January 29, 2010

The riches of the poor

Posted: 08:01 PM ET

Excerpted from A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner. © 2008 by E. Benjamin Skinner.  Excerpted with permission by Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For our purposes, let’s say that the center of the moral universe is in Room S-3800 of the UN Secretariat, Manhattan. From here, you are some five hours from being able to negotiate the sale, in broad daylight, of a healthy boy or girl. Your slave will come in any color you like, as Henry Ford said, as long as it’s black. Maximum age: fifteen. He or she can be used for anything. Sex or domestic labor are the most frequent uses, but it’s up to you.

Before you go, let’s be clear on what you are buying. A slave is a human being who is forced to work through fraud or threat of violence for no pay beyond subsistence. Agreed? Good. You may have thought you missed your chance to own a slave. Maybe you imagined that slavery died along with the 360,000 Union soldiers whose blood fertilized the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. Perhaps you assumed that there was meaning behind the dozen international conventions banning the slave trade, or that the deaths of 30 million people in world wars had spread freedom across the globe.

But you’re in luck. By our mere definition, you are living at a time when there are more slaves than at any point in history. If you’re going to buy one in five hours, however, you’ve really got to stop navel-gazing over things like law and the moral advance of humanity. Get a move on.

First, hail a taxi to JFK International Airport. If you choose the Queensboro Bridge to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the drive should take under an hour. With no baggage, you’ll speed through security in time to make a direct flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Flying time: three hours.

The final hour is the strangest. After disembarking, you will cross the tarmac to the terminal where drummers in vodou getup and a dancing midget greet you with song. Based on Transportation Security Administration warnings posted in the departure terminal at JFK, you might expect abject chaos at Toussaint L’Ouverture Airport. Instead, you find orderly lines leading to the visa stamp, no bribes asked, a short wait for your bag, then a breeze through customs. Outside the airport, the cabbies and porters will be aggressive, but not threatening. Assuming you speak no Creole, find an English-speaking porter and offer him $20 to translate for the day.

Ask your translator to hail the most common form of transport, a tap-tap, a flatbed pickup retrofitted with benches and a brightly colored canopy. You will have to take a couple of these, but they only cost 10 gourdes (25 cents) each. Usually handpainted with signs in broken English or Creole, tap-taps often include the words my God or Jesus. My God it’s my life reads one; another announces welcome to Jesus. Many are ornate, featuring windshields covered in frill, doodads, and homages to such figures as Che Guevara, Ronaldinho, or reggae legend Gregory Isaacs. The driver’s navigation is based on memory, instinct. There will be no air conditioning. Earplugs are useful, as the sound system, which cost more than the rig itself, will make your chest vibrate with the beats of Haitian pop and American hip-hop. Up to twenty people may accompany you: five square inches on a wooden bench will miraculously accommodate a woman with a posterior the size of a tractor tire. Prepare your spine.

You’ll want to head up Route de Delmas toward the suburb of Pétionville, where many of the country’s wealthiest thirty families— who control the nation’s economy—maintain a pied-à-terre. As you drive southeast away from the sea, the smells change from rotting fish to rotting vegetables. Exhaust fumes fill the air. You’ll pass a billboard featuring a smiling girl in pigtails and the words: Give me your hand. Give me tomorrow. Down with Child Servitude. Chances are, like the majority of Haitians, you can’t read French or Creole. Like them, you ignore the sign.

Heading out of the airport, you’ll pass two UN peacekeepers, one with a Brazilian patch, the other with an Argentine flag. As you pass the blue helmets, smile, wave, and receive dumbfounded stares in return. The United Nations also has Jordanians and Peruvians here, parked in APVs fifteen minutes northwest, along the edge of the hyperviolent Cité Soleil slum, the poorest and most densely populated six square miles in the poorest and most densely populated country in the hemisphere. The peacekeepers don’t go in much, neither do the national police. If they do, the gangsters that run the place start shooting. Best to steer

clear, although you’d get a cheap price on children there. You might even get offered a child gratis.

You’ll notice the streets of the Haitian capital are, like the tap-taps, overstuffed, banged up, yet colorful. The road surfaces range from bad to terrible, and grind even the toughest SUVs down to the chassis. Parts of Delmas are so steep that the truck may sputter and die under the exertion.

