Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Eat More Bananas

Clearly one of the odd joys I have in life is to sit down with 3 or 4 newspapers when I travel to review the day's news and how the various media outlets report the stories. While working out at my Brussels gym today I read two different newspaper articles which both focused on bananas.

If you are short on time let me sum it up for you -- "private enterprise promotes peace and government programs can actually harm our quality of life"

For those of you reading on here is the background of the two stories:

  • "Banana Reform" -- from the September 7 to 13, 2006 edition of European Voice which focused on the European Union's current program that pays overseas farmers with ties to Europe (that means former/current colonies/protectorates) to cultivate bananas. The new proposal is to spend 241 million per year on these same farmers but would allow the money to be spent to "fund a move away from banana cultivation."
  • "In Philippines, peace bears fruit" -- from the September 12, 2006 International Herald Tribune (IHT) which focused on a banana plantation recently formed in the Philippines that is focused on hiring Islamic and Communist guerrillas in an effort to get them employed and to stop fighting the government.

An amazing coincidence these two stories! The European Union (EU) has spent years and millions of euros (tax money) subsidizing Latin American and African banana farmers for importing into the EU but for what higher purpose, a new form of welfare??? On the other hand this new plantation in the Philippines (owned by La Frutera which is a company controlled by United States-based foreign investors -- what is called "foreign direct investment" or FDI) has actually REDUCED VIOLENCE AND PRODUCED JOBS!!

Much to my personal joy the IHT article stated, "past experience suggests foreign aid programs and government infrastructure projects have been ineffective at creating sustainable development." People needs jobs not government programs so let the rest of the world's developing economies look to the Philippines for inspiration by supporting free trade and FDI as a better option for improving their citizens' lives. The most interesting part of the story for me was the fact that at first the guerrillas insisted on bringing their firearms to work but then compromised by having their spouses and children hold the guns while they worked. This then evolved into the women and children getting bored so they went home to work and go to school - what a positive development simply caused by creating some private sector jobs.

Trade not aid,


No comments: