Friday, March 12, 2010

The Sovereignty of Money and the Sovereignty of the Consumer, but Not the Sovereignty of the Nation

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. (Frederic Bastiat 1801-1850)

I mentioned Frederic Bastiat in relation to Maxime Bernier, former Vice-President of the Montreal Economic Institute, and presently the Reform-Conservative member of Parliament for Beauce, Quebec.

The MEI belongs to the school of thought that government is the impediment of progress, and the only real sovereignty is that of the consumer.

Other Libertarian thinkers also refer to the sovereignty of money. But none feel any connection to the sovereignty of a nation.

In a 2005 speech, Maxime Bernier claimed that "Individual sovereignty is what is important – not sovereignty of the state. Indeed, the sovereign state is, by its very nature, a steam-roller of the individual."

Bernier, like most Canadian neoconservatives, doesn't believe that Canada should be protective of any industry. In fact he once asked: 'With economic globalization, is nationality important?'

There was a column in the Star this week by David Crane: Big Fish Feed in Canadian Pond. The author was sounding the alarm on the increase in foreign ownership and control of Canada's high-tech industries.

...Many of Canada's small or mid-size but promising high-tech companies have also been sold off to foreign investors, making them R&D branch plants of foreign corporations rather than a potential RIM .... Last year alone, according to investment Canada, there were 437 foreign investments in Canada – 338 of them were foreign takeovers and 99 were new businesses. Of the 338 foreign takeovers, just 22 were reviewed and all were given the green light.
There was another column in today's Star by Bruce Campbell, Executive Director of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, discussing the same thing: Owning the podium, selling the stadium.

The Harper government portrays itself as standing up for Canada, but it is preparing a major sell-off of Canadian interests that will compromise our cultural sovereignty, national identity and national security. In last week's federal budget, the Harper government signalled its intent to throw open the doors of foreign ownership in three strategic, previously protected, sectors: telecommunications, satellites and uranium.
Notions like sovereignty, democracy and nationalism, are direct threats to neoconservatism; so if you are writing about things that the Harper government is doing, from their neoconservative ideology, you would say they are right on course.

The problem with most of our media, is that they don't view anything this government does from that perspective, so they think they have a scoop if they discover them 'moving away' from being fiscally conservative, or doing anything that jeopardizes the future of our country.

We may watch Stephen Harper mouth the words to Oh, Canada and feel all warm and fuzzy, but believe me, those words mean nothing to him. The sovereignty of money drives the neocon bus, and silly notions of nationality only get in their way.

Bruce Campbell knows this. I think by now most of the country's economists have caught on. They continue to sound the alarm, but few Canadians really listen to this country's economists. Let's face it. It's pretty boring stuff.

So instead they view the budget from the summary provided by the mainstream media, which is usually just "Oh look. It's shiny".

But I believe that Bruce Campbell and David Crane, are simply speaking to us in language we can understand. They've taken the shine off the glowing reports, and are trying to warn us of what exactly is happening here.

We are losing our sovereignty. We are losing our ideas. We are losing our country.

It started off as just a bit of chipping away, but now it is being broken off in big chunks. Once these things are gone, they are gone. Permanently. We can't stand up in outrage a year from now and say we want it back.

Another person who had a lot of influence over this movement in Canada was Roger Douglas, former New Zealand labour minister, and author of the book Unfinished business.

He guided not only Harper's Reform Party but also Mike Harris of Ontario and Ralph Klein of Alberta.

New Zealand's slash and burn pioneer, Sir Roger Douglas, an occasional consultant to Ralph Klein's government, promoted the strategy of 'retroactive consensus' at the Reform Party's 1991 assembly): the idea the governments should ruthlessly and quickly force change to minimize the effectiveness of opposition, building consensus only after all the decisions had been carried out."

(Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9Pg. 163 )

And is this not how the government does things now? They shut down the House for almost three months, while they negotiate the most aggressive trade deal in our history. And of course we only learn of it after the fact.

When Brian Mulroney introduced the Free Trade deal he held a referendum. Stephen Harper doesn't even hold a press conference. He just does it and lets someone else announce it.

Roger Douglas, whose slash and burn policies have been dubbed 'Rogernomics', also told his disciples, at that 1991 Assembly:

"Implement reforms by quantum leaps. Moving step by step lets invested interests mobilize. Speed is essential. It is impossible to move too fast. Once your momentum starts, never let it stop. Set your own goals and deadlines."

But he said above all. Don't Blink!

I think we've seen the momentum building, and I'm afraid that no matter how many economists and other experts sound their warning it may be too late. Roger Douglas turned New Zealand inside out with his policies. Back to that 1991 Assembly:

"What Preston Manning and Roger Douglas did not tell their audience was the story of the impact of Douglas's policies on the people of New Zealand. Saskatchewan political economist, Dr. John Warnock, travelled to New Zealand to study the effects of what New Zealanders dubbed 'Rogernomics.' The figures tell a story of devastation - a word used by New Zealand's own agricultural minister to describe the state of agriculture in four years after the 'reforms': A 40 per cent drop in farm income; a 50 per cent drop in the value of farm land; a policy of paying 3,000 farmers incentives of $ 45,000 to leave and the suggestion that another 15,000 (out of 79,000) should follow them. Unemployment, which had been at 4 per cent before Douglas's reforms, jumped to over 12 per cent in just over a year and is still increasing.

"Douglas completely eliminated regional development grants and subsidies to rural services. Says Warnock, 'They had things like subsidized petroleum - regardless of where you were the price was the same - subsidized train service, bus service, airport service. They privatized all these things and the prices immediately skyrocketed.' A massive de-population of the countryside resulted, and approximately 40,000 New Zealanders per year have since left the country for Australia to find work since 'restructuring' took effect.
(Preston Manning and the Reform Party. Author: Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 113-114)

But a handful of people got filthy rich, and isn't that what's really important here?


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