While the world’s attention is focused on the revolution in Egypt, street fighting in Libya, and the battle for Sana in Yemen, in democracy’s birthplace people are also taking to the streets, continuing to protest an austerity plan that many Greeks say will beggar them. On February 23, protesters conducted a 24-hour strike that brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of Athens.
The financial collapse of Ireland, coming as the latest in a string of disasters, hardly shocks global public opinion. For people engaged in the development debate, however, it is resonant with meaning.
With both the potato famine and the current economic crisis, the devastation resulted from conscious policy choices by the powerful.
Cafés are full in Athens, and droves of tourists still visit the Parthenon and go island-hopping in the fabled Aegean. But beneath the summery surface, there is confusion, anger, and despair as this country plunges into its worst economic crisis in decades.
As the world turns its attention to Afghanistan and President Obama sends additional troops to that volatile region, pivotal events happening in Africa are falling further below the radar. The global economic crisis has brought negative impacts to the continent, such as a dramatic fall in commodity prices, from cotton to iron ore. There has also been a steep decline in remittances, as Africans in the diaspora lose their jobs and homes. And meanwhile, international development funds have cut back on the amount of money they are disbursing. Nevertheless, the financial crisis and economic recession create an opportunity to challenge flawed existing models and assert new strategies for Africa’s economic progress.
One of the most significant consequences of the collapse of neoliberal economics, with its worship of the "self-regulating market," has been the revival of the great English economist John Maynard Keynes.
Not only do his writings make Keynes very contemporary. There is also the mood that permeates them, which evokes the loss of faith in the old and the yearning for something that is yet to be born. Aside from their prescience, his reflections on the condition of Europe after World War I resonate with our current mix of disillusion and hope:
Will China be the "growth pole" that will snatch the world from the jaws of depression?
It might seem like the worst possible time for Tokyo to think big. The global economic crisis is hitting Japan hard. The current government of Taro Aso is scraping the bottom of public opinion polls.
When the clock strikes noon, mothers waiting for their children at Camp Crame Elementary School turn their necks and shift their feet, standing patiently in a courtyard shielded by a high tin roof from an extraordinarily bright sky. Within seconds, kids dart out of their classrooms and playfully crisscross the courtyard toward their mothers. These women not only live in the same Quezon City neighborhood — built around the Philippine National Police’s headquarters after which the school was named — but also share the common experience of having their husbands, siblings, or parents working abroad to support families left behind.
There’s growing support for fighting global economic stagnation and global warming simultaneously with a “green New Deal” nationally and globally. Investing to cut greenhouse gasses can create “green jobs” and provide fiscal stimulus while it is protecting the planet. But how is it going to be paid for?