Space to Watch for WTO Litigation
Argentina Dodges Bullet; Policy Space Call Left for Another Day

Lords of Economics Act Uneconomically

How much would you be willing to spend on security costs to avoid (in a worst case scenario) $3 million in property damage? Rationally, it would seem like anything up to $3 million is about right, maybe a touch more if there's some sort of compelling argument of a deterrent effect.

According to the New York Times, Canada was willing to spend nearly $897 billion million for the G-20 Summit, which of course comes out of Canadian taxpayer funds. Tax property to save property, in other words, to the tune of a deficit of $894 million in the "property protection" balance.

Here's the Times:

Few Canadians expected that hosting world leaders at back-to-back summit meetings here this weekend would be cheap or convenient. With downtown Toronto a security maze, businesses boarded up and even the beloved Blue Jays baseball team sent packing, the meetings have met all expectations for aggravation.

But it is the cost of providing security that has elicited gasps.

The latest government estimate is $897 million for three days of summitry. That comes to about $12 million per hour, or a total near what the government spends per year in the war in Afghanistan...

Ever since the infamous Battle in Seattle, the World Trade Organization summit meeting in 1999 in which violent street protests led to 600 arrests and $3 million in property damage, security has been a prime concern for international summit meetings. 

As far as I know, the broken Starbucks windows and spraypaint in Seattle were the worst property damage in a U.S. global justice protest. Since that time, it's been an escalating war of expenditure to see which locality hosting a Summit can spend the most on Robo Cop uniforms and fancy gadgets. (And, as the Times reports with respect to Canada's G-20 summit, all the Robocoppery didn't even have a deterrent effect, and didn't keep property from being damaged.)

Meanwhile, economics ministers are forgetting everything they know about macroeconomics and getting out of economic downturns, and are turning to cutting social spending. As Paul Krugman writes, this could be paving the way for a Third Great Depression.

The lords of economics ain't so economical.

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