4663Re: [ujeni] Call Bush Today to Cancel African Debt
- Jun 10, 2005Hi Dan...
It's so good to "hear" your voice. I don't know what to think either. It's
not an easy, clear-cut issue, is it?
I'm also glad to hear that Lilongwe is experiencing some good development.
We were saddened, as we wrote, about what we saw in Blantyre, and Limbe was
a disaster. Downtown Blantyre had some completed bigger buildings that were
under construction by the time we left in '96. But, the main PTC was closed
and empty. The 2 Whitetex fabric stores were closed and empty. The one
fast food chicken place that opened when we were there was closed and empty.
However, we did find a tiny little pizza place. (The Hosteria was closed
but said it was moving). As we said there were no more buses...only
minivans in a real state of disrepair. There is a new shopping center with
a bright shiny supermarket with high, high prices...a package of biscuits
there was almost 3 times the price as the same biscuits at another store.
The clientele was probably 90% azungu. Across the street was a glitzy
office complex...owned by Muluzi. The Central Bookstore is now at the
shopping center...it's tiny, tiny, tiny...probably 1/10th the size of the
store downtown. The same guy in the wheelchair owns and operates it. He
said that it's now the only bookstore in Malawi???? Can't beleve there is
none in Lilongwe. Malawian friends in Blantyre were feeling discouraged.
Maybe Blantyre has outlived its day as the trade/economic center of the
country and that Lilongwe will take on the role. It may be a natural
phenomenon that historically has happened to cities around the world. Our
view of the country on our trip back was narrow.
Did you receive a copy of a CARE document about worldwide education of
girls? Malawi ranked in overall rates of dropout by 5th grade 69th out of
71 countries and was used as an example of one of the failing
countries...with a 40% increase of dropouts in the last 10 years. The
statistics may be based on the fact that 11 years ago every kid rushed to
school because of the excitement of free education and this is a natural
dropoff. However, the goals for new teachers and new classrooms couldn't be
met. Do you think education could get a boost from debt relief? On a
Library of Congress wall "The foundation of every state is the education of
I hate to feel discouraged about a country I love so much. I must say that
politically it may be on the upswing, I feel very hopeful about that.
It seems to me that some years ago select countries received debt
forgiveness. Am I imagining this? If it happened, does anyone know the
results in those countries? Might give some insight.
Retirement gives one too much time to pontificate. Gotta go clean the
----- Original Message -----
From: "Daniel Dudley" <papadud@...>
Sent: Thursday, June 09, 2005 8:08 PM
Subject: Re: [ujeni] Call Bush Today to Cancel African Debt
>I don't know what to think of this conversation. I am glad that many are
> contributing to it though. Being someone who is has a bit of debt, I have
> pretty good idea of how good I would feel if someone said that all of my
> debts would be forgiven, but will it be any better for me? As much as I
> would like to think it, I have a funny feeling that I would be back in
> (maybe not as bad) in short order. It will probably be the same in these
> developing countries, who knows for sure? Have we ever done it before?
> What strings will the developed countries tie on to make it just as
> difficult for these developing countries to succeed in other ways? I am
> sure that we can think of something.
> I have read several books recently and can't help but think how they apply
> to this situation. The Fifth Discipline speaks about systems thinking.
> we forgive the debt, what are all of the consequences of such an action?
> The book Collapse discusses many things, but one that sticks out in my
> is the impossibility for the planet to support a first-world lifestyle for
> everyone. Then again when did life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
> require two cars, 3 TV's, 2 computers, disposable EVERYTHING, etc. We saw
> freezie wrappers everywhere, imagine if disposable diapers were as easy to
> I also think that many of us picture Malawi exactly as we left it several
> years ago. Behind? yes, but at a complete stand-still because of debt? No.
> My wife is visiting family for the summer and I get to call her every
> of days. Last time she went home, I had to call her mother at the
> hospital and have a messenger go to the house to tell her that I called
> would call back. A couple of years ago, the telecom installed new phone
> lines, and many people now have phones. Gertrude's sister even has a cell
> phone. Gertrude tells me about how much Lilongwe has changed/modernized.
> Is it still very poor? Definately, but little by little things are
> for better or worse. Would debt forgiveness help accelerate development?
> Probably, but would the planet, the countries, cultures, and people be
> to handle it? Who knows for sure?
> As I re-read this my posting is a bit confusing, but is this issue any
>>From: "vyrle" <vyrle@...>
>>Subject: Re: [ujeni] Call Bush Today to Cancel African Debt
>>Date: Thu, 9 Jun 2005 15:25:29 -0700
>>9 June 2005
>>I think I will jump in on this one for a moment.
>>The debt forgiveness idea stems from the "Jubilee" year celebrated in
>>hebrew law as recorded in Leviticus. The description can be located in
>>most Bibles used by christian churches in the 25th chapter of Leviticus.
>>Below is referenced an interesting study of the concept.
>>The law of Jubilee is given in the book of Leviticus. "And you shall
>>seven sabbaths of years, seven times seven years; and the space of the
>>seven sabbaths of years shall be unto you forty and nine years. THEN you
>>shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the
>>seventh month, in the Day of Atonement shall you make the trumpet sound
>>throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and
>>PROCLAIM LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,
>>it shall be a Jubilee unto you; AND YOU SHALL RETURN EVERY MAN UNTO HIS
>>POSSESSION, and you shall return every man unto his family" (Lev.
