With the financial meltdown in full swing, western governments are swinging into action to revive their bankrupt economies with massive stimulus bills and spending programs. Financial institutions which are too big to allow them to go bankrupt are receiving bucket loads of cash, while a multitude of industries wait for their piece of the pie.
Obama is proposing huge investments in infrastructure and green jobs, while the EU promises much the same.
The West responds to economic crises with swift government intervention, while it tells Third World Nations to do the opposite. 'Structural Adjustment' was the phrase coined by the IMF and World Bank -- a technocratic word to describe the gutting of public institutions in the countries they were supposed to help.
The so-called third World countries were ordered to cut government spending, allow private companies to take over state functions (like providing water, electricity and education), and borrow at extremely high interest rates. The results were catastrophic, and countries like Brazil, Chile, and Nicaragua were plunged into economic hell. Hyperinflation, mass unemployment, poverty and food insecurity soared while deficits are multiplying.
The West insisted this was the best road to economic prosperity, ignoring the inconvenient truth -- that they had not taken their own advice.
Central planning, protectionism and public welfare created the societies we live in today. The power of capitalism to create wealth by itself was nothing more than a myth, a weapon the rich would use to lecture the poor. We live in the jungle of savage capitalism while the Corporates use the state to build their businesses and solidify their wealth.
The ideologues claim that neo liberalism worked, intending to ramming it down the throats of their own countries with the same religious fervor. Wealth was created, but only at the top, while the rest of the people crumbled. The financial tsunami that wrecked Latin America in the 1980's had finally landed in the North, culminating in the amazing meltdown of giant institutions deemed more stable than some months before.
The world may pull out of this awful mess in the coming months if their governments react to the will of the people. The corporate must pay, jobs must be created, and the wealth must be spread around. The people know this, and the governments know it too. Yet the Third World is trapped in a spiral of debt, privatization and deep, persistent poverty. They exist in a shaky state of neo colonial dependency and cannot follow their path out of economic disaster because they insist they don't. It is supposed that colonialism is dead, but the treatment of the Third World reveals otherwise. The West may not govern the countries directly, but the results are tragically similar. It is only the methods that differ.
Perhaps the mighty shock the West have received will sway power back towards the poor, and perhaps the west shows more sympathy for their plight.
(By Ben Cohen, Editor of the Daily Banter.com website)