Saturday, February 20, 2010

And the Cost-Free Stimulus Plan Is...

Drop all politically-motivated economic sanctions.

If the U.S. government lifted all trade restrictions and embargoes at once, from Cuba to the Cote d'Ivoire, from Burma to Belarus, businesses would have real, tangible reasons to get over their skittishness and expand.

We've had an embargo against Cuba for a long time. What good has it done us? And yet, if we opened trade up again, how many jobs might be created importing, exporting, reviving a long-dead branch of the American tourist industry, possibly finding offshore projects for unemployed American construction workers?

We've tried to punish Myanmar's military government for human rights abuses by cutting off trade possibilities for its people. If sanctions were lifted, could U.S. companies and local citizens both benefit? If we stopped insisting on isolating the already-isolated military government, might their methods gradually soften? I don't know for sure, but if what you've been doing has spent decades not working, isn't it time to try something else?

The government has injected money into the economy. Now let's open up new opportunities for companies and entrepreneurs to use it.


  1. I think this plan would be especially effective given the economic roots of some of the problems we try and fight with sanctions:

    For example, during the genocide-war in Darfur, Sudan (which has now devolved into banditry), many US activist groups called for sanctions and divestment, reasoning that blocking funding to the government would stop them from buying weapons with which to attack their own people.

    But the violence had not started because the government was evil and wanted to kill people: the violence started because for years Sudan had not had enough resources to go around, and a devastating drought in the 1980's had turned things from bad to worse. When some tribes began protesting inequities in distribution, the government responded with brutal force.

    Somehow, I did not think that impoverishing Sudan even further would improve the situation. And if we've learned anything from North Korea, it's that a government which feels threatened will stop buying a lot of other things before it stops buying weapons.

  2. The World Health Organization prepared a fairly comprehensive public health report on violence as a source of physical/ emotional/ psychological health problems.

    They covered a range of different types of violence from self-harm to open war. In order to enable people to prevent violence they studied in depth the causes of each of the different kinds.

    Across the board, poverty is a primary cause of increased violence.


  4. Not much to say except I totally agree with you on this, and thanks for commenting on my blog :)


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