COMMENTARY · 15th March 2012
Years ago when Canada was debating the Free Trade Deal with the U.S. and there were people suggestion that any FTA would result in pressure on Canada's social safety net and all those things that make Canada a gentler more compassionate place to live I came across this quote.
"The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the "free labor contract" for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from "pure" capitalism." - Albert Einstein.
I refer to it from time to time when I read articles about how we have to cut this or that in order to compete with other economies. I remember also wondering how Canada's 33 million people would compete with the 330 million Americans on anything resembling a level playing field.
Albert Einstein had it all down pretty good. We had unions that prevented downward pressure on wages and movement of capital (factories) was still restricted by boundaries. Boundaries still meant something. All that changed with Free Trade. It has gone so far that the bumper stickers should read "Support China, shop at WalMart".
We got Free Trade forced on us. It was like the multi-national corporations got together and decided that the only way they were going to get cheaper labour and less government was to create a climate in which factories could be moved across borders to lower wage and lower tax jurisdiction. So first it was Mexico and now it is China and we are still not connecting the dots on how all this came about.
Our factories are mostly gone and we have become a cheap source of raw resources for those we think we have a free trade deal with. It was never free, it cost us dearly. Now when we hear that one government is going to cut this department or that especially any oversight function we rarely blink. When a government doesn't like us to be able to "connect the dots" they call us names foreign agitators.
Right now Canada is only a resource rich country for the U.S interests thanks to free trade. We are slowly tying our resource extraction to the Chinese interests. Thirty-three million Canadians will be able to compete with a billion and a half Chinese? Really?
When any one of these "business friendly" governments, as they are so fond of calling themselves, tells you we need to cut here or there ask your self, how did we get to this. I recently heard a person on TV talk about how in a few decades we would have 2 people working for every 1 person on a Canada Pension . The solution for him was to keep people working longer to say age 67. I kept wanting the host to ask him how we got to this state but no, the host simply confirmed the thinking. It was said once that those who forget history are destined to repeat it. You just have to be able to connect the dots to see how we got to this point.
Why is our forest sector gone? What happened to the fishing industry? Where are the manufacturing plants? Could we not do something with our resources to create jobs here and have people paying taxes here?
What would get me excited is a political movement that had as a slogan "Canada for Canadian Citizens First" or " BC for BC Citizens First" . Then follow it with some statement that Corporations are not citizens. Since trickle-down economics has failed, trickle-up economics will at least help people.
Comment by Paul Repstock on 18th March 2012
Mansell; I've been a supporter of The Council of Canadians for years.
This great organization has remained solidly nonparliamentary, as if recognizng that our governing structure is so flawed, it cannot be repaired and it has already been "Fixed".
We are being sold acre by acre and person by person, yet not one 'Politician' says a single word.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 18th March 2012
Comment by Darcy Metz on 17th March 2012
Helmut, your quotes sound alot like a fellow called Ed Deak who comments at thetyee.ca.
I agree with most of what that fellow says.
You are right blocky bear.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 17th March 2012
You have to be able to tailor a complicated message in a format something like this:
I recall years ago the Zalm announced that we needed a reduction in the price of beer. Everyone knew about that during the campaign. Other issues just didn't resonate.
Here and now boys here and now(quote unquote)
Comment by blocky bear on 16th March 2012
Excellent text Helmut! Very clear and concise,however you certainly are aware that the most of the populace of the so described 99% are very busy making the pay cheque to pay cheque scenario and cannot afford the time to organize their thoughts in these weighty matters. Perhaps a dumbing down would be in order. Please try, in the very least it would provide some levity! I do appreciate your comments, yours truly, Don Bruce
You are correct Mansell...
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 16th March 2012
...but they are only a lobby group and as effective as they are, they really need to be on the ballot.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 16th March 2012
You wrote "All of our politicians want public office merely to be in a position to trade Canada's assets for their own benefit." I think that some simply take the path of least resistance because they only see till the next election. That is probably because the general public doesn't see any farther than that either. It would take a pretty gutsy government to try to turn the tide and since most of the media has bought into the notion of "globalization" is best there would be only opposition from them.
One frequent contributor on another site that I enjoy reading sometimes writes: Wealth can not be created, only taken." When we try to solve our economic woes by selling our natural resources to foreign interests and to prop up economies in other countries, we are TAKING wealth from future generations and not creating wealth. He also suggests that we are propagating archaic economic theories in our universities that only help the 1% of the population that profits from our stupidity. I'm starting to believe he makes a good point.
If a Canadian government announced that it was going to review FTA and replace it with trade deals in specific sectors, like the Auto Pact, with the purpose of protecting Canadian sovereignty and the people's interests one could get excited. If we stopped exporting gas, oil, raw logs, and hydro without a lower price for Canadians firms and citizens so as to attract business here then we would be making a start. You can't do that when the rules of the game are completely in the hands of foreign or corporate interests .
the movement you are looking for
Comment by Mansell on 16th March 2012
Maude Barlow's Council of Canadians
Comment by Paul Repstock on 16th March 2012
Consider this, and correct me if I'm wrong:
In a "Democratic Country". the country, the land, and all it contains, belongs to the citizens.
Canada for all our posturing has never fulfilled this description of Democracy. Since confederation we have continued the neocolonial model begun by the Hudson Bay Company.
Corporate interests through political proxies have continued to control the land and the resources thus disenfranchising the people. Even international agreements are made mostly on the basis of corporate interests with no regard for the ordinary Canadians or the future of our country.
All of our politicians want public office merely to be in a position to trade Canada's assets for their own benefit.
Trade agreements which cause shortages within Canada are criminal.