With Europe facing a massive fiscal mess and the United States buried under $14.3 trillion in debt, one might think that the leaders of the world’s eight major economies would get down to business to talk government overspending.
But as Heritage’s Jim Roberts writes in The Christian Science Monitor, President Barack Obama and G8 leaders are meeting in France to discuss, among other things, proposed global regulations for the Internet. But debt won’t be served up as a topic of conversation on the G8’s table, even though it’s a major problem in the U.S. and Europe:
One needn’t travel to France to get a clear view of this problem. Here in the US, for example, federal revenues will top $2 trillion this year, but federal spending will approach double that amount. Such reckless spending has set the stage for a battle royal between Democrats and Republicans over raising the national-debt ceiling . . .
Meanwhile international credit rating agencies are threatening to do the US Federal Reserve’s job: taking the punch bowl off the table and telling people the party is over. America’s vaunted “Triple AAA” credit rating is no longer a given in global finance. If the US loses it, federal borrowing – now more than 40 cents of every dollar spent – will become much more costly.
Europe has its share of problems too. Roberts writes:
Europe also faces its day of reckoning after decades of overspending and overpromising. The Eurozone, as currently fashioned, appears to be on the verge of collapse. This helps explain the continental frenzy over the arrest of former IMF Chief and French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Europeans had been counting on him to funnel yet more IMF billions to Euro-deluded deadbeats like Greece and Portugal . . .
Unfortunately, their attention will be elsewhere. Internet regulation, for one thing. Sarkozy calls it a “moral imperative” needed to “correct the excesses and abuses that arise from the total absence of rules.”
And it’s amid this backdrop that Internet regulation, perplexingly, is taking center stage. Though improving Internet infrastructure and access is important to the development of modern economies, “letting governments control or even censor information is counterproductive.” And Roberts says that’s what France’s Nicolas Sarkozy is calling for:
Unfortunately, Sarkozy’s G8 proposal toes the statist line. He wants governments to intervene in cyberspace markets with intrusive regulation and taxes that could limit consumer choices and seriously distort both pricing and investment decisions.
A micromanaging G8 also could threaten press freedom. New media Internet outlets can be invaluable in exposing political corruption and guarding against bribery, extortion, nepotism, cronyism, patronage, embezzlement, and graft. Yet disturbing acts of censorship, attacks on press freedom, and denials of Internet service are on the rise.