Wednesday, June 04, 2003

THE G-8 VS THE O-190+
The leaders of the G-8 (world’s seven richest countries plus Russia) held a recent summit in Evian, France. There was a large exclusion zone around Evian, forcing protesters to hold court in nearby Geneva, Switzerland. As is the case with most of these summits, nothing much productive happened. In Geneva, progressive protesters protested diverses causes; idiotic anarchists (aka: self-indulgent twits) went around smashing windows of anything they felt like. The leaders themselves met in their fortress smiling and holding photo ops. The story that most interested the news media was the meeting between Presidents Bush and Chirac, their first since their spat over the Iraq conquest. The two held a photo op session where each mouthed noble platitudes while the other held a smile that was about as natural as the meat in a Subway sandwich.

On to issues that actually affect people’s lives. Invited African leaders said they wanted not more aid, but for the west to slash or end agricultural subsidies thus instituting actual free and fair trade between the two for the first time in centuries. European leaders said they were willing to do this but that the Americans weren’t. Pres. Bush said he was willing to do this but Europe wasn’t. The result, shockingly, was that nothing happened. Commerce (and capital) between the west and Africa remains mostly a one way street.

But I guess the most flabbergasting fact is that the G8 countries (USA, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Japan and Russia) represent HALF of the world’s wealth. That means that half of the entire world’s wealth is held by only 8 countries. And the other half of that wealth is split among the other 190-something countries (call them the O-190+). Whether you think that’s injust or whether you think it’s “too bad but the way things are”, it’s absolutely astonishing to contemplate.

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