Wednesday, September 01, 2004

That which glitters...

So apparently many third world countries owe us a ton of money. Billions of dollars, in return for the loans we made to said countries over the past few decades. The debt is killing their economies, whilst we have almost no hope of getting the money back in a reasonable manner.

Of course, it helps greatly to have a non-American perspective on this. Why do these countries have none of these funds to pay us back and refuse to acknowledge that the loans are really legitimate? Well most of the defaulted loans were made by the IMF or WorldBank from the 60's to the 80's. What defined these institutions? American political and financial dominance. And American foreign policy was not known for its virtue at that time. Most loans were made mostly on the basis of anti-Soviet support, and given just as quickly to dictators who would swear their military support, as to programs of economic sanity or democratic support. Surprisingly, these loans were often not productively used and saved, nor did they even stay in the country very long.

As much as it's tempting for some theorists to believe it's desirable for there to be a multi-polar or bi-polar world power system to balance the US, there's really no evidence that removing a monopoly on political power gives us the freedom we want. Instead it just makes the powerful more paranoid and likely to do stupid things (like bad loan policies).

Which makes me lean towards debt forgivance (and more importantly) a new round of economic loans for third world countries. The system is definitely changed, and the technocrats are freer to make a better decisions and loans.

Except there's no reason that twenty years from we won't hear similar arguments. That the loans were made on the basis of now-discredited neo-liberal policies, to governments that never met the requirements of democratic legitimacy, and were infested with corruption that bleeds away half the money right off that top. So do we expect debt forgivance to happen thirty years from now? If so, do we want to make said loans still?


Elsewhere, someone really needs to make an Alan Keyes blog. Not a blog for the campaign, but of just all the amusing stuff he does everyday. Let me know if there is one.


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