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#2651: Goff replies to Richard

From: Stan Goff <stangoff@all4democracy.org>

> From: patrick richard <rich0303@hotmail.com>
> Dear Goff,
> I can reasonably say that in order for our search for hard answers to huge
> and mounting problems that Haiti faces to be insightful or meaningful, one
> needs to be more innovative( even controversial but supported by an
> intellectual foundation) than polemical.

It's interesting to me how counter-arguments are so often referred to as
polemical, and now we can see how arguments one agrees with--even in the
total absence of empirical data to back them up--have a firmer "intellectual

Therefore, I'll just stick to the
> core issue. I should say that you're partially right with respect to some
> the "exogenous" factors you mentioned in your response. But remember, our
> development depends primarily on the national, structural and fundamental
> changes.

Support this with some data.  You say that "exogenous factors" are not
primary.  So tell us what are the net inflows of capital to Haiti and the
net outflows.  Then let's see what the ratio is, and where the outflows go.
Let's look at inflow and outflow of commodities, and assess the same thing.
Let's look at internal versus external debt.  Let's look at the percentage
of revenues collected in Haiti that go to service an external debt.  Let's
look at what that takes away from development inside Haiti, particularly the
development of basic infrastructure and human services.  Then let's look at
the supposedly internal, supposedly primary factors you refer to.  National.
When has Haiti ever exercised any autonomy?  It remains to this day a
country occupied by foreign militaries.  Structural.  Who's structure?
Right now it seems the only thing that will be tolerated is the structural
adjustment mandated by the IMF, etc.  But that relates directly to the
external debt--oops! an exogenous factor.  Fundamental?  This could mean
anything, but let's just try something basic.  How about land?  Do you think
the Macoutes--sorry, grandons--are ready and willing to give theirs up, so
80% of the population might have a crack at self-sufficiency?

> No, I am not suggesting that Haiti adopts free markets models of
> blindly.(Neo-colonialism? Neo-liberalism? Neo-classicism? It's so many
> No wonder people are confused).

You're making it confusing by deliberately conflating the "neo's".  Yet
there's no hesitation, however, to use common, everyday terms like

I know the assumptions behind these models
> do not work even in advanced countries. Anyone who's being to a developing
> country knows that markets do not clear. They're highly imperfect, and
> individuals are not rationals and fully informed...etc. Therefore, the
> policy implications will not work either. But does that warrant the fact
> us to swing to the other extreme of the spectrum?

What does this mean?  No one has said anything about a spectrum.  What has
been referred to repeatedly is self-determination.  That's not a position on
what happens after sovereignty is achieved.  It's a position on behalf of
sovereignty, economic and political.

> In fact, the most unambiguously beneficial effects of development
> experiments during the last fifty years are critical lessons of why some
> countries failed ( including centrally planned economies which are not a
> productive path for long-term development) and why others succeeded.

The evidence points in the other direction, but that's another discussion.
Centrally planned economies led to more development, faster than in any
other countries.  One has to take into account where they began.

> mainstream development thinking seems to be evolving in the direction of
> position, which has always been a "market friendly" approach.
>   By that, I mean a partnership between the government, the private sector
> and the civil society.

That's always been the model.  The myth inside this notion is that "civil
society" is somehow neither private nor governmental.  As if these "sectors"
can exist independently of one another.  All three "sectors" are still
dominated in Haiti by a small group of the economic elite who are totally
dependent on Big Brother in the North.  The whole "civil sector" is being
constructed out of the US Embassy, under the USAID, and by fronts like the
National Endowment for Democracy.

We need to identify the right mixture. There are
> things that the government should do and invest in, such as, compulsory
> education (primary and secondary) and healthcare, provide a safety net,
> build institutions and strong legal framework, decentralize with fiscal
> power to local communities, provide security, protect property rights....
> and so on. But government should not immerse itself in the production of
> goods and services.

While we may disagree on this point, my point remains--not to advocate for
some model--but to advocate for self-determination for Haiti.  That means
default on the external debt, foreign military out, no attempts by the US
Embassy to influence electoral outcomes in Haitian elections, and an end to
economic blackmail.  Take away these "exogenous" factors, and Haiti might
actually have a chance to implement Haitian solutions to Haitian problems.

Obviously the challenges of practicing good
> competent, efficient, accountable, non-corrupt) remain for haiti. Now, I am 
> certain you understand more than ever why we need democracy.

I've always been in favor of democracy.  I think we define it differently.