Sunday, February 23, 2014

Feb. 23: S0 - where are we going?

Government is a social institution, not a financial one. It's first responsibility is to the society that elects it. Yes, you need money to do that. But the starting point is not the money; it's the needs of humans as individuals and as members of a society.

But we don't do it that way. Most of our politicians follow the "business model" - searching for ways to make money. It makes sense for business to operate that way because it's only purpose is to make money. It doesn't exist to create prosperity or give people equal opportunity or to care for the helpless.

And when you start with making money as your objective, it becomes your only objective. Instead of ensuring that all have access to decent housing and adequate food and equal education opportunity, our politicians plan for a hockey rink first on the theory it will produce the needed money.

It almost certainly won't. What it will do do is to make a lot of money for a few people who already have a lot of money, and some short term jobs for a small number of the rest.

And in hard times when a great many are suffering, then politicians often flutter around the rich to make sure they make lots and lots money because when they makes lots and lots of money, so it's said, it filters down to the rest of us.

Actually, it doesn't. It never has. It's not doing it now. You just have to look around you to see that.

Historically, big business has made its money by making others poor, not rich. For almost a century, the British forced China to make the sale of opium legal. and it set a minimum sales target for each year. If the Chinese sold less than the target, they had to pay the full sum for the year to Britain, anyway.

The opium was grown and processed on land and cheap labour that the British has stolen from India.
Result - the Chinese were made poor, the Indians were made poor. And most of the British were made poor.

To the present day, Britain was lovely place for those country estates in the summer, and sumptuous town houses in London for the social season. It was bloody awful for most others.

My grandmother grew up in The Gorbals in Glasgow, Scotland, then rated the vilest slum in Europe - and the most dangerous. Tiny, crowded, and badly  built apartment buildings commonly had no plumbing. There might be on bathroom, on the ground floor, intended to serve the 50 or so people in the building.

Whatever soil there was consisted of bare earth littered with garbage and human feces. In fact, backyard outhouses were common features of some British cities until well after World War Two.

Nor was Britain the only one. Though our very selective history books hail Canada and the US as lands of prosperity and opportunity, our history of slums and filth and hunger is little better than Britain's. Though I came for a very poor district of Montreal, we were raised to look down on those (heavily Irish) who lived in the appalling conditions of Griffintown, St.-Henri, and other districts. And that was true well through the 1950s.

The one period of a more widely shared prosperity in Canada and the US was the period of World War Two into the 1960s. And that had nothing to do with business. It has to do with a war that forced politicians to listen to what their people needed, and with a government that realized it had to regulate business to prevent its abuses.

But that was undone by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who turned business loose to do what it wanted  And business did very, very well - but only for itself. Indeed, when the lack of regulation enabled banks in the US and Britain to break the law and drive themselves bankrupt, it was the people who to pay - and to give those greedy scoundrels bonuses for it.

Free trade completed the damage. Big business is now free to impoverish, exploit, beat up, even murder whoever it wishes to. There are no restraints, no controls. That's why Canadian mining companies are free to hire thugs to control their miserably paid and miserably treated workers in Latin America. That may also be why our army has special operations units that we never hear about. (They report only the the prime minister. Democracy in Action.)

Big business now has ideal conditions. It pays almost no taxes. It has few regulations. Governments have no control over it. Indeed, big business is the government. Under free trade, it does not belong in any sense to any nation. It has no responsibility to any people. And we pay for its wars; and we do its killing for it.

Oh, and we also give it huge sums of money to encourage it to stay and take more from us.

So, when will these hard times end? They won't. The US economy is not going to recover. There is nothing in the US to recover. In any case, the US debt, bloated by the corruption of gifts to big business, is so big the US dollar is almost certainly doomed.

But why should big business care? It is doing very, very well. It now has free access to the world without any control or restrictions.

And, in Canada, it has both the Liberals and Conservatives nicely in harness.

Neither a conservative nor a liberal government will do anything for us. Anything given to us is something taken away from big business - and that's not going to happen with either of those parties.

Nor will anything happen by reforming The Senate or fiddling with the rules for provincial governments. We need to get our own province and our own country back. We gave to elect a government that will govern from us. And we have to do it soon. The rest of the world is not going to be as patient as us with destructive business raging out of control.

And any such reaction is likely to take the form of another sellout like fascism. (financed by big business). We need a government that will focus on our own people and what we need to be a society.


  1. Graeme, the problem with being POOR when I was a kid ,( born 1935) was that we did not realize that we were poor. There were people around us, who were really poor. I remember my days of living in Lewisville in four tenament building. We did not have, for a long time, the basics like a Tub for bathing. Nor a flush toilet. I guess we figured that we were all in the same Boat. The Government did not pay one bit of attention to those of us who were in the Poor Class. My brother and I started working around the Age of 12 or so. Dad,Mum and our Grandmother all worked hard to bring in enough money to keep us going. Dad worked until he was 73, Mum worked at Sobeys in her later years as a Cashier. Grandmother worked as a dish washer at the Palace Grill in Moncton. Mum lived to be 96 and never ever complained about being poor. That is enough from me. I could write a Book on this Subject. DAR

    1. I worked part-time at the Palace Grill in the early 1960s - was your grandmother there at that time?

    2. I'm not from Moncton, and most of my family has never even seen it.
      Learning that you're poor and what that means takes a lifetime. I had early hints from an aunt and uncle who (rarely) came to visit. And when they did, they would park their car (they were really rich), and honk the horn for us to come down to the car

      Ii really took me most of my life to figure out what being poor meant. At every step in my life, I found myself moving among people from backgrounds that gave them an intirely different outlook on life. I still remember the girl who told me she would never marry me (actually, I had never asked her to) because I would never be anything more than low end working class.

    3. Graeme - my apologies. My question was intended for "texdar".

  2. It's a story I know well. The poor seldom complain about their poverty. It's the rich who complain constantly about their need for money - and who expect governments to give it to them.

    That's why it's wrong to start off talking about how we're going to raise the money. The money has been raised. It's there, sitting in the pockets of the rich.

    Depressions seem commonly to be good for the rich because they can use the high unemployment to pay lower salaries for longer hours - and no benefits.

    Talking about how we'll balance the budget is a mug's game. There has only rarely been much in budgets for most Canadians. And the rest of the world is worse.

    The rich have never, in human history, had enough. They never will. That's why we have to start with people and their needs, not with budgets.

    The US starts with budgets. That's why it's necessary to keep so many people away from medicare, and to cut the food stamp budget by billions - so that money can be spent on defence contracts for friends.

    Apparently, you can have the biggest deficits in human history - and still borrow money to give contracts to good ol' boys.

    But we would need a surplus before even talking about human needs - and even then they'd use it to subsidize another Irving project.