Washington, D.C. hosted a swarm of three thousand central bankers and finance ministers from around the world. The limousines were thick like locusts and the hotels glistened with gushing hospitality suites by banks and securities firms. But the topic was Gloom — the worsening crisis of runaway global capitalism.
There were large rooms full of concerned “three suiters,” and their ready cell phones, listening to speakers who made out as if they had the diagnosis and “a plethora of new ideas,” as the New York Times described it. Out of the sobered and weighty discussions, one theme — really a demand couched in diplomatic language and economic jargon — emerged.
The capitalists demanded that socialism save them in the form of government bailouts, loans, credits, with the mass of small taxpayers — mostly in America — bearing the risks and the burdens. The message was relentless — governments must do something, the Congress must take $18 billion of taxpayers money and send it to the International Monetary Fund to pour into the drains of Russia, Brazil and other nations where corruption and oligarchy abound.
Socialism (i.e. taxpayers) saving capitalism is the routine in Washington and other western countries. Much of what our federal government does is to use your tax dollars to guarantee profits, replace private investment with public monies (remember all those sports stadiums subsidies), give away your taxpayer assets like government medical research and development for medicines to drug companies or minerals on your public lands to mining companies.
After so many years of this largess, at your expense and without your participation, these big corporations begin to see these corporate welfare policies as entitlements. They demand them, grease politicians skids, and push for ever larger ones. For the poor on welfare, two or five year cutoffs are enacted, non‑living wage jobs are required to be taken and heaps of opprobrium are dumped on the underclasses.
Nothing of the sort applies to corporate welfarists, who have spent your money on everything from luxury resorts to wining and wining of one another to avaricious pay packages for the bosses.
Bad enough that Uncle Sam has to pay corporations to make a profit for themselves — not exactly the Adam Smith type of market model — but now enters the imperatives of globalization. Now Uncle Sam is expected to bailout foreign regimes and their speculating western creditors and native business allies. And if we don’t, then Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin and President Bill Clinton warn that it will harm our economy and our jobs.
Criminal capitalism replaces criminal communism and joins with state fascism in these foreign countries to demand that innocent American taxpayers pay for their greed, their corruption, their gambling derivatives and recklessness.
Those are the words missing from all the lectures of the Bankers and Finance Ministers and their consultants last week in Washington — GREED, SPECULATION AND CRIMINAL CORRUPTION. The newspapers rarely cranked these venerable variables into their stories — that would be a breach of business journalistic etiquette. Stories about foreign bribes and corruption are reported elsewhere in the media — separate from their possible contamination of the economic royalists meeting in their swank hotels while their people back home struggle to survive, to eat, to make it through their misery-ridden days.
Globalization, as practiced by many multinational corporations and their government servants, means interdependence -GATT style — and that in turn connects with autocratic regimes and their bribing businesses that squash democratic processes and the rule of law. The race to the bottom follows dragging down gains in higher-standard of justice countries to lower common denominators. Only countries with higher health, safety and workplace standards stand to violate GATT’s trade uber alles mandates. Nations that mistreat their workers, environment and consumers need not worry of being accused by other countries of being trade restrictive and therefore GATT-illegal on these matters.
There is little room under corporate globalization, without democratic practices, for community self-reliance, self-sufficiency, energy independence (remember that one?) and well-rounded regions which exert a reasonable level of self-determination. Excessive interdependence across national borders is the leveling strategy of transnational corporate goliaths like Citigroup, Monsanto, General Motors, Exxon, Merrill Lynch and the mining, drug and biotechnology companies. It is the way to circumvent our three branches of government and have centralized decisions made in secret tribunals and harmonization (of standards) committees of the World Trade Organization.
Many consumer labor and environmental groups have been pressing for a sustained national debate on globalization during and between elections. If you wish to obtain more information about where globalization is heading, send one dollar in postage to the Multinational Monitor Magazine, P. 0. Box 19405, Washington, DC 20036.