First of all, thanks rusty for posting this, because this might be the most important political issue there is. And it is completely underreported, especially in the very inward-looking USA.
What I don't get is what the protesters are actually for. I know there are against the IMF and WorldBank. The agenda of these organizations is basically to ensure that global capitalism is running smoothly. If a country gets into trouble (lately Southeast Asia and Brazil), they come up with huge amounts of money and a lot of "advice" how to run things. A few African countries, for instance, have basically dictated their economic policy by IMF/WorldBank. These are very libertarian policies: privatize state-run businesses, enable competition and also cut welfare spending. So, I have mixed feelings about that, but I have to say that the world would be worse off without IMF/WorldBank.
The biggest problem I see with globalization I see is: Since there is no world government of any sort and the goal of IMF/WorldBank is simply unlimited free trade, the end result is that national goverments are powerless against large business interests. If, for instance, General Motors wants to open a car plant in South America (closing an US plant in the process), they can watch with joy how Argentina, Brazil, and others compete over offering 5-year, 10-year or 20-year tax breaks and billions of dollars in subsidies. This goes up to the point where it is questionable if the plant's benefits (employment, access to technology, opportunities for local suppliers) outweight the costs (lost taxes, subsidies). Because of the exact same reasons it is very hard to have minimum labor standards (reasonable wages, limited working hours, protection from arbitrary firing, right to form unions, ...) - the company just goes somewhere else where even more desparate people are willing to settle for less. Or even worse: where corrupt goverments are willing to sell out their people's interest for little kick-backs that end in Swiss bank accounts.
This may seem a remote problem for people in US/Europe, but it hits home with the loss of good jobs, and all it's consequences: increased disparities between rich/poor, increased crime, etc. Ultimately the low skilled worker in New York has to compete with the low skilled worker in Mozambique.
The only way to deal with this seems to be have a more social agenda in IMF/WorldBank/UNO/whatever, which limits the countries abilities to sell out like they have to now, and also brings economic aid to countries that really need it. This is happening, for instance, within the borders of the Eurpean Union, so it is no pinko socialist dream. I just don't see the US congress to support anything like that anytime soon, since it limits the powers of US corporations. I also don't see a powerful movement in the US to increase economic aid to Guatemala.
So what is the way to go?
alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'