Sovereign No More: What is Obama thinking?
Until recently, I have been guardedly optimistic that the economy soon would turn a corner. Now, I'm not so sure.
My chagrin has nothing to do with the discouraging September jobs report, which said a higher-than-expected 263,000 jobs were lost. That could be just a bump on the recovery track. It has everything to do with the United States' willingness to transfer a piece of its financial decision-making sovereignty to foreign interests.
As part of the recent G-20 summit, member nations (including the U.S.) reportedly agreed to coordinate their financial policies and then submit them for approval to the International Monetary Fund. As part of this new world (gag!) order, the world's largest economy (that's still the U.S.) reportedly would have one vote — the same number as every other member of the G-20.
In light of the U.S.-led global financial meltdown, this might sound like a reasonable idea; that is, until you get a load of the crowd we're surrendering power to. Politically speaking, picture the bar scene from Star Wars.
Judging by some of the nations represented, we've given veto power over our economic policy to a gaggle of financiers representing autocrats (including Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia) and some European social states that have stood in envy of U.S. economic dynamism while their own centrally managed economies were haplessly stuck in the mud. A couple of these nations, notably Germany and France, have tried to abandon that course.
But Russia, China, and (particularly) Saudi Arabia? When did it become "tres sheik" to submit to a kingdom that has directed vast oil wealth to an elite few, yet has taught its young that the West is the cause of their misery — contributing to extreme resentments that compel young men to hijack commercial airplanes and fly them into the tallest buildings in New York? Not to mention a kingdom that suppresses half its human talent — the female half — to an extent that virtually guarantees its backwardness until the end of time.
Even though jaw-jaw (or in diplomatic jargon, "moral suasion") is reportedly the tool that would be applied to nations that do not comply with the IMF's ultimate judgment, don't bet that G-20 renegades won't ultimately face tougher sanctions.
Which raises the question: What is President Obama thinking? He could not have provided his domestic political opponents with lower-hanging fruit, and he might be undermining his own ability to respond to adverse economic conditions.
To justify this new arrangement, we're told it will help control excesses, including outlandish executive compensation, on Wall Street. Good grief! We can oversee our financial sector with a presidential administration that doesn't have its head in the sand. The corporate malfeasance that came to light and the negligent regulatory enforcement that marked the Bush years were a disappointment to all of us who understand that capitalism is governed by rules that must be enforced, but this sovereignty cave-in is too violent a swing in the other direction.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this decision is that some in the G-20 do not even believe in the free market. You remember the free market. That's where free men and women actually get to put their gifts to the test, taking risks that have produced the likes of Apple and Google, not to mention Inacom (Laurie Benson) and Epic Systems (Judith Faulkner) as part of the world's most successful economy.
It also has produced filmmaker Michael Moore, whose new capitalist-bashing movie is no doubt filling his bank account thanks in part to the free economic exchange — I make the film, you pay to see it — that defines capitalism.
Regarding the G-20 power grab, I just hope that when we get the itch to rebel (and we will), we have the backbone to reclaim our self-determination.
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