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U.S. President Trump’s “Shit Hole” Comment Vs Haiti’s and Africa’s Labor Market Deficit

THE ISSUES–No one agrees with U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s alleged reference to Haiti and African nations as “Shit Hole” countries.  In Fact, Trump himself is refuting the allegation.  This does not mean that U.S. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and others who claimed that President Trump made the remark are inaccurate––After all, Senator Durbin and Senator Graham who passively acknowledged that the remarks were possibly made, are honorable, credible and well-respected United States lawmakers and citizens.

The fact that President Trump seems to be denying ever making such remark does not mean that Haiti and African nations have no right to be angry, and it also does not imply that African ambassadors accredited at the United Nations in New York City should not demand an explanation from the United States. But these are the superficialities in the entire equation, assuming President Trump said Haiti and African nations are “Shit Hole” countries.

Let us face the fact, most Haitians and Africans know that their countries are ‘Shit Hole’ societies.  If these nations were not ‘Shit Hole’ countries why are their natural born citizens, including me, dying to come to or live in the United States or in other western nations? Why do we have dozens of young Africans getting drown in the Mediterranean Sea as they cross over to Europe?  Why do we have massive poverty, widespread disease, disturbing under-development and skyrocketing unemployment when leaders––elected and appointed politicians––stacked up billions of dollars in foreign banks at the peril of their own people?

Are the people of Haiti and Africa angry because the statement probably came from President Donald J. Trump? Would they have been as angry as they are if it came from one of their own?  Almost every poor and unemployed young person in Haiti and Africa knows that they are living in “Shit Hole” countries.   President Trump just said what many young, unemployed and poverty-stricken Haitians and Africans have said over and again as their leaders govern badly, abuse their collective resources, and funnel millions overseas.

I do have some disagreements with President Trump’s stance on other issues such as his approach to women he has had an altercation with.  But I like him because he speaks the truth and is bold when it comes to dealing with the mess in developing countries such as Haiti and those in Africa.  Since the noise over the “Shit Hole” countries’ remark began, I spoke to many people including a good friend of mine who has a doctorate degree and has received all of his college education in the United States.  From all that I gathered from those I spoke to, they seem to have no problem with President Trump’s alleged statement as well as its factuality.  What concerns them is the fact that it was said by President Trump.  So, the anger and noise are all about the messenger, not the message.

I see President Trump’s statement as a wake-up call to Haiti and Africa.  It is a time that leaders in Haiti and African countries realize that they need to do better.  They need to govern wisely and be honest and patriotic to their respective countries and people. If they do, Haiti and African nations will not be “Shit Hole” countries.

One of the central issues affecting Haiti and African countries is job creation.  For Haiti and most African countries, the concept of employment is seeking or being in a government job.

When there is a division of labor, workers concentrate on and specialize in certain tasks and trade the fruits of their labor with others either as professional industry employees or as small business owners.  Workers who are not linked to a labor market are often unable to concentrate and specialize very much.  As such, helping workers in Haiti and African countries to become more connected to the labor market and the economy should be an important policy goal of these countries various labor ministries.  But how can this happen when leaders in these countries see labor ministries as courthouses or union offices that should be staffed and managed by lawyers with no background in labor market information, workforce development and related public policies other than adjudicating cases as if they are judges?

The essence of labor ministries involves responsibility for the formulation and implementation of policies for job creation (which includes workforce development and industry analysis support), occupational safety; wage and hour standards, providing and safeguarding unemployment insurance benefits, re-employment services, and producing some economic statistics such as labor market information.

For example, in the United States, in the words of the organic act creating the U.S. Department of Labor, it says: The Department’s purpose is “to foster, promote and develop the welfare of working people, to improve their working conditions, and to enhance their opportunities for profitable employment.”  It does not say to judge or settle labor disputes.  Therefore, Haiti and African countries must put emphasis on providing jobs for their people by strengthening, restructuring and empowering their labor ministries with experienced, trained and competent administrators and policy professionals as well as the resources and autonomy needed so that they can perform up to pad with labor ministries in developed nations that lift their people out of poverty.

One recent research by a team of development economists advises that one of the key factors in raising people in low-income countries out of the worst kind of poverty is whether they can make a connection to a somewhat regular wage-paying job.

So, instead of Haitian and African governments getting angry with President Trump for calling their nations “shit holes” countries, they need to do something to put their citizens to work in the private sector.  When Haitians and Africans have good and livable wage jobs back home that improved their standard of living, they will stop running to western nations. Obviously, government can play a more useful role in this process, and it can do so not by providing more and more government jobs to loyalists, partisans, and friends, but by hiring the right people to formulate, implement and lead national public policy regarding job creation, workforce development and innovation, and by making it easy for investors to invest and businesses to operate freely.

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Jones Nhinson Williams

Jones Nhinson Williams is a Liberian philosopher (born in Pleebo, Maryland County but hailed from River Gee County) firmly educated by the Catholic Church. He is an American trained public policy, labor market information, strategic management, and workforce development professional with accomplished global experience in job creation and institutional governance.

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