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Ian McColgin
09-15-2009, 07:21 PM
Whod have thought Sarkozy would be so progressive? Im a big fan of a couple of the people who wrote the report for Sarkozy. For the footnotes, go to the Common Dreams site.

Published on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 by The Nation

SARKOZY WANTS G-20 TO REJECT 'CULT OF THE MARKET'

by John Nichols

When the G-20 meets in Pittsburgh next week, French President Sarkozy will urge world leaders to make two moves -- one immediate and one long-term -- that have the potential to temper capitalism's worst abuses and reassert human values at the national and international levels.

Sarkozy's aides say he will walk out of the summit of presidents and prime ministers from the world's most developed countries if the leaders fail to endorse a plan to curb bonuses for bankers.

That's the immediate demand. And it is an important one, as it could put the G-20 in the unusual position of trying to tame -- rather than cheer on -- the banksters and corporate CEOS that have so unsettled the global economy.

But even more important will be the French president's push to "revolutionize" international definitions [1] of development, progress and achievement.

In recent decades, those measures have pretty much begun and ended with the bottom-line details of economic growth and wealth accumulation.

But Sarkozy says he wants to use the G-20 gathering as the launching point for a "fight" against what he describes as the "cult of figures" and the "cult of the market."

"A great revolution is waiting for us. For years, people said that finance was a formidable creator of wealth, only to discover one day that it accumulated so many risks that the world almost plunged into chaos," argues the French leader. "The crisis doesn't only make us free to imagine other models, another future, another world. It obliges us to do so."

Sarkozy's "revolution" would still use measures of economic growth and contraction in the analysis of a nation's success. But the definition would be expanded beyond traditional gross domestic product (GDP) models to include measures of well-being and what Sarkozy describes as "the politics of civilization." These include environmental sustainability, the quality of public services and the amount of time citizens of a country have to meet family responsibilities -- which the French leader values as "personal services provided within a family circle."

Sarkozy, a conservative who was elected on a platform that promised to make the French economy more efficient and workers more productive, is not proposing some new-age fix for what ails the global economy. Rather, he is arguing that it is time to "refound" capitalism within what he describes as "moral" parameters in response to the now year-old global economic downturn and an equally serious decline in public confidence about the direction of nation states.

The broader measures are outlined in a report Sarkozy commissioned almost two years ago from a team of Nobel Prize-winning economists [2] who have been critical of standard approaches to measuring the progress of nations, including American Joseph Stiglitz and Indian Amartya Sen, as well as Jean-Paul Fitoussi, the internationally-respected president of the French Observatoire des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).

The report from France's Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress [3] proposes a global "statistical system which goes beyond commercial activity to measure personal well-being..."

That's what Sarkozy will be talking about in Pittsburgh next week, as the G-20 gathers. And he won't be alone. Stiglitz will be in the city, as well, joining civil-society leaders and activists to discuss the development models and measures at a September 23 forum sponsored by The Nation, the Institute for Policy Studies and a coalition of grassroots groups. [4]

Says Stiglitz, "GDP is an attempt to measure one part of what is going on in our society which is market production. It is what I call GDP fetishism to think success in that part is success for the economy and for society."

Stiglitz, the former chief economist of the World Bank, argues that, [5] "While there is no single indicator that can capture something as complex as our society, the metrics commonly used, such as gross domestic product, suggest a trade-off: one can improve the environment only by sacrificing growth. But if we had a comprehensive measure of well-being, perhaps we would see this as a false choice."

Getting beyond false choices, contends the winner of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, will allow for sounder policy-making on the parts of governments and global groupings such as the G-20.

"What we measure affects what we do," explains Stiglitz. "If we have the wrong metrics, we will strive for the wrong things."

Using sounder measures will also increase the legitimacy of governments in the eyes of citizens, says Sarkozy.

That's a message that could resonate with at least some G-20 leaders, especially if the French president delivers it in the terms he used in Paris Monday. [6]

"For years, the official figures have boasted of more and more economic growth," Sarkozy said at the Sorbonne. "It now appears that this growth, by placing the future of the planet in danger, destroys more than it creates? All over the world, people are convinced that we are lying to them, that the figures are false, or worse, faked. Nothing could be more damaging to democracy."

