Commentaries and Analyses Index

The Washington Con…

AMSTERDAM, Mar. 1 - Global poverty drowns in the enormous blanket which ‘Washington’ throws over it. The discourse betrays the detailed complexities of our biggest crises yet. Broad, vague terms like ‘Third World’, ‘Global Poverty’, ‘Development’, flood the catastrophe that it already is. The quest for a consensus continues. Economic failures of anything contrary to ‘Washington’s’ advice, force the world back to Washington, as if it must have consensus. Without it, the debate worries that it floats aimlessly out to sea. A consensus on development in any form creates a feeling of control, a rudder so to speak. But is their really one solution, to a problem that affects every nation, every culture, every geography, every society on earth? Is it not possible that the ‘cure’ to poverty lies partly in the social sciences too? The ‘Washington Consensus’ deals strictly in economics, it presumes that what is good for one is good for another. Which nation does it champion as their empirical evidence of the ‘bestness’ of the policies which it suggests? The World Bank in its 2000-1 World Development Report, ‘Attacking Poverty’, defends Washington, by claiming that it is not the policies themselves which are a problem, but rather the implementation of those problems. It claims that donors who use aid conditions to implement the desired policies are, ‘...performing poorly in influencing policy’. This must surely be the last place the World Bank can hide with regard to the lack of success of the Washington Consensus.

Statistics add to the vagueness of poverty. We find ourselves dealing with obscene units of ‘Least Developed Countries’, ‘Other Low-Income Countries’, ‘Middle income countries’ and ‘High income countries.’ Are these supposed to useful units in dealing with poverty? These groupings suggest that Afghanistan and Lesotho have the same policy requirements in order to achieve ‘development’ because they share a similarly disastrous growth rate, despite the uncompromising differences is history, religion, culture, geography, and in every other social sphere. What is more, is that this approach must presumes that the wants of these two vastly separated nations and peoples also be the same.

The World Bank has erected buffers against any attack on this front. Jubilee 2000 and The Millennium Development Goals are its proof that poverty is really on the agenda. Whose agenda? Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently pointed out exactly how useless that wonderful, round number 2015, is intended to be. ‘…the promise we made on education for sub-Saharan Africa was to be met by 2015 - not, as now predicted, 2129.’ He continues that child mortality rate goals will also miss their 2015 due date with a reanalysis predicting something closer to 2165. At an estimated 30,000 preventable child deaths per day, it works out to a substantial miscalculation on their behalf. Despite Jubilee 2000, Ethiopia is not getting its much-needed debt relief. But we shouldn’t worry, Jubilee 2000 has it on the agenda, especially with the stink Bob Geldorf has created, this year being 20 years on from his ‘Band Aid’ initiative. But these empty shells provide the World Bank with yet another line of defence.

Somewhere underneath this broad, vague poverty discourse, useless units and buffers, quests for consensus and wonderful, round calendar dates are nearly three billion individual human beings who live on less that $2 per day. Somewhere in this mess are the 1,7 million children who will die this year. There is a structural problem, if the organisations we ask to deal with poverty, base their usefulness on the existence of the phenomenon, which we are asking them to eradicate. Poverty is a direct problem. Could somebody please do his or her job, so that we can see it.

Sebastiaan Soeters
Zambezi Times, International Relations correspondent

Add your response to Readers’ Corner zto news

Zambia's Enterprises Drive The Economy

The Nasty Little Neoliberal Myth

A World Of Double Standards

Rule Of Law And Governance

Bogus National Reconciliation

Private Lynndie England - The Great American Heroine

'Scribbling The Cat': The Infantryman

Defending Our Free And Critical Press

Sodomizing Female Prisoners In Iraq Ordered By Intelligence Agencies

Farrakhan: Bush Admin Let 9/11 Happen On Purpose

Time To Improve Police Conditions, End Of Corruption Depends On It

World Bank Is The Great Satan!

MPs Right To Pass On Budget

Booming Security Business

The Zengeza By Election Vis A Vis The Zimbabwe Question

Arts | News Front | Perspectives | People | Business | Metals | Dinar Files | Health | Sports | Environment | Tech Files

Readers' corner | Community | Temple Web | Announcement | Mailing List | Newsletter | Contact Form | Search From

©2004, Zambezi Times

zto news