Thursday, April 2, 2009

Social Justice, Ethical Democracy & the G-20

My Comment #61.
New York Times copyright
April 02, 2009 9:28 am
Obama, the first Black U.S. president is squandering an historic opportunity by failing to focus on socio-economic JUSTICE in the world at the G-20 summit.
I didn't expect him to, (even as I voted for him), because he performs Whiteness. He is rewarded for protecting and preserving the dominant status quo. He is the Black least threatening to the status quo. I voted for him because he was the lesser of two evils, not because I expected him to make Change I could Believe in.

The US economy and US foreign policy would both benefit if the US and other member nations of the G-20 focused on the havenots (their numbers are increasing) in the US and in the world. The member-nations representing the developing economies are still exhibiting a colonized dependent mindset.

The rich countries are already heavily "protectionist" and the so-called "free" market is loaded in favor of the rich looting economies.

Regulation, growth and development in the 21st century should be DRIVEN by the pragmatic idealism of social justice.

Sharing and being fair are important lessons learned in kindergarten.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Global Leaders Meeting to Resolve Rift on Economic Plan
Published: April 2, 2009
New York Times copyright
Updated: March 30, 2009

The Group of 20, or G-20, is an international body that meets to discuss economic issues. Its members -- 19 countries with some of the world's biggest industrial and emerging economies, plus the European Union -- represent about 90 percent of the world's gross national product, 80 percent of world trade (including trade within the European Union) and two-thirds of the global population. The G-20, which represents a far broader range of the world's industrialized economies than the more Atlantic-oriented G-8, has taken on a new prominence in the current economic crisis. On April 2, 2009, its members will meet in London for a session expected to center around President Obama's push for greater economic stimulus around the globe, Europe's desire for a stronger framework of financial regulation and the desire of emerging economies, led by China, for a bigger role in economic dipomacy.

The G-20 was established as a response to the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s and to a "growing recognition that key emerging-market countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance," according to the G-20's public materials.

A smaller group of industrialized nations has been meeting since the 1970s (the G-7 and G-8, which convene finance ministers and heads of government, respectively). In the 1990s, given the extent of the Asian financial crisis, government leaders decided to involve a broader group of countries, including emerging market countries, to deal with the turmoil. A group of 22 countries ("G-22") and then a group of 33 countries ("G-33") met on an ad hoc basis. The G-20 was created in 1999 as a more permanent international economic body that includes representation from emerging countries. The member countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United States. The European Union is also a member, represented by the rotating council presidency and the European Central Bank.

The membership of the G-20 has not changed since it was established, and the organization says there are "no formal criteria for G-20 membership." With the exceptions of Argentina, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, all of the member countries fall within the list of the top 20 biggest state G.D.P.'s in the world (using the 2007 rankings from the C.I.A. World Factbook, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank).

"I don't think it's a club you can join except by having a lot of economic growth," said Simon Johnson, a professor at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Usually, the attendees of the annual meetings are the finance ministers and central bank governors of the member countries, plus top leadership of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In November 2008, heads of government attended an emergency G-20 session held in Washington to deal with the crumbling of global credit.

The Washington meeting was referred to by many observers as a possible prelude to a sort of Bretton Woods II, meaning an event that marks the start of a new international financial framework. (The term Bretton Woods System refers to an international monetary system set up during a 1944 conference in Bretton Woods, N.H.; it established, among other things, the I.M.F.).

The I.M.F., which had nearly become irrelevant before the current crisis, is now expected to be a focus of the London gathering. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who once worked at the fund, has called for its financial resources to be expanded by $500 billion, effectively tripling its lending capacity to distressed countries and cementing its status as the lender of last resort for much of the world.

Japan and the European Union have each pledged $100 billion; the United States has signaled it will contribute a similar sum, though its money will take longer to arrive because of the need for Congressional approval. China, with its mammoth foreign exchange reserves, is the next obvious donor.

Yet officials of China and other developing countries have served notice that they are reluctant to make comparable pledges without getting a greater say in the operations of the fund, which is run by a Frenchman, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and is heavily influenced by the United States and Western Europe.
New York Times copyright

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