The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, warns we can either accept a realistic approach to sustainable growth or face declining incomes, environmental calamity and social upheaval.
"...she said the rich should restrain their demands for higher incomes while there are still 200 million people worldwide looking for a job and poverty is on the rise.
"In fact, tensions are on the rise again, and financial stability risks have once more moved front and centre. Great uncertainty hangs over global prospects.
Too many regions today are still stuck in a trap of low growth and high unemployment," she said.
Ahead of the summit, she said taxes on petrol and other carbon fuels could raise billions of dollars for green investment projects. "Right now, less than 10% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are covered by formal pricing programmes. Only a handful of cities charge for the use of gridlocked roads. Farmers in rich countries are undercharged – if charged at all – for increasingly scarce water resources."
She added: "Many countries continue to subsidise polluting energy systems. These subsidies are costly for the budget and costly for the planet. Countries should reduce them. But in doing so, they must protect vulnerable groups by tightly focusing subsidies on products used by poorer people, and by strengthening social safety nets."
If this sounds like so much pinko pap, recall that Legarde was a decidedly right-wing former French finance minister. What she is doing is merely pointing out the obvious witches' brew of calamities coming our way if our leadership persists in looking the other way - that is to say, governing just like Stephen Harper. Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, realistically taxing greenhouse gas emissions, pricing water resources, the three things most feared by the Tar Sanders and their political minions.
This a warning to the rich from the rich. "If you try and screw the slaves too much, then who will work in your factories, cook your food and fluff your pillows?".
What must really frighten the rich is the possibility of 'social upheaval' - a revolt.
Messenger: "Your majesty, the slaves are revolting"
The Queen: "Yes, they are revolting".
Anon, I truly doubt we'll be able to avoid social unrest, this time as much generational as class-based. We see the very richest as determined to perpetuate and expand inequality but we rarely see the generational aspect of that issue. Across class lines, the younger generation and the one or two to follow them are getting screwed.
With climate change impacts and other forces to contend with this century, we're leaving them what is essentially our midden of exhausted assets, contaminated ecosystems and our steadily mounting and deferred debts.
They'll be born yoked to their parents' and grandparents' past.
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