The excitement is palpable. G- 20 Mania has swept the country like blue mold on dead fruit in the crisper bin of an abandoned refrigerator. Especially amongst the 18 Americans aware that the G- 20 is a meeting of the leaders of the world's top economic nations and not a Bingo call. It may be officially known as the G- 20 Leaders' Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, but it's more of a potluck dinner for the gated community of the planet's yuppie nations (the ones to whom dentistry is not unfamiliar) and the casserole of hope and negotiation President Obama carried overseas to London went over a smash: like tuna fish tea biscuits at a cat show.
Make no mistake about it, the G- 20 includes some heavy schtarkers. Together, the assembled represented 2/3rds of the world population and 85% of global gross national product. 19 big time important type countries plus the European Union and this year's special guests: Spain and the Netherlands. Not to mention a whole mess of other countries who either slipped the door guy a wad of Euros or hopped over the velvet rope while security was distracted by a particularly tasty order of fish and chips.
You know how people get. Always trying to show off by crashing parties they think they should have been invited to. "Hey babe, want to be in the thick of some major diplomatic mix? Got a nice dress? Come with me to the G- 20. I can get us an audience with the Queen or we can wave at Michelle."
There's some question as to how many delegations actually decamped in England for this Ambassadorial Set Burning Man: estimates range from 21 all the way to 28. Why is it called it the G- 20 then? Nobody knows. As we can deduce from the situation in which the world finds itself currently mired, math is not our strong suit. Most likely, another suggestion from the same guy who convinced global bankers they could keep selling increasingly risky subprime mortgages to each other for all eternity.
Despite the tortured arithmetic, the G- 20 is not necessarily two and a half times better than the G- 8, scheduled for its annual summer junket this July in La Maddalena, Italy. (just what Italy needs, more plump tourists in July) Besides, the way these things work, the smaller the group, the better chance of achieving anything more consequential than choosing whether the caterer serves creamy or deli style cole slaw at lunch. Say what you will about dictators, they are serenely unencumbered by a paralyzing concern for consensus.
The G- Twenty- Somethings did institute a couple cosmetic financial reforms and supposedly negotiated (deep breath) "a new set of rules for oversight, transparency and conduct for offshore tax havens as part of a broader effort to overhaul the regulatory structure of the world economy." Yeah. That'll work. CNN's closing ceremonies screen bug, "Saving The World," might have been a bit premature is all I'm saying.
The festivities did wrap with a flourish of glad- handing and syrupy platitudes covered by an over- abundance of "blue skies straight ahead." But maybe that's what we need most right now. A planetary panacea placebo; like swallowing Echinacea at the first sign of liver failure. Can't hurt. And if that's all that came out of this confab: a global shot of B- 12 from the G- 20, fine. One thing in optimism's favor. Its free.
Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.
Please check out his Rooftop Comedy minutes: http://www.rooftopcomedy.com/shows/BurstOfDurst