Now the leaders of the world’s most powerful states won’t even talk about abolishing poverty, and they don’t want the facts on your television screens either.
The UN World Summit this week produced a few warm words about tackling poverty. And then the leaders of the most powerful states returned to business as usual — pressing home their agenda of profits first and people last.
The UN’s millennium development goals for tackling poverty were already weak. But even they go too far for George Bush and his new UN ambassador John Bolton.
The US has insisted that issues such as child poverty and deaths in childbirth are bulldozed aside to make room for discussions on “terrorism and security”.
Britain’s government-appointed regulator Ofcom has helped squash any mention of such issues this week. It banned a Make Poverty History TV and radio advert that made the point that every three seconds a child dies because of poverty.
Such a message was deemed too “political”. Two months after Labour ministers praised Make Poverty History they want to make sure its voice is made history.
Other facts will also be buried at the UN conference this week.
A report from Christian Aid shows that global poverty is linked to plunder by the rich. Poorer nations are losing £270 billion a year in revenues to prosperous tax dodgers, it argues.
The report says that many big businesses secrete company funds in tax havens outside the poor countries they are working in — avoiding national taxes.
Meanwhile, the infrastructure and public services in poor countries have been left to crumble because of a lack of public money.
John Christensen, international coordinator of the Tax Justice Network, which jointly produced the report, says, “The 1 percent of the world’s population who hold more than 57 percent of total global wealth use these havens to escape taxation.
“The sheer scale of the lost tax revenue this implies for governments around the world beggars belief. This figure would more than plug the financing gap to achieve the millennium development goal of halving world poverty by 2015.
“These firms also use their power to force governments, particularly in developing countries, to lower tax rates and provide tax incentives to attract investment.
“This has resulted in a shift of the tax burden to workers and low-income households and has forced damaging cutbacks in public services.”
George Bush has created war, poverty and famine — and Tony Blair is following him every step of the way towards a world where events like those in Iraq, Niger and New Orleans become almost a commonplace.
Saturday 24 September
March for peace and liberty
12 noon, assemble in Parliament Square, London, march to Hyde Park
called by: Stop the War Coalition, CND, Muslim Association of Britain
Stop the War Coalition rally
Friday 23 September 7.30pm
Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London (near Euston station)
With veteran US anti-war campaigner Tom Hayden, Tony Benn and others