Enemies of the WTO by Paul Krugman

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-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), April 28, 2000


During the WTO summit, it bothered me that no one in Seattle seemed to have a coherent grip or message about what they were protesting. But here's a link to an article that expressed some regional concerns. This article confronted the WTO from a local perspective and thus made the protesters' concerns more legitimate to me. True, a lot of the expressed fear in the article stems from what the WTO could do, not what it has already done, and in that sense is purely speculative.

Seattle Weekly article

-- Celia Thaxter (celiathaxter@yahoo.com), April 28, 2000.

It was just another case of people jumping on the bandwagon without knowing what the hell was really going on.

As for why it went the way it did in Seattle, we are an old hippie town (people still sell handmade items in the heart of downtown), and the high schools were showing the WTO meetings as part of an effort to educate the students about global industries, but it turned out that when tat small group of troublemakers started trouble, the kids thought they would join in on the fun. To the trained eye (mine) you could see the students get off of the busses down town en masse and join the the festivities.

Even the gang bangers got in on the fun, they were heard talking on their cell phones telling friends to come on down, that there was merchendise to be had through broken windows.

Not many watched the meeting that did go on, which is unfortunate. There was one I saw where a woman from one of the African Nations presented a wonderful speech explaining what they had to offer and requesting that they be allowed to be included in the organization. Needless to say, nothing was accomplished by the protesters doing their thing. Had the meetings been allowed to go forward, then the concerns of the protesters could have been addressed, as it happened, they were not even heard, much less discussed and acted upon.

I watched the City Counsel Meetings that occured before the WTO where the meetings were being discussed. The protesters demanded that Seattle provide them with room and board facilities! It was sick, people chose to come from all over to protest and expected us to provide them with a place to stay and all the facilities they needed while here.

Fortunatly they were denied even space in the homeless facilities, we were not going to allow them to put our homless out on the street at night from the places they normally use to sleep and eat.

There were people who went out of their way to walk into the teargass, the first day there were many people who demanded to be arrested and were mad when told they would not be, because the police were busy elsewhere trying to stop the trashing of businesses.

The article makes some good points.

= The raw fact is that every successful example of economic development this past century--every case of a poor nation that worked its way up to a more or less decent, or at least dramatically better, standard of living--has taken place via globalization....

= those workers were even poorer before the new exporting jobs became available....

those who do not have access to the global market are far worse off than those who do....

the most striking thing about the horrors of globalization illustrated in those photos is that for most of the world's people they represent aspirations, things they wish they had, rather than ominous threats.

Traffic jams and ugly interchanges are annoying, but most people would gladly accept that annoyance in exchange for the freedom that comes with owning a car (and more to the point, being wealthy enough to afford one)....

Tract housing and apartment buildings may be ugly, but they are paradise compared with village huts or urban shanties....

Wearing a suit and working at a computer in an office tower are, believe it or not, preferable to backbreaking work in a rice paddy.....

And it is very clear from the advertisement in the Times that the Turning Point Project--and the whole movement it represents--are on the supercilious side of that line. Although they talk of freedom and democracy, their key demand is that individuals be prevented from getting what they want--that governments be free, nay encouraged, to deny individuals the right to drive cars, work in offices, eat cheeseburgers, and watch satellite TV.


Presumably because people will really be happier if they retain their traditional "language, dress, and values." Thus, Spaniards would be happier if they still dressed in black and let narrow-minded priests run their lives, and residents of the American South would be happier if planters still sipped mint juleps, wore white suits, and accepted traditional deference from sharecroppers ... instead of living in this "dreary" modern world in which Madrid is just like Paris and Atlanta is just like New York.

Well, somehow I suspect that the residents of Madrid and Atlanta, while they may regret some loss of tradition, prefer modernity. And you know what? I think the rest of the world has the right to make the same choice.

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), April 30, 2000.

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