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Monopoly and Mayhem


Global summits always conjure apocalyptic dispatches. For example, according to French radio this morning, undisciplined crowds in London have been doing their best to cause mayhem at the G20. Some of the agitators, it seems, have been drinking! In Britain! Before lunch! It’s hard to imagine, yet reading this BBC report, London truly must be awash in armed confusion.

Protesters were outnumbered by police and journalists outside the London Stock Exchange, where they had threatened to disrupt traders.

Good to know the British police are helping the journalists in their disruptive work, but what about the protesters?

A small number of protesters played a giant game Monopoly, armed with huge crates of fake money.

Oh. I get it. The money they were armed with was fake. Probably part of a fake stimulus handout.

If anything causes the G20 to collapse, it won’t be the giant Monopolists down at the Stock Exchange. According to the Times, it will be the tiny president of France:

Mr Sarkozy suggested that Europe would not take economic direction from the US. He appeared to suggest that America would have to compromise, adding pointedly: “The crisis didn’t spontaneously erupt in Europe, did it?”

Mr Sarkozy said that the summit provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give capitalism a conscience. He added: “Germany and France will speak with one and the same voice. The objective is a simple one — we demand results; we want hard and fast results.”

He means a once-in-the-lifetime-of-his-presidency opportunity to raise his poll numbers from worse to bad, since we all know by now that when a French president plays the anti-American card, it’s because he has problems at home he just can’t solve. Electing Obama was supposed to put a stop to this nonsense, no?

The French tirade came just after Gordon Brown started lobbing happy-bombs, hinting the G20 was “within a few hours” of saving the whole world, so it’s likely that Sarkozy is taking the G20 as seriously as the rest of us. Obama’s ringing speeches include Bushlike phrases such as this one: “Everybody’s going to have to pick up the pace.”

Of course, Sarko’s “reinventing capitalism” riff is absurd too and as far as a global “regulator” goes, he’ll be lucky if he can claim a few extra regs for the ECB. Despite his earlier effort at reform, he couldn’t sign up for Obama’s spend-spend strategy even if he wanted to, since that’s what French government policy is already. Public debt is nearly 70 percent of GDP, the aggregate tax bite in France is also at about 70 percent, and the only way to make more jobs is to make more government. As we’ve seen lately, an industrial action in France is when the bureaucrats walk out on themselves.

Sarkozy’s relying on Germany to add some muscle to his demands, but Merkel’s support may be less than sincere. The Germans had a word for indirectly harnessing the economic power of business and industry to the service of the state, but that’s a word that can’t be used in modern Europe, unless you’re ordering a copy of Jonah’s book.


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