organization, the international body responsible for
aligning environmental and trade policy, has instead acted to protect the
trading system from government policies designed to protect the
environment. The WTO, like the other main international institutions,
reflects the interests of the rich nations, "often those of the G-7 [the
seven largest industrial economies], or sometimes just the G-1 [the United
States]."

But it should not be thought that the rich countries and the multinational
corporations are consistent defenders of markets. They favor markets except
when it advances their interests to favor state action on their behalf. And
so a major aspect of the current globalization is extending the reach of
patents to enhance corporate profits. As the Human Development Report
notes, "most developing countries previously exempted agriculture,
medicines and other products from national patent laws, but with the
passage of the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPS), almost all knowledge-based production is now subject to
tight intellectual property protection, unified internationally." Products
developed with public funds are increasingly being monopolized by private
firms.

The 1999 Human Development Report is unusual for an official document in
being so critical of the powerful and the wealthy. In fact, the new UNDP
Administrator Michael Malloch Brown, perhaps worried about his funding,
felt obliged to remind us in his foreword to the Report that its authors
enjoy "robust editorial independence" and to assure us that the Report
"comes down clearly in favour of the power of globalization to bring
economic and social benefits to societies." Brown gently admonished the
Report's authors: "In listing the negative impacts of markets on people, it
is important not to appear to be rejecting markets as the central
organizing principle of global economic life. Markets need institutions and
rules -- and too frequently in the global setting they are not yet
adequately subjected to the control of either. But the unleashing of
competition within countries and between countries has ushered in for many
an era of prosperity and liberty." Brown goes on to note that where he
"fully agree[s] with the authors is that this empowerment has been uneven."
His conclusion is that we need to "keep markets free but fair."

Brown's formulation, however, begs the question. What if "free markets" are
inherently unfair? Markets produce and allocate goods based on the number
of dollars that demand them, not on the basis of need. A million dollars
from a wealthy individual creates more market demand than ten dollars from
a thousand needy individuals. Moreover, even if everyone started out with
equal incomes, markets work by creating winners and losers, thus generating
inequality and leading to domination by the rich. In addition, markets are
fundamentally incompatible with building community: they depend on ruthless
competition and penalize those who regard others as human beings. Thus, the
necessary consequence of markets is self-centeredness, inequality, and a
lack of democratic control over the economy.

Fortunately, however, there is nothing inevitable about globalization. It
is the result of political decisions and as such can be contested.
Grassroots political action managed to stop the Multilateral Agreement on
Investment, and September 15 has been declared an International Day of
Action against the World Trade Organization. All who can ought to add their
voices to the protest.


--------------------------------------

The full text of the 1999 Human Development Report is on-line at:
http://www.undp.org/hdro/index2.html.

For many useful resources on the anti-World Trade Organization campaign, go
to Public Citizen's Trade Watch site:
http://www.tradewatch.org/publications/gtwpubs.htm.

For information on how you can participate in the September 15 International
Day of Action against the World Trade Organization, go to
http://www.citizen.org/pctrade/activism/activist.htm.

-------------------------------------

Stephen R. Shalom teaches political science at William Paterson University
in NJ. He is the author of Imperial Alibis (South End, 1993) and is
currently working on Which Side Are You On? An Introduction to Politics.


============================================================================
From: •••@••.•••
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 21:56:37 EDT
Subject: the new world order
To: •••@••.••• [& many others]

Subj:    WITH HER EYES OPENED: A LETTER FROM BULGARIA
Date:   09/14/1999

A Letter to the Serbian "Democratic Opposition"

by Doncheva

I was an activist in the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) until June 1993.
UDF is the mirror image of the Serbian Alliance for Change (the United
Democratic Opposition).

The Bulgarian Union of Democratic Forces or UDF received a lot of money in
1990 "  cars, computers, luxurious placards (transported from abroad in big
trucks) for the 1990 elections and the next ones "  until the consolidation
of the UDF in power. We think that a certain amount of money continues to
flow, but now it is directed only to the UDF officials presently in power.
You all know what the Bulgarian government of the UDF did during the US war
against neighbouring Yugoslavia. I will remind those who might happen not
to know or who have forgotten:

It provided FULL SUPPORT for the USA.

It gave the US and NATO all the asked-for corridors - in the air and on the
ground. (There is talk that southern Serbia has been demolished by US
planes flying over Bulgaria from a US Turkish base.)

