Shaping the post crisis world

She sat on a crate behind a pile of oranges neatly stacked on cloth covering the paving stones. From her spot in a curbside neighbourhood market in Comas, a working class suburb of Lima, Peru, she could watch the daily life of the community unfold.

She sat on a crate behind a pile of oranges neatly stacked on cloth covering the paving stones.

From her spot in a curbside neighbourhood market in Comas, a working class suburb of Lima, Peru, she could watch the daily life of the community unfold. The soles she earned each day provided food and shelter for her family plus enough extra to purchase a case of oranges for sale on the following day.

A micro loan from a community lending organization had provided the soles necessary to buy her first case of oranges. Her small business plus a web of community support organizations like an ‘olla comun’ or community kitchen providing a hot take-home meal allowed her family to thrive even during difficult times.

They had been set up in part by Canadian Oblate missionaries working there since the early 1960s. This is the same order of Catholic priests and brothers that has served the Yukon for nearly 110 years now.

The people of Comas and other communities throughout mainly the southern half of our planet have no option but to try to build up a community centred economic system that truly serves them. The global macroeconomic system currently in so much distress has not worked for them. It hasn’t worked for the environment either. In fact looking a generation or two down the line given the current trend lines it really hasn’t worked for our grand children.

The Canadian International Development Agency is launching its 19th annual International Development Week on Sunday. This year’s theme is Development for Results. Supposedly this theme reflects the commitment of the government of Canada “towards achieving more effective aid.”

“The effectiveness of aid is measured first and foremost in real outcomes and tangible results, which make a significant difference in the lives of people who receive Canadian assistance,” according to the development agency’s website.

Have aid transfers from rich countries like Canada really been focused on improving the lives of the poorest? Tied aid, which forces aid-recipient countries to buy more expensive goods from donors rather than locally sourced alternatives really is little more than export promotion. Aid more often than not has had trade or political rather than humanitarian motivation at its root. Aid givers priorities often are not where the recipients would place them.

The Canadian government has promised to fully untie its foreign aid by 2012-13. This reform is positive but occurs within the context of an economic system that aggravates the disparity between the planet’s rich and poor.

We know from data compiled by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that subsidies given to the agricultural sector in industrialized countries in 2001 alone totaled 1 billion or nearly six times the amount of all development assistance. “This kind of protectionism as practiced by the wealthiest industrialized countries is simply indefensible,” according to Nicholas Stern, the chief economist of the World Bank in a Washington Post article.

Chastened corporate and government leaders have gathered again this week for the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The theme this year is Shaping the Post-Crisis World. While they seem to be talking about the need for ethics-based capitalism and an economic system where social values are not marginalized are they the ones to be trusted with reshaping the global economic order?

“We are pursuing a collective long-term goal to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer global economy, free of the corruption, tax evasion, fraud, greedy exploitation and resource destruction that have discredited globalization and obstructed the benefits it can bring,” stated Angel Gurría, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development secretary-general, in a press release earlier this week. I hope it is true but we must work to build community based economies just in case it isn’t.

Dr. Chandu Claver, a physician and human rights activist from the Philippines has been invited to be the 2009 Development and Peace Solidarity Speaker. He will speak on Development in the Philippines, human rights or profit? at CYO Hall 4th and Steele at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 12th. For more information call 633-6579.

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.

Namaste Notes

Sunday, February 1—Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. A suggested reading is Mark: 1: 21-28.

Monday, February 2—Candlemas, the presentation of Jesus at the temple 40 days after his birth, is a Christian celebration ending the Epiphany season. Candles are lit.

Tuesday, February 3—Setsubun-sai is the Shinto New Year’s celebration of the coming of spring. Shouts of “Fuku wa uchi,oni wa soto”, ” Good luck in…bad luck out” are accompanied by throwing soybeans.

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