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How Haiti became poor

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haiti.jpg

In case you missed it, the President of the United States called Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries “shitholes,” then pretended like he didn’t say it, but basically said it all over again.

This matters not just because it’s racist (the President is racist, in fact, he is professionally racist), because it’s vulgar (“shithole,” one of the all-time great swear words, is forever sullied by this), and because it’s catastrophically bad for foreign and domestic relations. It matters in part because of the history of Haiti, and the history of racist discourse about Haiti.

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, a professor of education and scholar who’s closely studied these narratives, writes:

The reason why White nationalists like 45 always name Haiti because the Haitian nation & people are unique. Haiti defeated Napoleon, threw off the chains of slavery, and exposed the lie of White supremacy & European imperialism. So there’s no end to their hatred for Haiti.

Jonathan Katz, a journalist and former AP correspondent in Haiti who wrote The Big Truck That Went By about Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and the cholera epidemic that followed, has a longer thread spelling out how these narratives about Haiti were generated and how they work. Here’s a thick excerpt:

In order to do a victory lap around the GDP difference between, say, Norway and Haiti, you have to know nothing about the history of the world. That includes, especially, knowing nothing real about the history of the United States… You’d have to not know that the French colony that became Haiti provided the wealth that fueled the French Empire — and 2/3 of the sugar and 3/4 of the coffee that Europe consumed…

You’d have to not realize that Haiti was founded in a revolution against that system, and that European countries and the United States punished them for their temerity by refusing to recognize or trade with them for decades. You’d then have to not know that Haiti was forced to borrow some money to pay back that ridiculous debt, some of it from banks in the United States. And you’d have to not know that in 1914 those banks got President Wilson to send the US Marines to empty the Haitian gold reserve… [You’d] have to not know about the rest of the 20th century either—the systematic theft and oppression, US support for dictators and coups, the US invasions of Haiti in 1994-95 and 2004…

In short, you’d have to know nothing about WHY Haiti is poor (or El Salvador in kind), and WHY the United States (and Norway) are wealthy. But far worse than that, you’d have to not even be interested in asking the question. And that’s where they really tell on themselves… Because what they are showing is that they ASSUME that Haiti is just naturally poor, that it’s an inherent state borne of the corruption of the people there, in all senses of the word.

And let’s just say out loud why that is: It’s because Haitians are black.

Racists have needed Haiti to be poor since it was founded. They pushed for its poverty. They have celebrated its poverty. They have tried to profit from its poverty. They wanted it to be a shithole. And they still do.

If Haiti is a shithole, then they can say that black freedom and sovereignty are bad. They can hold it up as proof that white countries—and what’s whiter than Norway—are better, because white people are better. They wanted that in 1804, and in 1915, and they want it now.

The history of Haiti is weird because it is absurdly well-documented, yet totally poorly known. It’s hard not to attribute that to ideology. We don’t teach the Haitian Revolution the way we teach the American, or the French, or the Mexican, because it’s a complicated story. Kids are more likely to hear variations of “Haiti formed a pact with the devil to defeat Napoleon” (this is real thing, I swear) than Toussaint Louverture’s or Jean-Jacques Dessalines’s names.

Also, while Haiti’s revolution was an early, signature event in world history-the first time a European power would be overthrown by an indigenous army (but not the last)-the causes of Haiti’s poverty are basically identical with those of almost every poor nation around the world: a history of exploitation, bad debt, bad geopolitics, and bad people profiting off of that poverty (almost all of them living elsewhere). And this is basically true about poverty in American cities as well (with all the same attendant racist myths).

Some recommended reading:

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Eloquence
235 days ago
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This is the history they don't teach you in school...
Baltimore, Maryland
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YouTube Kids launching next week

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The internet is a magical place with loads of interesting information and entertainment, along with an easy way to connect with people all over the world. But if there is one thing the internet is awful at, it’s catering to children. Yes, it can be a vile place where even the sacred YouTube comments often become infested with offensive and just plain gross content.

But there has been talk of Google creating versions of its products just for kids, specially designed to avoid trolls and weirdos from tainting them. And we may be seeing the efforts of that project come to life really soon, as USA Today reports that a kid-friendly version of YouTube will be coming to Android on February 23rd.

Though YouTube seems like an awful service to start with, as much of the content is for mature audiences, Google will impose strict limits on what kids can watch. The search function is even there, even with voice search, though it will of course be limited. Comments will be hidden entirely (which sounds like a great idea even for regular YouTube!). Plus, parental control like viewing timers will be added.

