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Friday, June 04, 2004

The G8 Invades Savannah

My brother contacts me with an update from Savannah, Georgia, where the G8 will meet next week.

Exits off I-95 have been shutdown near Brunswick, Georgia. You need a pass to cross the Savannah River into South Carolina - didn't know we needed passes to cross state lines. Protestors are gathering steam but noone seems to care - I think it's because 1) Savannah is used to craziness during St. Patrick's day; 2) Savannah is an isolated Southern city that doesn't care about the outside world.

From the protest site Free Savannah the justifications for the protest are to ensure free speech and assembly, which doesn't seem to have been curtailed much in Savannah, notwithstanding many claims to the contrary.

The website does suggest why we should protest the G8 in general:
A rich nation worker produces 1 hammer for $10 in 1 hour. A poor nation worker produces the same hammer for $1 in 1 hour. The poor nation worker must produce 10 hammers (=10 hours of work) to be able to purchase 1 hammer from the rich world. The rich nation worker also produces 10 hammers in 10 hours which gives him the purchasing power of 100 hammers from the poor nation.
Where to start with this? As my brother points out - why does the poor worker want to buy a hammer from the rich country when he already has ten hammers. Good point. The problems with this example are numerous, not the least of which is that the wage disparity in the example would not survive over time if both wokers are truly producing the same hammer.

Evidently, the example comes from the book Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle for the 21st Century (3rd Edition) by J.W. Smith. I don't think Mr/Ms. Smith is an economist. The bibliograhy is long on Mother Jones articles and short on economic literature. Here is the introduction to the 3rd edition. I don't know what the misspelling in the title is supposed to convey.

Another justification for protesting the G8 is from the same book:
"The secret that can never be acknowledged is that if the impoverished world had access to finance capital, technology, and markets it is they who would be wealthy."
Honestly, economists have been promoting these issues for at least the last sixty years in the theory of economic development and growth (not that anyone cares what economists have to say) which is easily confirmable if the protestors wanted to take about three minutes to find out. It seems the protestors do not care about why they are protesting, as long as they can claim that it is because the rich exploit the poor. However, the Free Savannah website suggests that the real goals of the protest are to a) end the "illegal" occupation of Iraq; b) repeal the PATRIOT Act; and c) guarantee our civil liberties in the United States. What these have to do with seven of the G8 members is unclear.

One nice thing is that the National Lawyers' Guild has thrown its weight behind the protestors. This is the same group who sent representatives to North Korea who reported back that all was okay in that country, and that the United States and its allies in South Korea had overstated the extent of malnutrition, famine, police tactics, etc. These representatives suggested that war was inevitable on the peninsula because of the saber rattling by the United States and the fact that we had invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Good call seeing as North Korea recently BANNED cell phones.

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