2009 The Nation

John Nichols is Washington correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin. A co-founder of the media reform organization Free Press, Nichols is is co-author with Robert W. McChesney of Tragedy & Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy [7] - from The New Press. Nichols' latest book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. [8]

Tom Montgomery
09-15-2009, 08:04 PM
Wow. How utterly unAmerican. I approve.

Kaa
09-15-2009, 08:07 PM
A recipe for stagnation. How utterly European :-)

Kaa

Tom Montgomery
09-15-2009, 08:12 PM
I know what you mean. I've spent time in Western Europe. What a miserable lifestyle. The last thing we would want to do is emulate them.

seanz
09-15-2009, 08:22 PM
Stability is stagnation?
Interesting Kaa.....


All over the world, people are convinced that we are lying to them, that the figures are false, or worse, faked. Nothing could be more damaging to democracy."

People just have to realise that Capitalism is incompatible with Democracy and eventually one of them will win out over the other.....hmmm, which one to choose?
:D

Kaa
09-15-2009, 08:45 PM
I know what you mean. I've spent time in Western Europe. What a miserable lifestyle. The last thing we would want to do is emulate them.

Oh, it's nice and comfy and relaxed. Would make a good theme park.

Just don't be surprised when those uncultured philistines who stressed economic growth over "the amount of time citizens of a country have to meet family responsibilities" show up and just buy the whole place.

Kaa

elf
09-15-2009, 08:47 PM
It's already won. No point in thinking any further.

Rigadog
09-15-2009, 10:18 PM
On the body,
on the blued flesh, when it is
laid out, see if you can find
the one flea which is laughing.

Galway Kinell

Keith Wilson
09-15-2009, 10:28 PM
How utterly radical - the idea that there might be a better way to judge the performance of a polico-economic system than simply gross economic activity? Shocking! A "recipe for stagnation", for money is all!

Bobby Kennedy in March 1968:
Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."

High C
09-15-2009, 10:33 PM
Oh, it's nice and comfy and relaxed. Would make a good theme park.

Just don't be surprised when those uncultured philistines who stressed economic growth over "the amount of time citizens of a country have to meet family responsibilities" show up and just buy the whole place.

Kaa

Hmmm, I seem to remember this happening before...something about Rome, perhaps?

Keith Wilson
09-15-2009, 10:40 PM
High C, what percentage of the cost of one of your musical performances is paid for by ticket sales?

Kaa
09-15-2009, 10:49 PM
How utterly radical - the idea that there might be a better way to judge the performance of a polico-economic system than simply gross economic activity? Shocking! A "recipe for stagnation", for money is all!

Oh, Keith, don't be so bloody literal-minded. No one except economists judges politico-economic systems purely on the basis of GDP. Notice the issues that come up in elections, for example -- GDP is important but it's not be-all end-all.

What Sarkozy wants is a feel-good measure, one according to which France would look better and a certain bte noire across the ocean would look worse. And the problem with feel-good measures is that if you believe them enough, you become content, fat, and lazy -- no reason to exert oneself, right?. And history isn't too kind to societies which venture down that path.

High C
09-15-2009, 11:04 PM
High C, what percentage of the cost of one of your musical performances is paid for by ticket sales?

Depends...with some pop music artists things are quite profitable. The orchestra season in general maybe 35% is earned through ticket sales. The rest comes from begging.

Ian McColgin
09-15-2009, 11:44 PM
Only a person unfamiliar with today’s seminal economists would imagine that programs thought up by the likes of Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi would be “a feel-good measure”.

The search function might get back my review from a couple years ago of Sen’s most accessible book.

Keith Wilson
09-16-2009, 07:32 AM
False dichotomy there Kaa - either fat and lazy and decadent and declining - or ruthless capitalism red in tooth and claw? There are other choices.

