Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
National Geographic explores the dark side of globalization and the underground economy. Based on the book, Illicit, by Dr. Moises Naim highly acclaimed editor of Foreign Policy Magazinethis TV special explores the onslaug... more »
Misses the Real Problem
In Florida Recovering from Being Ab | Surfside, Florida | 04/17/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I had the opportunity to watch "Illicit" on our local PBS station last night. I found it a huge disappointment that was nothing more or less than a rehash of repeated information that the viewer could glean from other sources in the media.
I actually found the "finger pointing" at other countries in regards to drug production, money laundering, human smuggling, counterfeiting, etc. to be totally offensive. The real responsibility for many of these problems falls primarily on the United States and, to a lesser extent, Western Europe. The demand in the United States for illicit drugs, cheap labor, higher profits, monetary investments (regardless of source) and cheap goods all work in favor of these criminals, yet too much time is spent blaming the "usual suspects" like Mexico, Columbia and China for the world's ills.
The segment on money laundering really misses the point by focusing on Naples, Italy, while the state where I reside (Texas) would be a more appropriate target. To fully understand this concept, you'll need a lesson in money laundering 101 and something that this film did not even touch...
Amounts may vary based on the models that are out there, but anywhere from .25 to .33 cents of every dollar in your pocket may have its origins in illicit business; in some states in the United States identified as High Risk Money Laundering and Related Financial Crimes Areas (HIFCA's) - like Texas the percent may be higher. Does this mean that you directly took a dime or a quarter directly from a drug dealer? Of course not! But what has happened and what continues to happen is that the flow of illicit money into our economy is invested into legitimate business that ends up into EVERYONE'S pocket, including money that is used to finance our government services through taxes. Money, even though it has illicit origins, grows and multiplies through investment and reinvestment and here lies the big problem: How do you stop it without destabilizing our economy or the world's economy? Can you stop it? Should you stop it?
Just think... If all sources of laundered money were to vanish from Texas or the United States tomorrow, it would have the potential of collapsing our economic system. As any economist could tell you, this is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Pointing fingers at government leaders in the former Soviet Bloc or officials in Mexico avoids a critical point that it is impossible for key officials in our own government not to know what is going on and to some degree have complicity in allowing it to continue.
If you were the mayor of a small town would you question the origins of investment money that is being used to build a new development too much? If you are an official in Laredo, Texas are you going to ask a lot of questions about what supports the types of businesses at the local mall (the stores rival that in any world-class city)? If you could stop all illicit money flowing into Texas would you do it knowing that the economy here would collapse and the money would just be washed in another state?
One chilling moment was when a Chinese officer of a company stated that the government (of China) did not view loss of life too seriously unless it was the loss of Chinese life. Great! But again it is our government's failure for allowing a policy to import cheap goods from a country with a poor human rights record and total disregard for food and consumer safety that causes these problems. How many babies does it take to become brain-damaged from lead paint, or how many pets (or people) will die from poisoned wheat gluten added to our foods until our government will act?
The lenses of the National Geographic should be pointed at us and our leaders, not those of the Developing "Third" World. Our attitudes, policies and leaders are our own worst enemies. The National Geographic should step aside and leave the reporting and commentary on serious social, political and economic issues to somebody else.