Monday 23 September 2002
Yesterday, I was reading an anti-globalization scavenger hunt list (it’s at the bottom of that page), a partly-tongue-in-cheek list of suggestions for time-killers for lulls during this week’s planned protests in Washington. It includes things like
none of which I’m even going to go into. Linked from the scavenger hunt page I found this page, which is a (the?) call-to-action for the hippies. It calls for them to “shut down” Washington on 27 September as a way of protesting (primarily) the IMF and World Bank’s involvement in third-world affairs and (more generally) the concept of “capitalism”.
This call-to-action includes a list of interesting demands, most of which are amusing.
Their first demand is that
They go on:
Well, yes and no. The World Bank and IMF probably cause as many problems as they solve, and the world would be a better place without them. It’s hard to find information on these institutions that even pretends to be impartial, though, so I may be misinformed. It seems that the whole enterprise results in more moral hazard, though.
“Privatization” usually means taking some function that the government was barely fulfilling, writing an incredible lot of regulations governing it, and farming it out to private industry. You then have a function that’s performed with even less flexibility than before, and with someone trying to squeeze the operation to make a profit out of it.
On this one, I’m in agreement with the hippies: no more “privatization”. I’m not sure they’d appreciate my policy of “de-nationalization”, though.
Meaning all national as well as personal debt. I’m all for this; I’d all of a sudden have no mortgage. Nobody owes me any money, so aside living in the state of nature that would result from the total collapse of the world’s economy, I’d be sitting pretty.
If “poor” == “stupid”, yes. I was once offered a car loan at 23.5%. I turned this down, and the people at the dealer were shocked. Apparently most people accept the 23.5% loan.
The problem is that most of those 29,000 empty units of housing are illegal to occupy, because they don’t meet the building codes. Some of those places are truly unsafe (there are still things in Washington that are burned out from the 1968 riots), but a lot of them just don’t have sprinklers, smoke detectors in every room, etc.
Sprinklers and smoke detectors are fine things, but I believe that humanity survived for at least a few generations without them. If we decree that every house must be a palace, a lot of homes are going to be refrigerator boxes.
Point this out, though, and you’ll be accused of wanting the poor to burn to death while the rich are snug in their mansions (collecting interest on those car loans). The ironic thing is that the rich generally don’t have sprinklers in their houses, as the more absurd requirements only apply to multi-unit housing.
Can’t really argue with that. But they go on to say:
Which prompts me to wonder whether these people have ever been out of the United States in their lives. The United States is certainly the least racist and xenophobic place I’ve ever been. And as for poverty — weren’t these people fleeing World Bank/IMF-created poverty in their old countries? Is the point that they’re worse off here? If so, why don’t they go back? Is it not possible that recent immigrants tend to be poorer than the general population, due to a lack of the right knowledge, experience, and social skills and connections?
Yes. The U.S. continues to “attack” women’s freedoms. Obviously. There are some countries in the world where women’s freedoms are under attack, or where they don’t exist at all. But these countries tend to be run by people with dark skin, and that somehow gets them a pass. And:
Yes, like the ones who are worked to the bone being National Security Advisor.
Well, I don’t know that it’s necessarily racist by design, but I can get behind the idea that the prison system in the U.S. has become a self-perpetuating bureaucracy and industry. But:
The “black men” thing can go unchallenged. But Native Americans and single moms? They’re just trying to work in a mention, a shout-out to their peeps, as it were, for every one of their imagined constituencies.
Single moms?! I’ll grant that most of the women in prison in the United States are probably unmarried and a great many of them are probably mothers. But I don’t think they were put away for that.
Well, yes, I’m in favor of that, too. But if by imperialism you mean selling people what they are willing to purchase, and if by terrorism you mean an unwillingness to roll over for one’s enemies, well, I have to disagree. They link this to Cuba:
And, in some other ways, decreased, but we won’t go into that. I’d say it’s equally likely that one of the main reasons Castro is still in power at all is because of the U.S. trade embargo. If Cuba were a cheap vacationland for millions of Americans a year, the resulting cultural exchange would long ago have made Castroism untenable.
They mention “developing” countries in their Demand, but in the broader complaint they talk about nothing but Washington, DC — which isn’t a “colony” at all, but which was established as a federal district from the start. Since 1790 it’s been made clear that Congress can rule the capitol city any way it likes; everyone living in DC today moved there or is descended from someone who moved there after this was made clear.
Washington is certainly a horribly mismanaged place, but demanding an end to its “colonial” status is just a non sequitur.
At last the real point. Doesn’t it seem, though, that this clashes with their earlier demand for freedom for everyone? Or is it to be freedom for everyone, unless they’re buying or selling something? It seems to me that a lot of the immigrants they want so badly to help are in fact small businessmen, selling hot dogs and ugly ties at Metro stations.
They support their Demand:
Or, no longer should one’s economic ends be determined by one’s economic means. I thought these guys were against the World Bank and IMF!
Unlike, say, socialism. Capitalism is actually entirely sustainable, because it is dynamic. What they mean by “sustainable” is “static”, which they see as a good thing.
Or when, say, all debt is eliminated by fiat (see above).
I don’t go seeking out this particular type of porn, so this is the first time in a while that I’ve seen rhetoric of this type. I realize now that what I had formerly taken for clever parody of far-lefties may actually not have been parody at all.Posted by tino at 19:44 23.09.02
Posted by: Eric at September 25, 2002 02:00 PM
Posted by: K. Gould at September 30, 2002 03:31 PM