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My United Nations Secretary General Candidacy - Part III
by Jay Gutman
2016-04-20 09:31:35
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It’s all about the recession.

I was always the kind of kid who immediately confessed if I broke the jar or binged on marmalade or chocolate. I was also the kind of kid who gave accurate reports on what I spent and what I earned to the people I owed.

I noticed every time a recession hits any country, almost everywhere around the world, the press starts its load of sensational news, sometimes leading to the readers wondering why they’re even reading the press.

un01_400_06I was a college student in France in 2002. Back then, and still today, France was the cheap way to go when it came to studying. About 300 Euros was the yearly tuition, health insurance and miscellaneous fees included. My first year of school, the community bulletin board was filled with job advertisements from all kinds of businesses looking for college students or college graduates. When 2003 came around the corner, the job advertisements were gone, but the students were still there. The internet community website did not have job advertisements either.

I would receive the occasional email looking for unpaid interns to help start a business or to help an SME struggling to balance its budget, or perhaps a large company also struggling to make ends meet.

The French press seemed to be obsessed with a never ending dialogue on free speech, racial relations, gender relations, identity politics and other narcissistic topics. Read: if you’re not getting a job, it’s because you’re not man enough, not woman enough, not Muslim enough, not Catholic enough, not White enough, not Jewish enough, not Scorpio enough (astrology became popular back then, as Is usually the case in a struggling economy) or not mixed enough.

The French media was lauding ancient times when every creed and religion seemed to get along. In the meantime, very few of my friends got jobs in France (many of them looked for one elsewhere) and every individual seemed to struggle either finding a job, making a profitable business or keeping their job when they had one.

Once I had my French degree I moved to South Korea. History repeated itself. The first couple of years you could get a job if you had two legs and opposable thumbs you could use. Then the recession hit, and South Korea used the same arguments. If you can’t get a job it’s because you’re not Seoul National University-educated enough, your chin is not small enough, your face is not oval or round enough, your skin is not pale or dark enough and you are either too tall or not tall enough.

Unlike my honest self that likes to admit that I broke the jar or finished the marmalade, or overspent because I underestimated the budget, but the government, corporations small and large, banks and the financial system like to cover the fact that they messed up by creating narcissistic social debates.

The same thing happened in virtually every country in the world. The government, corporations and banks overestimated the earning potential of the internet and the profitability of the construction market and of the education market for example. The basic mistake they did was not look at demographics and social trends, as building houses in a society where people like to live alone, building universities in a society with shrinking birth rates, or investing in websites that don’t charge users anything. They could admit they broke the jar or ate all the chocolate, but they won’t.

One of the first, symbolic gestures I will take as Secretary General is to make sure that governments admit that if you’re not getting a job or not keeping it, it’s not because of who you are, who you like, who you love or what you believe in. It’s because there’s a recession. You are perfect just the way you are and don’t need to change your identity.  

As Secretary General I will also try to negotiate an economic New Deal with world leaders called “New Deal: Putting our planet back to work” which will be a package designed with two facets: produce and consume local, learn global. That is I will try to encourage leaders to think locally when designing their economic policy: at the village level, the town level, the city level, the state or region level, national level, at the supranational level then then global level, in that order of priority. At the same time, the world will be sharing knowledge and know-how while encouraging joint ventures and training programs that cater to local populations.

Building cars, computers or mobile homes in Asia to ship and sell them in African, Europe or Latin America is not just economically unviable, it also multiplies toxic emissions considerably. So does moving workers and goods around the country and around the world.

Back when there was a North-South divide, Southern immigrants in the North spread a myth that they were better off in the North, hiding all the difficulties involved in adapting and adjusting to life as migrants.

If chosen as Secretary General I want to emphasize that chasing global markets, be they markets for goods, financial markets or job markets have their own set of difficulties. They are not impossible, should be encouraged, but the appropriate amount of training is needed. Such markets should be backed with solid cultural, legal and linguistic training, but should also be backed with global policies that favor, encourage and facilitate such training.


My United Nations Secretary General Candidacy - Part I - Part II - Part III


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