Tuesday, September 04, 2007

APEC Bush and all that

As the time for the US President's arrival draws closer it is time to make a few comments about APEC.

The first is about the extraordinary security measures taking place in Sydney. In 1966 I stood (as a nine year old) on an awning of a Sydney building waving US and Australian flags to welcome LBJ - I still have the badge from that day. In 1991 George Bush Senior visited Australia and I recall a US consultant we were using at the time commenting on how fascinating it was to go watch Bush in Sydney because you could get much closer than you ever could in the US.

Today we have a riot proof fence through northern reaches of the city and multiple clearway routes for the President's arrival. Did the "world change" on 11 Sept 2001 or did we (or they) do something to change it.

One theory would be that global prosperity simply emboldens and provides the tools to the protesting/revolutionary groups. That is what Schumpeter would argue at least. An alternative theory is that the corporatised world, of which the US is the pre-eminent symbol, talks a lot about people, choice and democracy but in its concern for the atmomised ideal Individual has lost site of all the real individuals.

Now on to the second question, much asked on radio, "What are the protesters protesting about at APEC?" One answer is, of course, that they are the "anti-free-trade" crowd - a body that believes the object of free trade is the agrandisement of corporations and their share holders. But APEC isn't really a free trade group as such.

While I can't see any real reason to protest about APEC I can see lots of reasons to protest to many of the "economies" (as they are called in APEC lingo) in the grouping;
Brunei Darussalam - dictatorship (the worlds last sultanate), deforestation
People's Republic of China - human rights, pollution, workplace safety, death penalty
Hong Kong (see PRC)
Indonesia - deforestation, death penalty,endemic corruption
Japan - whaling, agriculture protection, not teaching the trutyh about WWII
Republic of Korea - workers wages and rights
Malaysia - arresting opposition leader, harbouring terrorists
New Zealand - holding the Bledisloe Cup (but that's about it)
Papua New Guinea - corruption
Phillipines - harboring terrorists
Russia - nuclear rearmament
Singapore - death penalty
Chinese Taipei (see PRC)
Thialand - dictatorship
USA - everything but start with Iraq, global warming, corruption, death penalty

I didn't tink of anything for Chile, Mexico or Peru - perhaps reflecting a lack of knowledge of the Americas - or Vietnam. In the case of Vietnam any problems they still have we can probably blame on someone else!

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