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

From: Ian Hunt (ian.hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU)
Date: Tue Nov 14 2006 - 16:58:01 EST

Dear Jerry,
 From your report, Schmidt seems to have taken up the idea and manner
of presentation of a paper written by me and my colleague Rodney
Allen, published in the Australian Bulletin of Labour, which is

>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."
>       Links
>   1.. "Hanniford Schmidt" -
>   2.. "Text, Photos, Video" -
>   3.. "Conference Website" -
>   4.. "Conference Contacts" -

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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