Seize Wall Street Bonuses and Send them to Haiti

by James Ridgeway
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation earlier today, 13 January 2010

I’ve spent a good deal of time in Haiti reporting first on the repression, then on Aristide, and later after Aristide on the early Preval period.Europe and the US have sat by as Haiti has grown poorer and poorer. For the young,survival is barely possible. When I was there you could find the children just outside Cite Soleil, the giant slum,living in the garbage dump, waiting for the US army trucks to dump the scraps left from the meals of American soldiers. There they stood, knee deep in garbage, fighting for bits of food. As for the old, they people every street, gathering at the Holiday Inn at Port au Prince in wheel chairs, stumbling at the doorway in search of a coin or two. There is no hope for them. No bank, no insurance company, no hedge fund, no mutual fund, nobody with any money ever makes any serious investment in the country. Instead, well to do Americans wince at the photos, then pick their way among the foundations which offer alms to the Haitian poor. The question always is who gets $25? Which one is crooked? Can you trust the Catholics? What about the Protestant evangelicals? Which do-good foundation is least likely to steal the tiny amounts of money we find our way to give?

Here is a proposal to help Haiti taken from Juan Cole’s email listserv this morning. It goes like this:

Memo to Obama on Haiti:

“It’s reported that Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase combined have set aside $47 billion for bonuses,” says an NPR account,according to Cole.

Haiti’s annual gross domestic product in nominal terms is about $7 bn. a year.

Seize the bonuses. Send them to Haiti.

Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.

Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.

Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found on his web site,

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This story was published on January 13, 2010.