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George Monbiot (Guardian Utd): Punitive - and it works

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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 12:01 AM
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George Monbiot (Guardian Utd): Punitive - and it works
Edited on Tue Jan-11-05 12:05 AM by Jack Rabbit
From the Guardian Unlimited (UK)
Dated Tuesday January 11

Punitive - and it works
Sweden proves neoliberals wrong about how to slash poverty. But Brown isn't listening
By George Monbiot

'Does not already the response to the massive tidal wave in south-east Asia," Gordon Brown asked on Thursday, "show just how closely and irrevocably bound together... are the fortunes of the richest persons in the richest country to the fate of the poorest persons in the poorest country?"

The answer is no. It is true that the very rich might feel sorry for the very poor, and that some of them have responded generously to the latest catastrophe. But it is hard to imagine how the fate and fortunes of the richest and poorest could be further removed. The 10 richest people on earth have a combined net worth of $255bn - roughly 60% of the income of sub-Saharan Africa. The world's 500 richest people have more money than the total annual earnings of the poorest 3 billion.

This issue - of global inequality - was not mentioned in either Brown's speech or Tony Blair's simultaneous press conference. Indeed, I have so far failed to find a reference to it in the recent speeches of any leader of a G8 nation. I believe that the concern evinced by Blair and Brown for the world's poor is genuine. I believe that they mean it when they say they will put the poor at the top of the agenda for the G8 summit in July. The problem is that their concern for the poor ends where their concern for the rich begins . . . .

(T)here is another means of testing the neoliberals' hypothesis, which is to compare the performance of nations which have taken different routes to development. The neoliberals dismiss the problems faced by developing countries as "growing pains", so let's look at the closest thing we have to a final result. Let's take two countries which have gone all the way through the development process and arrived in the promised land of prosperity. Let's compare the United Kingdom - a pioneer of neoliberalism - and Sweden, one of the last outposts of distributionism. And let's make use of a set of statistics the Economist is unlikely to dispute: those contained within its own publication, the 2005 World in Figures.

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PROGRESSIVE1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 12:04 AM
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