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1 Gretchen G.Tiger  Tue, May 31, 2011 8:38:14am

Just come out and say it. These plantations use slave labor. They may get paid, but they are still slaves.

2 watching you tiny alien kittens are  Tue, May 31, 2011 8:49:51am

I recommend reading "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck back in 1939. That is what it was like here then, very much so. If it hadn't been for the WWII industrial build up I doubt things would have changed much either.

3 laZardo  Tue, May 31, 2011 8:51:16am

Reading articles like this give me conflicting feelings, to be honest.

Here in the Philippines the Constitution explicitly bars the foreign ownership of land and further legislation derived from it bars a majority foreign ownership of investments and capital in business where it does not ban them outright.

Ostensibly - and many local left-wing groups tout this - this is to prevent such exploitation as is happening in Guatemala. However what it is doing here is concentrating the wealth in the hands of a more domestic elite rather than some foreign transnational conglomerate.

The Philippine Congress recently held our equivalent of "town hall" hearings for a constitutional reform package that would result in the removal of these restrictions. And that's where this article gives me mixed feelings.

It's damned if we do, damned if we don't. So what do we do?

4 Interesting Times  Tue, May 31, 2011 9:01:27am

re: #3 laZardo

Ostensibly - and many local left-wing groups tout this - this is to prevent such exploitation as is happening in Guatemala. However what it is doing here is concentrating the wealth in the hands of a more domestic elite rather than some foreign transnational conglomerate.

But the underlying problem is the same - too much wealth and resources in the hands of too few, such that (contrary to right-wing blather talking points) it is very much a zero-sum game. This bit from the original article sums it up well:

Over two-thirds of productive land is in the hands of 2% to 3% of the population. The current social democratic government drafted legislation to promote rural development, including some land reallocation, but it was blocked by the congress after fierce lobbying from agribusiness, which makes substantial donations to political parties and members of congress. Land reform is a subject freighted with a violent history in Guatemala.

Whether the agribusiness is foreign or domestic, if it's allowed to get too powerful, the rest of the population gets screwed.

For me, however, it's especially galling to think western corporations and the IMF (for all their feel-good blather) make matters worse. And if you dug far enough, perhaps you'd find the same transnational tentacles in your seemingly domestic affairs.

5 laZardo  Tue, May 31, 2011 9:14:45am

re: #4 publicityStunted

That's the thing. The Philippines is the world's largest importer of rice, not an exporter. And the current President (as well as his mother) has relations in one of the country's biggest sugar growing families.

Another part of the reason I've come to think the Philippine situation is mostly "domestic" is primarily because I've heard all sorts of theories - conspiratorial or otherwise - claiming that the World Bank/IMF/whoever backed either Marcos or his successor (the aforementioned mother) few taking the "supporting Marcos until he was inconvenient" line.

A LaRouchian theory goes that Marcos was actually an independent if not somewhat flawed nationalist trying to build a great society. But the Financiers didn't like it so they undermined him. On the other hand the Financiers backed Marcos for the usual Cold War dictatorial reasons and our current protectionism is a "never again" response.

This fear of transnationals in effect has become a great tool for maintaining protectionism despite considering how relatively stifled our productivity is that we have to rely on overseas labor compared to the blossoming economies of Malaysia and even Vietnam.

6 laZardo  Tue, May 31, 2011 9:36:38am

Mind, I'm not saying the Philippines should take the Randian route. But here in the Philippines, politics is local - and very, very familial.

Worried by a campaign against foreign ownership of Philippine utilities that was sparked by the Lopez-owned Chronicle, the U.S.-owned General Public Utilities Corp. decided to sell off its big, well-run Manila Electric Co. Head of the government-underwritten Philippine syndicate that bought Manila Electric: Eugenio Lopez.

Today the Lopez family mentioned in the article effectively control a broad swath of Philippine business including the country's largest media companies - and politics by proxy. It would probably be fair to say that like any corrupt businessman, they are ultimately working for themselves in the end. It would also explain why President Gloria Macapagal - yes, the daughter of the president in that article - was frequently lambasted for the country's human rights record under her administration. Yes, there were horrific massacres, and yes, she wasn't perfect. But in the grand scheme of our familial politics where every provincial ruling family chooses their allegiances, the Lopezes and their allies were able to exploit the "guilty by association" to help their candidate win last year.

I guess I do not see why the transnationals would seek to keep the Philippines protectionist when they are having a much more profitable time with other economies like Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam. My stance is that should the Philippines un-constitutionalize our restrictions that a framework must be implemented for us not to end up suckered to transnationals.

7 funky chicken  Tue, May 31, 2011 9:49:36am

re: #3 laZardo

allow people to use birth control so they aren't mass producing slave laborers for the wealthy to exploit?

8 laZardo  Tue, May 31, 2011 9:54:25am

re: #7 funky chicken

allow people to use birth control so they aren't mass producing slave laborers for the wealthy to exploit?

That's a domestic problem, blamed primarily on the archaic Catholic institution that predates the Spaniards' colonial era by only a few decades. Seems that lots of other Catholic countries at least allow contraception. And we're the only country that still considers divorce illegal...something that the local clergy is infuriatingly proud of.

9 dragonfire1981  Tue, May 31, 2011 12:53:51pm

Legalized murder pretty much.

It scares me to think about how many MILLIONS of people have suffered and died needlessly because of corporate greed.

10 Gretchen G.Tiger  Tue, May 31, 2011 5:43:32pm

re: #9 dragonfire1981

Legalized murder pretty much.

It scares me to think about how many MILLIONS of people have suffered and died needlessly because of corporate greed.

They didn't die because of corporate greed. They died because the individuals involved were to wimpy to do the right thing. Free will does come into play.

I'm all for the contraception idea. The only reason, IMHO, for not allowing contraception is to prevent individuals from being able to make choices about their future. Create a class of citizens bogged down with caring for and providing for their children and they will be too tired and too poor to THINK. Give them free food and cheap entertainment and they will leave you alone to do what you want.

The Roman Patricians learned that rather well.

11 Mad Prophet Ludwig  Wed, Jun 1, 2011 10:55:09am

Excellent post.

12 Interesting Times  Wed, Jun 1, 2011 10:59:34am

re: #11 LudwigVanQuixote

Thanks :) Check your email when you have a sec.


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