world trade organization calls for “compassionate slavery” at wharton

Well, it looks as though our friends The Yes Men, have struck again, delivering yet another brilliant piece of WTO impersonation. Here’s an excerpt from their press release:

At a Wharton Business School conference on business in Africa, World Trade Organization representative Hanniford Schmidt announced the creation of a WTO initiative for “full private stewardry of labor” for the parts of Africa that have been hardest hit by the 500 years of Africa’s free trade with the West.

The initiative will require Western companies doing business in some parts of Africa to own their workers outright. Schmidt recounted how private stewardship has been successfully applied to transport, power, water, traditional knowledge, and even the human genome. The WTO’s “full private stewardry” program will extend these successes to (re)privatize humans themselves.

“Full, untrammelled stewardry is the best available solution to African poverty, and the inevitable result of free-market theory,” Schmidt told more than 150 attendees. Schmidt acknowledged that the stewardry program was similar in many ways to slavery, but explained that just as “compassionate conservatism” has polished the rough edges on labor relations in industrialized countries, full stewardry, or “compassionate slavery,” could be a similar boon to developing ones….

A system in which corporations own workers is the only free-market solution to African poverty, Schmidt said. “Today, in African factories, the only concern a company has for the worker is for his or her productive hours, and within his or her productive years,” he said. “As soon as AIDS or pregnancy hits–out the door. Get sick, get fired. If you extend the employer’s obligation to a 24/7, lifelong concern, you have an entirely different situation: get sick, get care. With each life valuable from start to finish, the AIDS scourge will be quickly contained via accords with drug manufacturers as a
profitable investment in human stewardees. And educating a child for later might make more sense than working it to the bone right now.”

To prove that human stewardry can work, Schmidt cited a proposal by a free-market think tank to save whales by selling them. “Those who don’t like whaling can purchase rights to specific whales or groups of whales in order to stop those particular whales from getting whaled as much,” he explained. Similarly, the market in Third-World humans will “empower” caring First Worlders to help them, Schmidt said….

“This is what free trade’s all about,” said Schmidt. “It’s about the freedom to buy and sell anything–even people.”

As is usually the case with their seemingly-over-the-top pranks, the people attending the conference didn’t object in the least to what was being presented. The idea of slavery, it seems, was perfectly palatable in the context for free market capitalism.

[observation: If Johnathan Swift were alive today, people would be buying Modest Proposal cookbooks.]

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3 Comments

  1. egpenet
    Posted November 15, 2006 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Better idea …

    All Catholic kids 60 years and older who contributed to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s “Pagan Baby Charity” – part of some world-wide Catholic Charities program … UNITE!

    We poured, perhaps, $millions into countries like Mali, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Lybia, Congo, Unganda, Rwanda, Zmbabwe, and on. We ALREADY OWN those people! They belong to US … and Jesus, of course.

    So, we’ll RENT or LEASE our children to the multi-nationals … hopefully get our investment back … for a price.

    CHILDREN! HEAR ME! Time to pay back Daddy and Mommy here in America. And behave for those nice people we’re sending from Amoco, Alcoa, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, even Google. Smile. Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am. Keep your AK-47s in your huts, little ones, and get to work. And don’t forget your night prayers. Bye, for now.

    – The Catholic Boys & Girls of the 40’s & 50’s

  2. Ted Glass
    Posted November 16, 2006 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Judging from the photos taken at the event, most of the people in the audience were black, which makes it all the more troubling that no one spoke up.

  3. egpenet
    Posted November 16, 2006 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    The great numbers of upper class and free blacks in America had little to say in the 1800s, except for a few strident voices.

    Few upper and middle class blacks today say or do much to help turn their culture around, save for a few strident voices.

    Few Germans, Austrians and Poles said anything as the smoke rose from the chimneys in nearby extermination camps. No strident voices at the time, as well.

    Few muslims today say or do much anywhere in the world to put an end to the sectarian fighting, terrorism and jihadism. And no strident voices in opposition.

    Few Americans are saying or doing anything about the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act and our fears for our freedoms of free speech, open assembly, and habeus corpus.

    Silence is golden … if you are in power.

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