And attributing this to a supposed desire of the French to poke at the US might have made sense five years ago; not now, with Sarkozy and Obama in power.

skuthorp
09-16-2009, 07:39 AM
I'm reading a book called 'Crash Proof' by a Peter Schiff
http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=peter+schiff+was+right&meta=&aq=3&oq=peter+schiff

predicting the crash, and published in 2007. Interesting reading, especially as regards comparison with the 30's, lack of a manufacturing base and deficits'

martin schulz
09-16-2009, 08:14 AM
May Friedman burn in hell.*

He and his freedom=free-markets sect, that still runs around blaring unrestricted capitalism in every mircophone available have hurt society more than anything else.






Ooops...I am German and he was jewish. This will probably make me a Nazi, right?

TomF
09-16-2009, 08:43 AM
Very interesting ideas Sarkozy's promoting. But he's got an uphill battle, if he wants to get the heavy-hitters to agree with him.

Rapelapente
09-16-2009, 09:42 AM
I know what you mean. I've spent time in Western Europe. What a miserable lifestyle. The last thing we would want to do is emulate them.

Waow! In wich country have you been ?

what do you mean by miserable lifestyle ?

I've spent some time in US and did'nt notice a better lifestyle for the average poeple.
Hey! I'm not criticizing your country, i'm loving her too much.
Just want some explanations...

TomF
09-16-2009, 09:52 AM
Waow! In wich country have you been ?

what do you mean by miserable lifestyle ?

I've spent some time in US and did'nt notice a better lifestyle for the average poeple.
Hey! I'm not criticizing your country, i'm loving her too much.
Just want some explanations...Tom M was indulging in irony, which doesn't translate desperately well for someone who I presume is reading in a 2nd language. He's actually a pretty strong advocate for much of what is done in Western Europe, precisely because it leads to a good quality of life. Many of the specifics are difficult to implement in the US for what many of us consider misplaced ideological reasons.

Welcome to the forum!

t

Kaa
09-16-2009, 09:55 AM
Waow! In wich country have you been ?

what do you mean by miserable lifestyle ?

I think we need some of our British locals to explain to their French neighbours the concept of irony :D

Kaa

Rapelapente
09-16-2009, 09:57 AM
OK ! my low command in english made me skip the irony.
Thanks to the two Tom !

elf
09-16-2009, 10:35 AM
Mais, ne departe pas, Gerard.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-16-2009, 11:05 AM
May Friedman burn in hell.*

He and his freedom=free-markets sect, that still runs around blaring unrestricted capitalism in every mircophone available have hurt society more than anything else.


Ooops...I am German and he was jewish. This will probably make me a Nazi, right?

:D You should give warning when you post these...:D

Actually, I am pretty sure that the British adherence to the cult of the free market has killed more people than the Nazis did:

for example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_of_1876%E2%80%9378

Rapelapente
09-16-2009, 11:08 AM
Mais, ne departe pas, Gerard.

No Way !

Kaa
09-16-2009, 11:14 AM
Actually, I am pretty sure that the British adherence to the cult of the free market has killed more people than the Nazis did:

for example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_of_1876%E2%80%9378

That's a bit non sequitur, isn't it? Failure to import and distribute food during a famine hardly follows from "the cult of the free market".

Kaa

Tom Montgomery
09-16-2009, 11:14 AM
TomF is spot on. I sometimes forget not everyone here is a native English speaker. The judicious use of smilies would have helped convey my meaning as sarcasm. I am sorry for the confusion, Rapelapente.

I have been to France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-16-2009, 11:18 AM
That's a bit non sequitur, isn't it? Failure to import and distribute food during a famine hardly follows from "the cult of the free market".

Kaa

Oh, I rather think it does, actually, if the reason for the failure to import and distribute food flows from a conviction in Government circles that the free market should not be interfered with. A good many historians and economists have said as much. The Irish famine of the 1840's is another example.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
09-16-2009, 11:25 AM
May Friedman burn in hell.*
....


Half our manufacturing industry was sacrificed on that altar - a religion not abandoned until 1983....

Kaa
09-16-2009, 11:28 AM
Oh, I rather think it does, actually, if the reason for the failure to import and distribute food flows from a conviction in Government circles that the free market should not be interfered with. A good many historians and economists have said as much. The Irish famine of the 1840's is another example.

