Saturday, May 12, 2007

The real scandal at the World Bank

Johann Hari has a rather more sober comment on the World Bank (as opposed to the hoo-haa about the President giving his girlfriend a job):

...its mission to end poverty has always been mythical. As George Monbiot explains in his book The Age of Consent, the World Bank was created in the 1940s by US economist Henry Dexter White to be a further projection of US power. The bank's head is invariably American, the bank is based in Washington, and the US has a permanent veto on policies. It does not promote a sensible mix of markets and state action - the real path to development. No: the World Bank pursues the interests of US corporations over the poor, every time.

Practical action is not revolutionary, although it is simple and effective: divestment:

The campaign to make World Bank bonds as untouchable as apartheid-era investments has already begun. The cities of San Francisco, Boulder, Oakland and Berkeley have sold theirs. Several US unions have also joined. Even this small ripple has caused anxiety within the bank about the threat to its "AAA" bond rating.

This worked for apartheid South Africa, it's working for Israel, and maybe it can work for the World Bank, at least insofar as it opens up debate and makes a few more people wake up.


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