Port-au-Prince was built to accommodate about 150,000 people, and hasn’t seen too many centrally planned upgrades since 1804. Over the last fifty years, some 2 million people, a quarter of the nation’s population, have arrived from the countryside. They’ve brought their animals. Chickens scratch on side streets, and boys lead prizefighting cocks on string leashes. Monstrously fat black pigs root in sooty, putrid garbage piled eight feet high on street corners or even higher in enormous pits that drop off sidewalks and wind behind houses.

A crowd swells out of a Catholic church broadcasting a fervent mass. Most Haitians are Catholic. Despite the efforts of Catholic priests, most also practice vodou. In the countryside, vodou is often all they practice.

You may see a white jeep or van with a siren, a red cross, and the word ambulence handpainted on it. You might assume this is an ambulance. It is not. These private vehicles only carry dead people. Public health is spotty at best. The annual budget for the health care of the UN peacekeepers in Haiti is greater than the annual budget for the country’s Health Ministry. It’s a bad idea to get sick here, as I was to find out.

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A. Smith, Oregon   January 29th, 2010 8:35 pm ET

Yes Human Trafficking, collection of body parts, all for the rich that afford those items and they number in the millions that vie for those services around the world.

But Wait!

What about the slave wages that Corporate America pays? Here in America they either push their employees out the door by abusive practices and replace them with cheaper help or temporary hires OR they simply go overseas where they can do the same abusive workplace practices and pay their employees pennys on the dollar.

How accepted is that? That is America's routine Corporate practices. And when a organization yells about child slavery pouring out athletic footwear or designer jeans, the Corporate raiders strike to slap lawsuits on them to hush them up, and pour millions into a smear campaign which is quickly swallowed up by America's News Media outlets, oh the poor American Corporations doing such favors to the indigenous people's of South America, Caribbean Islands and India!

The slave trade is alive and well because Ethics and Morality are seldom ever taught in public education. They certainly are not found in many areas of politics nor in the average workplace.

When a entire civilization has very little regard for ethical behavior, it breaks down into the Republican Reagan Mantra of 'Me First and who cares about anyone else'.

In fact we expect a very high level of ethical behavior by the medical and science community. It is clear that is not being followed by doctors illegally harvesting body parts from the dead Haitian victims and scientists that are designing ever more lethal virus's for organizations to use for nefarious purposes.

Ali Saqib   January 29th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

Christianity: (78.5%) (Includes Protestantism and Roman Catholicism)
Judaism (1.7%) Approximately 25% of this population lives in New York City
Muslim Over 1% About 1 million lives in CA(No Muslim Representative from CA).

Religious Affiliations of Members of Congress
Protestant 54.7%
Catholic  30.1%
Jewish 8.4%
Muslim 0.4%

There are 1.08% of Christian Congress Members for each 1% of Christian population in United States.
There are 4.9% of Jew Congress Members for each 1% of Jewish population in United States (a total of 45 Jewish Members are in 111th Congress of USA)
There are 0.04%(Only Two) of Muslim Congress Member of All Muslim populations in United States.

7 Jew Member of House of Representative are from New York. There is 1 Jewish Member of House Representative for each 0.06% of Jewish population in New York. Even the majority Christian population has only 1.08% of House Representative for every 1% of Christian population.

doubtingthomas2010   January 29th, 2010 10:03 pm ET

Larry, if you're going to make blogs about Haiti, can you post them by Haitians. There is more to Haiti than voodoo, child slavery (which is a worldwide problem) and human trafficking. I am aware of the problems Haiti has ( as all countries do) but you're portraying Haiti the way the media always has. There is a rich culture and a lot of Haitians (besides Wyclef) who are trying to make Haiti a stronger nation. It these hard times it would help if Haiti is portrayed the way Haitians know it to be besides the problems.

Cajazz76:24:8   January 29th, 2010 10:36 pm ET

Larry, I have spent several years of my life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where the importation, exploitation, and abuse of citizens from outside that country is akin, with no reservations at all, to slavery. Primarily what I have personally witnessed were Filipino expatriates from all walks of life, more often nurses and laborers and those from other countries,as well. The treatment is often on a scale of accounts from those we have read or heard from African slaves during the darkest days in the evolution of this democracy. A monarchy does not have to conform to any conditions a democracy should, not always has, but should. I have then and do now decry their blind eye of acceptance that those of the monarchy cast toward this vile business. The monarchy permits it because they do it themselves, all those of the Saud family. The equally disgusting fact is, our government has known of it for over half a century and does, nor will ever do anything to condemn it. Like the catalyst of slavery that occurred within the borders of this democracy, its the oil, as well.

