Monday, November 28, 2005

IMF forces Westernization

Original Chimes Article Here

Call to Justice:
IMF forces Westernization

Many Americans know absolutely nothing about the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, when the IMF meets in Washington, D.C. on April 16 and 17, it will be faced with a very vocal opposition.

The IMF has become increasingly unpopular in recent years, as activists struggle to make the public aware of the IMF’s policies.

The charges against the IMF are many, and to adequately explain them all in one short article would be impossible. This is simply meant as an introduction, and anyone wishing to find out more can attend the Teach-in about the IMF being held at Calvin on Tuesday, April 18, by the Social Justice Committee.

The IMF was created in 1944 at a conference in Breton Woods. The IMF, working with the World Bank, was designed to bail out countries with large external debts. These countries typically have nowhere else to turn, and cannot receive cash or credit from any other source. In order to receive help from the IMF, countries must agree to what are called “Structural Adjustment Programs” (SAPs).

Since these countries are in need of financial aid, they are forced to agree to these conditions. The SAPs are usually worked out with the government elites from each country, and almost always benefit the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the poor and the environment.

Moreover, none of the countries receiving IMF assistance have solved their debt problem. In fact, most of them now have a higher level of debt. SAPs require Third World governments to cut social spending in order to qualify for IMF aid.

This means that school becomes more expensive, and the literacy rate among the poor goes down. This can also cause more suffering and death when health service fees go up.

The IMF also mandates that all regulations on foreign businesses disappear.

Thus years of environmental legislation instantly disappear in order for Western corporations to maximize their profit. Also, Western businesses no longer have to abide by labor laws, and sweatshop-like conditions are created.

Another controversial policy of the IMF is putting pressure on countries to switch from a subsistence-based economy to an export-based economy.

Again, this is great for Western businesses. It means that as more countries start exporting more of the same goods, these goods can be bought at a cheaper price. (Remember the rule of supply and demand from your economics class.)

At the same time, it creates a consumer market for Western corporations.

This takes away the food security. Since many of these countries end up exporting their natural resources, and the countries weaken. The exploitation of these natural resources leads to environmental harm.

Also, the IMF devastates women in the Third World. Women, commonly in the most vulnerable positions, are hurt the most by the IMF’s policies.

They are often the first ones to be withdrawn from schools. The shift to exports makes it harder for them to feed their families. Many women end up as prostitutes just to make enough money to survive.

Throughout all this, the IMF is not accountable to voters. Although it is funded by taxpayer money, the public has no input into its policies. The IMF works with a small group of bankers and finance ministry staff without input from any other government agency. IMF being allowed to continue so long without public accountability is undemocratic

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