Recession with a Vengeance

<!–[if !mso]> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–>As voters troop to the polls in six provincial and territorial elections across Canada in October and November, they do so in the shadow of another global economic melt down.

Stocks are falling, markets are contracting and credit is seizing up. Many economists and politicians are already declaring the onset of a recession. Distractions from reality, like Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ‘law and order’ parliamentary agenda (see article below), are coupled with elite demands for more sacrifice by the working class.

But this begs a few questions.

Did the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008 ever really end? When did the downturn that wiped out trillions in wealth, destroyed millions of jobs, and plunged millions of people into abject poverty, turn around?

What happened during the so-called economic ‘recovery’?

Well, the rich got bailed out. The income gap widened. Young people bore the brunt of rising unemployment, and still do.

In Canada, the banks (through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) and the auto giants got hundreds of millions of dollars in government relief. Big capital benefited from billions in corporate tax cuts, which contributed mightily to the public debt that is so often cited as the reason for cutbacks. This is the story, from the feds on down to each city hall.

In the USA, $2 trillion in tax money went to Wall Street bailouts. For their greed and malfeasance, the rich actually got rewarded. Business CEOs now pay themselves 325 times the compensation of their shop floor or office cubicle wage slaves. That ratio was closer to 25 to 1 in the 1960s — no thanks to Mad Men.

The gap between rich and poor in Canada has widened markedly. The top 1 per cent of income earners accounts for almost 40 per cent of total national income. In the 1950s and 1960s that figure was a mere 8 per cent. Today, up to 4.4 million Canadians live in poverty.

The official jobless rate, at 7.3 per cent, remains higher than the 6 per cent of October 2008 when the Great Recession began. According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate among people 24 and younger is 17.2 per cent. That’s up 0.3 per cent from the previous summer, and more than 3 per cent higher than it was in 2008.

Canadian household debt, which fueled the illusory ‘recovery’, is at near record levels, as the income of working people, including white collar professionals, has continued its 30 year stagnation.

In the downtown corporate towers, business profits have soared. But capital investment is down. That’s because billions of dollars are sitting in reserve, or moving to low-wage countries where the conditions for plunder are ‘more promising’.

Recession is a grim reminder of how capitalism operates, and a warning as well: If working people don’t take back the wealth created by our labour, the wealthy will only continue to take it out of our hides — to make us pay for the crisis of their system. Now that’s something to think about on the way to the polls.

> The article above was by Barry Weisleder.