Shortly after the terrible Haitian earthquake, TV evangelist Pat Robertson declared that Haiti "had made a deal with the Devil." To read my post regarding his absurd commentary go here.
Earlier this week I discovered in an AP report published in The Dallas Morning News (Monday, February 22, 2010) that, in fact, a deal has been struck with the Devil in Haiti. Trouble is Rev. Robertson, the Haitian people stand in the role of victims of the deal rather than partners.
Consider the facts of the Haitian economy:
"Jordanie Pinquie Rebecca leans forward and guides a piece of suit-jacket wool and its silky lining into a sewing machine, where they're bound together to be hemmed.
If she does this for eight hours, she will earn $3.09. Her boss will ship the pinstriped suit she helped make to the United States, tariff-free. There a shopper will buy it from Jos. A. Bank Clothiers for $550."
Political leaders and economists argue today that the garment assembly industry could be the way out of extreme poverty for the beleagured island nation. At the same time, everyone agrees that wages in Haiti in this sector and all others are far, far below a level that could lift anyone from poverty. At the same time, unemployment in Haiti before the earthquake stood somewhere between 60 and 80%--so extreme as to defy careful or accurate measures.
Welcome to the reality of unchecked capitalism in which markets function as the new agents of colonialism and imposed, systemic poverty for the benefit of the non-poor nations who masquerade as legitimate trading partners.
So, who made "a deal with the Devil"?
I'm thinking it was not people like Jordanie Pinquie Rebecca and her family.
No, the deal's much closer to home.
You can read about it on the clothing labels in my overly-stuffed clothes closet.
You can find it described in the annual shareholders' reports that direct our eyes only toward the bottom line and away from the misery of those who support the system that pays us rich profits and dividends beyond anything fair, just or reasonable.
I find these words from James 5:1-6 particularly indicting (forgive my slight edits):
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who [made your clothes and] mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters [and the tailors] have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.