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Thursday, May 13, 2010

EPZs and Modern Slavery: Who Shall Tell Wanjiku the Ugly Truth - Part I

By Mwarang'ethe

On 15 January, 1759, Voltaire started distributing his book, Candide or Optimism. It was a chronicle of journey of young Candide who had left home involuntarily (like the African Diaspora) to experience the world he had been taught by the wise professor Pangloss, he the teacher of 'meta-physico-theologico-cosmo-codology, believed to be "best of all possible worlds." Instead of finding wondrous world that professor Pangloss had taught him, he encountered a murderous world of poverty, marauding armies, religious wars in a world where his fiancé, the lovely Cunegonde was cut open by soldiers after they had raped her before selling her into slavery. All while, Pangloss continued to preach that, this was the 'best of all possible worlds.' This led Candide to inquire, 'if this is the best of all possible worlds, then what the others must be like?' Through this book, he sought to emancipate Europe from the mental slavery imposed by wise professor Pangloss.

Likewise, today, the managers of the "global political economy" are in the grip of a similar and very disastrous optimism of the "globalisation" of the economy. This calls for an urgent need to emancipate the masses from today's Panglossian economic theory which is based on arbitrary assumptions and metaphors from physics and astronomy. No doubt, we have all heard the benefits of the so called globalization. In this article, we shall lay bare the real meaning of so called globalization in a way that many will be shocked. The reader will be left with no doubt that, slavery that we are taught was abolished is thriving in the 21st Century and more so, in our own nation.

Let us begin with what is familiar. The first is the NTV's video on Kenya, entitled "Taxation Burden". In this video, a number of things are to be noted. There is Mr Atwoli crying for more pay, the Kenyan women who we are told will be emancipated by the Affirmative Action provided in the new constitution toiling at our Export Promotion Zones (EPZ’s) where they make clothes for the children of a higher god on slavery wages and then wait for these the same clothes to come back as mitumba. They do this hoping for better pay one day as Kara Wainana ignorantly tells a vanquished nation whose elite and the masses are unable to pierce through this Matrix. We also have the FKE (includes owners of textile factories at the EPZ) saying these wages are sufficient given the "low inflation" brought by the “wise governance” of Kibaki and Raila these days.

Then we have the government of Kibaki, Raila, Kalonzo, Uhuru, Musalia the present and the future "leaders" who are all committed to this ECONOMIC GENOCIDE. In this kind of economy, with a stone face, they tell us that, since a master of universe in the Wall Street who is doing God's work spends 35% of his unearned huge income on food; Wanjiku in Kibera does the same. In truth, Wanjiku spends over 60% of her meagre income on food. Where do we get these statistics from? Well, it is here: "About 40 to 70 per cent of household expenditure in the Comesa region accounts for purchases of domestic food," said Dr. Kalibata. Who is Dr. Kalibata? She is the Rwandese Agriculture Minister. Where was she saying this? At an expert’s two-day workshop on food prices in the Comesa bloc, in Kigali, Rwanda. When was this? In early May, 2010. See the full story here: "Kenya cited as case study at food price talks".

So by Kibaki, Raila, Kalonzo, Uhuru, Musalia making inflation seem low when it is not in reality, the Wanjiku's wages can be suppressed further down "scientifically." With suppression of Wanjiku's income a mission accomplished, it is time to invite the foreign infestors into this paradise where Hakuna Matata, with their free dollars from the FED into our EPZ's. If you ask these "leaders" why we must sell our souls to get these dollars, they will tell you with a stone face that, "we need the mighty dollars so to pay for foreign mortgage loans denominated in dollars which are incurring to buy stones and sand produced in Mbeere to build houses in Korogocho and the dollars we must borrow from the WB so as to create temporary jobs for our young people." (Forget Class Wars, Its Economic Coup d'e'tat , also see "World Bank’s Sh12bn boost for jobs").

If you doubt these "leaders" commitments to this ECONOMIC GENOCIDE you need to read this: "Kenya to roll out special trade zones in six months". The word special here means two things. No tax for foreign infestors and even lower wages for Wanjiku. In other words, more exploitative trade zones in a casino state. Nothing surprising here though. During the Vietnam war, spokespersons for the National Liberation Front coined the phrase "country-selling governments", to describe the series of governments headed by former French mercenary officers like Marshal Ky and General Thieu, put in place by the United States, who were willing to participate in the destruction of their country on behalf of the United States in order to "save it" from communist control. We also heard Clinton call Suharto who was a ruthless dictator, a grand larcenist and a mass killer with as many victims as Cambodia's Pol Pot, "our kind of guy." Even Pol Pot was their kind of a guy who only continued from where Kissinger had left.

Before we embark on full analysis, please watch these videos interviews by an Haitian trade unionist entitled: "US military enforces attacks on Haitian unions", also here and here . Once you watch the Haitian video, please watch this about USA and especially the first part.

