This satire “A Practical Policy” is essentially an update of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” (1729) with the focus here primarily on the U.S. and Iraq rather than England and Ireland. Some of the form and text of Swift’s piece has been incorporated.
A PRACTICAL POLICY
For Preventing the Children and Youth of Iraq and the World from being a Burden to Their Parents or Countries, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Global Economy
It is a melancholy object to observe the plight of children in the ancient land of Iraq during this era of U.S.-led economic sanctions and invasion, occupation and continued warfare. A prestigious medical journal reports hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian fatalities. Trapped in a disemboweled economy, Iraqi parents too often find themselves unable to provide for their children’s basic needs – nutritional, educational, medicinal, limbnal. Trying to keep one’s children’s limbs from being blown off, heads not least, by American and other weaponry has proven to be one of many daunting challenges for Iraqis in this time of the American occupation.
By now, it can only be agreed by all sane observers that the grotesque mortality rate and mass suffering of Iraqi children cannot be considered worth even the most high-minded motives behind the U.S. occupation; and, therefore whatever might be discovered to be a just, affordable, and compassionate solution to this dreadful situation should be implemented immediately – A Practical Policy.
It seems only fair that any such policy benefit not only the children of Iraq but also those whose power and authority is needed to enact the solution – the Americans, and other rulers of the world, the global elite, the plutocracy, that is, the great leaders of nation-states, executives of transnational corporations, as well as bankers and privileged investors in whose care rests the prosperity of civilization.
Along with helping the beleaguered children, which is of course my greatest concern, it is my dearest hope that a viable policy will also solve very many of the other foreign policy quandaries bedeviling the U.S., and not only in regard to Iraq. Although the suffering of Iraqi children today is truly awesome, the general degradation of youth is not completely novel anywhere. Thus my practical policy has been designed for successful application to the people of any country whatsoever – not least those most frequently subject to military interventions and economic or political sanctions, including structural adjustment programs, as well as those who suffer from the increasingly unpredictable acts of God in this volatile epoch of global warming, and this incredibly profitable era of unparalleled planet-wide military stockpiling.
One great advantage of my timely invention is that while improving the plight of impoverished children and their parents, the proposal simultaneously allows for checks on the belligerence of any subject state. Under this policy, preemptive, preventive, and cautionary bombings along with ever more fine-tuned forms of sanctions may be maintained against any rogue state for as long as deemed necessary by those who call the shots. Thus my highly practical policy need not disrupt any time-tested means of containment and intervention; on the contrary, it will supplement and enhance such long-standing prerogatives of power. After all, as far as the United States of America is concerned, and in the words of our noble leader George Bush the First, etc, “What we say goes.”
After many years of earnest and ever more devoted work as a U.S. foreign policy advisor, after serving on countless multinational corporate boards and after unusually intense introspection, I have at last arrived at a solution that I trust will be found in respectable circles to be quite laudable, if, perhaps, not surprising. Let me judiciously advance A Practical Policy, which I expect will not be liable to the least objection, for easing the troubled situation of children in Iraq, and around the world –
It is my well-reasoned suggestion that there be a globally implemented and internationally regulated expansion of commercial trafficking in children.
In other words, the time has long since come to officially sanction the body parts trade – not least the many corporate biproducts and fiscal derivatives heretofore unimagined. I have recently been advised by virtually every corporate and financial executive I’ve encountered at home and abroad that the children of impoverished nations especially, though not solely, are coming to be understood in more and more explicit terms as the next great global growth industry – children as a prolific cash crop.
The children would be harvested for their own sake, and be mercifully removed from hopeless predicaments of hunger, disease, danger. In many cases they might be sold abroad, their cut-rate labor placed in the service of others in more profitable situations, and in the second case the children would simply be released from their agonizing, degraded state of being – that is, they would be terminated, offered as providence for those fortunate enough to live in more bountiful circumstances.
Regrettably, in Iraq nowadays medicines and food are so expensive, scarce, or non-existent that children might best be sold or traded and shipped out of country at the first onset of illness or hunger, or even at birth, given their likely grim future. Alternatively, for any children who survive well into their youth, these plucky young creatures should be allowed every opportunity to market themselves piecemeal or in whole for distribution and handling abroad.
It only makes smart business sense that Iraqi children, along with various other sorts, be bought and sold under international regulation – as opposed to the chaotic, unauthorized, and inefficient current illicit manner – perhaps as defined and implemented by a new round of global trade agreements, or by some minor modification of the preeminent institutions for global economic development, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. By auctioning off their children, impoverished countries – and, indeed, the poor sectors of any country – may raise much badly needed capital for paying off debts to creditors of every type, U.S. banks especially.
As one might expect, the nature of the vending process would be multifaceted. Mature children might distribute themselves via body part sales – a kidney here, a lung there. I am informed by numerous industry specialists that discreet patches and strips of tender young skin can be safely peeled off and sold as raw material for the manufacture of leather car seats or even for exceptionally fine wallets and unique handbags. I think it a creditable thing that today’s global youth be as thrifty and imaginative with their bodies as possible so that in this way they might begin to pay for food and medicine or for some part of their schooling, at least where there is still some hope for themselvs, that is, when they do not yet find themselves at the point of contributing their bodies in all finality to their country’s Gross National Product.
Who knows, such resourcefulness may likely crop up as admirable fashion even among more fortunate youth who frequently copy the styles and trends of their less affluent peers in language, entertainment, dress, body art. Why not in raw material corporate commerce, as well? Why not give youth of every economic stripe this chance to pursue legally a broader, more lucrative array of commercial opportunities, such as the well-regulated sale of their skin, flesh, and non-vital organs? Since so many youth are already engaged in the practice of renting their bodies and lives to diverse employers for wages, wherever economic conditions allow, in a wide variety of lawful and unlawful manners, why not encourage these children to legally take the logical next step of further integrating into the market by scraping their very bones – en masse?
Parents as well might wish to trade abroad any number of infants to help support the household. The potential commercial possibilities and personal recompense for both children and parents alike seem virtually infinite – nevermind the boost such inspired activity would give to any country’s Gross Domestic Product, tying more tightly each national economy to the dominant forces in the global market. In addition, revenue raised by exporting children from youth-rich regions might also be judiciously expended on great quantities of quality imports such as cigarettes, coca-cola, and military armaments, or other such goods that wealthy nations like the United States produce in great abundance for the betterment of humankind. In this manner, rich sectors might profitably advance more effectively a sort of compassionate-cannibalism for the improvement of youth and their superiors the world over.
