Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's Time to Junk the Right-Wing Dogma and Get Canada Working Again

"No small nation can depend for it's existence upon the loyalty of it's capitalists." George P. Grant Lament for a Nation.

An interesting article was posted on Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper recently, that is well worth sharing.

It was in the UK Guardian, in response to their new government's austerity measures, which the author and other experts believe is a recipe for disaster.

The main concerns are unemployment and the fact that "the measures announced in June hit those on the lowest incomes hardest."

Ultimately, the conclusion is that Right-wing dogma has had its day.

Economic orthodoxy has been turned on its head during the Great Recession of the past three years. Left to their own devices, markets have proved to be neither rational nor stable. They don't miraculously come up with perfect solutions. Unemployment is a case in point. According to neoliberal [Libertarian] theory, those countries that had the most flexible labour markets would find it easiest to adapt to the more challenging environment, while those countries that insisted on featherbedding their workers would reap the consequences of being soft.

It hasn't worked out like that. There are, according to estimates, 210 million unemployed people around the globe, an increase of 30 million since 2007. The largest increases have been in the US, the home of the hire-and-fire culture, and Spain, which developed a two-tier labour market in which temporary workers enjoyed fewer rights than their full-time colleagues. Youth unemployment in Spain has doubled to almost 40%.

In contrast, in Germany and Norway – two countries that have strong trade unions and long traditions of collective bargaining – the unemployment rate barely budged.

Many programs in the UK, aimed at youth employment were axed.

Unemployment at an early age can leave permanent scars; studies in the US have shown that someone laid off during a recession will suffer an earnings loss even when they get back into the labour market. They go into less well-paid employment and earn less than those fortunate enough to remain in work. Even 15 to 20 years later these losses amount to 20% on average.

But there are also wider social costs. The loss of a job has a marked impact on health, with the mortality rate of those made jobless significantly higher than those who remain employed. There is an average loss of life expectancy of one to one and a half years. Children suffer when their parents are laid off: they are more likely to fall behind in school and tend, on average, to earn less than the offspring of those who stay working. The long-term costs of the recent increase in unemployment threaten to be severe.

And in Canada, we are facing a similar crisis.
The performance of the labour market in July 2010 was catastrophic. The unemployment rate is back up to 8.0%. The number of full-time jobs in Canada decreased very rapidly in July, when 139,000 full-time jobs were eliminated. The number of permanent employees fell by even more, by 144,400 .... The long term unemployment rate remains high. The percentage of Canadians who have been unemployed for more than 6 months was 22.5% in July, the highest level of long term unemployment observed since the jobs crisis started in October 2008. Before the crisis, the long term unemployment rate was around 12%
We need to focus on getting people back to work, and instead of tearing down trade unions, we need to work with them. Good union jobs are the backbone of a country's economy.

We don't need fighter jets, or more prisons, or more corporate tax cuts. We need JOBS! Real jobs. Not temporary or part-time, but good paying, full-time positions. And we need a government that will make this a priority.

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