So, what do we make of all disjointed information? The best way to understand what is going on is to draw a triangle like that of the Atlantic Slave Trade only this time, they see no need for putting us into slave ships. In one corner of the triangle, put the USA. The other corner put Switzerland. On the third corner, put Haiti, that African nation which the ministers of propaganda of this Babylonian system label the "poorest nation on the Western hemisphere." Translated, Africans are poor wherever they find themselves. We shall not dwell on the tragic and heart wrenching history of this nation. We only note in passing that, Haiti never had a chance. It has been treated as a standing threat since its revolution in 1804. How could these Africans challenge the powers that be? First, they had to compensate France for loss of their "property," i.e. slaves. In other words, France owes Haiti around $ 20 billion today.

Having been milked dry to "compensate" the vampire, so as to be “recognised” by France with USA flatly refusing to recognise the first nation to end slavery, it had to be crushed and therefore, real democracy was never to be permitted to it. For instance, since the 1980s, its leading democratic leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was twice removed from his democratic office by the United States. When he came back to power in 1994, it was under the most benighted conditions, these set by the Clinton White House and Wall Street. They wanted Haiti to become a maquiladora, not a country. Today, the Haiti’s debt has spiralled out of control. One Trinidadian intellectual summarised this tragedy in simple words: "The transformation of slaves, trembling in hundreds before a single white man, into a people able to organize themselves and defeat the most powerful European nations of their day is one of the great epics of revolutionary struggle and achievement," Thus, the transformation of that achievement into a nation riven by political violence, ravaged by Aids and devastated by poverty is a tragedy of epic proportions. You may remove word Haiti and put Kenya or any other African nation and the story would be the same.

Before we go further, let us mention something economists call division of labour. When Adam Smith talked about division of labour, he not only talked about it in terms of job specialization, but, also crucially, in terms of productive labour and unproductive labour. However, today, as part of obfuscation of the reality, economists are not taught to see some jobs as productive while others as unproductive. Consequently, as long as labour is employed and there is a buyer for its products or services, such a labour, to a modern brainwashed idiot calling himself an economist one is employed productively. However, in this small intellectual deceit, lies the tragedy of the 21st Century.

Let us now proceed to show the division of labour in our wonderful globalised world of professor Pangloss who tells us that, the world is flat. To do so, we take the case of American baseball which are made in Haiti. In the "study" of economics and MBA's to manage EPZ's, we are taught (read brainwashed) that nations should rely on the comparative advantage in the "free trade" we have in international trade today. Let us follow this theory and see where we end up. The most efficient producers of American baseballs are the Haitians, Honduras and Costa Rica people. The baseballs are still hand sewn as they were when they were invented since engineers have been unable to mechanise the work. The Haitians who work on these balls earn around 30 cents an hour and in mid - 1990's was around 14 cents an hour. Every baseball is stitched by hand 108 stitches. Each worker is able to make 4 baseballs per hour and they do it with the precision requirements of a machine - made product. When President Jean Aristide tried to raise these wages to $ 50 cents per hour, he was removed from power. Then, much of this production was moved to Honduras and Costa Rica where the pay is about $ 1 per hour. Here is something to note.

For Haiti to attract these jobs back, i.e. be competitive, it must lower its wages and expand the freedom to poison its Lake Naivasha so as to grow flowers for Western "lovers". For how to do this, Kibaki, Raila, Uhuru, Kalonzo's government can offer consultancy services on setting special EPZ's and the AGOA which Mrs Clinton came to celebrate with us the other day in Nairobi. However, note the definition of OECD's competitiveness is this. To the OECD, a nation's competitiveness is TO RAISE REAL WAGES while still remaining competitive on the world market. So, on the Haitian corner, put $ 30 cents per hour. When these balls reach the USA, they retail at around $ 15 each. So, on the USA corner, put $ 15.

However, there is more. As opposed to baseballs, golf balls are high - tech products and which America dominates. Please note this. In the golf balls production, research and development plays a major role in production and in spite of high labour costs of about $ 14 - 16 an hour, these costs only represent 15% of the production costs. Given such low labour costs and thereby, low impact on total production costs, and the need for qualified labour, engineers and specialised suppliers, it becomes difficult to move production to low wages nations like Haiti. The differing wage levels in these two industrial sectors, i.e. baseball and golf ball manufacturers are a result of uneven technological development.

This brings us to the comparative advantage theory. The poverty in Haiti and the wealth in the USA are, for both countries, simultaneously a cause of and a result of the choice of what they produce. In other words, Haiti has specialised in useless productive sector and thereby, "made the choice" of being poor and ignorant. Mr market in a ruthless way, has chosen to reward the most efficient producer of golf balls with an income of $ 16 while rewarding the most efficient producer of baseballs with mere $ 30 cents an hour. This means that, an Haitian must work more than 25 hours to buy what an American makes in 1 hr while an American need only work 1 hr. to buy what an Haitian must toil for over 25 hrs. What do you call this? Wealth appropriation by means of unequal trade. Does the USA viceroy in Kenya tell you this? No, no. He talks about African corruption and why we must end it to develop. Since they control what we think, we say, yes. In other words, they say jump, and we jump and then while in the sky we ask, how high Sir? They even bring the Transparency International to brainwash us. They LIE my brothers and sisters to hide the truth.