I suspect there may be some naysayers who doubt the possible financial benefits of a globally regulated traffic in children, either as piecemeal or in whole. These skeptics would do well to consider the sound advice and impressive data I have gathered from a wide variety of world-renowned investment bankers, politicians, chief executive officers, media magnates, and many others. This data indicates that simply by harvesting the mere non-vital organs of several moderately healthy young children, a family of four can provide themselves with their minimal nutritional requirements for several months, under favorable market conditions. Currently, such estimable enterprise would involve selling off youth organs in non-food related ventures, rather than consuming young flesh directly or marketing it to local grocery stores. Times being as lean as they are for the world’s majority – direct consumption of youth victuals is not as economically feasible as it was centuries ago during the age of that master humanitarian policy planner, Jonathan Swift.
I suppose that my proposal, which I intend in all modesty, and practicality, might at first sound too optimistic in aim and content. I expect that some of the brightest students of world affairs may wonder if there is some prohibitive limiting factor I have overlooked. On the contrary. Much of what recently seemed unthinkable in various political and economic arenas throughout the world, due to stubborn lack of popular appeal among people everywhere, now has become far more widely incorporated and otherwise realized by way of the intense global ambitions of dominant powers. Unfettered trafficking in children has become a burgeoning trend. Though in the past a boy or girl younger than twelve years old was no easily saleable commodity, the modern reality is that largely due to IMF and World Bank-imposed structural adjustments, and ever more vigorous U.S. economic and military command and control, the global market is wide open to child commerce.
Right at the cusp of U.S. involvement in its own hemisphere, there were reports from all corners of Latin America about unregulated trafficking in children. The Catholic Church, national governments, human rights groups, and university-based intellectuals all reported that such unauthorized commerce had increased. It seems that in certain economic circles the adoption and organ transplant enterprises became quite profitable and otherwise viable as conditions of life grew ever more stressed and desperate.
Regarding the transplant industry, with an implement as simple and affordable as a common teaspoon, a private entrepreneur – perhaps a “structurally adjusted” worker recently displaced or laid off – can scoop out a young orphan’s eye and, by selling the corneas, realize a substantial profit in the underground market. Not to mention that this entrepreneur may make good use of other organs that can be profitably sold as well. In such necessary and, let’s face it, admirable enterprise, we see the modern wonders of what has come to be known as the “free market,” potentially ever more integrated to the needs of capital by way of the major stock exchanges and corporations, sectors of finance and powerful governments the world over. The lesson to be learned – and one that has long been understood in Washington D.C., on Wall Street, and in other centers of power – is that the children of the world represent a crucial and increasingly profitable component of economic, political, and military power and order.
One wonders, without the virtually limitless commodity of youth, how nations would be able to fund and implement their endless security operations and wars. It goes without saying that third world countries in particular possess ever more pressing needs for military conscription of youth, in one form or another. They also need vast imports of armaments from the major arms manufacturers of the world, that is, primarily from U.S. corporations. How better, how else to pay for huge weapons imports than by clever domestic measures implementing the full-scale commodification and trade of children?
Of course the U.S. is uniquely positioned to continue profiting off weapons sales, since it is by far the leading arms maker and vendor. Coincidentally, and conveniently, the U.S. keeps troops stationed in over 140 of the 192 countries in the world in nearly one thousand military installations, the better to distribute and use weapons everywhere. Of course U.S. corporations not only produce and sell more weaponry than any other nation, the U.S. citizenry have the bulk of their tax dollars taken and used to buy more weaponry and military resources than anyone else too. Blessed is the United States of America for having military expenditures equal to that of every other nation on the face of the earth combined.
Let me add that my practical policy of licit child trafficking would not only further grease the gears of global finance, it has the salutary effect in this vibrant age of heightened ecological awareness of potentially easing much environmental strain caused by overcrowding and resource depletion, especially in less developed countries, as well as in the slums and depressed rural areas of rich nations. By profitably harvesting and trading poor youth, the new world economy promises to make life more pleasant, more roomy, for everyone else.
Many more advantages of such enlightened international child commerce might be enumerated in this new age of compassion and humanitarianism, but in the interest of concision I will leave further details to the keen and charitable imaginations of others.
I can think of no sensible objection that might be raised to my practical policy, unless there is fear that increased trafficking and consumption of children might lead to rapid global depopulation of vital consumers. This concern however can readily be dismissed, given the limited cash flow of impoverished youth. For the vast majority of children and youth, their hides alone are worth far more than their wallets and handbags will ever be. I guarantee it. Best then to officially, more efficiently, insert them straightaway into the global economy in one or another traditional lawful and financially respectable manner – all profits to banks and other such institutions, that is, and to the occasional responsible government. As there is no lack of historical analogies for such enlightened social and economic policy and operation, I am hard pressed to envision serious objections.
Let no one speak of independent solutions for vastly reducing child mortality and misery, such as foregoing economic sanctions and threats or military invasions and occupations against disobedient regimes, or making widely available the many existing inexpensive medicines, or supporting local economies at the expense of patently healthy corporate appetites, or expanding public subsidies and public services to address basic needs – least of all food, education, housing, sanitation, clean water, clean air, vital medicines, vaccines and other such commodities whose domain rightfully and naturally belongs to the profitable private sector. Let no one speak of enforcing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the Convention on the Rights of the Child, though both agreements have been signed and adopted into international law by every nation – however grudgingly, conditionally, and belatedly by the United States, and others, we may note with no small pride.
And especially, in light of the current ever more dire security situation worldwide, let no one consider for even a moment using any fraction of the behemoth global military budgets to improve standards of health or conditions of life anywhere on earth. Let no one mention – as they hardly do anyway, in responsible, respected circles at least – any such public solutions for improving the welfare of children in Iraq and around the globe until there is some significant hope that there might be a hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.
Fortunately, we will never see such a day, there can be no doubt, because these public solutions run counter to natural economic, political, and human law as divined by the IMF, the World Bank, national capitols and capitalists around the globe, as well as corporate charters everywhere – i.e., the private sector, which rightly rules. Any contrarian utopian schemes of public action are correctly dismissed as the pipedreams of children.
I must say, however, that I am not so forcefully attached to my own ideas that I am utterly opposed to any profitable, therefore practical, method for otherwise alleviating the sorry state of the world’s children, especially a program that might prove to be as effective and enlightened as the policy offered herein.
However I challenge even the most well-intentioned of human rights groups to top my plan for solving what heretofore has too often been viewed as a financially and morally intractable problem. With only a slight though powerful and gainful shift in perspective, the widespread wretchedness of children can be properly understood as a welcome and really existing private opportunity for the market – rather than as the urgent public crisis, claimed by human rights and health groups by way of their notoriously impoverished, ill-informed, and politically suspect judgment. What is needed above all is the paradigm shift of great conscientious, fiscal, and intellectual integrity and scope – legalized child trafficking – that I have offered here as a quite sensible, highly practical policy.
As we all know, the children are our future. They are not the future, they are not a future, they are not even their future. They are ours. And as such, our children constitute a great resource, ripe for the plucking by way of cutting-edge international development. Though at first there may be, I suppose, some misguided half-baked youth-led resistance to this proposed policy, I have no doubt that continued education, media broadcasting, corporate-government public relations, proper religious meditation, and other such efforts of conventional mental cleansing will readily persuade youths to make themselves everywhere more willing and alive to the fiscal advantages of throwing themselves more fully into the warm embrace of the almighty power and glory of our ever more capitalized economy.
As the gap between the haves and the have-nots grows ever more wide, I challenge anyone to come up with a better policy than my urgent proposal of trafficking in children for eradicating the have-nots responsible for creating, in the first place, and maintaining and expanding the vast inequality in the conditions of life.
I declare from the utter bottommost depths of my heart that my focus here regarding the plight of multitudes of children who are irredeemably suffering and perishing in Iraq and around the world – not excluding a significant and growing stratum of children in the contemporary United States and elsewhere – is strictly a professional concern, which happens to contain my best, most remunerative, ideas for improving the world. As a long-time consultant to leading corporate, banking, and government sectors, I seek no personal financial gain. This proposal represents not the least bit a pecuniary interest of my own, since it has been my good fortune to have already come into wealth in and around Wall Street over the course of some years. No direct profit would accrue to my family, either, since my own children have long since passed well beyond the age of consumption and trade.
Thus, on behalf of the many officials and executives who have toiled for years in the creation and guidance of fiscal policy, at home and abroad – and most of all on behalf of the great economic system itself – I advance this practical policy wholly in good faith. I advance this policy especially for the young who suffer. I advocate if for the greater power and glory and security of the world, and in particular for the continued triumphal march of the United States of America and other great powers of transnational economic might, and for all the leading institutional and individual lights who help keep our capital-laden, corporate-and-finance-driven world in the fantastic state it is today – really a flourishing planet to be proud of in all its official glory. I advocate it on behalf of the leading sectors of the world we can only be proud to hear so much about and immerse ourselves deep within throughout each day by way of the media, the schools, the mighty webs of commerce, the government, and even our halls of worship and many of our leisure and entertainment commitments – our fundamentally generous policies and economic might, lovingly extolled the world over.
Here at home in the United States of America, with our great nationalistic fervor for Americanism and our invincible unblinking faith in faith itself that can barely be matched perhaps anywhere in the world, we can all be proud of the fact that in so many ways our great state truly is “Number One,” any small quibbles and nit-picking here and there aside (especially by the ilk of those ingrates like Andrew L. Shapiro) regarding health care, education, housing, environmental protection, safety, freedom, financial security, democracy, and peace. Look – nobody can be Number One in everything. Least of all the one country in the world that has so admirably, thoughtfully, and compassionately taken upon itself the great responsibility and role of global disciplinarian.
If, by increasing the amount and quality of global trafficking in children, any gigantic gain should happily accrue to those most fortunate – corporate executives, bankers, elite investors, and their governmental representatives worldwide, we can only marvel in ever greater amazement at the inexorable workings of the free market, in which we all trust, all together, with its astounding profits, virtually insane rewards, and other rapturous wonders, performing each day as if conducted on high by an invisible hand, for the benefit of everyone, especially children and youth – and soon even more, it is my fervent hope, the children of Iraq and youth the world over, those alive today and all those precious pricey babes born brand new (potentially well-priced, I should say, and brand-named, that is, branded, the better for the display and vending), eager to be trafficked at home and abroad, bought and sold, bartered and auctioned off in the great global grip of the free market. All this, not only for the sake of the children, but of course for that of the private market, too, for the sake of private profit, which, at least in a profound secular sense, is sacred, and which civilizes, and ennobles, us all.
Well, I can hardly help myself. I said I would leave it to the imagination of others, but let me just add –
Another inevitable concomitant of fierce economic pressures and the capitalizing of youth is the global sex trade, which has established itself internationally in flourishing networks. Also, drug trafficking, which similarly prospers given an ambitious, risk-taking and disposable, inexpensive workforce – youth labor, to be found not least in the urban concentration camps that are slums, but also throughout often hardhit countrysides.
Especially in nations with governments friendly and militaries intimate with the U.S., never have labor conditions been more advantageous for the export of drugs to the voracious U.S. market. Nor has the overall infrastructure of the illicit drug trade been better attuned for producing drugs in the U.S. itself, often by heady young entrepreneurs themselves.
Though the thriving sex and drug industries remain somewhat controversial, it is my well-studied belief that a newly capitalized infusion of child labor into these sectors can only further enhance international prosperity and U.S. national security. Sex and drugs are after all traditional, time-tested occupations, with which in any case the U.S., for one, has been deeply involved – one might even say indebted.
And every responsible person can only hold as a guiding principle one of the greatest of capitalist credos – Private vice leads to public gain. The public good, that is, which, of course, is what I, for one, am finally all about – the public good – as long as it is generated by the private sector, which, in any case, is the best of all possible means to our end.
True, the burgeoning drug trade will continue to provide extra financial support for War, for both governments and guerrillas alike. Fortuitously, War provides ongoing opportunity for the U.S. and other developed nations to further test, manufacture, and sell high-tech weaponry and martial strategies. And why not profit off War, especially in this era of often bloodless combat – for dominant forces like the U.S., at least? The more bloodless the better, no?