It sounds like Google has a good strategy going, but only time will tell how well the censors and limits work to prevent adult content from infiltrating the app. If you want to give it a try, it should be releasing this Monday on the Play Store. Will you give it a shot with your kids?

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Eloquence
1308 days ago
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Awesome!
Baltimore, Maryland
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Why Did God Create Atheists?

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razairazerci:

religiousragings:

There is a famous story told in Chassidic literature that addresses this very question. The Master teaches the student that God created everything in the world to be appreciated, since everything is here to teach us a lesson. 

One clever student asks “What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?”

The Master responds “God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all — the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs and act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that god commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. And look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right.”

“This means,” the Master continued “that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say ‘I pray that God will help you.’ Instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say ‘I will help you.’”

ETA source: Tales of Hasidim Vol. 2 by Mar

I started reading this and was worried it would be something attacking atheists, or bashing religion, but this makes me really, really happy.

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Eloquence
1321 days ago
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Even for a religious guy, this is pretty deep. I like it.
Baltimore, Maryland
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1339 days ago
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jprodgers
1337 days ago
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Haven't read this before, but I used a similar argument with my sister. Her husband is a preacher, and they have 4 boys. I've been an atheist for nearly 20 years, so we've had some interesting conversations. When I pointed out that I spend a ton of my time doing volunteer work, and asked her why I would do such a thing if I didn't believe in god. She said she didn't know or understand why, and I answered that I feel that it's the right thing to do, and I go by the ethics I've spent a great deal of time thinking about.
Somerville, MA
Cafeine
1338 days ago
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Love it indeed. ;)
Paris / France
davelevy
1339 days ago
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A text that tells the religious to have faith, but also elevates the non-religious. Much more respect to be given.
ÜT: 41.995898,-72.5841
vpatil
1339 days ago
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this is great

White-on-white murder in America is out of control

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"Blacks represent 13% of the population but commit 50% of the murders; 90% of black victims are murdered by other blacks," writes Time's Joe Klein, calling for "provocative" thinking on race in America. "The facts suggest that history is not enough to explain this social disaster."

there are many countries where white people murder each other at a much lower rate than you see here in the United States

Yet the disturbing truth, according to the FBI's most recent homicide statistics, is that the United States is in the wake of an epidemic of white-on-white crime. Back in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, a staggering 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by fellow Caucasians.

This is not to say that white people are inherently prone to violence. Most whites, obviously, manage to get through life without murdering anyone. And there are many countries full of white people — Norway, Iceland, France, Denmark, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom — where white people murder each other at a much lower rate than you see here in the United States. On the other hand, although people often see criminal behavior as a symptom of poverty, the quantity of murder committed by white people specifically in the United States casts some doubt on this. Per capita GDP is considerably higher here than in France — and the white population in America is considerably richer than the national average — and yet we have more white murderers.

To understand the level of cultural pathology at work here, it's important to understand that 36 percent of those killed by whites are women — a far higher share than you see with black murderers.

Clearly, the social disaster of white violence has complicated roots. But the beginning of an answer is to admit that we have a problem. It's striking that President Obama, who's frequently found time to comment on the height of black men's waistlines, seems oblivious to this torrent of white killing. To be fair to the White House, however, it would be uniquely difficult for Obama to address this delicate issue. The real tragedy is that none of Obama's 43 white predecessors have addressed it either. Indeed, looking back on America's political iconography, there are disturbing trends toward the glorification of white violence. Peer inside the US Capitol building, and you'll find a monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis — the leader of an insurgency that caused an unprecedented quantity of violent white deaths.

But whatever the causes or past mistakes, the important thing is to confront this important subject in the future. As we look ahead to a 2016 matchup that should give us two Euro-American major party nominees for the first time in a decade, perhaps America can finally get the debate about white violence it deserves.

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Eloquence
1491 days ago
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Well written. Fantastic. Someone should do a YouTube video on this!
Baltimore, Maryland
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1492 days ago
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superiphi
1494 days ago
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perfect
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom

As if this isn't hard enough

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zoekeating:

On May 13 an MRI found 20 tumors in my husbands brain. On May 15 he could barely breathe and was in a lot of pain. A CT scan that day revealed he had a softball-sized tumor in his lung, tumors in his other lung, his liver and possibly his bones. On our way home from the imaging center our primary care doc called and told us to turn around and get to the hospital right away. My husband was admitted and they promptly removed more than a pint of fluid from his lungs, which helped him breathe better. We were there for 6 days while they performed a bronchoscopy, did more scans, gave him drugs to stop his brain from swelling and administered emergency chemo.

