Listening to the TV talking heads analyze President-elect Obama’s speech on the economy today, I was reminded of a story I heard as a child about six blind men who were assigned to find out what an elephant was like. One man stumbled against the side; one grabbed an ear; another hugged a leg; the fourth got hold of a tusk; the fifth caught the elephant’s trunk; and the last blind man ended up with the tail. Each was now convinced that he knew what an elephant was, and proceeded to announce his findings.
The first blind man reported that the elephant was a wall; the second disagreed, saying it was in actuality a large fan; the third vigorously contended the elephant was obviously some kind of tree; the fourth wanted to know how anyone could mistake a spear for a wall, a fan or a tree; the fifth figured the elephant for a snake; and the last blind man was amazed that the others did not realize the elephant was a rope. The argument grew more heated, and finally escalated into a battle between the followers of the six blind men.
Like a blind man hugging only a part of an elephant, this morning’s talking heads focused entirely on the United States, and failed to connect the dots to the rest of the world. For example, no one saw any link to a conference that was in progress in Paris at the time Obama gave his speech.
I wish I were smart enough to explain how the U.S. economy fits into the global picture, but I only know what I read in the newspapers, see on TV or come across on the Internet. Perhaps you can help me figure out what’s going on.
Here’s a clue that might be enlightening: At the Paris conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for new rules to govern world finance in the wake of the global economic collapse. Merkel said the U.N. could serve as a forum for creating a new international regulatory framework. She said the International Monetary Fund has not managed to regulate global capitalism, and she called for the creation of a body at the United Nations, similar to the Security Council, to judge government policy.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy castigated financial speculators and said that under the current capitalist system, “wealth goes to the wealthy, work is devalued, production is devalued, and the entrepreneurial spirit is devalued.” He added that “in capitalism of the 21st century, there is room for the state.” And former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for a new financial order based on “values other than the maximum short-term profit.”
You might not know this from the U.S. media, but governments around the world have had to step in to rescue credit-starved banks and financial institutions from collapse. You know, of course, that this is exactly what happened in America during the waning days of the Bush Administration. With hundreds of billions of dollars voted by Congress to buy “toxic securities,” Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson invested in the banking system in much the same manner as his overseas colleagues. Some critics called it “socialism.”
I wonder what changed Paulson’s mind? Is America so inextricably embedded in the global economic system that indpendent action is no longer possible? Is the Obama stimulus plan somehow connected with the fact that many other governments are pumping billions of euros into their economies to encourage growth?
So much goes on behind the scenes; so little is reported intelligently. For example, I understand that there is an international movement afoot to establish regional currencies (patterned on the euro) to replace the current exchange system, and I see that prototypes of a currency called the amero has already been minted for future use in America, Canada and Mexico. A comment on one of my blogs suggests the banks are behind this move as they are trying to corner the market on gold. I have no way of proving or disproving this. But I know one thing for sure: We seem to be on the brink of a new world financial order, and you and I don’t have much say in the way it will turn out.