Columnist Tom Fletcher revealed some interesting and revealing ideas in his article “Clash of visions in political spring.” First of all Mr. Fletcher asked Stephen Harper if B.C.’s poor unemployment record and investment performance “suggest that not all of the (tax) savings are being reinvested.” Harper’s reply was his usual one-trick pony about stable government – yet the corporations could care less about ‘stable’ government as long as they are able to make profits from our resources and as usual take the money and run to invest in more lucrative financial endeavours that caused our current economic crisis in the first place.
Harper then uses Ireland as an example as “Ireland’s bankrupt, and it’s not raising its business taxes.” True, but the reason behind it is not because the people of Ireland do not want to, but that they have no real say in it. The real say comes from the “Washington consensus” of the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other corporate entities that ‘govern’ supranationally – above the national level.
Their goal is to maximize profits, and require national governments to cut social services while imposing so-called “austerity programs” on the general population, creating a debt fund that will pour money into corporate coffers for decades to come. Sure, taxes won’t go up, but neither will real wages, nor will employment, at the same time that health services, pension plans and other social services are either privatized for more profit, or done away with altogether.
Credit to Mr. Fletcher as he recognizes that what little economic progress is being made in B.C. and Canada has not so much to do with policy, as with the rising prices for commodities, our oil, gas, lumber, wheat and other resources that Canada sells for corporate profit taking.
Mr. Fletcher then turns to the new NDP leader for B.C. Adrian Dix, and after several comments about his rhetoric he summarizes by saying “on the economy, he is diametrically opposed to the global consensus.” Well, the global consensus is as described above: governments subordinated to the demands of the Washington consensus, imposing austerity programs to overcome the financial collapse and indebtedness that the governments and corporations themselves helped create. To be diametrically opposed to this is good news, not bad as implied by Mr. Fletcher.
Argentina and Iceland had the correct response to indebtedness, caused by the control of the IMF and World Bank (in Argentina) or by the greed of big business and big bank loans for real estate development (in Iceland). Argentina defaulted on their debt, the GDP fell some 23 per cent the first year, and then they had a decade of strong recovery with a 60 per cent increase in GDP (the economists favourite number to work with). In Iceland, the voters were given the chance in a referendum (what a novel idea) – and wisely rejected by 90 per cent – their own government’s plan to pay off the debts of their main banks that were owed mainly to British and Netherlands banks. If they had done otherwise, the average Icelander would have had to pay about one quarter of their income for eight years to pay for the mistakes of the banks and the IMF/WTO governance.
While Canada managed to survive the recession based on commodities, we are still part of the global corporate economic pattern that impoverishes the many and enriches the few. Stephen Harper’s agenda is in full accord with that pattern.
Jim Miles, Vernon