Punch in the Streets, But Not in the Suites


The G20 summit wrapped up in Pittsburgh Friday with pledges but little punch. Except in the streets.

On climate change, world leaders vowed “strong action” and on the economy, “balanced economic growth.” The summit endorsed granting more voting rights at the IMF and World Bank to ‘underrepresented’ countries like CHINA. With a billion people and the world’s second largest economy — China may budge up from having 3.6% of all votes.

Underrepresented booming countries may get a bigger voice in global finance. Nice. But under-represented people? Well there’s the rub.

Around 200 people were arrested during the two-day Pittsburgh summit. Heavy policing seems to be the only plan world leaders have come up with for shutting reality out.

Reality, for those in the streets, not the suites, of the world, is a whole new economy — way more than a downturn — and the prospect of long-term, possibly permanent, unemployment.

Read the papers, and the stats are all there. In the US, job seekers now outnumber job openings six to one. Official unemployment stands at 9.7 percent, its highest level in 26 years. If you’re a teenager, it’s over 25 percent. No reason there to shun protest for fear of ruining your job prospects, they’re grim and only getting grimmer. That’s if radicals like Paul Craig Roberts, a former officer of the Reagan Administration, are to be believed.

If measured according to the methodology used when he was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Roberts says “the unemployment rate today in the US is above 20%. Moreover, there is no obvious way of reducing it.”

Consumer spending — the engine that drove 70 % of the US economy and by extension much of the world’s — isn’t coming back. And that’s just the way it’s going to be, President Obama’s chief economic adviser Larry Summers told the BBC (my sister, actually) in Pittsburgh.

“The US can’t, shouldn’t and won’t continue to experience the consumption-led growth of the past few years.” said Summers. And the world — and we — should just adjust…

The message is pledge-on! Endorse “strong action” on climate and “balanced growth.” But all those poor people out of work? They’ll just have to adjust.

While banks are doling out cash by the millions to kill any new regulation of Wall St. (which clearly has its heart set on making another buck off all that poverty…) There is one part of the economy that seems actually to be getting stimulated: Policing. If ever civil society finds a voice and decides actually to wield it, they’ll be ready. How else to reign in reality, for lawd’s sake?

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of GRITtv, which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. More…9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, public television and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GritLaura on Twitter.com.

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

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