Arts, Culture & Media

Global Hit

Believe it or not, we're staying on the global economy story for our Global Hit today.

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If you're having a hard time understanding what economists and market analysts have to say about the global economic meltdown, just listen to Reggae icon Lee Scratch Perry.

Perry: "It's a warning, if you run you can't hide, and if you slip you're going to slide, and when you slide you're going to slide right into the ocean and meet the sea tide. But if you slip you can't slide, and (laughs), you be checkin' it in the ocean tide. Heavy Voodoo."

Lee Scratch Perry actually wrote the words to Heavy Voodoo nearly 30 years ago. At the time, then presidential candidate George H.W. Bush was deriding fellow Republican Ronald Reagan. It was Reagan's supply-side economic plans that Bush called "voodoo economics."

Lee Scratch Perry didn't appreciate African animist religion being used in such a flip way. So "Heavy Voodoo" was Scratch's warning to people who play not just with religion they don't understand, but also people who play recklessly with the economy.

Perry: "The message of this song is that we finally reached the edge. We were heading to the edge, and the Americans went over the edge because they didn't have any black voodoo power."

OK, that last part about Americans going over the edge because we don't have any black voodoo power...that's questionable. But the first part of what Lee Scratch Perry said, the part about people going over the edge, Americans especially, well that's not far off the mark...

Sachs: "I think people tried to game the system, let's put it that way."

That's economist Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Sachs: "Too many people were making too much money too fast. Alan Greenspan was asleep at the switch unfortunately as head of the Fed. The regulators were turning the other way. The leaders of Wall Street were taking billions of dollars in bonuses, and this very very dangersous bubble was allowed to grow and grow and grow until indeed it burst and now has threatened the world economy."

As far as Lee Scratch Perry's economic advice: the numbers he uses in the refrain of Heavy Voodoo sound a lot like the numbers thrown around to bail out Wall Street.

And on that matter -- in case Wall Street and Congress are listening -- Scratch thinks the bailout had to happen.

Perry: "The money come to bail out Wall Street and the American bank, better them accept than not accept it because if them accept it they will have a chance to replace the business that disappear."

Translation? Main Street needs Wall Street.

Heavy Voodoo, a track from the just released album by reggae icon Lee Scratch Perry "scratch Came, Scratch Saw, Scratch conquered." Guitar help there, by the way, from Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

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