Today I got a letter from Anthem Blue Cross regarding his hospital stay:

"Coverage for the requested service is denied because the service does not meet the criteria for “medical necessity” under your description of benefits. To assist our Medical Director in making this decision, we have put a process in place to send all information about the service to a clinical reviewer with appropriate credentials. Based on their opinion, we have determined that covered for the requested service is denied. Our Medical Reviewer Layma Jarjour MD has determined we cannot approve your hospital stay for cancer. We do not have enough facts to show that it was medically necessary. "

Anthem is owned by WellPoint. Did you know Wellpoint CEO Joseph Swedish earned almost $17 million during his first year on the job? Now you know how they can afford to pay him.

I am so angry right now, I want to burn down the world.

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Eloquence
1567 days ago
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Baltimore, Maryland
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1578 days ago
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acdha
1578 days ago
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So shocked to learn that the insurer's story changed after it hit the news.
Washington, DC
chrishiestand
1577 days ago
This was the insurance company modus operandi before the ACA. I hope that people expect better under the ACA and that this is harder to get away with now.
Cdogg
1578 days ago
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Hey folks, move up here to Canada. Sure, the taxes are a bit higher, but you'll never pay a cent out of pocket for cancer care.
NDG, Montreal
bibliogrrl
1578 days ago
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Sharing for the story but especially the comments.
Chicago!
synapsecracklepop
1578 days ago
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I spent almost a year fighting empire bcbs for denying *every single one* of my (valid, covered, necessary) doctors' visits and treatments during a year of active multiple sclerosis and infertility. Every single eob started coming back marked "not medically necessary." Even my flu test and treatment, at an urgent care provider in their directory...everything.

I pulled their list of 8 or so ways something could be "not medically necessary" from our coverage guide and called them to ask which of those they felt applied to me.
Person on phone: "well, it says (pick a visit, any visit) was nmn."
Me: "yes, but why? In which of the ways is it nmn? The eob didn't specify and I need you to help me understand."
PoP: "it says "the length of stay exceeded the maximum allowable.'"
Me: ...
PoP: "ma'am? Are you still there?"
Me: "that was for an OUTPATIENT visit. These are ALL outpatient visits. I have not been admitted to a hospital since I had my appendix out in 1986. THERE IS NO STAY OF ANY LENGTH FOR OUTPATIENT DOCTORS VISITS."
PoP: "hmm. That is weird. I'll get my supervisor to override it and the others."
Me: "thank ye gods!"
Except it kept happening, and kept happening, and I had to keep calling and keep calling. One day, almost a year later, it stopped as suddenly as it had started, and for the exact same reason -- absolutely none at all.
Atlanta
acdha
1578 days ago
The really annoying thing is *that* so many people have horror stories like that and yet so many people are politically motivated to pretend this is a freak coincidence
synapsecracklepop
1577 days ago
Exactly. The only explanation I ever got was "something wrong with the system"...but also that the reps had seen it happen before to other people. It boggles.
Cafeine
1579 days ago
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USA...
Paris / France
lucasbfr
1577 days ago
La bonne nouvelle est que depuis que le truc est passe aux infos là bas, l'assurance a changé d'avis. Étonnant, non ?
MotherHydra
1579 days ago
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I hate cancer, but during my family's struggle I learned to hate health care providers even more. This story is both infuriating and saddening because it is far more common than most people realize. Yes, getting denied coverage for a hospital visit is arbitrary and the decision is made in a vacuum absent all your medical records. Also notably absent: your primary care physician's opinion. The whole system is fucked up and broken here in America.
Space City, USA
satadru
1580 days ago
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.
New York, NY

$2 Undecillion Lawsuit

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$2 Undecillion Lawsuit

What if Au Bon Pain lost this lawsuit and had to pay the plaintiff $2 undecillion?

—Kevin Underhill

The bakery-cafe chain Au Bon Pain (with a few other organizations) is being sued. This is how much money the person suing them is demanding:

This is how much sellable stuff there is in the world:

This is the estimated economic value of all goods and services produced by humanity since we first evolved:

Even if Au Bon Pain conquers the planet and puts everyone to work for them from now until the stars die, they wouldn't make a dent in the bill.

Maybe people just aren't that valuable. The EPA currently values a human life at $8.7 million, although they go to great lengths to point out that technically this is not actually the value any specific person places on another person's individual life.[1]Note that they don't say whether they assume that amount would be higher or lower. In any case, by their measure, the total value we place on all the world's humans is about $60 trillion—less than the total value we place on all the world's oil.[2]Come to think of it, that explains a lot.