In any event, it’s historically inevitable. The U.S. has wisely long relied on a flush cash market, a boisterous, unruly national zeal to maintain order – security, stability, credibility – and to generate global appreciation – especially gratitude, respect, even reverence in people everywhere, both at home and abroad – in its unmistakable identity as the world’s greatest, most affluent, economic and military superpower.
Any astute overview of history quickly reveals that the U.S. is the most exceptional warrior state ever, constantly growing in power and wealth, acting on the most noble ideals, and much admired, or properly feared, by the rest of the world. Some have dared call our valiant example “Mafia-esque,” but of course such talk is cheap, and weak – zero match for an ICBM. Do I really need to spell it out? How better to maintain and extend our power upon the world than to further tap that richest of all resources – our children, everywhere?
There can be no alternative to the fundamental, universal, and natural laws of capitalist, corporatist economic development which demand that we give up the best of ourselves each and every day – children included – for the market to function in its well-oiled way. Thus, my Practical Policy, and by now the moral obligation of responsible citizens everywhere – to ensure that all children be wholly digested into the great system of concentrated private power rapidly driving our planet toward its ultimate manifest destiny.
1 See prefatory note.
3 “As Unicef has reported, Iraq in 1990 had one of the healthiest and best-educated populations in the world; its child mortality rate was one of the lowest. Today, it is among the highest on earth.” –John Pilger; Iraq Under Siege; 61.
4 “The average monthly salary of a doctor, which used to be about $1,000 (£670), is now between $3 and $5… ‘What we are seeing is the disintegration of a society,’ said Rao Singh, a UN official. ‘Iraq had invested heavily in social and health care and in 1989, before the war, 90 per cent of the people had access to clean water and 95 per cent had access to good health care. Iraq was in transition to reaching First World standards. The rate of child mortality was one of the best in the world. There has been a fourfold increase, and it is now one of the worst. In 1990, an Iraqi child with dysentery had one chance in 600 of dying, now it is one in 50’.” –Kim Sengupta “The Pariah’s Den” http://www.commondreams.org 11/24/00.
5 “The only computers officially allowed by the sanctions committee in New York are at least 10 years old. Anything newer, it is declared, will help ‘Saddam’s war machine’. Of course, like everything else, modern computers are available in Baghdad. But they are smuggled in and affordable only to the rich. ‘In the poor schools we have got a shortage of everything, even pencils. They do not want us to have pencils because they say the military can use the lead. Can you believe it?’ Mr. Al Sharifi shakes his head…. A range of drugs, from vaccinations to pain killers and even cleansing agents such as chlorine, are banned because they can be used for ‘dual purpose’. … At the Children’s Hospital, Dr Mohammed Firas lists the drugs he needs but cannot have. ‘I have not seen any improvements in supplies, none at all,’ he says. ‘It is upsetting when you see little boys and girls die in front of you and there is nothing you can do’… A half-million Iraqi children have contracted cancer since Saddam launched his disastrous invasion of Kuwait 10 years ago. In the war that followed in January 1991, the West used weapons coated with depleted uranium, which, it is claimed, contributed to the massive rise in cancer. After the war, sanctions imposed by the UN have blocked essential supplies of medicine and equipment that could have saved many…. George Robertson, when he was Defence Secretary, repeatedly declared that Saddam has $275m worth of medicine stockpiled in his warehouses that he refuses to distribute… I could not find anyone in Unicef, the World Health Organization, or the relevant charities who would endorse these figures. Hans von Spaneck, the former UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said the amount held in stock was about 12 per cent. Anupama Rao Singh, Unicef’s senior representative in Iraq, said inspections show the figure to be between 10 and 15 per cent – the standard minimum that should be held for emergencies. Even Scott Ritter, the UN arms inspector the Iraqis kicked out claiming he was a spy, told me in London that there was no evidence of medicine being stockpiled by the regime. ‘The sanctions’, he said, ‘are pointless and self-defeating. They are not hurting Saddam, they are hurting the people of Iraq’.” –Kim Sengupta, “The Pariah’s Den,” http://www.commondreams.org, 11/24/00.
6 “US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked on national television in 1996 what she thought about the fact that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of the sanctions. She agreed that this was ‘a very hard choice,’ but she said that ‘we think the price is worth it.’ So, that’s the way in which we deal with Iraqi human rights violations, by killing 500,000 Iraqi children. ‘We’re’ willing to pay that price. That’s nice to hear.” –Noam Chomsky, Iraq Under Siege
7 “Since World War II, American military actions, in one form or another, have caused more death and destruction around the world than the actions of any other country. Some of these interventions have been conducted overtly, with large scale deployment of U.S. troops and air power. Still others have involved proxy armies armed, trained, funded directed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency” and intelligence gathering agencies and military institutions in the U.S. “Almost all of these slaughters have been directed at people of color, particularly in Southeast Asia and Central America. These are the unseen and unheard victims of the relentless drive by the United States’ corporate and military” and political “elite for global economic domination…” –David McGowan; Derailing Democracy
8 In Ancient Greek mythology Pluto (‘wealth’) is the god of the underworld, the abode of the dead. Originally named Hades (‘unseen’), he became known as Pluto because people feared the word Hades, and because crops and precious metals come from below ground. Pluto is of course the root of ‘plutocracy’—rule by the rich. Hades is synonymous with ‘hell’. Side-by-side, Hades and Pluto at their roots may be interpreted as ‘unseen wealth,’ an apt description of CEOs and their corporate boards that dominate the economy and polity.
“The unconstrained behavior of big business is subordinating our democracy to the control of a corporate plutocracy… Each time the cycle of corporate plutocracy has lengthened, injustices and shortcomings proliferate… Harnessing political power to corporate greed leaves us with a country that has far more problems than it deserves, while blocking ready solutions or improvements from being applied.” –Ralph Nader, Green Party, http://www.votenader.org.