So, what about that corner for Switzerland? This is where it gets really interesting. What happens is this. The owner of the baseball manufacturing company sets an offshore company here. This offshore company owns all intellectual property for his business. This is crucial because, IPRs is the major component in capitalistic system. With his IPRs here, this offshore corporation contracts with a manufacturer in Haiti to do the bare minimum in Haiti whereby, the Haitian guys takes no risks, owns no IP etc. Now, under contract law (they never teach these stuff in law schools), payment is determined by how much risk, task one undertakes or how much IPRs one owns. Since the Haitian manufacturer does the bare minimum, he gets paid very little. This explains why the EPZ guys cannot afford to pay the Kenyan women even if Atwoli cries blood.

Also, the Haitian state can collect very little tax in such an arrangement. Having been unable to collect enough tax on work that is done on its soil through low pay and tax breaks for foreign infestors, the Haiti/Kenya government must turn to the gods of money at the IMF and WB. And, for these gods at the IMF and WB to hear our prayers for mighty dollar, they demand as a sacrifice, more special trade zones like the ones Kibaki and Raila are introducing. In other words, we lower wages, remove taxes on the foreign infestors while increasing tax on our nurses and doctors who must then move to the USA etc (did some foolish guy ask why Africans in the Diaspora attack their hosts? We hope he is now better informed). In other words, money from "rich world" and the poor from the South pass each other in the night. When money arrives, it is greeted on our shores with kisses, flowers and fanfare as the messiahs of progress. However, in contrast, many Africans sink with their boats as they try to enter Italy. What a contrast?


Anonymous said...


thank you for your regular and insightful articles! I don't mean to be rude but just as a point of interest, what exactly are your educational qualifications and background? Just so we know that these are not the ramblings of a lunatic but one who knows exactly what they are talking about (which I'm sure you do)

Anonymous said...

Ramblings of a lunatic? It doesn't matter provided the lunatic makes sense. Or maybe you are the lunatic yourself. Consume the message and ignore the messenger.

The said...

It's very disappointing to see how many comments (and the nature of those comments) a post like this gets. Why is everyone so fixated on political machinations in our country? Mwarang'ethe always provides invaluable insights into our problems (read Africans) but we'd rather talk politics and attack each other over tribe. What a shame!

Mwarang'ethe, naysayers and the brainwashed are a plenty in Kenya. The state of our country/continent is a testament to that fact. Keep doing your thing.

Anonymous said...

Mwarangethe I am not interestd on ur bkground-fact is ur insights r very gud & wish u cud hlp mre africans including our lders 2 see thru the same prism

Anonymous said...

What we read in this post points to a purposeful intention to make sure that wealth remains in the hands of the few at the expense of the majority.
You might have new and innovative ideas but so long as you are poor, these innovations will be stolen from you by the well connected rich financers or at worst never see day. Consequently our innovation urge is eroded day by day and we resign to consuming what the west innovates at a dear price of course. Just an example why is conection to the internet to our homes still a pipedream in kenya despite the arrival of the said "messiah" fibre optique.
Our greatest enemy of course is still our leaders who believe one can get rich overnight by making few calls to the "right people" and pocket the spoils by facilitating deals with the devil. These "thugs" are our leaders and we are ready to fight for them even right here in KK whenever any truth is mentioned against them. What a pity!. Mwarangethe YOU ARE NOT ALONE we follow your posts.

Anonymous said...

This is so true i always wonder why our govt does not see things this way or they just want a short cut to things are just to desperate?

Anonymous said...

Poor Gordon Brown failed to do the necessary:
1) use police/APs as poll agents
2) shut BBC/Sky when Cameron was winning
3) top up votes from his Scotland backyard

He should have sent for the Kenyan manual. But we have no tears for his since he refused our GENOCIDE petition. No wonder Kibaki has visited China 3 times and not UK, it is no heaven.

Good ridddance GB and his local bootlickers.

Anonymous said...

Credentials! What do some people mean by credentials? Do the credentials of the likes of Jeffery Sachs suffice? Does having a Harvard or MIT Economics degree mean that you are the best intellectual or does that mean you are qualified to support and perpetuate an truly evil system that has and is still leading us to the annals of abject poverty, ignorance and misplaced subservience except for the clique of families who play musical chairs when governing the country.

Mwarang'ethe, another great article. You quite clearly point out what ails Sub Saharan Africans (besides Aids, rapid population growth, corruption (I am being sarcastic)) and you are doing a great job, for my part I share these articles amongst other articles and try and enlighten others. Boy oh boy, do we not have a long way to go before the blinkers in our eyes fall off, for we are so fixated on the wrong issues. That said, it may take re-educating one person at a time, THAT is the real struggle.
Aside Haiti, Jamaica is another excellent example that can be used, in that parallels can be drawn between these Caribbean countries and Africa, a good point of reference for those who do not know is the insightful 2001 documentary 'Life and Debt' by Stephanie Black.

Ken Thumbi

Anonymous said...

Looks like new katiba is DOA. Wanainchi can never beat wenyeinchi.

Anonymous said...

a true eye opener. keep up with the good work.

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