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Who is guilty?
The 4th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker



Amsterdam, 12 October 2000

Dear reader, 

Prime minister Mohamed Mahathir of Malaysia granted himself a raise of 22% to make up for a pay cut in 1997 of 10% because of the Asian Financial Crisis. Now he is going to earn about 5000 dollar a month, not much compared with for example the 10.000 $ a month salary of members of the Organising Committee of the 2004 Olympic Games. These greedy elitepeople agreed to take a cut of 50% because even their fellow leaders found a salary of $ 20.000 a month too extravagant.
But what about the pay cuts most poorer Asians had to endure during the Crisis? Are they compemsated?

I was in Thailand in 1998 and I saw many half finished office buildings. Work had stopped and the workers sacked. And I read more facts in the paper.
A truck driver was left with 6000 baht after a pay cut of 2000 baht (1 baht is about $ 0.025). His wife lost her work. Because you need at least 10.000 baht to live a decent life, their son had to leave school as did more than ten percent of the Thai school population. Do you think the driver ever got a pay raise of 40% (22% does not make up for the pay cut), that his wife found again some work and that the son rejoined school and recouped his losses in education because he did not attend school for two years?
What to think about the 300.000 Thai kids that were forced to enter the working force to replace the more expensive adult people (to make goods that often are sold on the Western market)?

Have all the girls that were forced into prostitution returned home? Have they forgotten their horrible experiences?
What to think about all the child prostitutes that had to find some money so their parents could live?
According to official figures a million Thais passed the poverty line of $1 a day - in the wrong direction. This will add considerable to the figure of one out of four kids that are short and underweight - and because of that fail to get any decent education.
Will any of them be compensated for the lost years, the lost food, the nightmarish time?

I cite out of a report of Mr Shivakumar, published in the World Bank's Social Monitor: "Thailand's economic crisis had hit the poorest hardest by significantly reducing employment and real wages of people with education." Also the upcoming middle class was hit. He continues: "Other researchers have found more children abandoned by families hard hit by the crisis, more child labour, more school dropouts, more child prostitution, more child beggars, more suicides, more crimes and more drug trade." He forgets to add that poverty is an important reason why Thailand has already more than a million people with HIV.

But is Mohamed Mahathir the culprit? Should we point our arrows at him? No, I think he is only partly to blame. The big culprits are living in the West where the big money is, where they even profited from the crisis. Before the crisis they gave loans against a staggering percentage and earned much money. During the crisis maybe they lost some money but that loss was compensated by lower prices for primary products (timber for example) and the possibility to buy factories very cheaply. When I went to Thailand I met a man on the plane who told me that he was going to open a factory in Thailand to make wooden toys for Western children. The wages were so low that he could make a high profit in a very short time.

Mohamed is not the prime suspect. You find the big scoundrels in the West. Though the economy in Asia was going down the economy in the West flourished. The brain drain was strengthened and the West was and is absorbing the cream off the Asian human capital. So it is guaranteed Asia will never reach a level that can be compared with the economic level in the West.
The prime suspects are the Western leaders. Many of them are unknown. They reign in silence in the background where they reside in big offices far from the spotlights of the media. Maybe you know the name of the president of the United States, maybe you even know who leads the French, the German or the British government. But do you know who leads the IMF, who prepares the plans of the World Bank, who denies the poor farmers the right to export their agricultural products because of the rules of the WTO? Maybe you even do not know what abbreviations like WTO or IMF mean. In these institutions reign people that are saying that "the crisis in Thailand has led to many severe, UNFORESEEN and sudden impacts…." Clearly the leaders of these mighty institutions did wrong because they did not foresee the horrible outcome of their policies for millions of poor people. These incapable managers continue their secluded, happy and comfortable life irrespective of what happens to the masses of the world.

Do not demonstrate anymore on the streets, do not fight anymore against the police when you do not agree with the policy of the IMF.
Do attack directly the people who are guilty. You can read some more about this idea in chapter 14 of The Scarists, Power by attacking individuals.
And do attack them in their home, just as the child of the truck driver was attacked in his private life when the Crisis, caused by the leaders of the IMF, denied him the possibility to get a decent education.

Yours truly, Joost van Steenis


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5. Too many prisoners
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