Saturday, April 28, 2007

TIme for Change at the World Bank

I find this last video released by, as part of its Fire Wolfowitz Campaign, less slick than their past videos on climate change and the Israel Palestine conflict. Since I don't watch The Office television show, the jokes don't quite click. What I love about the video, though, is how it portrays how absurdity of the current situation at the World Bank.

Some of my friends think that the World Bank is an inherently evil organization, designed from the beginning to maintain a world of economic inequality. Only the wealthy benefit from World Bank loans, they say. Although the loans are supposedly given to spur economic development, poor nations are burdened with debt and the terms of the loans prevent governments from spending on healthcare, education, and other kinds of social provisioning. I believe, however, that the World Bank is an institution that often funds studies and programs that help lift entire populations out of terrible deprivation. If World Bank governance were improved so that the interests of marginalized groups were considered more substantively and loans were administered in a way that did not constrain nations from pursuing solutions right for their particular economic challenges, the World Bank could be a central part of a successful struggle for a more just and peaceful world.

Instead of working towards a reformed World Bank, we have a sex scandal. Paul Wolfowitz, who Bush appointed as its president, has embroiled the organization in controversy. Here is a man whose last job was to design a unilateral invasion of Iraq. At the World Bank, on the basis of his anti-corruption campaign, he bypassed the normal processes at the bank and cut off funds to poor countries. At the same time, he arranged for his own girlfriend at the bank to receive a huge raise. He really should be fired. Parents around the world should - in solidarity with the mothers, fathers, and children whose lives are profoundly affected by the World Bank but cannot make their own voices heard - demand that the World Bank board fire Wolfowitz. Then we should demand a real change in how the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are governed.

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