Youth: Why so glum old man?
Gabe: I’m upset because capitalism doesn’t work.
Gabe: Well, you know, with Harper touting the benefits of capitalism, and making sure that he continually reminds us the economy is the most important aspect of Canadian society, we should all be delightfully well off and economically on top of the world. Problem is, we aren’t.
Youth: What do you mean we’re not? Everything the Prime Minister and Jim Flaherty tell us is that we are in the best possible economic situation in the world.
For heaven’s sake, the Prime Minister is even lecturing the rest of the world – especially the failing European Economic Union – offering his advice and deep insights into how they should fix their problems. He’s even got us a seat at the table so we can sneak into the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I mean how great is that? You should be elated, not down in the dumps.
Gabe: You know youngster, I envy you your ability to live in Harper’s Happy Economic Hologram. Your attachment to reality is becoming perilously close to that of the Conservative cabal.
These guys still think they can get us to forget about the robocall scandal or the fact that they forgot to mention the rise in the OAS age eligibility when they were campaigning last year. It reminds me of Gordon Campbell claiming that his government really never considered implementing the HST before his last election. Uhuh.
Youth: Well isn’t Canada in better economic shape than most other countries? Isn’t that because of the Prime Minister’s ability to steer us in the right direction?
Gabe: No. It sounds nice to say that, but the truth is our economy is as good as it is for reasons that have very little to do with the Harperites. Previous governments put regulatory limitations on our banks and that kept them from following the example of their American cousins.
And don’t go buying the Conservative story that our economy is all that great. We have 7.3 per cent unemployment, and this doesn’t even consider the hundreds of thousands of people working part-time or for minimum wage. It also doesn’t include the nearly 20,000 civil servants that are being fired and all the associated jobs that will be impacted as a result.
We continue to have an overall child poverty rate of between nine and 13 per cent and an overall poverty rate of 11.5 per cent. If this is the best a developed and affluent economy can do, then I figure the myth about our incredible economy is ready to be debunked. This goes back to my initial statement that it seems capitalism doesn’t work all that well.
Youth: But with all the new free trade agreements and the corporate tax cuts and other economic incentives that Harper has put into place over the past few years, shouldn’t we be in better shape than you say we are?
Gabe: Lad, there is more to a healthy society than just economics. A healthy society funds and encourages scientific research and inventiveness. Harper’s government muzzles scientists. A healthy society supports and encourages higher education for its entire people, not just the financial elite. This government (and others before it) ensures that students graduate with an enormous student debt that not even bankruptcy can negate.
A healthy and vibrant society encourages and supports the arts and ensures free access to information. This government has cut support to the arts and recently cut access to free internet services at libraries. A healthy society ensures that any trade agreements made with other nations are dependent on those nations honouring human rights and dignity.
This government not only makes trade agreements with countries like Columbia, but also with Israel where the rights of the Palestinian people living in the Gaza strip are rarely recognised and thousands live in poverty. That small piece of land has one of the highest population densities on earth, with close to 500,000 people living in refugee camps, and still we have free trade with the Israeli government.
Youth: Well we can’t solve all the world’s problems. We are just one country.
Gabe: You’re right. But we used to be seen as a beacon of hope, a blueprint for others, and as peacekeepers. Now we’re referred to as an environmental fossil and a global polluter.
The only beacon of hope now is that even conservative Canadians seem to be thinking again. The latest EKOS poll puts the Harperites at 29.3 per cent support and the NDP at 32.4 per cent. I wonder how the great economist Stephen Harper will enjoy those figures.
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