The Group of 20 met in Canada this weekend, in large part to discuss the global economic crisis.
The hot topic in financial news over the past several months has been deficit spending, with governments on the verge of collapse due to poor fiscal policies. The European Union has imposed harsh austerity measures on Greece to curb its runaway government debt. Gold has climbed to record highs as average citizens and institutional investors alike have fled fiat currencies to find a safe haven against massive currency devaluation. Incredibly, with US deficit spending in excess of $1.5 trillion a year, US Treasury notes are still being touted as a “safe haven”. Greece, which is hardly a major player in international trade is being billed as the straw that will break the Euro’s back, yet California, ranked as the 9th largest economy in the world, and on the brink of insolvency, doesn’t get much air play as a threat to the US dollar. President Obama argues deficit spending is necessary to stimulate the global economy, apparently on the theory the best way to dig one’s way out of debt is to borrow more money. The illogic of this approach has not been lost on many member countries of the Group of 20, as more and more governments begin to realize the bucket has a bottom after all.
Now, against the above backdrop, the Associated Press today reports security alone for the Group of 20 meeting will run in excess of $900,000,000.00, or just shy of $1 billion. The AP reports that 19,000 members of Canadian law enforcement have been brought in to provide security. Granted, this is a lot of police officers and they don’t work for free. There are also certain to be additional expenses for food, travel and lodging for the weekend. Nevertheless, let’s do the math: $900 million divided by 19,000 police officers comes to over $47,000 each. If each officer puts in three 12 hour shifts, at double their usual rate of pay, their wages for the weekend would be slightly less than $2,000. If travel, plus three days of food and lodging, adds another $2,000 to the bill, the total comes to $4,000 each, or $76 million for all 19,000 officers. The eight hundred and twenty four million dollar question is what happened to the rest of the money? Again, this is for security costs alone, in order to guard the 20 most fiscally irresponsible politicians in the world.
A reasonable person might ask why these meetings are not held at an already secure facility, such as a military base, for a tiny fraction of the cost.