But while people may be worthless,[3]I'm rounding down. we're hardly all there is on the planet. Out of all the Earth's atoms, only 1 out of every 10 trillion is part of a human.

The Earth's crust contains a bunch of atoms,[citation needed] some of which are valuable. If you extracted all the elements, purified them,[4]This is just one of many reasons that this idea wouldn't make sense in practice. The reason many elements (like U-235) are valuable is that it's hard to manufacture or purify them, not just because they're rare. and sold them, the market would crash.[5]Both in the sense that the supply would cause a drop in prices, and the sense that the market is like 20 miles above the mantle and you just removed the crust supporting it. But if you somehow sold them at their current market price, they would be worth ...

Oddly, most of this value comes from potassium and calcium, and most of the rest comes from sodium and iron. If you're going to sell the Earth's crust for scrap, those are probably the ones you should sift out.

Sadly, even selling the crust for scrap doesn't get us close to the numbers we need.

We could include the core,[6]It's down there. which is iron and nickel with a dash of precious metals, but it turns out it wouldn't help. The amount demanded from Au Bon Pain is just too large. In fact, an Earth made of solid gold wouldn't be enough. The Sun's weight in platinum wouldn't be, either.

By weight, the single most valuable thing that's been bought and sold on an open market is probably the Treskilling Yellow postage stamp. There's only one known copy of it, and in 2010 it sold for \$2,300,000. That works out to about \$30 billion per kilogram of stamps. If the Earth's weight were entirely postage stamps, it would still not be enough to pay off Au Bon Pain's potential debt.[7]Also, the stamps would probably be less valuable now that there is literally an entire planet of them, but that's the least of Au Bon Pain's problems.

If Au Bon Pain & co decided to be intentionally difficult, and pay their debt entirely in pennies, they would form a sphere that would squeeze inside the orbit of Mercury.[8]The fate of this sphere of pennies is left as an exercise for the reader. The fate of Mercury is that it would fall into the pennies and disintegrate. The bottom line is that paying this settlement would be, in almost any sense of the word, impossible.

Fortunately, Au Bon Pain has a better option.

Kevin, who asked this question, is a lawyer and author of the legal humor blog that reported on the Au Bon Pain case.[9]And which we encountered in Question #90. He told me that the world's most highly-paid lawyer—on an hourly basis—is probably former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who recently disclosed in bankruptcy filings that he charges $1,800 per hour.

Suppose there are 40 billion habitable planets in our galaxy, and every one of them hosts an Earth-sized population of 7 billion Ted Olsons.

If Au Bon Pain hired every Ted Olson in the galaxy to defend them in this case, and had them all work 80-hour weeks, 52 weeks a year, for a thousand generations[10]This scenario assumes that the former Solicitor General reproduces asexually....

... it would still cost them less than if they lost.

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Eloquence
1589 days ago
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This is awesome. That is all.
Baltimore, Maryland
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1593 days ago
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abigailscotty
1587 days ago
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ohh man!
Decatur, Mississippi
skittone
1590 days ago
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Fun analysis.
tedgould
1593 days ago
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Best quote: "The total value we place on all the world's humans is about $60 trillion—less than the total value we place on all the world's oil. Come to think of it, that explains a lot."
Texas, USA
rclatterbuck
1593 days ago
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.
acdha
1593 days ago
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“Come to think of it, that explains a lot”
Washington, DC
llucax
1593 days ago
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"The EPA currently values a human life at $8.7 million [...] by their measure, the total value we place on all the world's humans is about $60 trillion—less than the total value we place on all the world's oil."
Berlin
jprodgers
1593 days ago
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"In any case, by their measure, the total value we place on all the world's humans is about $60 trillion—less than the total value we place on all the world's oil.[2]Come to think of it, that explains a lot."
Quote of the year.
Somerville, MA
llucax
1593 days ago
I was about to share this quoting the exact same part!
category5
1593 days ago
Yeah you beat me to the punch!
habmala
1593 days ago
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En kommentar om hur vi ser på värde och pengar. Också en kommentar om USAs rättssystem. Väl medveten om att detta inte är vad någon blivit dömd att betala är siffrorna ändå helt klart löjliga.
Sweden
jepler
1593 days ago
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ctrl-f bitcoin. nope? oh well. Pretty sure this what if would have been better with a dig on cryptocurrency.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
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