WHAT WE THINK
January 25, 2002 | Page 3
THE FATTEST of the world's fat cats are coming to New York City for the World Economic Forum (WEF).
For the last 30 years, the annual event brought corporate executives, heads of state, academics and assorted hangers-on to the posh resort town of Davos, Switzerland, where they reassured one another that free markets work fine. But this year, the event was moved to New York--to show support, WEF organizers say, in the aftermath of September 11.
What a way to show "support"--let the world's rich and powerful celebrate the "success" of their free market. These are the very same people who drove millions of Argentinians into poverty. The very same people whose privatization and deregulation schemes allowed executives at Enron to get rich while their employees paid the price.
Every year, WEF participants talk about their concern for world poverty and hunger. They even invite union leaders like AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. But none of this has shaken the fat cats' commitment to free-market policies that leave 1 billion people to live on less than $1 a day.
In New York, WEF participants will fill the 1,400 suites at the swank Waldorf-Astoria, throw lavish cocktail parties for each other--and then move the whole gala to the New York Stock Exchange for a night of star-studded entertainment.
But on the streets outside, thousands of people will send a very different message: Rebuild New York for people, not profits. In the first major U.S. global justice demonstration since September 11, students, activists and unionists will come together for demonstrations, forums and direct-action protests.
A month ago, the protests were expected to be small. But that has changed. In early January, the AFL-CIO announced that it would hold a Working Families Economic Forum, including an indoor rally, a march and the targeting of big-name retailers like Gap and Nike that make billions from their global sweatshop operations.
With layoffs rising in New York since September 11, the anti-WEF protests are an opportunity for labor to expose how U.S. workers have been hammered by the recession. The demonstrations can also help to rebuild the confidence and visibility of the global justice movement, which was pushed back on its heels by the U.S. war on Afghanistan.
Organizers of an antiwar contingent at the February 2 permitted march aim to show the connection between fighting for global economic justice and opposing the military might used by the U.S. government to impose its will. And by demonstrating, activists will reclaim the right to protest.
New York will spend millions on police and equipment to set up a "frozen zone" around the Waldorf-Astoria--an appalling waste of money that could be helping New Yorkers sleeping in the city's overcrowded shelters.
By mobilizing the biggest possible turnout, we can show the world that there's a fight in the U.S. against the priorities of the bosses and the politicians. Let's send a message to the global fat cats: Our world is not for sale!
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Our world is not for sale!
January 31-February 1
For more information, go to www.anotherworldispossible.com and www.studentsforglobaljustice.org on the Web.