of the news mags, both paper and digital, have
left the carcass of the WTO "Battle in Seattle"
behind them. Like so many piranhas, they have had
their feeding frenzy and are on the lookout for
the next cow that falls in the water.
now may be a good time to step back and look at
some of the arguments put forth by "saner minds."
recurring theme from the conservative mass was that
more trade increases living standards for everyone.
Who are we to deny Third World countries the wonders
of capitalism? Who are these comfortable Westerners
and why are they denying others the luxury trappings
Western countries enjoy?
find it difficult to understand this argument. Why
are "Western ways" considered the best and only
solution to the world's problems?
have the best health care!" scream the "experts."
"We have the best health care because we have the
most money. Therefore the more money everybody has
the better health care will be."
denying this. Better health care would be a great
thing for all countries around the world (although,
with the population expanding at such a tremendous
rate, I have a hard time justifying the need for
more people living longer).
would have to say that increasing access to quality
health care through trade would seem to be a painfully
slow way of bringing up everyone's living standards.
It is a start, though, and I can't argue with it.
(Well, I can really, just not right now.)
are, however, other arguments against those that
were part of the Battle in Seattle. One argument
that the clever and surely well-educated "saner
heads" claim is that the environmental concerns
of the protesters were completely groundless since
more money means better education and more awareness
of environmental issues. This clearly leads to the
argument that the better off people are, the more
they take care of the environment.
you made it through the last paragraph, you may
have noticed that the educated people of the Western
world who use their cash to consume as much as they
can with little regard for people or the environment
are being held up as models for environmental responsibility!
Always a pleasure to see a person who can hold two
conflicting viewpoints in their head at the same
time. The next time you see someone in a Suburban
driving a block to the minimart for a quart of milk
be sure to let them know what an environmentally
responsible citizen they are.
and upward. That the WTO is strictly for trade remains
one of the central tenets of the pundits arguing
against the protesters. If you have anything other
than trade to discuss, please take it to an organization
which deals with environmental issues.
must say this would work fabulously if the organizations
that lobby for environmental awareness and protection
wielded as much power as "saner minds" would have
and sadly, money rules the roost and has ever since
anything has been worth trading. As much as Greenpeace,
The World Wildlife Fund, The Sierra Club etc. can
raise awareness and occasionally score a victory,
people will respond much more quickly to money and
the potential to get (or lose) it.
the next time a "saner mind" tries to convince you
that trade is the "tide that floats all boats,"
think long and hard about how such arguments stand
up in the real world.
© 2000 Stephen Van Esch All Rights Reserved
Van Esch is a writer and instructional designer
living near Toronto, Canada. His location probably
has something to do with his more socialist leanings.
But hey, Canadians aren't Americans, are they?