[Hpn] Poverty and inequality fuel globalization backlash

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Thu, 01 Feb 2001 16:19:26 -0700


via Radman <resist@best.com>

Poverty and inequality fuel globalization backlash

By JOHN ZAROCOSTAS

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The globalization backlash could swell
and trigger violent confrontations unless its economic benefits are
distributed more fairly and solutions are found to stem growing poverty and
inequality, civil society and political leaders warned Sunday.

"The ultimate test is whether globalization increases freedom, promotes
democracy, and helps to lift the poor from poverty; whether it is empowering
the many and, not just the few whether its blessings a re widely shared;
whether it works for working people," John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO
told political and business leaders at a session of the World Economic Forum
(WEF).

The global market, said Sweeney, that has been forged in the last decades,
"fails that test," and went on to caution that if we do not do better and
the system continues to generate growing inequality, environmental
destruction and a race to the bottom:

"Then it will trigger an increasingly volatile reaction from workers,
farmers, human rights activists and environmentalists. "

The AFL-CIO chief said: " we can no longer allow multi-national corporations
to scavenge the world for cheaper and cheaper sources of labor, pitting
workers against workers in a cruel, contest to increase profits. "

South African President Thabo Mbeki said there is a " structural fault of
poverty  with on the one side the powerful and the wealthy and on the other
the powerless and the poor, " and said this needs to be corrected.

The President of the World Bank James Wolfensohn, noted that 80 percent of
the world's population, or 4.8 billion people, enjoy only 20 percent of the
world's income, and the remaining 20 percent enjoy 80 percent of the income.

Looking ahead, Wolfensohn pointed out that in 25 years time the world's
population will reach 8 billion and all but 3 percent of this increase would
go to developing countries, which will have a population of 6.8 billion.

Poverty and inequality, he said, "are not just an issue for the poor " but
for the entire world and is an issue of peace.

"Many have benefited from globalization but there is a need to address
poverty, and there was a need to improve equity and justice, but he also
said it would not be realistic to stop flows of investment, technology,
communications and trade," Wolfensohn said.

The forces of globalization, he said, are there and its a question of how we
deal with them through democracy, rights, and equity and suggested ways to
deal with some of the problems would be country by country, through proper
laws, human rights, and dealing with the issues of corruption and devise
policies for education, health, and rural and urban policies.

Vandana Shiva, director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology
and Ecology, lambasted rich countries spending $343 billion a year in farm
subsidies and then dumping their agricultural products on poor countries in
Africa, Latin America, and Asia, destroying millions of poor farmers , while
at the same time limiting access to their markets.

A decrease in farm subsidies by rich countries and lowering barriers to
agricultural counties from poor nations could add about $55 billion for
developing countries.

Charles Holloway, chairman and chief executive officer of Dupont said
globalization is the free flow of goods, technology, and ideas, which like a
river brings positive benefits but also has hazards which must be minimized.

Holloway said that over 150 corporations are trying to enhance their
corporate responsibility and are interacting with civil society leaders to
try and approach problems from different perspective.


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