The World Economic Forum in Davos attracts droves of politicians eager to polish up their public profiles, and pledge their taxpayers´ money, in pursuit of all manner of ill thought-through, but right-on sounding schemes.
The prize so far goes to President Chirac of France. His pontifications were delivered to the 2500 political and business leaders via videolink, as air travel from France was impossible this week - presumably due to the Arctic conditions caused by global warming. He called for taxes on aviation fuel and international financial transactions. Chirac was brought down to earth by that great economic expert Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who questioned the plan´s practicability.
Chancellor Schroeder, meanwhile, seconded the plan, even though he knows full well it hasn´t a snowball´s chance of succeeding. This so-called Tobin Tax, which punishes the "wrong sort" of capital flow, was abandoned even by the eponymous James Tobin himself, once he´d come to see it as impossible to administer. But Schroeder has some key elections coming up: he needs to buff up his global caring image.
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were looking unwontedly amicable (see "A Bad Case of the TB-GB´s" post of 16th January below) in the icy Swiss sunshine. Gordon pledged almost 1.8 billion dollars for the Third World. Tony called for more money to be spent on climate control.
Pictures of these buffoons posing with Bono are now appearing all over the press. Nice work if you can get it, especially when the bill for this self-satisfied grandstanding will be footed by the hapless taxpayer back home.
FT.com / World / US - Obligation to poor is key Davos theme