The government is sending you a message

June 29, 2010
Oxford, England

My apologies for not writing to you yesterday… I was angry (a rare occurrence for me), and I hate writing to my friends when I’m angry. You see, the G8/G20 summits took place over the weekend in Toronto, and everything about these events simply boils my blood.

To me, there’s nothing more utterly worthless than a bunch of corrupt, irrelevant, incompetent bureaucrats who generate enormous pomp and circumstance to gather together at taxpayer expense in order to accomplish absolutely nothing.

Yet this is what happens at these ‘summits’ year in, year out.  They’re not exactly staying at the Holiday Inn Express, either. The events are always in some posh resort where legions of underlings can enjoy champagne and filet mignon, courtesy of Joe Public, all the while their bosses strut and glad hand in front of the cameras.

This year, the focus of the summits was on the state of the world economy. They spent the weekend arguing, debating, and deal making… yet by Sunday evening, the only real accord reported by the group was an insipid statement about halving budget deficits by 2013.

The truth is, these summits carry absolutely no weight whatsoever; the G8/G20 are not sovereign bodies with any authority to enforce any of the resolutions. At the end of the day, each of the member countries is going to march to the beat of its own drum, no matter what it may have signed up for at the summit.

Regardless, the media ate it up.  Newspaper headlines around the world heralded the governments’ progress to reduce their budget deficits… apparently failing to realize that half of a budget deficit is still a budget deficit, generating yet another uptick to the national debt.

I’m sure that years ago these summits probably mattered. Back when the United States was the undisputed world economic power thanks to devastated post-war economies in Europe and Asia, the annual summits were a great way for the US to bend the rest of the world to its own agenda.

Decades later, the results from this summit paint a very clear picture about waning US influence. American priorities going in to the summits– sustaining government stimulus programs, cooperation in Afghanistan, currency flexibility in China, etc. remain unresolved and conspicuously absent from the groups’ final reports.

It’s obvious that other countries, particularly the ’emerging’ G20 nations, have achieved significant political power on the international stage, and this is the surest sign of a major shift in the global balance of power.

One day, I expect that, if these summits still exist, it will be a platform for China to dictate the rules, and for the rest of the world to follow. In the meantime, they will continue to be worthless and wasteful, furthering governments’ record of unsustainable largess.

Needless to say, voters are understandably unhappy about this– the ‘leaders’ who gathered in Canada this weekend are the same people who have been effectively stealing from their voters and squandering every penny on wasteful programs designed to get them re-elected.

Despite nearly 2-years and trillions of dollars spent, little has improved. Politicians can smile in front of the camera and talk about how wonderful the global economy is, but the people standing in the streets have an entirely different perspective. Protesting at the summits is one small way for them to express their views.

This is the thing that made me so angry: Canada spent over a billion dollars of taxpayer money to turn itself into a police state and send a very clear message– that the government is the boss and in complete control, and all the little people singing in the streets will be stamped out like bugs.

All weekend long, riot police viciously assaulted unarmed, nonthreatening protestors in the streets of Toronto, as well as designated ‘free speech zones.’ Sure, there were a handful of people who shattered windows and even lit a police cruiser ablaze, but the vast majority of protests were entirely peaceful.

After the weekend, politicians (including the Mayor of Toronto) stepped up to defend the police actions and sell the public on the idea that assaulting peaceful protesters is a reasonable way to maintain order.

I find myself disgusted by the idea that serially, criminally incompetent politicians can pillage their countries, then hide behind armies and police forces, protecting themselves against the public that they’re supposed to be representing.

The big question I have is, why does the government even bother holding these events in a city like Toronto?  They could have gathered anywhere in the world, such as a remote province in northern Canada.  Yet they chose a major population center instead.

I think they made this decision on purpose, hoping that protesters would show up en masse so that they could send the message loud and clear: If you question the government’s authority, you will be crushed.

It reminds me of that quote from the very prescient book, 1984, “[i]f you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”  I think it serves as yet another reason to get busy planting flags and diversifying away from all of this ugliness.

Tell me what you think about it– I’d like to know.