For the first time since the end of the 500 year Turkish Yoke last century
Turkish ground force passed through Bulgaria.

Here's an easy question: "From whence does money for the UDF (and now for
UDF leaders) mainly come?" You get one guess.

So. We, here in Bulgaria, have had US-style democracy since 1989. For ten
years already.

MY TEN MOST AWFUL YEARS.

What happened during that most awful period of my life on earth?

Through the ardent UDF leaders in power, the International Monetary Fund
and the World Bank are successfully devouring Bulgarian industry,
destroying the social fabric and dismantling  national boundaries. (Our
national boundaries, mind you, never those of the US or Germany.)

Three ways they devour Bulgarian industry:

" privatizing the Bulgarian plants and factories and liquidating them
afterwards;

"  directly liquidating them;

" selling them for twopenny-halfpenny to powerful foreign corporations. For
instance, the Copper Metallurgical plant near the town of Pirdop producing
gold and platinum as well as electrolytic copper was sold in 1997 to Union
Miniere, Belgium for next to nothing.

Conclusion: Bulgarian industry and infrastructure (the roads for instance)
have been most successfully demolished "  and this WITHOUT bombing!  " in
less than ten years. All this, just from doing what the Serbian opposition
is saying the Serbs should do.

(A popular joke here during the US war on Yugoslavia: two Turkish pilots,
flying over Bulgaria, are looking down at the Bulgarian landscape. One of
them says: "I wonder? Have we dropped bombs here?" "Don't be silly,"
answers the other. "It is Bulgaria! They look like that without bombing.")

Side effects:  hordes of unemployed, as you can well imagine.

Beggars in the streets.

Children dying in the street from drugs and malnutrition.

Old people digging in the garbage containers for some rag or mouldy piece
of bread.

In 1989 my friend mother's pensions had been 105 leva. Now it is 46 leva at
$1 = ~1,87 leva. - August, 27. So, calculate for yourselves how many
dollars that 75 year old woman receives per month.

Yesterday my brother -in-law told me he had seen the former headmistress of
his son's school to dig in a garbage can?

The infant death rate has increased.

The birth death rate has increased. The reasons in most of the cases:
mothers suffering of shock and malnutrition.

The death rate generally has increased.

Young people refuse to marry and have children.

Will there be a Bulgarian nation in the 21 century? What have the big US
think-tanks planned for Bulgaria? The answer is getting clearer with every
year.

EATING AWAY SOCIAL PROGRAMMES

Before 1989 Bulgaria was a SOCIAL state: Free medical care, FREE education,
social help and programmes for the mothers and the elderly. According to
the old (totalitarian) pension law people retired at 55 years of age for
the women and 60 years of age for the men.

According to the new (U.S-style democratic) pension law and the adopted new
system there will not be any retired people here.

The new system demands gathering of 90 points for the women " age plus
number of years in service " and 95 points for the men. The small number of
people about 55 still at work will manage to retire at about 58 years of
age (for the women) and 63 (for the men).

But what about the people at 35-40-45 years of age, some of them unemployed
for years  already?

How will they gather the number of years in service, necessary for retirement?

Nobody needs them, nobody wants them at work, nobody offers work to them.
When you open the newspapers at the pages with job offers you see the
repeated demand for age of 30 for the eventual applicants. Even if the
offer is for cnstruction  workers or scrub women.

So, if you are under 30, you have some chances to slave for 12 hours for
next to nothing for a newly hatched businessman.

All the others are expendable and the only open exit for them is the
crematorium. Amen.

And the IMF and WB aim will be achieved: less population, less pensioners,
less children?And THEY (the Global Super Rich?) will get closer to their
global aim of providing an earth inhabited only by the Golden Billionaires
(after the messy job of clearing away the redundant/unwanted six billion?)

WHAT ABOUT EDUCATION?

Now the number of children that do not go to school increases with every
year. Only comparatively well-to-do parents or parents who still have some
saved money can fulfill their children's desire for a higher education.

HEALTH?

People have turned to "old wives'" ways of healing.

Going to the dentist is looked upon as a kind of a luxury.

There are talks for a drastic raising of all the medicine prices here "
with 60-70% - from September 1st 99.

The chasm between the handful of rich and the great majority of poor people
is disastrously deepening with every day.