>>Google search result
>>Study of Old Testament Jubilee and its application for all creation ...
>>law of Jubilee is given in the book of Leviticus. " ... THEN you shall
>>cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh
>>Notwithstanding our "cynicism" over the short term effectiveness of debt
>>forgiveness or the practicality of this action in the complexity of
>>planetary economics or whether the "apathetic masses" will respond in
>>positive ways, there are significant benefits beyond the simple costs and
>>cancellation of debts.
>>Whether you think of poor debtor nations and their people as victims or
>>beneficiaries and the usurious nations as perpetrators or benefactors, the
>>fundamental laws of the universe tend to reward the giver more than the
>>If you have had an opportunity to study the usefulness and effectiveness
>>forgiveness in conflict resolution, trauma, or simple human relationships
>>you will probably understand that the act of forgiveness directly benefits
>>the "forgiver" far more profoundly than the "forgiven" although both
>>parties benefit. I personally feel that the creditor nations and peoples
>>of the planet will benefit from debt cancellation in many ways far beyond
>>our current understanding.
>>If our president is the man of God he proclaims to be, his support for
>>should be a simple act of faith readily forthcoming.
>>Personally, as a matter of principle I think our country should seriously
>>consider debt cancellation as an effective contribution to development in
>>Africa and our leaders who have taken such a principled religious position
>>on so many issues during the current administration should be consistent
>>and follow through with some real affirmative action rather than simple
>>A study of the sacred documents of the religions of the earth regarding
>>usury might also be revealing and probably condemnatory of both
>>and neo colonialism (and some other commonly accepted business practices).
>>---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
>>From: kristen cheney <kcheney12@...>
>>Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2005 22:12:54 -0700
>> >Cynical, indeed -- conveniently, American-ly cynical. I'm frankly
>> >stunned that people who have lived in Africa for a while think it's
>> >better to leave countries in crippling indebtedness until their
>> >leaders learn to 'behave.' After all, America has such stellar
>> >examples of leadership for them to emulate... and it's not as if debt
>> >forgiveness won't come with as many western, 'democratic' hoops to
>> >jump through as the loans do. Still, any African I've talked to would
>> >rather have their national debt forgiven in efforts to end the
>> >relationship of dependency and take their chances with their own
>> >leaders than to remain yoked to IMF/World Bank policy.
>> >Paul, at the risk of you taking this as an invitation to enlighten me,
>> >I really don't see how forgiving countries' debt is 'taking away your
>> >money.' And I'm one of those who don't agree that colonialism has
>> >effectually ended; it's just taken on new form (i.e. "aid"). It's too
>> >easy as Americans to eschew that information in favor of blaming poor
>> >governance in Africa, but I think the issue is much more complex than
>> >anyone's mentioned. As it will likely fall on deaf ears, though, I'll
>> >spare you my 'lecture' on global structural violence. If you're an
>> >optimist like me who thinks debt forgiveness might help the world's
>> >poorest people, I just wanted to pass on an opportunity to take
>> >action. If you're in the cynical camp, feel free revel in your sense
>> >of entitlement and your own "garish mansion furnishings and tacky
>> >cars." Sheesh! Forget I asked.
>> >Peace out,
>> >On 6/8/05, Jesse Johnson <johnson@...> wrote:
>> >> originally, i held my tongue on this. but after reading paul's cynical
>> >> cost/benefit analysis, followed by kristen's stern lecture on
>> >> colonialism (and neocolonialism) i thought i'd offer up my own
>> >> opinion.
>> >> i guess i don't get it. what exactly do you expect debt cancellation
>> >> to
>> >> accomplish?
>> >> consulting the source of this not so persuasive chain mail;
>> >> http://www.jubilee2000uk.org/
>> >> i see that this will allegedly free up poor countries to divert a
>> >> greater fraction of their meager revenues to helping their neediest
>> >> citizens rather than continue to make staggering payments servicing
>> >> the
>> >> debt.
>> >> now, how many of us that spent a couple of years in africa expect
>> >> leaders of these nations to behave so nobly?
>> >> better to bleed them out on debts. otherwise i'd expect the short term
>> >> boom in the garish furnishings for mansions and tacky executive
>> >> automobile markets to destabilize the world economy. we need garish
>> >> mansion furnishings and tacky cars for credit card holders right here
>> >> *this* country.
>> >> and bling is definitely the happy go lucky point of view on leadership
>> >> with a new credit card. one does not have to be very imaginative at
>> >> all
>> >> to think of the things robert mugabe or omar ahmad al-bashir could do
>> >> with a new spending limit.
>> >> then again, maybe i'm just cynical. or maybe you've discovered a way
>> >> to
>> >> snatch away sovereignty from poor nations, make their leaders do what
>> >> in the best interest of their own people, rather than in the best
>> >> interest of a tiny handful of elites? if so, let me in on to your
>> >> secret. we need it here too.
>> >> at any rate, it now sounds like the cheney/blair/bono triumvirate will
>> >> be getting what their after. perhaps it is better to have at least
>> >> tried.
>> >> better buy that mercedes with mink accents and bullet proof glass
>> >> before the price sky rockets!
>> >> jesse
>> >"So we starve all the teachers
>> >and recruit more marines.
>> >How come we don't even know what that means?
>> >It's obvious!" --Joe Jackson, The Obvious Song
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