That various lefties should make myths about the world is hardly surprising: it's all they have left of their grand ideas the poor dears. One that has been doing the rounds just recently, 6 months after the Haiti quake, is that the imposition of freer trade, forced upon a reluctant country by those neo-liberal hellions at the IMF, has led to a devastation of Haiti's home grown rice production. An example:
In 1995, an economic adjustment plan mandated by the International Monetary Fund implemented by the government of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide cut tariffs on rice imports to Haiti from 35% to 3%. Haiti, which for many years had produced low-cost, inexpensive rice for domestic consumption, effectively lost the ability to do so.
There's only a few small problems with this particular piece of myth making. The first is that it was all nothing at all to do with the IMF:
We are aware of claims that the IMF "forced" Haiti to reduce tariffs and even to abandon agricultural production, particularly for rice. This is not true, and it is important to get the facts right. The liberalization that brought tariffs on rice down to current levels took place in two steps in the mid-1990s.
In November 1994, the tariff on rice was reduced by the government from 50 percent to 10 percent. A law that proposed a broad tariff reform and reduced the tariff on rice further from 10 to 3 percent was submitted by the authorities to Parliament in December 1994, and approved in January and February 1995.
Haiti only signed an agreement with the IMF in March 1995, after these tariff reductions were decided.
For purists, as to whose fault it actually was, well, Bill Clinton's apologised for it so why don't we take him at his word for a change? But there's more! The decline in Haitian rice production began long before the change in tariffs (Table 1 here). It's more to do with unsustainable farming techniques and the US ban on seed, fertiliser and technical aid while Aristide and various juntas were doing the Hokey Cokey in and out of government than it is to do with the tariffs. Oh, and imports seem to be feeding the increased population rather than displacing to any great extent home production anyway.
So, not much of the story is as the myth would have it. But even better than all of that is the insanity of the original claim:
...cut tariffs on rice imports to Haiti from 35% to 3%. Haiti, which for many years had produced low-cost, inexpensive rice for domestic consumption, effectively lost the ability to do so.
A cut in tariffs cannot produce that result. If Haitian rice was low cost and inexpensive then tariff or no tariff people would preferentially purchase that low cost, inexpensive, Haitian rice. Who would purchase more expensive American rice? So let us assume, just for a moment, that all of the above isn't true. Yes, the IMF plotted to screw over Haiti and insisted that tariffs must be removed. And that as a result, Haitian rice farming then imploded. What does this then tell us (other than that the IMF are indeed the boogiemen of the lefty imagination)?
Yes, correct, it tells us that as Haitian rice could only thrive behind a 50% tariff barrier then it wasn't cheap and inexpensive, was it? It was more costly, more expensive, which is exactly why, when unprotected by tariffs, the industry imploded.
Even for the more ignorant of the leftoid myths about the world it's rare for them to be wrong in both facts and logic: but that does seem to be the case here.