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Ten years on

September 11, 2011

I posted this on www.igreens.org.uk on 14 September 2001.  It had taken me three days to collect my thoughts.  Today I see no reason to alter a word.

America did not deserve this

It seems almost presumptuous for we British, especially those like me not personally touched by the tragedy, to speak about the awful crimes at the World Trade Centre and Pentagon. Like everyone, I’ve felt numb and helpless as the full horror and evil has sunk in.

Nevertheless we can not only send our prayers and thoughts to the bereaved, and assure Americans of our wholehearted support in their time of trial. We must also distance ourselves from anti-American sentiment.

On Thursday’s “Question time”, the BBC’s flagship discussion programme, some audience members claimed that “Americans had it coming”. Phil Lader the former US ambassador was shouted down as, near to tears, he spoke of his sadness at the audience’s apparent lack of human kindness. A man who spoke in support of America was booed. Such sentiments are not isolated. In letters to iGreens, people have said “Americans have been doing the same things themselves”, “They got what they deserved”, “This will teach them a lesson.”

Of course some anti-American feeling is understandable from those Arabs who object to America’s steadfast support for its ally Israel. However, that hardly explains the attitude of the native English who would certainly protest if America failed to defend the only democracy in the Middle East.

Such people are hostile because of an almost willful failure to understand the morality, workings and effects of capitalism.   In England the politicised education system, and steady anti-capitalist BBC propaganda constantly confuses people. Let’s put a few things straight.

American capitalism is not worsening world hunger

Conditions for the poor are improving. Not only has the proportion of hungry people fallen, absolute numbers have fallen too. The latest figures are available from the UN Food and Agriculture organisation. The rate of malnutrition has fallen by about 98 million annually since 1980. It was about 930 million in 1970 and 792 million in 1998, a period when world population approximately doubled. The cause is governments moving from feudalism and central planning, to respecting private property and permitting a free market. America has consistently led and encouraged this process. Without exception the countries that remain poor are those that have not had this sort of good government for any prolonged period, or who have isolated themselves from world trade.

Americans did not become rich by taking resources from the poor.

Americans are rich because they work hard, respect property and engage in free trade. The market is not a zero sum game. Both sides of a free trade benefit. That’s why they engage in it. The rich impoverish the poor in feudal and communist societies because elite’s enrich themselves from taxation, but America is not like that. Nor does America tax poor countries. It gives them foreign aid and cheap loans. It not only pays for the oil and other resources it uses, but also pays royalties for permission to extract it. Some rich people enjoy protesting against capitalism, because for them an economic slowdown just means a few less consumer durables or slightly more expensive organic food. For the rest of the world it means hunger, disease and real suffering. Ask the people of oil rich Iraq what it’s like when the evil capitalists stop trading with you.

McDonalds and Starbucks don’t force their products on anyone

McDonalds never forced anyone to buy a single hamburger. They grew big because people like their hamburgers. Governments force people to buy things via taxation, and to not do so by prohibition. Private companies do neither.

If anyone in the West is harming the poor it is environmentalists and the anti-globalisation movement

A forced acceleration of the shift from carbon to hydrogen-based fuel might reduce global warming, but would also slow economic growth. Some rich people in developed countries think this is a price worth paying. They can afford an economic slow down. However, compared with poverty, Aids and bad government, global warming is not a problem for the poor of Africa, South America or Asia. They need all the growth they can get.

Genetically modified crops produce higher yields and cheaper food. That’s no big deal for the rich who spend proportionally little on food, and are often overfed already. They can afford to worry about monarch butterflies, and bio-diversity. It is a matter of life and death for many poor people. Millions will soon owe their very lives to Monsanto and the other US corporations that led these developments.

A world without America

For at least the last hundred years America has led the world in maintaining democracy, and strengthening capitalism. Its scientists have invented, and its businessmen made improved goods. They’ve traded with the rest of us. If America had never existed we would all, from wealthy Europeans like me, to the poorest African peasants, be worse off. Only totally isolated countries like North Korea really owe Americans nothing, and it shows.

Thank you America for keeping freedom and capitalism alive. You did not deserve this. We British are ashamed of some of our countrymen, but you have nothing to be ashamed of. When you respond in a just and measured way, as we know you will, we will still support you. God bless you.

Jim Thornton.  14 Sept 2001  Leeds. England

Reposted from http://www.igreens.org.uk/america_did_not_deserve_this.htm

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