Monday, September 21, 2009

In Search of Deeds, not Words

Last night, in the wake of Barack Obama's media blitz, the following dispatch came over the Reuters wire:

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Sunday he would push world leaders this week for a reshaping of the global economy in response to the deepest financial crisis in decades.

What is this supposed to mean? We can probably assume that one thing it will not mean is that those who steer the global economy should take a long hard look at the role of the profit motive in the conduct of business. Were they willing to take such a long and hard look, they would have made arrangements to invite Muhammad Yunus to this week's G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. As I have previously written (and honored), Yunus has had the chutzpah to suggest that the financial sector should be based on a non-profit business model, giving greater priority to problem solving over revenue. Any "reshaping of the global economy" can only be achieved from the ground up; and, where any business is concerned, that ground it the motivation for running the business in the first place. This would have been the perfect opportunity to bring to the table a voice with a decidedly different point of view, and the G20 has squandered that opportunity. Obama is not going to earn any social capital among the unemployed for this latest round of jawboning.

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