FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The "New" UN Blames the Poor

“Make no mistake,” declared Paul Martin, Canada’s prime minister and co-chairman of the U.N. Commission on Private Sector and Development. “This is a new pillar of development – unleashing local private enterprise, supported by strong, indigenous, democratic institutions.”

With at least a billion people on the planet subsisting on the equivalent of one US dollar a day or less, a March 8 report issued by the U.N. commission explained that its “new pillars” includes “access to bank loans, encouraging job skills and training, and setting up simpler, fairer rules and regulations can all help small-scale business flourish.”

Conveniently, Forbes magazine just announced there are 587 individuals and family units worth $1 billion or more…an increase from 476 in 2003. All together, the world’s billionaires are worth $1.9 trillion…a total higher than the gross domestic product of the 170 poorest countries combined. Score one for better access to bank loans, I guess.

“While the rich continue to accumulate wealth for themselves, millions upon millions of people around the world are trying to survive under conditions of unspeakable degradation,” writes Jamie Chapman at the World Socialist Website. “One estimate puts the cost of satisfying the entire world’s need for food and sanitation at $13 billion-less than 1 percent of wealth of the world’s billionaires.”

Here in the US (where 275 of the world’s billionaires dwell), we like to tell tales about rich folks being “self-made” examples of the American Dream. That’s part of the American Dream myth…the fable of individualized success that tells us if we outwork and outthink and out-hustle the competition, this is the land of opportunity. Anything is possible. If we succeed, it’s simply because we deserved it more. This myth is helpful for praising success…but mighty damaging in explaining failure. If you fail, the blame is on you…not anything related to this white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy we call home.

What about the rest of the world? How easy is it for them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps?

“According to the World Bank,” says Mike Eckel, of the Associated Press, “the cost of starting a business in Angola is US$5,531 – about eight times more than that country’s per capita income. In New Zealand, the cost is about US$28 – about 1 percent of per capita income.” Sounds like we need to encourage more job training.

Enter the “new” U.N., eschewing any hint at redistributing wealth or any mention the ominous consequences of a planet inhabited by billions of humans with literally nothing to lose. The pillars the new U.N. sleeping on include big ideas like micro-loans with “relatively easy repayment terms,” and on-the-job training.

“As well,” writes Eckel, “large, multinational corporations should be encouraged to work with small-scale business for outsource work or to be suppliers of goods and services, the commission said.” (If you listen closely, you can hear Thomas Friedman groaning with pleasure.)

So precisely how does one “encourage” large multi-national corporations to do the right thing for the world’s poor? According to the U.N. Commission on Private Sector and Development, the “onus lies on developing countries.”

Former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo ( man who knows a thing or two about wealth disparity) was the commission’s other co-chairman. “Developing countries must have the right policies to develop if they want to develop,” he stated articulately.

“This is a new U.N. today,” added Mark Malloch Brown, head of the U.N. Development Program, ” a U.N. which… celebrates the private sector and the power of markets and consumers.”

Let’s check the scorecard: 587 billionaires are worth more than 170 countries. Nearly 4 billion people around the world earn less than $1,500 (US) a year. The new U.N. has nothing better to offer than the celebration of free (sic) market consumerism.

What happens if it’s the 4 billion who get the last at-bat?

MICKEY Z. is the author of two upcoming books: “A Gigantic Mistake: Articles and Essays for Your Intellectual Self-Defense” (Prime Books) and “Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda” (Common Courage Press). He can be reached at mzx2@earthlink.net.

 

More articles by:

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here. This piece first appeared at World Trust News.  

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael Duggin
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Frank Clemente
The GOP Tax Bill is Creating Jobs…But Not in the United States
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail