Archive for May 2011
The Proved Crime at the I.M.F.
I promise you I’m not a radical anti-globalization anarchist, but something is missing in the discussion about Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the rich man accused of raping a hotel chambermaid in his $3,000 a night room on May 14.
Like the rest of us in America, he is indeed innocent until proved guilty, and his fate will be decided by the courts.
And it’s OK that the news media is doing its thing, chewing over the gory details. This story has everything, money, power, sex and violence. There’s DNA evidence and even a story floating around today the accused’s family tried to pay off the complainant’s family.
Still, this is clearly a bigger story than a tawdry crime. Some serious speculators are saying finally a woman stood up to her oppressors, assuming, of course, that the accused, the IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn is guilty. They are joined by the those who moved onto the question of who will replace the director at the International Monetary Fund, a global financial institution funded by most of the countries in the world, mostly the rich countries. He resigned last week while held at Rikers Island, the New York City jail.
But they’re avoiding the issue, too.
In one of the strangest commentaries of all, Ben Stein, the right-wing former Nixon speechwriter who’s made a media career out of being glib, wrote this, as his eighth of eight specious arguments in favor of Strauss-Kahn:
The TV shows like Jon Stewart and the Ed Show were all over Stein, and most of his points are so silly that they don’t need a comedian to poke fun at them. Except for No. 8, written as a sarcastic kicker to his seven quibbles with case against Strauss-Kahn. But the discussion should turn to the haves and have-nots.
I’ll be honest. I never think of the IMF, or the World Bank, or the G-8, or the G-20. The lofty gatherings of these elite folks who do in some way do run the world go on without our notice.
Boil down their mission, and it would something like imposing financial discipline on wayward governments, mostly in the Third World, but on the fringes of Europe itself. If the poor client countries agree, they become eligible for international loans.
On the street of Cairo when the Egyptians were dumping their dictator this winter, the IMF loomed large as the specter of colonialism. It was a focal point of anger at the West. For years the IMF, and other global institutions were imposing stringent fiscal restraints on the peoples of countries like Egypt, where a very large proportion of the population fail to earn $3,000 in a year, where famine is a very real possibility.
When Bush I was president, he scandalized the nation when he was amazed by the bar-code readers in supermarkets. Clearly, this man had servants who fetched his food, and we didn’t like it. Imagine how the really poor people of the world feel about the suits at the IMF.
Do these people in lavish hotel suites, eating dinners that cost as much as all the food some people eat in a year, flying home first class on their lawyers’ advice when they get into trouble in a foreign country have the right to condemn millions to abject poverty?