The protests are mounting as a16 (April 16) nears, the date on which NGO and trade union groupings are hoping to turn Washington in the latest post-Seattle demonstration.

The grouping calls itself a “Mobilization for Global Justice”, but as the Financial Times’ Martin Wolf eloquently argues, if the demonstrations succeed, they will harm the world’s poorest people more than any other group.

Wolf’s argument is along the lines of that given by Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo in Davos. What the poorest people need is economic growth, and growth is only going to happen with macroeconomic stability, the rule of law and openness. Other people, including the rich, may prosper as well, but the economic evidence is clear that a rising tide does lift all boats.

This does not diminish the protestors’ demands for debt relief, which is a necessary campaign. And whoever made the papier mach√© model of World Bank president James Wolfensohn used in one of yesterday’s marches deserves an art prize.

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