IF they made a movie about the Group of 20 (G20), it would be like one of those “high-school reunion” films. The homecoming queen recently died from bird flu she contacted during a sit-down protest against cruelty to animals at a chicken farm. The boy voted “Most Likely To Succeed” is on the run from arrest in six countries for a billion-dollar pyramid scheme.
The G20 was officially organized in 1999, but no one is really sure why or whose idea it was. It was sort of a club formed by the Group of 7 nations as maybe a nod to the countries not good enough to make the Varsity Team. The German finance minister back then—Hans Eichel—claimed credit for the idea. But by 2005 the Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin had “Founder of the G20” on his resume. Then-US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has also been identified as the “Father of the G20”, yet no one has ever been willing to take a paternity test.
Nobody has really cared or maybe even heard of the G20 until they started having Heads of States summits in 2008—first in Washington D.C.—at the suggestion of US President George Bush. The fact that this happened as the global economic meltdown started is not a coincidence. Bush stated, “The G20 would be important in finding solutions to the burgeoning economic crisis.”
Unfortunately, the G20 cannot even find a solution to avoiding the millions of dollars of damage from protests against their annual meetings—except, of course, in Russia (2013) and China (2016).
President Duterte has taken some heat since Germany did not extend an invitation for him to attend this year’s summit, which would be normal, as the Philippines is currently chair of the Asean. Maybe that is a blessing in disguise when you consider what is happening in many of the other G20 nations, and things are weird enough already in the Philippines.
Since the last summit, Brazil removed its president, Dilma Rousseff, by impeachment for corruption. Her successor Michel Temer is being considered for impeachment for corruption. This past week Rousseff’s predecessor—the most popular president in Brazilian history, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—was sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption. G20 member South Korea also impeached and removed its president for corruption. South Africa’s Jacob Zuma is under investigation for corruption. The word “corruption” and “G20 presidents” seem to come up together a lot on Google.
Along with its drug-cartel problem, Mexico has entered a new war. Armed regional cartels are stealing $1 billion of gasoline a year by punching holes in pipelines of the state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos. Like with drugs, dead bodies are turning up and the police are once again outgunned.
Member China said member India “needs to be taught a ‘bitter lesson’ over its border dispute”. According to the recent Bloomberg’s Misery Index, South Africa—yet another G20 member—is the second-most miserable country on earth.
After looking at all this, there’s probably a valid reason for having the annual G20 Heads of State summit. These national leaders can get together far away from their constituents. They can drink and dine in five-star luxury at the public expense. And, after a few bottles of champagne, say to each other, “You think you’ve got it bad? Listen to this!”