By the way, the last remnants of privileges will be taken away after the
1st of January 2000.

I have in mind the lower prices for train tickets for students, mothers
with children and the elderly.

IMF DEMANDS: NO MORE SUBSIDIZED TRAVEL!

Taking away these special, lower fares was one of the INTERNATIONAL
MONETARY FUND (IMF) conditions for the latest loan, agreed to willingly by
the UDF leaders now in power.

Note that the UDF is short for Union of  Democratic Forces, whose program
is the mirror image of the Serbian Alliance for change or United Democratic
Opposition.

Note that the names are almost the same, aren't they?

Bad. Proof of very poor imagination on the part of the money-givers.

They should insist on variety in names.

WHAT TAKING AWAY TRAVEL PRIVILEGE REALLY MEANS

It means additional separation of people, forcing them to stay either in
the towns, where they will die from hunger, or in the villages with the
same result. Because most of the still active pensioners presently add to
meager family and personal income through some occasional jobs in the towns
or by providing vegetables and fruit for the winter in their father's
village gardens. It is possible and worth while NOW when they are
travelling by train at half the price. After January 1 it will be senseless.

So the death rate will increase "one of the IMF's apparent goals will be
successfully realized and the servile UDF leaders will be correspondingly
rewarded.

I wonder. How much does it pay to destroy one's own people under the
sweetened slogans of "democracy" (what democracy?) and joining the "Western
civilization" (what civilization are we speaking of?) Does it pay really
well?

Do you, the so-called opposition in Serbia REALLY think that the best road
for you is joining THAT "civilization"? What will be the bitter fruit later
of your efforts now? Cheap labour for the US and western corporations and
the humiliating agony of a slow torturous death through wretched poverty
for your people.

Look back into your history " a history of tough people able to find
solution of their OWN, to overcome obstacles with their OWN resources We
saw what our contemporary "Western civilization" actually stands for during
those awful 79 days.When they bombed a sovereign EUROPEAN country they
defined themselves.

Since Yugoslavian capitulation we all are DAILY witnesses what western
civilization stands for in Kosovo.

Everybody knows now that:

1) The US and Europe are against ethnic cleansing of the Albanians by the
Serbs.

2) But they are FOR the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs by the Albanians.
What has happened to the sugared talk about Human Rights? Ah, sorry, I have
forgotten. Serbs are not Human. (With the exception of those that take the
U.S. and NATO countries' money to betray their people and their country!)

You in the opposition, do you really want to lick the soles of those cruel
greedy monsters?

OPENING OUR BORDERS, MAKING US AN 'OPEN SOCIETY'

...as expounded by George Soros, the international financier of newspapers,
radio stations, NGOs and political parties that facilitate the destruction
of previously viable nations. That philanthropist of the "open society." We
have learned the hard way what those pretty slogans about "opening the
borders" mean.

It means KILLING the part of Bulgarian industry that is still managing to
stay alive and thereby give bread to a certain number of people.

It means that lots of LOW QUALITY " I use the phrase deliberately: LOW
QUALITY  "  food products and other goods (socks for instance) flow freely
through the "open(ed) borders" into Bulgaria, undermining the efforts of
local producers.

We have been perhaps one of the biggest consumers of the notorious Belgian
dioxin chickens. Result: some of the local producers have gone bankrupt and
sunk into dismal poverty. Some of the salami and sausage producers have had
the same fate. The same holds true for producers of veal and veal products.

I have a cousin who has a small farm " four cows. He hasn't been able to
sell his calves for two successive years. Two of the cows have already
died. He is smashed. The veal-buying firms explain that they prefer to work
with the frozen meat imported at low prices ready to be stuffed and turned
into salami and sausages. Never mind the salami's and sausages' quality...

"Fasan", the sock and stocking factory in the Danube town of Rouse, is
slowly sinking down (maybe it has already gone bankrupt and hundreds are in
the streets). Because of the Turkish socks, flooding the Bulgarian market
and sold at 0.5 leva a pair. The "Fasan" socks are sold at about 1 leva ($1
=1,87 leva).

They cannot sell them at a lower price "  they will go bankrupt.

They cannot sell them at the only possible-for-them price "  and they have
gone bankrupt. Amen. Rest in peace.

So much for "open borders." So much for Mr. Soros' "Open Society". I hope
you have now a clearer picture of what U.S.-type democracy has brought
Bulgaria and its people. Of the real, practical meaning of the syrupy
phrases.

