OPINION

Fair distribution

More worrying than the concerns over America’s political power and the stumbling blocks to EU integration that were discussed last week during a closed-door meeting in Athens attended by international bankers, distinguished economists and powerful investors, was a warning by World Bank officials that the continuing economic meltdown in the Arab world threatens to wreck global equilibrium. A senior World Bank official said that the broader Arab region – including the oil-producing states – from Saudi Arabia to Morocco, is experiencing an economic slowdown and, as a result, the specter of poverty puts their social and political systems in jeopardy. The World Bank, a representative of the financial institution maintained, has come to the conclusion that in order to prevent this grim outcome, the Western world must see to the creation of 40 million jobs within the next decade. The World Bank is expected to release a thorough report on the issue in the next three months. The fact that the warning comes from the mouths of Western financial officials, moreover, accompanied by a goal as challenging as the creation of 40 million jobs, shows that among the free-market pundits there are also some people who realize that politics and economic stability cannot only be secured with bombs and abstract talk about democracy. Rather, these people believe that it is necessary to support the economic development of these countries with an eye always fixed on the fair distribution of wealth. Furthermore, the World Bank warning hints at a disregard on the part of the powerful states – hence, primarily the US – of efforts to restore fairer distribution. The West must not treat the Arab region as a cheap oil field. The World Bank alert calls for a daunting foreign policy goal to help the Arab world, though we must also keep in mind that the warning is to some degree also applicable to Western countries. Western states are plagued by an unequal distribution of wealth, the marginalization of large sections of the population and an erosion of welfare rights and benefits. The West must create new jobs in the Arab world but also within its own borders.