According to the head of the United Nations, only one vision of the future is acceptable.
Five days from now the United Nations’ Rio+20 conference will officially commence in glamorous Rio de Janiero. Most of the world’s citizens will pay little attention. With bills to pay and mouths to feed, we have other things on our mind.
But there’s a serious problem. Many of the individuals attending Rio+20 think they’re authorized to speak for the rest of us. They also think it’s their job to choose our future.
Two days ago an opinion piece authored by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, was published in Der Spiegel, a prominent German news magazine (backup link here). So far no translation – or even record – of it is available on the section of Ban Ki-moon’s website specifically devoted to such matters. So a Google translation will have to do.
The title of the piece is The Consumer Principle is Dead. (Over at the NoTricksZone blog, this has been translated as The Model of Consumption is Dead.) In a recent post I quoted Bjorn Lomborg:
Contrary to the U.N.’s dire assessment, humanity has never seen a clearer reduction in poverty worldwide. The proportion of people living in absolute poverty has dropped massively, from 52 percent in 1981 to 22 percent today.
Lomborg wasn’t exaggerating when he said the UN nevertheless considers this remarkable achievement a failure. Here’s Google’s imperfect translation of what Ban Ki-Moon said in Der Spiegel:
For too long we have tried the path to prosperity through enhanced to ensure consumption. This model is dead in Rio, we need a new model for an economy of the 21st Century development.
So the economic model that has, in a mere 30 years, slashed the percentage of the world’s population living in squalor in half doesn’t deserve praise and support. Rather, the UN considers it dead. This is the same UN that has been utterly ineffectual with respect to achieving peace in the Middle East, discouraging piracy on the high seas, alleviating the tragedy of Zimbabwe, or preventing the ongoing massacres in Syria.
Not having enough real problems to deal with, Ban Ki-moon instead imagines he can micromanage the future. He seems to think that governments possess a magic wand and that, if they’d only wave it in the correct manner, all would be well:
With smart policies, governments can create growth, fight poverty, create employment and accelerate social progress and protect the natural and finite resources of the earth.
The rest of us can point to evidence that says private businesses – particularly small ones – are responsible for job creation, but the head of the UN prefers to believe governments have the ability to conjure jobs out of thin air. Ditto growth and “social progress.”
Three weeks ago Ban Ki-moon authored another opinion piece for the New York Times in which he said that the participants at Rio+20 will be pursing “a transformative agenda for change” and “a conceptual revolution in how we think” about the future.
According to him, at the first Rio environment summit 20 years ago world leaders agreed that “the only way” to protect the environment
was to break with the old economic model and invent a new one.
Is that so. Does anyone remember having such a matter placed before them on a ballot? Do you mandate your elected representatives to invent a new economic model?
I can attest that my opinion has never been sought in this regard. I also suspect that any news team that ventured forth on any street in any nation would have a difficult time finding five people who were aware of this fact. How could a decision so momentous be such a well kept secret?
According to Ban Ki-Moon’s New York Times piece, we all recognize that we cannot continue to
consume our way to prosperity. Yet we have not embraced the obvious solution – the only possible solution, now as it was 20 years ago: sustainable development.[article backed-up here]
In a world brimming with creativity, diversity, and ingenuity the head of the United Nations is telling us that choices don’t exist. He’s telling us that there’s only one answer.
This is not leadership by the people, for the people. There’s nothing remotely democratic about what’s going on here.
We have a word for those who believe that their vision is the only acceptable one. They’re called tyrants.
h/t the NoTricksZone blog