WHAT BREAKS MY HEART

I personally live in abject misery. I pay my Internet fee at the expense of
great limitations in food, forgoing other needs as well. I do not know how
long I will be able to support it.

But it is the sight of the old men and women, digging into the rubbish
containers that is breaking my heart.

And the old people begging in the streets? the outreached trembling
hands?the tears of pain and humiliation in the eyes?They make me cry.
Because, you see, street beggars might be a familiar  part of the New York
scenery. But it is a new and very shocking sight for us here, and our
hearts are bleeding.

PRICES - BEFORE U.S. DEMOCRACY AND AFTER

I enclose a comparing table of some prices in 1989 and 1999 from "Appeal",
the monthly newspaper of our activist group.

Prices in leva 1989 and 1999

$1 = 1,87 leva (as of 8/27/99)

Bread, 1 kg (white flour) 0,48 0,63

Bread, 1 kg (wholemeal) 0,15 0,45

Salami 1 kg 2,80 3,60

Yogurt 0,22 0,32-0,75

Tram ticket (Sofia) 0,06 0,25

Steam Heating, average 14,0 80,00-150,00

El. energy,1 kwh:day/night 0,042/0,022 0,08/0,04

Luxury lady shoes 30-40 100

Suit, average price 100 300

Lighter, ordinary 0,20 4,00

Books 1-2 6-10

Cinema ticket 0,40-0,80 4-8 Salary, average 200 150

Pension, average 100 50

And so on and on and on ?

ALL GENOCIDES ARE NOT EQUAL IN THEIR EYES

The USA started bombing Yugoslavia officially because of the still unproven
genocide on the poor Albanians by the Serbs, the Demons.

Meanwhile they are carrying out invisible at first sight but very effective
genocide on my people in Bulgaria. As in all the countries in the deadly
grip of the US type of democracy and its envoys, the INTERNATIONAL MONETARY
FUND and THE WORLD BANK.

What are the Serbs thinking?

I am truly amazed at some Serbian people's reactions lately. I have never
looked upon them as being a nation of suicides.

What are they striving for? What do they want? The dismal, hopeless life of
their Bulgarian neighbours?

Do they REALLY want to see their old people dig in the garbage cans?

Do they REALLY want to stop their children from going to school because of
lack of money for shoes and textbooks?

Do they REALLY want to slave for the American or German corporations 12
hours per day for miserable pay? Because think: what is the greatest
attraction for a foreign corporation in a devastated country like
Yugoslavia? The cheap labour! That is it! The so called Sweatshops.

I cannot believe my eyes and ears! AFTER 78 or 79 DAYS OF AMERICAN BOMBS at
that! Over the bodies of killed Serb children by the AMERICAN bombs!

It is simply UNBELIEVABLE!

And after the good example of what the US kind of "democracy" has done to
Bulgaria, the Yugoslavian neighbour.

I do not want to vindicate myself for having been an activist of the UDF
till 1993. I only would like to point out that at that time we all believed
the totalitarian state [the former, Communist Bulgaria] was simply lying
about the USA. That all the warnings about the USA were simply propaganda
lies. We had not heard anything about the IMF or the WB or the
transnational corporations and their expansion policy in 1990. We fell for
the seductive talk about democracy and openness and the rest. But it is
impossible to say the same for the so-called Serb Opposition.

Especially after the U.S. war on THEIR country!

They, the Serb Opposition, are even not ashamed of the $100 million of US
"help", arrogantly announced in the face of the whole world! [This refers
to US aid openly given to help the opposition in Serbia]

Don't you, all the Serbs that are hanging from the lips of that US or
German flunky, [Alliance for Change leader] Djindnic, feel humiliated at
having chosen to work for the US and West European interests against your
own people?

When the blood of the Serbian children is still fresh on the money they are
giving you?!

SHAME, SHAME ON YOU!

Desanka Maksimovic has a poem:

My forebears and fellow-villagers
Have never been traitors.
They have gone since times immemorial
Where Justice has called them.

She is lucky she is not alive today.

WHAT IS AT ISSUE?

The issue is not Milosevic. US and the "Western civilizations" are
reachinggreedily for your country. Their geopolitical interests and
their corporations demand it: they need the land and what resources you
have.

Doncheva,
Sofia, Bulgaria
The Balkans


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