Life and Debt (DVD)
This DVD just blew us away.
Frankly, like most BuzzFlash readers, even the editors at BuzzFlash aren't as well versed on the globalization issue as we should be. We've had enough on our hands just covering the dirty work of the Franco/Stalinesque Republican coup over the last 5 years.
But "Life and Debt" is a riveting mini-course in the destructive impact of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on a developing nation, in this case Jamaica. What's more, it uses portions of Jamaica Kincaid's book, "A Small Place," to lyrically weave the documentary together.
The film contrasts the relaxing, tropical vacations taken by tourists at Montego Bay resorts with the devastating impact of IMF "restrictions" on World Bank loans to Jamaica that turn the island's indigenous economy to ruins.
You're left understanding that, at least in the case of Jamaica, the IMF is mainly interested in accomplishing two goals: 1) making developing nations marketplaces for subsidized goods from the U.S. and other Western countries; and 2) exploiting cheap labor markets. The former goal ravishes the natural sustainable food industries of Jamaica (including dairy, poultry and meat production). The latter goal is a short-term gambit that leaves Jamaica paying for "duty free assembly zones" that have long since moved on to even cheaper suppliers of labor in other countries.
One remarkable aspect of "Life and Debt" is the articulate understanding that Jamaican farmers, ranchers and manufacturers have about the impact that the IMF has had on their businesses and the Jamaican economy. The IMF doesn't try to build an internal production base in a developing nation; rather it wants to create a dependency on cheaper Western (largely U.S.) goods. It's like a drug pusher supplying free dope in order to create junkies who then have to find ways to support their habits.
One of the great appeals this film has is that it is absorbing and informative without being didactic. Lovingly directed by Stephanie Black (BuzzFlash will be posting an interview with her), "Life and Debt" is a powerful testament to how a skilled filmmaker can turn a complex subject into a powerful story. And Black cinematically evokes the mood and setting of a beautiful country while revealing the underside of its financial devastation.
Consider "Life and Debt" a crash course on the destructive policies of the IMF/World Bank. You see, representation on the IMF is determined by economic output, so the industrialized G-8 run the show, with other nations having virtually no say.
It's a stacked deck as Jamaica unfortunately discovered.
Meanwhile, the tourists party on in Montego Bay