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Growth addicts meet in Watford

George Osborne, the ConDem’s chancellor and Labour’s Ed Balls, who are locked in a fierce agreement about the need for more austerity to promote growth – work that one out for yourselves – are in not-so-exotic Watford this week.

They are rubbing shoulders with the rest of the 140-odd big shots, aka “global political and financial elite” of the US and European capitalist economies attending the highly secretive 61st annual Bilderberg meeting.

This year, however, it’s not quite so secret, as the organisers have decided to pre-empt the leaks by publishing lists of the participants from 21 European and North American countries and 12 key topics.

The assembly is heavily skewed in favour of the top men of banking and finance, but they’ve been joined by the key figures from the most visible global corporations including Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Jorma Ollila, chairman, Royal Dutch Shell, Craig Mundie of Microsoft and a small number of big hitters from other key industries.

Also on board are opinion leaders from politics and the media who’ll be advancing what they’ve learned of the developing needs of the powerful in the year to come. With resistance to austerity growing everywhere, the organisers have brought in the military.

In attendance are General David Petraeus, former head of the US Army, and Olivier de Bavinchove, Commander of Eurocorps, the little known 60,000 strong standing army of the European Union.

Top of the list of key topics is “Can the US and Europe grow faster and create jobs?” No surprise there. Perhaps it is just a touch odd, however, that the list doesn’t include even a passing reference to climate change.

Especially in the light of current extreme weather events spanning the globe.

Or is it?

As the participants assembled, heavy rain had deluged large parts of Central Europe – Germany, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Switzerland. Some areas like Passau on the Danube have experienced their worst floods in 500 years.

Meanwhile, the US National Weather Centre announced that, at 2.6 miles, one of last Friday’s five tornadoes to hit Oklahoma was the widest ever recorded – with wind speeds reaching 295 mph.  This followed the devastation of the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on May 20 that killed 24 people. It was the first time that two such powerful tornadoes have struck Oklahoma within such a short period of time. 

Following last year’s unprecedented drought in the USA, 82% of New Mexico is experiencing “severe” or “exceptional” drought conditions, according to Dan Ware, of the state’s forestry agency, of historic proportions not seen since the 1950s. A wave of vast wildfires has been sweeping through California.  

This intensification of extreme weather across the globe is the result of the Bilderbergers’ top priority – profit-driven, economic growth. The reckless exploitation of resources to produce commodities with limited life spans, an addictive dependence on fossil fuel and the industrialisation of food production have driven climate change to crisis point.

And they want more of it. They’ll try anything and everything within their power to pursue it. More public spending cuts in the dream of reviving the private sector? Don’t worry, Labour agrees with the Tories on that one.

Unrepayable debt? Never mind, generations to come will be made to pay. Record levels of unemployment reaching as high as two-thirds among young Greeks? Press on, it’s reducing the cost of labour. Demonstrations, riots, violence on the streets? Bring out the army. Governments overthrown? They just appoint their own.

Breaking the power of the Bilderbergers and their ruling class chums throughout the world is a priority if we’re going to get through this historic economic, political and ecological crisis in one piece.  

Gerry Gold
Economics editor
5 June 2013

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