Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Going Gentle into That Good Economic Ruin

The noisy neighbour—Sam—the one whose caprices control 85 percent of the Canadian economy—decided several decades ago to commit slow suicide. He is more overweight than our distant neighbours in Europe and Asia. He says he believes in “freedom,” but he incarcerates more of his brothers, on a per capita basis, than anyone el
se on the planet. He derives perverse pleasure from the maintenance of government-funded death squads (he calls it capital punishment), especially in the southern states. “Freedom,” for Sam, more than anything, means freedom to kill each other. Handgun violence is rampant because it is protected and enshrined as an American ideal by the country’s antiquated, ill-functioning 18th century constitution.

But the most suicidal aspect of Uncle Sam’s confused (some would say hypocritical) mindset has been his insistence on a relentless drive toward economic ruin. Sam is hell-bent on destroying himself, and his desire to kill himself is most evident in the deliberately destructive running of his economy.

Several decades ago, Sam decided the workers in his factories were being rewarded for their industry at too high a rate of compensation. That they were by far the most productive workers in the world was of no consequence to Sam. He knew only that factory owners would become much richer if cheaper labour could be found. So Sam went about noisily insisting on globalisation, which in Sam’s view consisted of a factory owner’s right to build manufacturing facilities in the poorest countries in the world so that he could use plentiful and cheap labour to reduce operating costs. Sam’s plan worked as envisioned, with wealth and power flowing to only a few of the country’s richest individuals and everyone else growing poorer. People who used to make cars or steel or computers for 35 dollars an hour on the production floor were now earning seven dollars an hour flipping hamburgers and cleaning toilets at McDonalds.

One economic fact of life is certain for Canada: Uncle Sam is going to be purchasing fewer and fewer of the country’s goods and services because Sam is driving himself into poverty and ruin. The new economic and military masters of the universe will be located for a time in Asia. Sam’s reign as leading economic power began after World War I but has been in slow decline for the last forty-two years, since the Nixon Administration. Sam, due to irrevocable choices he made over the last forty years, has no economic future.

Canada has tied its economic fate to that of Uncle Sam. Since long before World War II, Canada has been the breadbasket and construction materials (i.e., forestry products) one-stop shopping centre for the United States. After World War II, Canada became the first foreign sweatshop for the United States, a kind of testing ground for the destructive principles of globalisation.

It’s time for us to realise Canada does not have to go gentle into economic ruin with its fat, disease-ridden neighbour. Canada can look to its healthy past for viable answers. Sir John A. had some excellent ideas, among them the National Policy. Why not Canada first? Why not build an economy independent of what we now know to be the failure and downright evil of the so-called “free market”?

The National Policy is not the only uniquely Canadian idea gaining currency. The Federation of Québec Maple Syrup Producers—an organisation that would probably sound terribly socialistic to Sam’s ears if he knew of its existence (but let’s not bother him, especially while he’s watching “American Idol” and Glenn Beck), has taken a step in the right direction.

As the Globe and Mail noted this morning, consumers in the United States are purchasing increasingly less maple syrup. In fact, consumption is down 15 percent just in the last year. The Québec producers realised Sam is not the only consumer with a sweet tooth. Sam has long been stuck on high-fructose corn syrup for the soda pop he enjoys (and that has contributed to his obesity, heart disease, and propensity toward dozens of other maladies). It only makes sense that our healthier neighbours in Europe and Asia would be interested in consuming a much healthier sweet snack.

The Federation of Québec Maple Syrup Producers is stockpiling maple syrup—and lots of it. In two storage facilities near Plessisville and Québec City, the FQMSP is maintaining what they call the International Strategic Reserve of maple syrup. It sits, waiting, while Québec marketers storm Asia in a multi-lingual advertising blitz. Maple syrup: It’s not just for breakfast anymore. And it’s not just for Uncle Sam anymore, either.

The FQMSP has an idea whose time has come. It is time for Canada to move on. Uncle Sam has made his choice. Soon enough, he’s going to be a wheezing, morbidly obese old man, propped up by the Asian and European holders of his massive debt. But his time on economic life support is soon coming to an end. He’s going to be going into cardiac arrest soon, and though we may mourn his occasional smile and can-do attitude, his time is over. It’s time for Canada to move on, into a healthier world. The FQMSP is leading the way. Let’s follow their example.

April 6, 2011

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