VICE: “Sweet Home Alabama” / “Haitian Money Pit”



Overview: “Sweet Home Alabama” – In 2011, Alabama passed one of the harshest anti-immigrant laws in U.S. history. Based on the hardline policy known as “self-deportation,” Alabama’s HB-56 aimed to make life so VICE_SweetHomeAlabama-300x192miserable for illegal immigrants that they’d opt to leave the state on their own. The law granted police unprecedented powers to arrest, question and detain suspected illegal immigrants, and even criminalized citizens who provided undocumented workers with jobs, housing or transportation. But if the climate of hostility it created may have forced thousands of immigrants to flee, it may have also done real damage to the state’s economy. With illegal immigration roiling American communities and the upcoming presidential race, Thomas Morton visits Alabama to see what it would look like if undocumented workers just “disappeared.”

“Haitian Money Pit” – After a massive earthquake ravaged Haiti in 2010, killing more than 300,000 and leaving more than two million survivors homeless, the international community came together to provide nearly $10 billion in relief and reconstruction aid. But where did all that money go? And why are so many Haitians still living in abominable conditions in the very places foreigners promised to rebuild? Vikram Gandhi goes to Port-au-Prince to follow the money trail, and see whether the billions of dollars in aid are actually changing lives for the better.


Expectations: I’m not sure how to take this one just based on the bit of synopsis presented. I’m not opposed to illegal immigrants getting the bounce. However, they should be deported always with respect and proper procedure. I’m not sure until I watch the segment just how proper the state of Alabama takes this. Nor do I know how the state treats legal immigrants within its borders. I’m sure I’ll soon find out. As for the second segment on Haiti’s squandering of aid funds I have already formulated an opinion before seeing the piece. It is simple – you abuse the relief aid then you don’t get any more. Let’s see if my opinion changes on that one. Here is the preview.  


Gut Reaction: We start with “Sweet Home Alabama” with correspondent Thomas Morton. Man, he gets around. The Lynard Skynard tune is not to be found but the bold move of The Cotton State thinks it has the right answer for making their state a ‘sweet home’ anyway and have been trying since 2011 when strict immigration laws took effect. It is clearly a debatable issue.

Let me start by stating that I’m a WASP and as I see it the reason that immigrants are doing jobs likVICE_MortonandWatermelon-300x231e pitching watermelons in the fields is because WASPs are getting lazier and lazier. Hell, a lot of them don’t even change out of their pajamas before leaving the house. The white workers feel like they are owed something and think they are entitled to a good job not some menial labor, and they are wrong. You want to be a proud American, you want it to say “product of the USA” then the lazy-ass Americans need to get off their lazy ass and do the work. I realize the Hispanics may work for cheaper wages, but isn’t a little bit of pay better than no pay at all?

Okay, the issue here is supposed to be, or so I think, the south-of-the-border immigrants that come in willing to do the work. I’m a bit annoyed that VICE didn’t address that issue more head on. It was more about how Alabama has hurts itself as an agricultural state by running the immigrants out and I get that. Okay, Americans, not even jailbirds, will do the work, but why can’t we get documented legal migrants in here to do it. All I am saying is that we don’t need the illegal ones. Does that matter? I don’t know because I am just thinking of all those who say that they hate that jobs are being taken away from them and yet, at least in Alabama, those same people won’t take a job slinging watermelon. You can’t be any worse than Thomas Morton.

Then we are off to the “Haitian Money Pit” with correspondent Vikram Gandhi. The big blaring concept here – the country squandered $10 billion of disaster relief money. Vikram is there to find out why. He quickly got his answer. Catch this – a large portion of the money came off the top to house relief staff in air conditioned gated villas. Plus it went towards building soccer fields. There is no plumbing or electricity, but you can go kick a futbol in an Olympic-grade stadium; one play area was VICE_VikramInHaiti-300x185even built in a town hundreds of miles away from the epicenter.

Okay, I totally miscalled this one. I was annoyed that Haiti would squander such money, but they were not in the position to misuse it. The relief organizations are totally responsible, at least by this report, of not doing much too truly benefit the ravaged country. Kudos for Haitians in taking matters into their own hands and attempting to build better communities for the displaced. A small, humble home is better than no home at all.

All this sure makes me not to want to donate money to Relief Aid for anything. You always hear whether the aid actually gets to where it needs to go. In this case, the answer is yes it did successfully get to Haiti, but it totally went towards things that were not the priority and that is why the hardest hit area of the country still looks like the earthquake was recent and not five years ago.   

The focus needs to clearly be with assessing the true importance of the funds, doling it out to towns and hoping they are accountable for repairing their country for themselves. They would put their money to good use because they themselves have the most to gain from any improvements. Non-profit relief organizations are obviously showing a profit and not putting the citizen’s best interests first. Of course, there are corrupt governments as well, but somehow I think it is better to get the money to the people and not left in the hands of those with a different agenda. It is just an opinion; maybe it is not so practical.


In Conclusion: So here is how it boils down for me. The first segment was interesting in stating Alabama’s workforce problem. Clearly, however, the monitoring of illegal aliens working here is another story. Oh, and there is that whole “Americans are lazy” thing. Gandhi’s return to Haiti reaffirms that Relief Fund efforts are not doing the right things and that is sad news for countries counting on it. Vikram Gandhi’s piece warrants further discussion with this week’s Debrief.  


Good questions and good answers here. My post might have been more concise if I had thought up the term “Disaster Capitalism.” It is a good term for what is takes place. It is also great that he talked about a better way to donate money. Though he didn’t have an easy solution he did say in essence that the smaller the aiding organization the better chance of the funds going to help the victims best.


Next Week: On 05.01 VICE will air the 30th episode of VICE and the eighth one this season beginning at 11:00pm. In the installment we look at the ongoing looting of ancient Egyptian artifacts and novelty of being white, as in Caucasian, in China. Until then – Peace.

Find Episode # 28 here.
Find Episode # 30 here.

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