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april 17, 2000


funny stuff

Baby boomers, then and now

Then: Long hair
Now: Longing for hair

Then: A keg
Now: An EKG

Then: Acid rock
Now: Acid reflux

Then: Moving to California because it's cool.
Now: Moving to California because it's hot.

Then: Watching John Glenn's historic flight with your parents
Now: Watching John Glenn's historic flight with your kids

Then: Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Elizabeth Taylor
Now: Trying not to look like Marlon Brando or Elizabeth Taylor

Then: The President's struggle with Fidel
Now: The President's struggle with fidelity

Then: Killer weed
Now: Weed killer

Then: The Grateful Dead
Now: Dr. Kevorkian

Then: Getting out to a new, hip joint
Now: Getting a new hip joint

Courtesy of Sharon K.

"Which side are you on?"

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A large majority of Americans think we should proceed full throttle with the process of globalization, according to a poll conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes.

A large number of very thoughtful Americans have taken to the streets of the nation’s capital to protest the globalizing direction of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Are these fine folks positioned on opposite sides of the barricades? Or could it be that they’re actually one and the same group of people?

I suspect they are. And this identity may promote a search for solutions to the world’s rapidly escalating economic mess, suggests national affairs correspondent William Greider in the April 24 issue of the Nation.

The organizations under fire came into being during the financial crisis at the end of World War II. And indeed, they did bring order out of chaos. It was only later that, egged on by the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. banking world, the overseeing organizations swelled up like Jabba the Hutt, waddling determinedly into every economic crisis with the same admonition: "Export!"

Now once again economic chaos threatens. The United States, as master importer to the world, owes foreign creditors something like 20 percent of its Gross Domestic Product, Greider reports in another article dated April 10. Sounds like this country’s charge card is nearing its credit limit. If it goes over, we’re going to have to do something to shore up our own shaky economy.

One modest proposal emerges from the desk of Jane D’Arista, director of programs at the Financial Markets Center , a think tank housed in Philomont, Virginia: transfer the organizations’ present omnipotent currency-regulating functions to an "International Clearing Agency," a truly international body that would make sure currencies stayed within pre-set ratios. Upon this premise, Greider erects an economic utopia that begins, "Every nation, rich or poor, conducts foreign trade in its own currency and, therefore, gains greater ability to steer its own national economic policies.

Where do the globalization-loving subjects of the PIPA poll come in? Unlike the mother-knows-best masterminds at IMF, most of them saw globalization as interconnectedness: "It means we've become a more global society, economically and politically, so decisions being made here affect other areas, and other governments' decisions affect us." They tended to take seriously the globalizers’ promise that democratic institutions would flow easily from a worldwide marketplace, and they insisted that environmental, labor, and human rights safeguards must be a part of the international trade structure.

All over the country — all over the world — they’re beginning to choose sides. With a little luck and a lot of pressure, the big guys may be the odd men out.