I am not sufficiently familiar with that part of history, but free markets are not magical. They can work extremely well, but not for all things and not under all conditions. In particular, I haven't seen arguments that free markets are the best way to deal with the aftermath of catastrophes -- you are not constructing a strawman here, are you? :-)

Your own Wikipedia link, by the way, points out that one of the main reason why more food wasn't available was the government's reticence to spend the money as after the previous famine it was "criticized for excessive expenditure, which had included the costs of importing rice from Burma and providing generous charitable relief." Stinginess and the cult of free markets are not the same thing.

You also need to look at the other side of the coin. Contemporary Black Africa has been the recipient of very large amounts of aid over many years. I would submit that this has produced considerably less results than advertised or hoped for.

Kaa

Ian McColgin
09-16-2009, 11:31 AM
Again, pick up Sen's "Development as Freedom" or "Freedom as Development" - I forget the order of the title. The book starts with the breathtaking sentence that goes something like (from memory) 'There's never been mass starvation in a democracy.'

There really is a huge amount of progressive democratic economics happening and trying to happen around the world. It's like capitalism in that it depends mostly on people making free choises about economic activites but, to use an agricultural metaphore, it's more like organic farming than corporate agriculture.

Market fundamentalism is really the rule of weeds that overgrow everything, the rule of pure capital rather than of goods and services people actually want, the rule of the power elite over the population. Sen makes the case that only when paired with political democracy is deep, population raising development possible.

elf
09-16-2009, 11:34 AM
Half our manufacturing industry was sacrificed on that altar - a religion not abandoned until 1983....

1983? Not here. We're still clinging tenaciously to it.

Check in here:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/freshwater-rage/

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-16-2009, 11:34 AM
Well, I'm certainly not intentionally constructing a straw man.

The Irish famine of the 1840s was one in which the Government was notably reluctant to interfere with free markets - to the extent that food was being produced in, and shipped out of, the famine areas - part of the trouble was that Irish cottiers had lost land to their landlords who used it to graze beef cattle - which were exported.

The Great Famine in India may be a more complex case but underlying the arguments against government intervention was the argument that the free market cannot and must not be tampered with.

Kaa
09-16-2009, 11:58 AM
...but underlying the arguments against government intervention was the argument that the free market cannot and must not be tampered with.

I am sure lots of people made lots of silly arguments in favour of free markets (especially if, by pure coincidence, it served their interests), just as lots of different people made lots of different, but just as silly arguments against free markets (amazingly, also if it served their interests) :-)

But to get back to M. Sarkozy, I get suspicious when politicians start to decry the "cult of the market" as it usually means that they want to do something economically stupid. I get extra suspicious when at the same time they rail against the "cult of figures", since this means they can't even make up any non-laughable numbers and are reduced to handwaving, generalities, and slogans.

Kaa

Ian McColgin
09-16-2009, 12:14 PM
It's good to be suspicious of pols, especially if that suspicion leads to actually reading the stuff and if criticizing is warrented, criticizing what's actually there rather than what's imagined.

JBreeze
09-16-2009, 06:52 PM
Wow, everyone here is a fast reader:D

I started reading the report the day before Nichols published the article Ian posted, and still haven't finished... it's 292 pages

Here is an interesting quote on the 14th from one of the blogs that questions Sarko's motives:

" “The speech contained the usual French verbal flamboyance that those less familiar with French culture often write off as pure hot air”

I am french living in Montreal for a long time. From Sarko this is only hot air…He likes first and foremost being in a center stage position and nothing else. He is proposing now what it was against 24 months ago when he was touting mortgage for french people the american way….yes ARM and the likes…The french government did nothing to regulate french banks, bigger is better, the last 18 months…The french government is directly (BNP for example) the main shareholder in most financial institution and it could now do whatever it wants….but parading in front on TV and media is always good for Sarko….."


So that you don't have to search Common Dream's site to find the link to the report, here is a direct link:

http://www.stiglitz-sen-fitoussi.fr/en/index.htm