9 “More than 50 percent of the people in the world’s 46 poorest countries are without access to modern health care… Approximately three billion people in developing countries do not have access to sanitation facilities…. Of the 10 million deaths among children under five in 1997, 97 percent occurred in developing countries and the majority could have been prevented. While the infant mortality in the world has declined steadily in the last 50 years, there is a 16-fold difference between the present rate in the 26 wealthiest countries and the rate found in 48 of the least developed countries.” –Joyce Millen et al., Dying for Growth
10 “Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or ‘disappeared,’ at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame.” –Amnesty International, Rogue State, introductory quotation.
The following quotations are listed in David McGowan’s Derailing Democracy—The America the Media Doesn’t Want You to See: “From 1993 to 1997, the U.S. government sold, approved, or gave away $190 billion in weapons to virtually every nation on earth.” –The Mojo Wire. “The last five times U.S. troops were sent into conflict, they found themselves facing adversaries who had previously received U.S. weapons, military technology, or training.” “U.S. arms dealers currently sell $10 billion in weapons to non-democratic governments each year.” –Project Censored 1998. “In 1986 the United States accounted for 13 percent of worldwide arms exports, but today its share of the weapons market is an astounding 70 percent.” –British Medical Journal, October 14, 1995. “According to the Pentagon, the defense industry laid off 795,500 American workers between 1992 and 1997.” –The Mojo Wire
11 “State Department planner George Kennan set out the basic framework for understanding US foreign policy in the Middle East [and for that matter, in general] in 1948: ‘We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population… In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.’ New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman put this same argument in more contemporary terms when he wrote in 1999: ‘McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas… And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.’” –Anthony Arnove, Iraq Under Siege; 11.
12 Quoting George Bush, 41st President of the United States.
13 “In Third World morgues, shantytowns, prisons and hospitals, Berkeley anthropology professors Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Lawrence Cohen, investigate…the finding and selling of human body parts for transplantation. In many countries, laws fail to protect organ donors from exploitation… In India, for instance, Cohen discovered poor women forfeiting a kidney to pay back money they’d borrowed to feed their families… In Brazil, the government declares everyone a universal organ donor at birth, Scheper-Hughes added, and people in poverty are terrified of becoming fodder for the organ trade. ‘The exchanges tend to be poor-to-rich,’ said Scheper-Hughes. On the black market in India, added Cohen, an impoverished person’s kidney, destined for an affluent Indian, can fetch $1,000. ‘I call it neo-cannibalism,’ [a play on neo-liberalism, the dominant capitalist economic theory] said Scheper-Hughes, ‘the notion that we can eye each other greedily as a source of spare body parts.’ Organ trafficking has been denounced by all international medical and human rights groups, she said. Still, there is little surveillance over what is increasingly a black market where both doctors and the so-called ‘body mafia’ serve as organ brokers… ‘We are creating a type of apartheid medicine,’ Scheper-Hughes said. ‘I’m no longer neutral about these body practices that strike terror in poor people increasingly afraid of dying in the hospital.’ A few years ago, a conversation with an Indian man piqued Cohen’s interest in black market organ sales. ‘He talked about how he might sell his kidney to pay for his sister’s dowry,’ said Cohen. ‘To him, that dowry stood for all the obligations of economics, and his kidney stood for all the horrible possibilities of survival. Here you have a family that has to give away its kidneys to give away its daughters.’ Cohen and Scheper-Hughes joined forces when she asked him to fill her in on the organ trade in India. Cohen speaks lovingly about the ‘kidney belt’ villages in India where selling one’s body parts is a way of life. After seven years of working and living among the villagers, he has grown fond of and respects them. Crippling debt, he said, has villagers in India lined up to sell kidneys to underground brokers even though it’s against the law to provide a kidney to anyone but a relative. The villagers approach the brokers, usually after failing to repay a loan. When loan sharks demand repayment, villagers have no choice but to sell their own kidneys.” –Kathleen Scalise, http://www.berkeley.edu/news/magazine/summer_99
14 “Child slavery has long been documented in the traditional service areas. India alone is reported to have some 14 million child laborers, aged six and up, many working under conditions of virtual slavery for up to 16 hours a day. As always, this is a reflection of general social conditions… The deteriorating conditions result from the ‘frenzied export drive’ and accompanying ‘strategy of taxing the poor and pampering the rich,’ policies to be accelerated under the IMF-designed structural adjustment policies for which India in now widely praised.” –Noam Chomsky, Year 501
“Uruguayan journalist Samuel Blixen reports that in Guatemala City, the majority of the 5000 street children work as prostitutes…In Peru, children are sold to the highest bidder to pan for gold; according to a young campesina who escaped, they work 18 hours a day in water up to their knees and are paid with a daily ration sufficient to keep them alive. In Guayaquil, Ecuador, some 100,000 children from 4 to 14 work 10- to 12-hour shifts for low wages, many of them victims of sexual abuse…UNICEF reports that 69 million children in Latin America survive by menial labor, robbing, running drugs, and prostitution. A study released by the health ministers of the Central American countries in November 1991 estimated that 120,000 children under five die annually in Central America from malnutrition (one million are born annually), and that two-thirds of the survivors suffer from malnutrition.” –Noam Chomsky, Year 501
15 “Until recently,” Blixen writes, “the image of the abandoned Latin American child was of a ragged child sleeping in a doorway. Today the image is of a body, lacerated and dumped in a city slum—those who survive that far. A leading Mexican journal reports a study by Victor Carlos García Moreno of the Institute for Law Research at the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), presented at a conference on “International Traffic in Children” in Mexico City. He found that about 20,000 children are sent illegally to the United States each year “for supplying illegal traffic in vital organs, for sexual exploitation, or for experimental tests.’ Mexico’s leading daily, Excelsior, reports that ‘Another element of abuses against minors [in Guatemala] is the existence of various illegal ‘crib houses’ responsible for the ‘fattening’ of newborns who are sent out of the country for their organs to be sold in the United States and Europe.’ A Professor of Theology at the University of São Paulo (Brazil), Father Barruel, informed the UN that ‘75 percent of the corpses [of murdered children] reveal internal mutilation and the majority have their eyes removed.’ The President of the Episcopal Council of Latin America, Archbishop Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo, stated in July 1991 that the Church ‘is investigating all the charges concerning sale of children for illegal adoption or organ transplant….’ There have been numerous allegations about kidnapping of children for organ transplant in Latin America; whether true or not, the fact that they are taken seriously, from the press to academic researchers and government agencies, is indicative of the conditions of existence for children. And other superfluous creatures as well. The British Medical Journal reported an Argentine judicial investigation that led to the arrest of the director of a state-run mental hospital, doctors, businessmen and others, after ‘evidence of the trafficking of human organs’ was unearthed, among other crimes. AFP reported that ‘Argentines were aghast at the near-hallucinatory revelations of the horrors involving disappearances, trafficking in corneas, blood, babies, contraband and corruption’ for more than a decade at the hospital, and the discovery in Uruguay of a ‘gang of organ smugglers headed by Argentinians.’ ‘There is traffic in children and organs,’ the Argentine Minister of Health reported…. A novel idea was implemented in Colombia, where security guards of a medial school murdered poor people and sold the bodies to the school for student research; reports indicate that before they were killed, organs that could be sold on the black market were removed. These practices, however, scarcely make a dent in one of the worst human rights records in the continent, compiled by security forces that have long benefited from U.S. training and supply and have now become one of the hemisphere’s top recipients of U.S. military funding [the top recipient by year 2000 as atrocities escalate, the familiar pattern]. As elsewhere, the main targets for mutilation, torture, and murder are priests, union activists, political leaders and others who try to defend the poor, form cooperatives, or otherwise qualify as ‘subversives’ by interfering with the neoliberal economic model implemented under instructions from the U.S. and the World Bank.” –Noam Chomsky, Year 501
16 “In 1986 UNICEF estimated that 40,000 children were dying every day from malnutrition-related diseases. In 1993 the UN estimated that over 700 million people in the world are subject to famine, and that 2 billion or more are malnourished. And such conditions worsen steadily.” –Doug Dowd, Blues for America
17 “In his final speech as U.S. surgeon general, [the very conservative] C. Everett Koop stated: ‘It is the height of hypocrisy for the United States, in our war against drugs, to demand that foreign nations take steps to stop the export of cocaine to our country while at the same time we export nicotine, a drug just as addictive as cocaine, to the rest of the world.’ Peter Bourne, former president of the American Association for World Health, adds: ‘Despite our great concern about the effect of Colombian cocaine on young Americans, more Colombians die today from diseases caused by tobacco products exported to their country by American tobacco companies than do Americans from Colombian cocaine’… During the 1980s, with the aggressive use of Section 301 of the trade act and the threat of retaliatory trade sanctions, the U.S. trade representative forced countries in Latin America and Asia to open their markets to U.S. tobacco corporations… Based on current rates, tobacco will prematurely kill almost 10 percent of the world’s population. These grim prospects are due in large part to the spectacular U.S. infiltration of overseas markets.” –Joyce V. Millen and Timothy H. Holtz; Dying for Growth
18 “Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to corporate advertising and promotional schemes. Transnational soft drink companies are among the most aggressive advertisers in poor countries. In many of the world’s poorest countries they have succeeded in shifting young people’s tastes away from healthier, cheaper, indigenous juices that were enjoyed before the arrival of soft drink companies.” –Joyce V. Millen and Timothy H. Holtz; Dying for Growth
19 The U.S. supplies more conventional weapons to developing countries than do all other countries combined. “At least 85 percent of U.S. weapons sales go countries the U.S. State Department deems undemocratic or repressive, such as Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.” –Jennifer Washburn, 07-09-96; http://www.pacificnews.org
“The global trade in weapons affects the health of the poor in multiple ways. The most obvious impact is the use of arms to maim and kill. Since the Second World War, wars kill more civilians than soldiers; noncombatants, in fact, suffer 90 percent of the casualties of current conflicts. In the 150 conflicts fought since the end of World War II, more than 14 million civilians have been killed. These civilian casualties are not simply accidental… Globally, the nearly $1 trillion annually spent on arms in the 1980s was equivalent to the combined annual incomes of 2.6 billion people in the 44 poorest nations, one-half of the world’s population during this period. The denial of essential nutrition, housing, education, and health services to the poor must be considered in the context of the diversion of money to armaments.” –Joyce V. Millen and Timothy H. Holtz; Dying for Growth
20 Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)—an Englishman, Doctor of Divinity, Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland—wrote Gulliver’s Travels and “A Modest Proposal” among other works of satire and advocacy for social justice. In “A Modest Proposal,” Swift suggests satirically that poor Irish parents sell the flesh of their children to the wealthy, for the benefit of family and country. Swift writes, “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.” Swift devoted much of his writing to the struggle of the Irish people against the English hegemony.
21 “Some estimate that as many as 200 million children work worldwide as “bonded laborers” (a euphemism for slavery), factory and agricultural workers, domestic help, and sex workers. Many of these children are sold by their parents, while others are kidnapped from poor communities by slave dealers who sell them to manufacturers seeking cheap labor… Children are not only sought after as laborers because they are considered cheap or because they have small and nimble fingers. They are preferred by employers because they do not engage in labor disputes, they accept longer working hours, and they are easily subdued…” –Jim Yong Kim and Joyce V. Millen et al., Dying for Growth
“The last 25 years has contributed to the history of horrors of humanity a new form of exploitation of men by men: organ trafficking.” –prestigious Spanish transplant pioneer and former president of the Committee of Experts on Transplants of the Council of Europe, (in Spanish) http://www.el-mundo.es/ 2000/05/14/sociedad/14N0077.html; translated by José-Luis Vivas, who adds in summary of part of the above article: “According to Matesanz, organ trafficking has been surrounded by legends, but it is a reality. As an example he puts forward the TV documentary produced by the Spanish EL MUNDO TV, showing how organs can be bought in the city of Mexico. He compares organ trafficking to slavery and sexual exploitation. The rich may obtain from the poor what they need. He believes trafficking in kidneys is extensive and proved… Organ trafficking is a universal phenomenon, according to him, maybe with the exception of Europe. He mentions India, the Philippines, Thailand, East Europe and Latin America.” –email to author, 11/15/00.
22 The term “structural adjustment” often refers to privatization of industry and services and/or to cutbacks of social spending on education, health care, and food subsidies, etc., along with other conditions—harmful to the general population but profitable to the wealthy elite and foreign investors—which are routinely imposed by the lending requirements of the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank upon less developed nations. Or “structural adjustments” may refer to so-called reforms made by any government against the mass of citizens, even in highly developed nations, such as the U.S.
