Allen Ginsberg – World Bank Blues

The always-contemporary Allen Ginsberg – from 1997 (included in the posthumous collection, Death and Fame)

World Bank Blues

I work for the world bank yes I do
My salary was hundred thousand smackeroo
I know my Harvard economics better than you

Nobody knows that I make big plans
I show Madagascar leaders how to dance
How to read statistics & wear striped pants

Emotional statistics that’s not my job
Facts & figures, I’m no slob
& farming’s all a big blob<

Here’s our scheme to stabilize your paper
for International trade right now or later
Follow our advice you’ll thank your creator

Whatcha got to export,  what raw materials?
Monoculture diamonds, coffee, Cereals
Sell ’em on the market to Multinational Imperials

We’ll loan you money to expand production
interest, for your own protection
Tighten your belts, we’ll have no objection

Throw in some little minimal principle
tho debt service paid makes the deal invincible
That takes dollars but your currency’s exchangeable

Get  people working on mass market land
cut down forests, for your cash in hand
Or superhighways money where Rainforests stand

With agribusiness farms you can export beef
Cut social services & poverty relief
Forest people shift to the cities in grief

ighten your belt for a roller coaster ride
Production’s up,  market prices slide
Wood pulp burger meat,  coffee downside

Increase production pay yr. World Bank debt–
At least the interest if that’s all you can get
Cut down Amazon you haven’t paid it yet

In one decade you give all the money back
As Bank debt service but the Principal, alack!
We’ll lend more cash (but dont sell smack)

Austerity measures, wages go down,
th’urban sewage is a charnel ground
Buses fall apart at the edge of town

coral reef fish dead factory waste,
on Yankee dollar taste
Swiss bank funds for dictators disgraced

Fauna killed for the debt Costa Rica
the mouth of Boca Chica
Birds in Equador, sick with toxic leakage?

Riots start over bags of foreign rice
Arm your teenage army with U.S. mace
Borrow money for a local Arms race

Families driven from crop land to forests
Forest folk in hovels hid from tourists
Currencies bankrupt for free market purists?

I just retired from my 20 year job
at World Bank Central with the money mob
Go to AA meetings so’s not die a slob

I worked in Africa, Americas, Vietnam
Bangkok too with World Banks’ big clan
Now I’m retired and I don’t give a damn

Walk the streets of Washington alone at night
The job I did, was it wrong was it right?
Big mistakes that’ve gone out of sight?

It wasn’t the job of a bureaucrat like me
to check the impact of the Bank policy
When debt bore fruit on the world money tree

– February 1997

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