Friday, June 16, 2006

Mounting global Inequalities - do We Care?

In 2007 the majority of the world's people will be living in urban centres. One third of them will be poor slum dwellers, according to the UN. This is a problem the rich world ought not to ignore:

"When a critical mass of people are in one place, if you don't empower them they will empower themselves through revolution," Anna Tibaijuka, head of UN-HABITAT said in London, presenting the agency's State of the World's Cities 2006/7 report.

What does the rich world do? For many years the flows of money paid in interest and amortisation of loans going from the poor south to the rich north have been larger than total devlopment aid.

Listen to the transcript of the press conference in Camp David where George Bush met with the Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen:

First, I appreciate the Prime Minister's belief that freedom can help change the world, and that freedom is universal. We had a really important discussion about our desire to help others realize the great blessings of liberty, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They seem to believe that freedom is the answer to all prayers in this world. However, economic freedom does not seem to help, because economic freedom favours the efficient and competitive. Also there is a lot of double standards here, when it comes to applying the freedom to others. The US and the EU still have heavily subsidized and protected agriculture, i.e. trade barriers that keep the products coming from these poor areas out of the US and EU markets.

Here is what the PM answered the president:

I think it's fair to say that Danish companies are at the edge in developing new technologies, and they are already engaged in the United States. Some of them are traveling with me to the West Coast on Monday.
Which brings me to my final point on our bilateral economic relations. Trade and investment between the United States and Denmark is flourishing at impressive growth rates. The United States is now the biggest foreign investor in Denmark. Likewise, Danish companies have turned their attention towards the United States. Our top five companies have created more than 20,000 jobs in the United States, and they have engaged in a vast number of subcontractors. I think that the broad range of subjects demonstrates the vitality and closeness of our relations. (Quoted from the PM's website)

There seems to be a reason why it's a good thing to have close contacts with Uncle Sam. By the way, only the profits of the biggest of the companies mentioned above is much higher than the total national income of a country like Niger in Africa with 10 million inhabitants.

We live in a world where millions of children are starving. Some people have a completely different set of problems - another quote from the press conference:

Mr. President, the health experts tell us that we need daily exercise. So before we even start thinking about lunch, I'm looking forward to exploring Camp David in even greater detail on bike. It's going to be hard work; I know that. But I will do my very best to keep up with you, Mr. President. (Laughter.)


Blogger Sophia said...

Robert Guediduian, a french filmamker and the equivalent of Ken Loach made a movie recently about the last days of the former socialist president François Mitterand (who was not much of a socialist as one might suppose). The movie called 'Le promeneur du champs de Mars' is about a young journalist tracking the last days of Mitterand in office at a time he was very sick with a prostate cancer and with dwindling popularity and accusations of symapthies with the Vichy government before joining the resistance in London during WWII.
At one point Mitterand turns to the journalist before boarding his car and explains to him that he was the last of the great politicians in France. And when the journalist asks why, Mitterand says that with mounting globalisation there will be a shift in the center of power and presidents of countries like France will be mere 'Merchants'. He used the word 'commerçants'.
You can love Mitterand or hate him and sometimes love him and hate him at the same time but he was a visionary in Politics. Nowadays when a chief a country visits another country his delegation is stuffed with CEOs, 'merchants' and the likes...

10:48 AM  
Blogger Sophia said...

Sorry, it is Guediguian.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:41 PM  

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