From email@example.com Wed Jul 9 11:00:54 2003
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2003 23:40:55 -0500 (CDT)
Riaz Tayob <riazt@IAFRICA.COM>
Subject: [toeslist] Exporting American Disasters
----- Original Message -----
Maj Fiil-Flynn <mFiil@citizen.org>
(from Cape Times last week):
Bush is visiting Africa at a time when U.S. foreign policy is shoving egocentric policies down other countries’ throats, while kicking aside international diplomacy and negotiations. American imperialism is on a roll, with Bush at the helm, bragging that the U.S. now has the strongest standing army in the world. But, the U.S. has quickly developed into a foreign-relations monster that does not compromise nor act favorably to nations that stand in its way.
In order to sound like a friendly nation, U.S. foreign policy is sugarcoated in a sprinkle of promises and well intentions what Bush calls his deep-felt compassionate agenda. In reality, U.S. foreign policy is set up to benefit U.S.-led corporations and rich cronies that will fund Bush’s political agenda. So, Bush goes to Africa in an attempt to seem interested in African policies, while his hidden campaign is to promote privatization and deregulation. In this move, the Bush administration has abandoned multilateralism and is flying solo, forcing policies on independent nations. If you choose the non-compliant route you can quickly find your country in the black book in the war against terror.
With the compassionate agenda, Bush wants to show that he cares about the world after the Supreme Court instated him as the new emperor in the 2000 elections. But strip his clothes for a closer look and you’ll discover his imperial policy in Africa. The funding proposed for Africa’s utility needs are either ENRON-inspired accounting tricks (such as calling old funds new) or funds attached to increased corporate control. In essence, hard-earned U.S. tax dollars to support corporate control in Africa. Such subsidies are deemed illegal for African countries when they seek to support local industry but if you have military might you can make it work and seem like a good thing to everybody.
Bush wants Africa to mirror his beloved America, but for working people the new America is a mirror misery and prosperity for few. The most blatant policies include deregulation and privatization of public-held trusts. The Bush administration has not learned from the disasters created by World Bank-led structural adjustment that devastated the public sector and in essence left millions of people without access to the most essential services such as health care, education and water. It has not learned from the tragedies of defunding the public services in the U.S. and the negative impact of increased poverty. Instead, the Bush administration is set to continue the attack on services that took decades to build.
In Detroit, Michigan, the municipal water system, stressed by reduced public funding, cut off 15% of its consumers from water and a private company cut off a similar number from electricity. In Atlanta, the private water company United Water —owned by French multinational Suez which is on the prowl in Africa, e.g. in Johannesburg—consistently provided sloppy services and rising tariffs. Service provision in the U.S. is an image of South African apartheid; if you are poor and of color in the U.S. you will most likely receive inferior services and you will have to carry the burden of any improvements in your community with no support from wealthier areas. This situation makes it impossible to uplift and create an equal society where our resources are managed in the public trust to the benefit of all. To talk about access and affordability in this context is a blatant lie. It is called survival of the fittest, but the exclusive club of the fit comes at a high cost.
The Reagan administration started the downward trend when it cut federal funding for essential water infrastructure in the 1980s. Its therefore easy to find faults with public-provided services. American people now bear the cost and as a result municipal governments at times come to view privatization as the only way to expand and maintain the rising costs of providing clean and affordable water. Privatization in the U.S. has consistently shown to raise costs for the consumers and are most often combined with sloppy environmental concerns. These issues are exacerbated in U.S. society where inequality is rising and the working poor are at best offered jobs where they are forced to live on streets or in abandoned cars because they cannot make ends meet. Does this sound like something that is experienced in Africa? The Bush compassionate agenda in Africa is as undrinkable as acid.