Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | 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

 

Eric Zuesse: U.S. Empire: Biden And Kerry Gave Orders To Ukraine’s President

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture On May 19th, an implicit international political warning was issued, but it wasn’t issued between countries; it was issued between allied versus opposed factions within each of two countries: U.S. and Ukraine. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Budget Cockups In The Time Of Coronavirus: Reporting Errors And Australia’s JobKeeper Scheme

Hell has, in its raging fires, ringside seats for those who like their spreadsheets. The seating, already peopled by those from human resources, white collar criminals and accountants, becomes toastier for those who make errors with those spreadsheets. ... More>>


The Dig - COVID-19: Just Recovery

The COVID-19 crisis is compelling us to kick-start investment in a regenerative and zero-carbon future. We were bold enough to act quickly to stop the virus - can we now chart a course for a just recovery? More>>

The Conversation: Are New Zealand's New COVID-19 Laws And Powers Really A Step Towards A Police State?

Reaction to the New Zealand government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown has ranged from high praise to criticism that its actions were illegal and its management chaotic. More>>


Keith Rankin: Universal Versus Targeted Assistance, A Muddled Dichotomy

The Commentariat There is a regular commentariat who appear on places such as 'The Panel' on Radio New Zealand (4pm on weekdays), and on panels on television shows such as Newshub Nation (TV3, weekends) and Q+A (TV1, Mondays). Generally, these panellists ... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>

Caitlin Johnstone: Do You Consent To The New Cold War?

The world's worst Putin puppet is escalating tensions with Russia even further, with the Trump administration looking at withdrawal from more nuclear treaties in the near future. In addition to planning on withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty ... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Ethics (and Some Of The Economics) Of Lifting The Lockdown

As New Zealand passes the half-way mark towards moving out of Level Four lockdown, the trade-offs involved in life-after-lockdown are starting to come into view. All very well for National’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith to claim that “The number one priority we have is to get out of the lockdown as soon as we can”…Yet as PM Jacinda Ardern pointed out a few days ago, any crude trade-off between public health and economic well-being would be a false choice... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell And Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

If the title of epidemiological czar were to be created, its first occupant would have to be Sweden’s Anders Tegnell. He has held sway in the face of sceptics and concern that his “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 is a dangerous, and breathtakingly ... More>>


 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog