Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Can This Headline Be More Inflammatory?

Time Magazine has a headline "How US Budget Cuts Prolong Global Slavery" in which the writer describes how the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) had their budget cut after the GOP victory in 2010.  Oh those evil Republicans, see this is proof they like slavery!  Actually no.  It looks like the $5-6 million that was cut from TIP's budget was part of a package that cut $8 billion from the State Department in general.  I would argue that State Department largesse in other areas is probably more responsible for the budget cuts than any GOP desire for more global slavery. 

Also, I'm not sure how much TIP was actually stopping global slavery.  The writer in the article mentions how the State Department paid $336,000 for a shelter in Cambodia which houses 50 former sex slaves and teaches them how to sew, to do someone's hair and was a place for them to do aerobics together.  Based on that rate of spending, the budget cuts would leave approximately 1,000 former slaves without shelter.  Now, I don't want to get into a discussion about how much every life is worth, as using that argument there is no program you cannot justify.  But when you consider that there are probably about 1.5 - 1.8 million persons trafficked within and without international borders every year, the impact of TIP is paltry, with or without the budget cuts.  Also, I don't think that even if we spent billions of dollars on TIP  that we would be making that many inroads against global slavery.  If you look at TIP's trafficking report, the countries that typically have major slavery problems and no intention of fixing them (i.e. are Tier 3 based on their coding system) are not liberal democracies with individual freedoms.  Some of the countries are Communist/Socialist, like North Korea, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Cuba (also, China is on a watch list to be downgraded to Tier 3), others are simply dirt poor with corrupt or ineffective governments like Liberia, while others are relatively wealthy but have a long history of slavery, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  Just as Foggy Bottom couldn't stop North Korea from getting nukes, I don't see how they can stop them from trafficking in slaves.

It's okay to oppose budget cuts but to say that they "prolong global slavery" is libelous.

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