WHILE global leaders struggled in London to agree on policies that would let each do their own thing, Bill Clinton had a simple message for the alternative globalisation event in Brussels: “Just do it.”
The man, now eight years out of office as US president, admitted he should have pushed harder to regulate derivatives, but said he assumed the rich people buying them knew what they were doing.
He spoke without notes to an audience of 2,000 mostly young people from NGOs and left-leaning political groups gathered in the European Parliament to find new answers to the economic, food, climate and energy crisis.
There was a danger world leaders, so concerned about coping with the collapse of the global economy, would decide now was not the time to look after the needs of the poor in their societies or in the rest of the world.
But, he said, they would be wrong to take this view as the global economy, inequality, instability, and sustainability were intertwined.
Inequality was growing, he warned, citing that two-thirds of American citizens before the economic collapse were worse off than when he left office.
“The US economy collapsed because we went back to policies that promoted inequality even more than the collapse of the financial system,” he said.
Instead of cramming money into housing and risky speculation and creating consumer debt, the US should have been making a serious commitment to clean energy and creating jobs.
The way out of the economic crisis was to create millions of jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency, he said, echoing the policies of President Barack Obama.
The way to convince countries like China was to show them that it worked and that there were lots of examples, such as creating electricity from landfill sites, he said.
Mr Clinton said that when he was in office, most of his time was spent figuring out what to do and how much money to spend on it. Instead, more time should have been spent deciding how to do things.
But, he told those at the two-day conference organised by the Party of European Socialists that, unless any of them could have a direct impact on world policy, each person had to ask themselves how to turn the good intentions into good actions.
Key speakers are Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organisation; Howard Dean, who failed to win the Democratic nomination in the 2004 US presidential elections; and António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved