Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


John Howard: Beyond APEC - Time To Act

Beyond the APEC '99 hoopla, the spin-doctoring, the back-slapping, the hand-shaking and the diplomatic niceties, will the world be a better place in which to live? John Howard speculates.

By Tuesday the APEC trade talks will be over, and resolutions will go forward to the November Seattle-round of WTO. But we need to keep in mind that the General Agreement on Tariff's and Trade (GATT), which finally lead to the WTO, has been around since 1947.

The fact is, following APEC '99 and perhaps for the last four decades, most of the world's 6.5 billion population will still live in misery and poverty. The Western nations will still be consuming a large and disproportionate share of the world's resources, probably destroying the environment in the process and growing fat and lazy on the backs of the less fortunate.

Beyond APEC, behind the scenes deals will still be done, tariff's and barriers will remain in one form or another and wars will be fought, mostly to protect Western political backsides and their supporters.

However, I don't want to imagine the future as a picture of a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

It need not, and it should not, be allowed to happen. Something's very wrong in this world of ours.

Take Kosovo. It's been deserted by a world consisting of the G-8 nations who have failed to address with urgency the necessity of the economic reconstruction of Kosovo, the rest of Yugoslavia, in fact, the entire Balkan region remains devastated by the bombing war.

For the Balkans we firstly need a multi-nation engineering authority with the following emergency tasks. 1. Clear the Kosovo territory of land mines 2. Clear the total of the River Danube for immediate transportation 3. Restore road and rail transportation 4. Restore power generation, hospitals and related facilities.

Second, a special financial facility, independent from exisiting monetary institutions like the IMF.

This should be modelled upon the success of the Reconstruction Credit Corporation of the general reconstruction after the Second World War. This facility should be built on the principles of the National Bank of Alexander Hamilton, and which was successfully implemented by Roosevelt's recovery plan of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Marshall Plan approach for the reconstruction of Europe.

Third, would be an international private contractor's consortium which mobilised public and private vendor's for materials and engineering services for support of the infrastructure-building effort so that the programme proposal can be realised.

The credit mechanism is known and has been tested successfully several times; the technologies required exist throughout the world; the human qualifications and abilities are available.

Angola, Iraq and now East Timor, to name just three, are but other examples where urgent action is needed. This is not a question of money. This is not a question of the "donor's club. This IS a question of attitude and political will - our will.

The reconstruction of the entire Balkan region would not only be the "peace through development" solution for the nations and the people directly involved, but would jump-start the engine of the economies of the United States and Europe, and get the world's physical economy in action again.

We've heard a lot of talk about how the world's economy is getting better and the Asian crisis is all but over. Hellooooo!!!

Since the Asian crisis erupted in1997, Western governments, led by the US Federal Reserve, are printing money at the fastest rate since the disastrous Weimar inflation in Germany in the early 1920's. This, in turn helps cause a further explosion in financial aggregates - derivatives, stocks, bonds etc. The world is wallowing in debt.

The amount of highly volatile derivatives now floating around the world, for instance, is now estimated at between $US 250-300 trillion, far more than the combined Gross Domestic Product of every nation on earth.

As more money is diverted away from the physical economy, into financial speculation, the physical economy collapses at an ever increasing rate. And it is the physical economy, after all, which ultimately sustains the financial economy.

The physical economy is now plummeting. The US consumption of machine tools, for instance, which are the tools that make other tools, and therefore the best barometer of the health of an economy, fell an astounding 39% for the first five months of 1999 as compared to 1998.

US steel production for that same period fell 10% compared to 1998, even as US imports of steel fell 6%.

Part of this collapse in steel production was caused by an astonishing 46% collapse in agricultural equipment production over the same period. This is a figure of great world importance since the US produces one third of all the world's farm equipment. Company after company in the US and elsewhere are restructuring and laying off workers in there tens of thousands.

The picture is the same across the world with steel and machine-tool production plummeting. That reflects the true state of the world's economy, not the speculative share market.

We will have solved nothing if APEC free trade simply means to move production from one country to another cheaper country. That's not a recipe for success - that's a recipe for disaster. Pretty soon you run out of "cheap" countries.

No, let's all rebuild the world's infrastructure which we've so ably bombed and destroyed - that's my dream beyond APEC.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news