Tag Archives: europe

Rehabilitate the state

Courtesy The Guardian World News by Roy Hattersley on 8/21/09

Those who decry ‘big government’ soon realise how much we need it when things go wrong

Seventy-six years after the New Deal eased America out of depression, United States congressmen – Democrats as well as Republicans – are rejecting President Obama’s healthcare plans on a matter of principle. Many were opposed to him bailing out the banks for the same reason. They believe government initiatives that influence the conduct of the economy and the welfare of ordinary citizens are, by definition, wrong. The more literate of them quote Thoreau. “The government is best which governs least.” The more rabid support another of their countrymen, John O’Sullivan, who simply asserted: “All government is evil.” The theory those 19th-century luminaries propagated is supported by an increasing number of people on this side of the Atlantic. Indeed, patriots will claim it originated here with Magna Carta. Continue reading

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‘International’ redefined

A great article by Simon Jenkins, published May 30,2008 in the Guardian –

GAZING briefly at the Eurovision song contest this week I could not rid my mind of a quite different image, that of Nato’s multilateral force headquarters in Kabul.

There was the same flag-waving and confusion of purpose, the same small-state rivalry and cynical balancing of interests. There was the same belief that, simply by being international, a so-called community of nations was forged.

Today the word “international” suggests tailored suits, tax-free salaries, white Land Cruisers and Geneva. The Eurovision contest is run by the European Broadcasting Union with 400 staff in Switzerland, with no risk of oversight or reform.

It may seem crude to leap from such mundane activities to world peace, but the ruling assumption is the same, that internationalism legitimises itself. It rises above (never below) the nation state and its rulemakers owe allegiance only to an ideal of global community, which means whatever they choose. The ever-more numerous world bodies to which nations subscribe need never pass the eye of any national audit Office.

It was only when America briefly withdrew from Unesco and capped its contribution to the UN that steps were taken to curb that organisation’s waste and corruption, which culminated in Kofi Annan’s obscene 2000 “poverty summit”. The only good thing to emerge from the warped brain of America’s former UN ambassador, John Bolton, was his reform package, and he blew it. Nor can Europe talk. The EU still cannot get its accounts past any reputable auditor nor control the outrageous expenses of its parliamentarians. Continue reading

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Filed under Aid, Globalization, International Aid, International NGOs, Multilateral Institutions, peacekeeping, World

Global survey reveals growing anger over social inequality

By Bill Van Auken
20 May 2008

The unprecedented accumulation of wealth by a narrow financial elite under conditions of declining real incomes for the vast majority of the world’s population is creating mounting discontent and anger.

This is the significance of a poll conducted across Europe, Asia and the United States by the Financial Times of London and the Harris polling firm.

“Income inequality has emerged as a highly contentious political issue in many countries as the latest wave of globalization has created a ‘superclass’ of rich people,” the Financial Times commented in relation to the poll results, which were published Monday.

The FT/Harris poll found overwhelming majorities throughout Europe expressing the view that the social chasm between the financial elite and the rest of the population has grown too large. In Spain, for example, 76 percent said that social inequality had grown too great, while in Germany the figure was 87 percent.

In China, which has become the low-wage manufacturing center of the world, subjecting millions of workers to exploitation while producing a new class of billionaires and multi-millionaires, 80 percent said that inequality in income was too great. Continue reading

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Filed under capitalism, Development, finance, Globalization, Income distribution, Inequality, Poverty, Surveys, World