Home > International politics > G8: Won’t someone open a couple of windows?

G8: Won’t someone open a couple of windows?

The air is so stale around the G-8 meeting, it almost smells like the cigar-smoke-filled rooms in the all-boys’ clubs of yore. Just as we still rely on fossil fuel (“fossil,” shouldn’t the very word scare us away?) and fight wars over it—killing an amazing number of people, with no one batting an eye—just as we build enough nuclear energy sites, shown catastrophe after catastrophe to be lethal, to give cancer to half the world population, we keep on trotting out workhorses that should have been put to pasture a while back. Even a village idiot understands that if he holds his hand to the flame, he’ll get burned. That’s called experience. But our leaders start every day anew, not having learned anything from anything. We live in a brand new world where everything has been turned on its head, with all previous rules and policies obsolete, yet they still apply the same band aids, piece together the same ill-assorted patches, and mostly, repeat the same tired words. (Apologies for the stream of metaphors). The Geithners, Larry Summers, and Bernankes of the world or the ECB president still make lofty pronouncements and define economic policies that would be laughable if they didn’t play with our lives and our miserable finances. Broken organizations such as IMF and assorted World Banks and useless gatherings such as the grandiosely named World Economic Forum at Davos still rule.

The patron saint remains Keynes, quoted as their guiding light by most players. Yes, the man was an economic genius, possibly the greatest ever, but he still died in 1946 and this is, may I remind you, 2012.

Listen up, guys, none of this is working. Everything you say, every recommendation, every plan, every program, is recycled same old, same old. There is no vision, no creative thinking, no road map, nothing. Look at the general picture and the questions it begs (with everyone’s eyes unfortunately not on the end result but on local or national elections, be it in the U.S. or elsewhere): Government intervention or not, discussions of how much to tweak austerity versus growth, is stagflation still relevant, should governments and organizations such as the U.S. or the EU continue bailouts versus letting markets take care of themselves (go tell that to Greece), till when will the bad guys continue getting enormous salaries, bonuses and stock options, pay no taxes and not do jail time for their thieving, while little guys are on installment plans with the IRS, and don’t OWS movements reek of the 1960s? Anyone with answers?

Ms. Merkel, a good head on strong shoulders, can’t do it alone. (Though the euro zone would do well to study how Germany absorbed its poorer Eastern counterpart and still manages to be one of the world’s top economies.) Hollande, the newly elected French president, is an unknown quantity but probably no economic or political genius if his past history is any indication. Dear Putin has boycotted the G8, busy chasing a grizzly bear or riding, shirtless, the latest Harley Fat Boy. Other attendees are mostly irrelevant. As for Obama, he relies, as always in economic matters, on the recycled advisers named above, most of them tainted by association with their buddies in Wall Street, the same who bear a lot of the responsibility for the present situation and not only have suffered absolutely no consequence but get fatter by the day.

So, we can’t expect anything momentous coming out of yet another G8 summit. Opening windows should at least create a draft, if not an actual breeze. I’ll settle for that, for now.

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