Albert   January 29th, 2010 10:43 pm ET

Alright, give the junk a break. Everyone is so sick of all the activist artists and celebrities piling out of the woodwork to "save the children." I worked with the UN DPKO in Haiti for 18 months and there was not one single reported case of predators, etc. Now all you clowns are screaming to the heavens about this but not one of you can cite a case or show where anjy of these predators or slavers are actually operating in Haiti. This and that fool Aaron Cohen who has bamboozled all of you into thinking he is doing great works in Cambodia. I live there and I have never seen him. Never heard of him until your little "special" on child trafficking in Cambodia. He is self-aggrandizing and is just making a name for himself and his band of merry men.
In short, if you ever want to get people to give aid, all of you need to stop hyping this nonsense and let the people who are really there to help do their work. All of these activist celebrities and artists, and, yeah, what the hell, all of you, should give up one half of your personal worth to help these unfortunates if you really feel so deeply.
Report the factual news and not the hype!

Brenda   January 30th, 2010 1:16 am ET

WOW what a powerful article–I wasn't aware about slavery. I feel it is more About The Greedy Man vs. The Poor People. @A.Smith I agree with u 100% u have a way of getting to the point without putting to bluntly.

Dodie   January 30th, 2010 4:52 am ET

Powerful and brought out many facets of the undiscussed.

A. Smith! Beautifully written. And your point well understood.

We shiver at the thought of horrific acts to mankind; however, under cloak and veil, other brutal acts are carried out here in the US will little notice! Could it be society has an acceptance built around this phenomenon, just like the Haitians? We smugly point our fingers at other countries and under bated breath whisper ‘how could a country allow such treatment of the human being’. While here in the US, similar treatments or treatments of another kind continue to go unnoticed!

With mothers selling their 6 month or less old babies for sex in exchange for drugs or the step father who has his 8 year old daughter sitting on his unclothed lap watching porn, or the 4 year old girl telling a social worker that the man next door made her gag and ‘it’ tasted bad……

Now some of you may say, Ah, but that is only in the poorest of places or city ghettos. This does not happen on my block or in my city. It could never happen in my home!

What the human mind does not want to see, our eyes will not! Next time take a good look at your neighbor’s children as you take off the blinders… Only then you will be able to see with clarity! And along with that comes the harshest of realities!

Dodie   January 30th, 2010 5:12 am ET

@ Ali Saqib

Don't feel bad. My belief is Not represented by anyone in Washington! It is.... what it is! Life is just not fair!!!

Kat   January 30th, 2010 9:20 am ET

Larry, this is sooooo good. There are a lot of slaves today even here in America. Am just praying that some of these people who are adopting these children do not molest them or end up using them as slaves because so many of them are perverts who have been lurking for an opportunity.

Kat   January 30th, 2010 9:23 am ET

hope many of these adopted haitian children will not be made into sex slaves by any of these people because so many people are so perverted these days or get so bored sexually that they want a third person in their bedroom

Ted   January 30th, 2010 1:39 pm ET

@ Ali Saqib

To continue with your listings:

There are 17 jewish senators in the Senate or 17%, (from 2% of the population of the USA).
1 black senator( representing about 30% of the population).
70% of the top three executives from the Wall Street are jewish, these guys brought us the latest financial crises.
Most americans who spied on us for foreign countries were jewish, such as the Rosenbergs, Karl Fuchs, etc.
Jewish organisations control our government, they give the direction for our presidents. Just see how President Obama changed his mind about the israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   January 30th, 2010 11:20 pm ET

This article makes for disturbing reading.

@Dodie January 30th, 2010 4:52 am ET
Please spare us some of the gross details.

@A. Smith, Oregon January 29th, 2010 8:35 pm ET
Yes, it does seem like we are going backwards now in regards to slave wages, etc.

