Tuesday, September 21, 2004

This is a story from the Associated Press today. The AP is in italics. My comments are in regular type.

As world leaders gathered Monday for the annual U.N. General Assembly, French President Jacques Chirac — already deeply at odds with the Bush administration over the war in Iraq — accused Washington of obstructing a worldwide campaign to eradicate poverty.
Chirac spoke after the U.S. administration declined after two high-level meetings to endorse a final declaration that was supported by 110 countries. The nonbinding document called for a "renewed political mobilization" to help more than 1 billion people trying to eke out a living on less than $1 a day.

Note the words "nonbinding" and "declaration" and "political mobilization". In other words, nothing serious, just another blast of hot air aimed at taking the high moral ground. Sorry, M. Chiraq, we all know that such empty posturing is the behavior of the weak. The strong do not posture. They act.

"However strong the Americans may be, in the long term, you cannot successfully oppose a position taken by 110 countries," Chirac told a news conference. "You can't oppose that forever."
Chirac planned to return to Paris Monday night, making it impossible for him to meet with President Bush who speaks before the General Assembly when it officially opens Tuesday. Bush did not attend the Monday meetings.

We certainly can oppose something so meaningless with absolutely no damage whatsoever. As for meeting with President Bush, even if Chiraq had stuck around I don't think he'd have gotten one.

Chirac said he and and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would propose new approaches to fund the alleviation of poverty, although the preparatory meetings resulted in no specific proposals.
"The price of selfishness is rebellion," he warned. "We should ensure that the world's unprecedented wealth becomes a vehicle for the integration, rather than exclusion, of the most underprivileged. It is up to us to give globalization a conscience," he said.

Wait a minute, Jack. Are you calling us selfish and exclusive and concienceless? That's rich, seeing as how the United States has provided more aid (99% wasted) to the Third World than France, Germany, and Spain put together, and seeing as how everybody in France would be living in mud huts eating grass right now if not for the Marshall Plan. France has certainly been generous to folks like Saddam, though, I will say that. As for the dumb "root causes of terrorism" argument, that's already been so completely shot down that I won't bother doing it again. By the way, note the words "no specific proposals".

Bush has said his speech will emphasize international humanitarian concerns as the world body begins two weeks of meetings in the midst of an upsurge of violence in Iraq and a massive humanitarian crisis in western Sudan.
The document adopted after Monday's meetings, but not signed by the Americans did not make specific anti-proverty proposals but said the time had come "to give further attention to innovative mechanisms of financing — public or private, compulsory and voluntary, of univeral or limited membership" to raise funds to fight poverty.

I saw Bush's speech. He pointed out that we're spending fifteen billion dollars in Africa to fight AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. That sounds specific to me. Again, no specific proposals by Chirac, just a load of wank. And I think "innovative methods of (compulsory, public) financing translate to "Give France some control over your money, you evil rich Americans, so we can waste it propping up our former Empire of cheap-ass African dictators."
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Venemen rejected the idea of a global tax proposed in a February U.N. report and favored by some of the participants, including France, saying it was impossible to impose.
"A global tax is inherently undemocratic," she said.

That's right. Nobody but the US government is going to tax US citizens. The rest of y'all around the world can do whatever you want.

Silva said overwhelming hunger and unemployment in developing nations was contributing to international violence.
"How many more times will it be necessary to repeat that the most destructive weapon of mass destruction in the world is poverty?" he asked during a speech at a session that focuse on a U.N. report about the growing divide between the world's haves and have-nots.
Asked later whether he was concerned by the lack of U.S. support for the declaration, Silva told journalists that the United States had taken an important step by sending a representative.

There goes Lula again with the root causes argument. You want to cure poverty in Brazil, Lula, there are a few things you can do all on your own. Just ask Xavier Sala i Martin. Anyway, poverty doesn't cause violence, fanaticism and greed (both caused by envy) cause violence.

The report said the income gap between the richest and poorest countries has widened over the past four decades and the vast majority of the world's population could fail to see the benefits of globalization.
"Fair globalization must begin with the right of everyone to a job," Silva said, stressing that "dignified work, like the fight against hunger, cannot wait."

First, the fact that the rich are getting richer faster than the poor are getting richer is not a bad thing, it's a good thing, since everyone is getting richer. Second, I'm tired of the word "globalization". The world economy has been global ever since it began sometime during the Neolithic age, and it's never been fair. And third, nobody has the right to a job, since rights are free (they do not have a cost) and your "right" is somebody else's obligation. You have the right to look for a job, but nobody has the obligation to give you one.

According to Bjorn Lomborg, who cites UN figures, world life expectancy has risen from 30 to 67 years since 1900. Only 18% of people in the Third World suffer from hunger, down from 35% in 1970. Only 16% of young people in the developing world are illiterate, down from about 75% in 1915. 80% of Third World people have clean drinking water, up from 30% in 1970. In the last ten years caloric consumption in the Third World has risen 8%. People around the world are richer, healthier, and better off than they ever have been. That does not mean things are good enough. It does mean that they aren't nearly as bad as one might think after listening to Chiraq and Lula.

"We have more leisure time, greater security and fewer accidents, more education, more ameneties, higher incomes, fewer starving people, more food, and a healthier and longer life. This is the fantastic story of mankind, and to call such a civilization 'dysfunctional' is quite simply immoral." (Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, pg. 328.)

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