Protesting the Protestors

Let the protests begin.

Thousands have descended on Washington, D.C. this weekend. Their target? The IMF and the World Bank. Those two global lending powerhouses are meeting and -- not surprisingly -- anyone with a cause is following. Money begets power begets people who hate money and power.

What amazes me sometimes is how little these protesters know about the World Bank or the IMF.

When one guy was asked to explain what his burning Enron effigy had to do with the World Bank, he quickly shot back, "Sure, man... they're all pigs."

I don't know about that. Neither institution is perfect and giving hundreds of billions of dollars over the years to developing countries that have an uncanny ability of losing it, or squandering it, or outright stealing it is worrisome. But their intentions are good: Help those countries that can't and maybe even won't help themselves.

Here's what I don't understand. A lot of these protesters don't understand what the IMF is doing.

They say more money should go to developing countries. It is -- to the tune of 20 billion just last year.

They say more loans should be forgiven in hard-pressed countries. They have been -- to the tune of 5 billion.

They say these lending institutions give too much money to important countries and not enough to unimportant countries. Then what of the 1 billion for Somalia, or the 3 billion for Botswana? Last time I checked, of little strategic value?

My point is this: The IMF and World Bank can be faulted for many things, but being stingy isn't one of them.

I frankly think they've poured a lot of good money after bad, but their heart's in the right place.

Which is more than I can say about a lot of these protesters -- more interested in making speeches, than making sense.

Appointment protesting looks good to those who don't know better. It looks sad to those who do.

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