Quote from Bible – (MARK 10:23, 24 & 25) The Rich Young Man

23) – "Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

24) – The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Childen, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!"

25) – It i easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   January 30th, 2010 11:25 pm ET

Correction sorry, (25) above should read –

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

lola   January 31st, 2010 1:12 am ET

Funny that when cowards hide anonymously behind their computers, anti-semitism soars. Shameful!

A. Smith, Oregon   February 1st, 2010 2:53 am ET

@ Jessie, in a democratic system where money is used to purchase nearly everything, the bible quote you posted was used in an attempt to state physical belongings which hold someone back from crossing the great abyss.

It is not simply MONEY, it is anything and everything in the Physical Plane of existence. Children, a spouse, money, a bible, a 'holy' book, a 'lucky' charm, a niece, any cherished person, thing or item etc. which holds that person back is like a chain around your arms and legs.

Unlike some book, I am telling you this @ Jessie from experience first hand. It is not just MONEY.

Frank Bajak writing and reporting for the Associated Press today in
Port-au-Prince, Haiti stated that ten Americans were detained by Haitian police on Saturday as they tried to bus 33 children across the border into the Dominican Republic, allegedly without proper documents.

The Baptist church members from Idaho called it a "Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission," meant to save abandoned children from the chaos following Haiti's earthquake. Their plan was to scoop up 100 kids and take them by bus to a rented hotel at a beach resort in the Dominican Republic, where they planned to establish an orphanage.

Whether they realized it or not, these Americans — the first known to be taken into custody since the Jan. 12 earthquake — put themselves in the middle of a firestorm in Haiti, where government leaders have suspended adoptions amid fears that parent-less or lost children are more vulnerable than ever to child trafficking.

Hmm, scoop up 100 children that appeared homeless and bus them across the border to a beach resort in the Dominican Republic? And its a surprise they were ARRESTED? How many times have they done that before? I imagine the members in that Baptist Church will be paying for legal representation, bribes and fines for quite some time.

Some of the kidnapped children told the authority's they were definitely NOT orphans, and were lied to by the Christian Baptist organization who told them they were simply going to a daycare school. I hope these people are all convicted of kidnapping these children in Haitian courts.

Dodie ~ CA   February 1st, 2010 12:38 pm ET

Jessie from Auckland, NZ

There were no gross words or details presented. However, attitudes of denying or not wanting to look at our issues, for whatever reason, will continue to perpetuate this syndrome!

DR. GARY   February 1st, 2010 10:50 pm ET



Donald L Allen   February 2nd, 2010 3:36 am ET

hi Larry Donald L Allen I can say what mater the most I let my work do the talking I just want to here the response you no it a fact it well do the talking four you you just haft to be welling to here it you no Larry King see you later on on CNN you no I listen to what I here you and the CNN cure and what you say and than I let you no what I think so see you one,s again be well Donald hop you like my picture there good like all way,s

Ted   February 2nd, 2010 1:24 pm ET

@ lola

I only quoted the statistical details without any charges of wrong doings!I You cannot deny that the USA is run by jews, they control Hollywood, Wall Street, most banks, our congress, TV companies, newspapers and our politicians, just to name a few branches!!
The jews comprise only 2% of our population, then why do we have 17 jewish senators or 17% of the senate?

f you call me antisemite than you are dead wrong. I have jewish friends, my brother married a jewish woman and the only person I still keep meeting from high school days is also a jew!!

However, it bothers me that if one mentioned that Medoff, who stole billions from investors is a jew, immediately we are called antisemites. You must admit that most large frauds of stealing hundreds of millions were commited by jews, if not all. I could give you a very long list of names!
If we criticise Israel for occupying the west bank, building illegal towns for illegal immigrants, for bombing innocent civilians with white phosphor forbidden by the Geneva Convention, then we are antisemits.

I know, jews are the chosen people and they can do anything they want!
Do you know that many rabbies and progressive jews critisize the doings of Israel?
Are they also antisemites???

Just to educate you, not only the jews, but the arabs, the assyrians, the ethiopians and quite a few other small folks in that area are SEMITES and jews are only 5% of that group!!
So when Israel attacks arabs it is killing SEMITES!!
Is Israel also antisemite??
When I call the Mafia bloody gangsters am I anti-italian?

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