[OPE-L] WTO rep. proposes "compassionate slavery" for Africa

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Tue Nov 14 2006 - 07:39:12 EST


WTO Announces Formalized Slavery Market for Africa:
US Trade Representative to Africa, Governor of Nigeria Central Bank Weigh
in at Wharton
Hanniford Schmidt

  Philadelphia - At a Wharton Business School conference on business in
Africa, World Trade Organization representative Hanniford Schmidt
announced the creation of a WTO initiative for "full private stewardry
of labor" for the parts of Africa that have been hardest hit by the 500
years of Africa's free trade with the West. The initiative will require
Western companies doing business in some parts of Africa to own their
workers outright.

Schmidt recounted how private stewardship has been successfully applied to
transport, power, water, traditional knowledge, and even the human genome.
The WTO's "full private stewardry" program will extend these successes to
(re)privatize humans themselves.

"Full, untrammelled stewardry is the best available solution to African
poverty, and the inevitable result of free-market theory," Schmidt told
more than 150 attendees. Schmidt acknowledged that the stewardry program
was similar in many ways to slavery, but explained that just as
"compassionate conservatism" has polished the rough edges on labor
relations in industrialized countries, full stewardry, or "compassionate
slavery," could be a similar boon to developing ones.

The audience included Prof. Charles Soludo (Governor of the Central Bank
of Nigeria), Dr. Laurie Ann Agama (Director for African Affairs at the
Office of the US Trade Representative), and other notables. Agama prefaced
her remarks by thanking Scmidt for his macroscopic perspective, saying
that the USTR view adds details to the WTO's general approach. Nigerian
Central Bank Governor Soludo also acknowledged the WTO proposal, though he
did not seem to appreciate it as much as did Agama.

A system in which corporations own workers is the only free-market
solution to African poverty, Schmidt said. "Today, in African factories,
the only concern a company has for the worker is for his or her productive
hours, and within his or her productive years," he said. "As soon as AIDS
or pregnancy hits - out the door. Get sick, get fired. If you extend the
employer's obligation to a 24/7, lifelong concern, you have an entirely
different situation: get sick, get care. With each life valuable from
start to finish, the AIDS scourge will be quickly contained via accords
with drug manufacturers as a profitable investment in human stewardees.
And educating a child for later might make more sense than working it to
the bone right now."

To prove that human stewardry can work, Schmidt cited a proposal by a
free-market think tank to save whales by selling them. "Those who don't
like whaling can purchase rights to specific whales or groups of whales in
order to stop those particular whales from getting whaled as much," he
explained. Similarly, the market in Third-World humans will "empower"
caring First Worlders to help them, Schmidt said.

One conference attendee asked what incentive employers had to remain as
stewards once their employees are too old to work or reproduce. Schmidt
responded that a large new biotech market would answer that worry. He then
reminded the audience that this was the only possible solution under
free-market theory.

There were no other questions from the audience that took issue with
Schmidt's proposal.

During his talk, Schmidt outlined the three phases of Africa's 500- year
history of free trade with the West: slavery, colonialism, and
post-colonial markets. Each time, he noted, the trade has brought
tremendous wealth to the West but catastrophe to Africa, with poverty
steadily deepening and ever more millions of dead. "So far there's a
pattern: Good for business, bad for people. Good for business, bad for
people. Good for business, bad for people. That's why we're so happy to
announce this fourth phase for business between Africa and the West: good
for business - GOOD for people."

The conference took place on Saturday, November 11. The panel on which
Schmidt spoke was entitled "Trade in Africa: Enhancing Relationships to
Improve Net Worth." Some of the other panels in the conference were
entitled "Re-Branding Africa" and "Growing Africa's Appetite." Throughout
the comments by Schmidt and his three co-panelists, which lasted 75
minutes, Schmidt's stewardee, Thomas Bongani-Nkemdilim, remained standing
at respectful attention off to the side.

"This is what free trade's all about," said Schmidt. "It's about the
freedom to buy and sell anything - even people."



  1.. "Hanniford Schmidt" - mailto:schmidt@gatt.org
  2.. "Text, Photos, Video" - http://www.gatt.org/wharton.html
  3.. "Conference Website" -
  4.. "Conference Contacts" - http://www.whartonglobal.com/africa/contact.asp

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