Thursday, July 07, 2005

Various Thoughts

Above is an image of a protestor at the G8 meeting of world leaders in Scotland. At one time I would have revered such an image of activism^

My first thought is about this meeting of world leaders in Scotland. But so as not to get bogged down in the thick of it all, let's break my thinking down into unmethodical and random sub-thoughts:

*Many African countries are poor
*Western countries are comparatively rich
*Aid to those African countries is good
*Debt relief for those countries is even better
*Fair trade for those countries is miles better than the previous two, and it's where we start to take poverty seriously
*Most poor African economies are at least 50% agricultural
*Britain's agriculture accounts for just 6% of economic output
*European farmers (including good old Bonnie Prince Charlie of Wales) receive ridiculous amounts of government subsidies each year which allows them to artificially reduce the price of their goods, which then allows them to out-compete the poor African farmers, most of whom are already living on some meagre two dollar a day breadline (Prince Charles receives £300,000 of tax-payers' money every year to keep his huge farming interests going)
*African farmers find themselves imposed with uncompetetive trade tariffs whenever they try to sell their produce in Europe
*African farmers are powerless to change this situation due to their dependence on imports and aid from the USA and the EU.
*Africans don't know how to say thankyou

This hard-up pair need your money to keep their farm going^

Actually, that last one was a remnant from last night's showdown at English club. It was my last session before I retire and move on to new ground, so I wasn't in the mood for any nonsense from old mother goose.

Anyway, the old goose gave it her best, saying that those Africans never say thankyou when we give them money, and then, as if to lay condescension straight on condescension, she explained that they don't know any better because their religion teaches them not to thank the rich for handouts because it's their obligation.

Angela and I were quick to correct her on her mis-information and blatant prejudices, but as the old saying goes: you can't teach an old goose new tricks. She never seems to listen to what us young and inexperienced people have to say.

So, there we have the brunt of my thoughts. But what I also found stunning from the usual suspects last night was the lack of awareness with regard to this week's meeting in Scotland. My good man Naoki the farmer was the one clear exception to this trend. Although even he didn't really have much knowledge of the meeting's agenda.

I know that the Guardian has been hyping this meeting up to the point where it's bound to be a disappointment, and the New York Times is giving it nothing but the bare minimum, as it did with Live8. But judging from last night's tumbleweed reaction to the question - "Have you been taking much interest in the G8 meeting this week?" - the Japanese press has been super-slack.

While we're on the themes of poverty, Africa and ignorance, why don't I show you a picture of a supermarket doorway and neon lights that I took the other night^

Next thought: London Olympics 2012. If I'm still alive when these Olympic games are held, I'm sure I will quickly come to begrudge those people who decided to stick it in London. I was in Sydney about a year before the games were held there and the media coverage was suffocating. Every nancy-pancy little bit of advertising in the whole country, or the city of Sydney at least, was riding the Olympic train. Wow, it was heavy stuff, and probably worth emigration to a far away land in 2011. It's a commercial juggernaut, and that's why nations hold it in such high regard. Out of all the sports that take place, I think I only find the football interesting.

Third thought: Sorry, but I've been in the office for too long now and my head has been leveled. I have no more thoughts. Ready for class!!