23 “Trafficking in persons—the illegal and highly profitable transport and sale of human beings for the purpose of exploiting their labor—is a slavery-like practice… The number of persons trafficked each year is impossible to determine, but it is clearly a large-scale problem, with estimates ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions of victims worldwide. The State Department estimates that each year, 50,000-100,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States alone, approximately half of whom are trafficked into bonded sweatshop labor or domestic servitude. Trafficking is also a truly global phenomenon. The International Organization for Migration has reported on cases of trafficking in Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, South America, Central America, and North America.” –Regan Ralph; Human Rights Watch
“There are over 100 million street children worldwide…and the numbers of street children are increasing everywhere.” –oneworld.org
24 “Eleven years after the end of the Cold War, the US spends tens of billions of dollars maintaining 200,000 troops in Europe and Asia, where our strong, prosperous allies themselves have military budgets far larger than those of their prospective enemies. Every year the U.S. spends over $70 billion, in up-front and back-up expenses, keeping U.S. troops in prosperous, friendly Western European and East Asian countries, and over $20 billion maintaining a needlessly large nuclear weapons arsenal. For this amount of money, the U.S. could provide every student in a public university or community college with free tuition and meet the need of every working parent seeking child care for their children, with billions left over.” –Ralph Nader; http://www.votenader.org, 11/3/00.
25 “To define an evil in terms of a specific group [or person], where such an evil is not inherent in the group [or person] but capable of springing up anywhere, is to remove responsibility from ourselves…. Thus, for present purposes, it is enormously useful to show (as Hannah Arendt did) how genocide could result from the piling up of mundane bureaucratic decisions by ordinary men… To respond to an act already consummated, by punishing the specific ones who were guilty is to leave us free to act, unnoticed, in the same way, until the day of judgment—always one disaster behind.” –Howard Zinn; The Politics of History
26 Noted Jewish intellectual Hannah Arendt reported for The New Yorker at a war crimes trial in 1961 following the recent capture of Otto Adolf Eichmann. Arendt’s “first reaction to Eichmann—who was accused of crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, and war crimes—was that he was ‘not even sinister.’ Arendt argues that ‘The deeds were monstrous, but the doer…was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous.’ Arendt’s perception that Eichmann seemed to be a common man, evidenced in his transparent superficiality and mediocrity left her astonished in measuring the unaccounted evil committed by him, that is, organizing the deportation of millions of Jews to the concentration camps. Actually, what Arendt had detected in Eichmann was not even stupidity, in her words, he portrayed something entirely negative, it was thoughtlessness. Eichmann’s ordinariness implied an incapacity for independent critical thought: ‘… the only specific characteristic one could detect in his past as well as in his behavior during the trial and the preceding police examination was something entirely negative: it was not stupidity but a curious, quite authentic inability to think.’ (emphasis added) …it was not only Eichmann, as an isolated person, who was normal, whereas all other bureaucrats were sadist monsters. One was before a bureaucratic compact mass of men who were perfectly normal, but whose acts were monstrous. Behind such terrible normality of the bureaucratic mass, who was able to commit the greatest atrocities that the world has even seen, Arendt addressed the question of the banality of evil…[which] find as a locus of manifestation the common citizen, who has not reflected… Almost 10 years after Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt reaffirms in Thinking and Moral Considerations this same dimension of evil: ‘…the phenomenon of evil deeds, committed on a gigantic scale, which could not be traced to any particularity of wickedness, pathology, or ideological conviction in the doer, whose only personal distinction was a perhaps extraordinary shallowness.’” –Bethania Assy, Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy
27 “The words of playwright Arthur Miller come to mind. ‘Few of us,’ he wrote, ‘can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.’” –John Pilger; Iraq Under Siege; 61.
28 “Well, the truth is” the United States “is Number One, but not the way the politicians and experts would have us think. America is, for example, Number One in billionaires—and we’re Number One in children living in poverty among the nineteen major industrial nations. We’re Number One in health care spending and we’re Number One in infant mortality. We’re Number One in belief in God and we’re Number One in murder… Reflecting trends that have roughly held steady, as of 1992, out of the 19 major industrialized countries, based on per capita figures, the United States was Number 15 in life expectancy though Number 1 in total health spending, Number 13 in public health spending and Number 1 in percentage of population without health insurance. Additionally, the United States was Number 1 in all of the following: infant mortality, infants born at low birth weight, death of children younger than five, and in not offering paid maternity leave; in beef consumption, snack food consumption, and coronary bypass operations; in marriage, divorce, belief in God, the devil, heaven, and hell; in respect for authority and willingness to fight for the country; in percentage of people who think it’s all right to keep money they have found; in billionaires, and in children and elderly in poverty; in real wealth and unequal wealth distribution; in big homes and homelessness; in military spending and in not spending on the poor, the aged, and the disabled; in military aid to developing countries, and in not giving humanitarian aid to developing countries; in executive salaries, inequality of pay, and in not offering paid vacation days; in not voting; in U.N. dues outstanding and U.N. Security Council vetoes since 1980; in not ratifying international human rights treaties; in the murder of children, deaths by gun, gun ownership, deaths by capital punishment, reported rapes, drunk driving fatalities, and leniency toward drinking and driving; in incarceration; in greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants, and contributions to acid rain; in forest depletion, garbage creation, hazardous waste, cars, gasoline consumption, televisions, radios, VCRs, and in book titles not published annually.” –Andrew L. Shapiro, We’re Number One!
29 Adam Smith (1723-1790), in the oft-quoted The Wealth of Nations, writes that market forces, if left to their own workings, will function, as if ‘led by an invisible hand,’ for the benefit of all society.
