Many people ask, What is the G-20 Doing in Pittsburgh?
Generally, these questions develop along the lines of: Why Pittsburgh and why not: San Francisco, Charlotte, Boston, Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, etc? I mean, people understood why it isn't Cleveland - no question. But why not another key city? Why Pittsburgh?
When I ask, What is the G-20 Doing in Pittsburgh?, I'd like to pursue a different line of inquiry. I want to ask,
what are they doing while they're herethat's so special that it's worth shutting down Universities, Businesses, and a City? What are they going to accomplish here that's worth displacing thousands of people's lives?
What global economic improvement will be made here that justifies costing Pittsburgh janitors, cleaners, waitresses, secretaries, maintenance men and other lower-wage earners four days of paybecause their buildings and businesses are closed? What is the new deliverable made here that's worth affecting our air ambulance helicopters? What is the accomplishment that justifies the certain economic costs and risks the possible loss of human life?
There's a few possible perspectives of what gets done at a G-20 Summit:
The Sanguine View
The Jaundiced View
|Change and progress happens at G-20 Summits. Nothing gets done between Summits.||Change and progress are continually developing, in an ongoing process. Summits are dog-and-pony shows.|
|Heads of State negotiate, strong-arm, and jaw-bone for their causes at Summits. They play paper-rock-scissors as a tie-breaker.||Qualified staff, bureaucrats, and sophisticated economists do all the work in a continual process. None of them are at the Summit.|
|Important work only gets done when the Heads of State get in a room together. Their presence is required for progress.||These visitors are politicians, not economists. They're not qualified to set economic policy. The outcome of this facade is pre-coordinated.|
|These heads of state and their minions do not have video-conferencing or email. They must meet face-to-face.||The G-20 Summit is simply a media opportunity for politicians.|
I'm more aligned with Column B, the Jaundiced View.
Does anybody believe that the various heads of state are going to wrestle with economic problems and conflicts and come up with solutions - in 36 hours already crammed with greetings, press conferences, formal dinners, and VIP departures? Or do you think the work is already done behind the scenes, using things like video-conferencing, email, and the internet — and the Summit is a formality and a photo opportunity?
The G-20 Summit is a glorified photo opportunity. It cuts both ways; it makes the Heads of State stand up and profess continuing allegiance to the economic policies staked out by the ministers and technocrats, and it lets them get their picture taken standing up for their stakeholders and doing something about the world economy - which in truth, they hold very little sway over.
When the G-20 summit has come and gone, when the kettles are released and the lawsuit settlement negotiations have begun, when the injured are treated and the dead are buried,
what work will have been done in Pittsburgh besides announcements of previously developed positions, and photo opportunities?
Remember how the G-20 coming to Pittsburgh seemed too good to be true? How the news fed our needs? How we bought into our own dream, the basis of every swindle?
IMO, this is a sham. Pittsburgh, like all marks, has been duped because in our own dark place we want to be the showcase of the world, and we've been sold our own wannabe dream. (And we bought it.) If/when somebody dies (police, protester, bystander) what accomplishment will justify their death?
Before John Kerry was a Brahmin, before he was a Heinz, John Kerry was a clever young man who asked: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" That's an excellent rhetorical question. I'd like to ask, "How do you ask a city to risk riots for a photo opportunity?"
I notice that there are some opportunities, such as the World's Fair or the Olympics, that are highly sought after. Venues are claimed years in advance. Cities compete for the privilege of hosting those events. I notice that cities don't compete to host the G-20.
I think the irony meter is probably pegged. Pittsburgh is spreading canvas over construction sites and abandoned buildings to be a good little Potemkin Village, when the G20 itself is nothing but a facade, a setpiece provided so the politicians can preen, posture, and be photographed, in order to advance their own agendas.
How did this fiasco happen to us? I'm thinking Team-Obama was eating Pamela's Pancakes while wondering, Man, the G-20. Where can we stick this turkey? And they looked over at Mr. Rooney and said, "Ambassador Rooney, these are great pancakes. Tell us about Pittsburgh. Maybe we can do something
Maybe Cleveland is smarter than Pittsburgh, after all.