After nearly two years of negotiations and three weeks of formal meetings in the Mount Washington Hotel, the 735 delegates from 44 nations agreed to create the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, and rules and regulations for international monetary exchanges, with gold (at $35 per ounce) as the currency standard. Since then, the IBRD has morphed into the World Bank, gold is no longer the "global standard," and thanks to costly energy imports and trade imbalances, the U.S. has become a debtor nation. Now, with the rest of the world following the U.S. into recession, leaders of the most powerful economies have descended on Washington to "fix the problem." It's not a happy crowd.
They call themselves the "G-20": Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. The IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations and the Financial Stability Forum are also "represented." Clinton-era Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- perhaps best remembered for dancing the "Macarena" with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il -- will be there for the Obama-Biden transition team. Nobel laureate Al Gore wrote in a New York Times opinion piece, "The bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis."
Unfortunately, the "bold steps" being contemplated by some of the G-20 participants may prove to be as stifling to the U.S. economy as the solution for Gore's "greenhouse gases." Among the G-20's "official representatives" are those -- such as Brazil's socialist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva -- who blame the United States for the current economic downturn.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who claims credit for having come up with the idea for this confab, has said that there is an urgent need to "regulate capitalism" and that the G-20 gathering is a "great opportunity" to "build the capitalism of the future." Among other things, he wants to eliminate "offshore tax havens" and is pressing for the means to enforce new international "codes" against "excessive risk taking."
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others in the European Union are advocating the creation of a global regulatory agency for financial oversight and "international transparency" for banking activities. He supports giving the IMF unprecedented authority for surveillance over transactions by borrowers and lenders.
Proposals such as these will be very costly, and it won't be just the expense of yet another bloated international bureaucracy. In the rush to establish "adequate regulation and oversight" over financial transactions, too many G-20 leaders are willing to sacrifice national sovereignty and personal privacy. "In the long run," to use Moran's words, that's too high a price for Americans to pay.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.