30 “The smuggling of women and children into the United States who are forced into prostitution and other forms of slave labor…is especially prevalent in Southern California, where authorities believe tens of thousands of people are being forced to work in sweatshops, restaurants, mom-and-pop stores and even underground brothels…. As many as 10,000 Asian women are believed to be working in underground brothels in Southern California alone, said Hae Jung Cho, project director of the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking…. According to U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, ‘Trafficking is the new slavery of the world… Worldwide, trafficking nets at lest $7 billion a year—exceeded only by international drug and arms trades.’ The exact number of victims is difficult to determine, experts and advocates say. But a CIA report found that about 50,000 people—many of them women and children—are brought to the United States under false pretenses each year and held in servitude… ‘They face tremendous physical, psychological and sexual torture,’ Cho said. ‘There is a labor shortage, as we know, and unfortunately people—instead of paying decent wages—look to find slaves who they don’t have to pay.’” –Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2000
31 “It is only fair to add that the wonders of the free market have opened up alternatives, not only for rich landowners, speculators, corporations, and other privileged sectors, but even for the starving children who press their faces against car windows at street corners at night, pleading for a few cents to survive. Describing the miserable plight of Managua’s street children, David Werner, the author of Where There is No Doctor and other books on health and society, writes that ‘marketing shoe cement to children has become a lucrative business,’ and imports from multinational suppliers are rising nicely as ‘shopkeepers in depressed communities do a thriving business with weekly refills of the children’s little bottle’ for glue-sniffing, said to ‘take away hunger.’ The miracle of the market is again at work, though Nicaraguans still have much to learn… Some of the distance yet to be traveled was revealed in a Canadian Broadcasting Company documentary, The Body Parts Business, ‘a gruesome litany of depredation,’ reporting murder of children and the poor to extract organs, ‘eyeballs being removed from living skulls by medical pirates armed only with coffee spoons,’ and other such entrepreneurial achievements. Such practices, long reported in Latin America and perhaps now spreading to Russia, have recently been acknowledged by one of the most prized U.S. creations, the government that upholds ‘our values and aspirations’ in El Salvador, where the procurator for the defense of children reported that the ‘big trade in children in El Salvador’ involves not only kidnapping for export, but also their use ‘for pornographic videos, for organ transplants, for adoption and for prostitutions.’ Hardly a secret, Hugh O’Shaughnessy observes, recalling an operation of the Salvadoran army in June 1982 near the River Lempa, where the U.S.-trained troops ‘had a very successful day’s baby-hunting,’ loading their helicopters with fifty babies whose ‘parents have never seen them since.’ O’Shaughnessy’s report on ‘Takeaway babies farmed to order’ appeared in the London Observer…” –Noam Chomsky, World Orders Old and New
32 “Marijuana growing in America has evolved…into a burgeoning high-tech industry with earnings that are estimated at $32 billion a year. That makes it easily the nation’s biggest cash crop, [not] corn ($14 billion) or soybeans ($11 billion)…” –Michael Pollan, New York Times Magazine, February 19, 1995“The number of Colombians who die from U.S.-produced lethal drugs exceeds the number of North Americans who die from cocaine, and is far greater relative to population. In East Asia, U.S.-produced lethal drugs contribute to millions of deaths. These countries are compelled not only to accept the products but also advertising for them, under threat of trade sanctions. The effects of ‘aggressive marketing and advertising by American firms is, in a good measure, responsible for…a sizeable increase in smoking rates for women and youth in Asian countries where doors were forced open by threat of severe U.S. trade sanctions,’ public health researchers conclude. The Colombian cartels, in contrast, are not permitted to run huge advertising campaigns in which a Joe Camel-counterpart extols the wonders of cocaine. We are therefore entitled, indeed morally obligated, to ask whether Colombia, Thailand, China, and other targets of U.S. trade policies and lethal-export promotion have the right to conduct military, chemical and biological warfare in North Carolina. And if not, why not? We might also ask why there are no Delta Force raids on U.S. banks and chemical corporations, though it is no secret that they too are engaged in the narcotrafficking business. And why the Pentagon is not gearing up to attack Canada, now replacing Colombia and Mexico with high potency marijuana that has already become British Colombia’s most valuable agricultural product and one of the most important sectors of the economy, joined by Quebec and closely followed by Manitoba, with a tenfold increase in just the past 2 years. Or to attack the United States, a major producer of marijuana with production rapidly expanding, including hydroponic groweries, and long the center of illicit manufacture of high-tech illicit drugs (ATS, amphetamine-type stimulants), the fastest growing sector of drug abuse, with 30 million users worldwide, probably surpassing heroin and cocaine.” –Noam Chomsky, Z Magazine, June 2000.
33 A recent Associated Press headline and article: “Granny Arrested For Organ Sales” “The boy thought his grandmother was taking him to Disneyland, but Russian police say she had other plans: to sell her grandson so his organs could be used for transplants. Police in Ryazan, 125 miles southeast of Moscow, said Saturday that they arrested a woman after they were tipped that she was trying to sell her grandson to a man who was going to take the boy to the West. There his organs were to be removed and sold, a Ryazan police duty officer said. After a surveillance operation, police moved in to arrest the woman Tuesday, capturing the event on a videotape that was released in part Saturday. Police did not reveal the woman’s name. The woman was helped in the scheme by the boy’s uncle, who told police the child was being sold for about $70,000. When asked how he could sell his nephew, the uncle replied: ‘My mother said that it is none of my business, he is her grandson.’ The boy, whose age was not released, lived with his grandmother. Police said she told him he was being taken to Disneyland. Body parts have been smuggled out of Russia in the past for sale in the West as organ replacements.” –www.washingtonpost.com, AP, 10/28/00.
34 “Between 300,000 and 800,000 children work as hired laborers in commercial U.S. agriculture today. These farm-worker children weed cotton fields, pick lettuce and cantaloupe and climb rickety ladders in cherry and apple orchards. They often work 12 or more hours a day… They risk serious illness, including cancer and brain damage, from exposure to pesticides, and suffer high rates of injury from working with sharp tools and heavy machinery. Despite long and grueling days, some child farmers are paid only $2 an hour. Many of them drop out of school, too exhausted to study. Nearly half of them never graduate from high school. Lacking other options, many are relegated to a lifetime of low-wage field labor that perpetuates the cycle of farm-worker poverty through generations… An estimated 100,000 children suffer agriculture-related injuries annually in the United States… The 14-hour days worked by a 13-year-old are not prohibited by law in the U.S. Children as young as 12 can legally work unlimited hours in agriculture… [which] amounts to de facto race-based discrimination, since the vast majority of farm-worker children are Latino and other racial minorities.” –Victoria Riskin and Mike Farrell, Los Angeles Times, October 12, 2000.