Friday, October 26, 2007

Capitalist Ball 2007

None of the following necessarily represents the views of my employer.

The more eagle-eyed of you will spot that there wasn't a Capitalist Ball review in February this year. This is because it was held in October. And yes, I did go. It was not until the later part of the next morning that I recalled with heart-squelching embarrassment a moment of behaviour which surpasses everything I've done before, and I include the day I didn't recognise Will Carling and told him I knew a rugby player (Simon Hogg) and more particularly the incident with the four Royal Navy officers in the swimming pool at 3am.

I was doubly and finely squired to this year's CNE Capitalist Ball. Held once more in the Concert Noble, it was a glittering affair honouring in first place, Jan Bielecki, who gave a very competent, witty and entertaining speech about why he wasn't in black tie (it turned out the airline had lost his luggage). Further prizes were given, each with their own interesting backstory. Dresses of various levels of appropriateness floated about. Dinner came and went. For the first time, the event was attended by a demonstration outside by a somewhat deluded group, I link only to offer you a glimpse of their website's charming dagger and hammer logo and "Our own folk first" slogan, who had convinced themselves that all Europe's economic decision-makers were inside, swilling champagne like capitalist pigs. We were indeed swilling champagne like capitalist pigs, but as for decision-makers, we only had the one MEP and he left early.

After the demonstrators got too cold and went home to their parents' nice suburban villas in the Flanders commuter belt, us champagne swillers spilled out onto the pavement and that's when I got talking to Tim Evans, who had been President-Director-General of CNE for three years. "So where do you work?" he said, and I said "Nextdoor, would you like to come and see?" and marched the poor fellow 25 meters down the pavement. "You know" I said, slurring slightly from all the capitalist champagne I'd been swilling and waving expansively at the posters of refugees we have up outside the office, "market access isn't just for big industry. It's also for these people. Norberg knows this, it's the basis of his In Defence of Global Capitalism. Amartya Sen would call lack of market access an unfreedom. Palestinian refugees, for instance and they're not alone in this regard, those in quasi-permanent camps in Jordan and Lebanon, are not granted work permits, they can't even start their own businesses within the camps, and this is a, a, a crying shame, and whilst here in this office we spend a lot on advocating their basic human rights and providing them with ways to try and secure a livelihood (giving barbers hairdessing equipment, for example) the wealthier nations among us should be doing something about advocating their rights to work and trade like any other resident in their host countries, or we should sort things out and get them home to allow them those same rights. And not enough is done, and it's not fair, and it's not even economically sensible, because they're just as valid an emerging market as any other".

At this point, my kind escorts broke us up (apparently they'd seen it coming) and I was led away to a warm ballroom and handed more champagne. The memory of lecturing a senior market economist on market access surfaced at about 12pm the next day with the thickening sud of a flooding soap powder factory. I wonder whether I'll be allowed back next year.

OK. I know you're all waiting. Piccie of frock.

No comments:

Post a Comment