Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Friday, June 11, 2004

Where were the protestors?

Now that the G8 has left the Savannah, GA, area and those who ACTUALLY LIVE there start to recover, the good, the bad, and the ugly of the summit is starting to come out.

1) There was supposed to be $1Billion spent during the summit. This article says that it probably didn't happen. The security in the downtown area stifled the supposed increase in business
Other merchants were unhappy. "Everybody's crying the blues," said retailer Brecker whose store this week faced a black security fence around the federal court house. Since the fence went up, Brecker's business has been down 90 percent, he said.
Yet, there are some who are looking for a silver lining, ANYWHERE
At Cafe at City Market, general manager Kay McPherson called business "bad," down 50 percent Thursday. But she hoped reports about Savannah from thousands of journalists would eventually bring new tourists here.


2) There wasn't much going on at the protests in Forsyth Park. Reports suggest that there were more media representatives than protestors. Things were so slow, protestors played 'Duck Duck Goose' - I suppose they didn't have enough people for 'Rover, Red Rover'


3) When the protestors did get active, which is difficult in 95 degree heat and 85% humidity I'll admit, they didn't have much to say:
The 50 protesters danced, waved flags and shouted at 100 stone-faced officers in full riot gear, while a helicopter circled overhead and two patrol boats floated nearby in the river.

"This is what democracy looks like; that is what a police state looks like!" the demonstrators yelled at the officers.

Front-line officers in helmets and Kevlar vests looked tense, sweat dripping down their faces, batons gripped at attention.

But they did not flinch.

And after 10 minutes, the activists backed off, retreating down Bull Street and then south to Forsyth Park.

With that, the Sea Island Summit became the most incident-free G-8 since 1997.


4) The cost of peace? Estimates put the total number of protestors at 300, total number of law enforcement officials at 20,000 and total cost of protection at $35 million. Let's see, that's about $100,000 per protestor? As an economist, I would have suggested side payments. Each protestor gets $20,000 with which to do what they wish - say give the money to anti-AIDS programs, etc., and Savannah and the state of Georgia could have saved a lot of money.

5) From the same article, when protestors are beeing jeered by tourists who "stumble" upon a demonstration, then the power of the protest movement is definitely in doubt.

Upshot? Things in the world are pretty good and perhaps the professional protest movement has figured that out. The economies of the world are doing better, the transformation of Iraq is continuing, and the developed countries of the world are spending a lot of money on helping the rest of the world.

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