November 13, 2014 - No. 95
Harper's Fall Economic Update Is an Attack on the
People and Their Society
Harper's Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivered the
annual fall economic update on November 12 to a group of businesspeople
in Toronto. The real news was not what Oliver said, which had already
been widely predicted and reported, but what he did not say. He did not
say anything remotely connected with
the problems Canadians face. He did not say anything remotely connected
with the problems the economy faces.
Oliver repeated the Harper refrain that the global
economy "remains fragile" and the country must "stay the course" to
ensure prosperity. This in itself is a contradiction and makes no
sense. If the economy "remains fragile," why would the government "stay
the course"; why not fix the fragility?
Of course, the issue is more complicated because the
Harper dictatorship wants Canadians to believe they live in a "Wild
West" outside any society or socialized economy, a wilderness of
unknowable untamed markets, beyond the realm of economic science. The
neo-liberals do not want the people to imagine
themselves empowered and in control of their society and economy with
the institutions and authority capable of dealing with the problems as
they present themselves.
For the Harperites, the problems the people and economy
face are irrelevant. The real problem for the neo-liberals is too much
government spending on social programs, and too much taxation and
regulations on those who own the competing untamed parts of the
economy, which in spite of their "fragility" and
problems, the government must "stay the course."
Harper frames his opposition to government spending on
social programs, as a fight for a balanced budget. With this notion or
precondition of balance held high, Oliver touts the victory of yet
another $500 million in lower program spending, bringing the total down
to a record low for the country.
The cutting of social programs, sale of public assets,
and privatization of public services, along with the lowest level of
federal claims (taxation) as a percentage of the value Canadian workers
produce, have resulted in a surplus of $1.9-billion in next spring's
federal budget. Break out the champagne! Incoherence
has conquered consciousness. Balance has not only been won but
surpassed. Life will be good and secured, bathed in the magical elixir
In the minds of the neo-liberals, the declaration of a
balanced budget next year should guarantee the Harper government's
re-election. It means nothing to them that a budget of fewer social
programs and public services, and lower government claims on the value
produced within the economy, does not solve a
single problem the people face, or change a "fragile economy" into a
healthy vibrant strong prosperous one, functioning in harmony with all
its diverse parts. The "fragile economy" has over a million workers
officially unemployed with Canada's youth the hardest hit.
Harper's propaganda campaign seems to please the owners
of monopoly capital for the moment but even they are becoming restless
with the phony austerity agenda and have begun to whisper the merits of
deficit financing. After all, dropping bombs on Iraq is expensive. The
endless war on terror is likewise
expensive with all those spies, agents and mercenaries running around.
Not only that, monopoly capital wants to control and profit from the
entire service sector and be given free infrastructure and grants for
investing just like Ford, Honda and other monopolies. According to
finance capital, every aspect of public
services should be contracted out to them including even policing,
prisons, spying and war. All this pressure for public funds to pay the
rich and wage wars of aggression may require a change from the mania
for balance to deficit financing. Besides, putting money into safe
government debt during these "fragile"
times is always pleasing to the rich.
Oliver used the occasion of the fall update to attack
the Liberal and NDP leaders. He told those in attendance that cutting
social programs and reducing the federal government's claim on the
value workers produce is Conservative Party policy and Trudeau and
Mulcair oppose it. In soliciting votes and campaign
money from the businesspeople, Oliver equated opposition to Harper's
neo-liberal austerity agenda as, "Taking money out of the pockets of
middle-class and lower-income Canadians," which, "does not sound like a
winning platform to me." Many Canadians find offensive and a sign of
corruption that the government
uses its duty to report the country's finances, as a bully pulpit for
self-serving cheap electioneering.
Harper says government spending on
social programs and public services takes money out of the pockets of
Canadians. This is the fend for yourself refrain of the rich who refuse
to recognize that in today's world, people are born to society and have
rights by virtue of being human. The modern economy needs
managing on behalf of all the people and not just a privileged few and
their private interests who brandish their ownership of social
productive property as a weapon against the people and society. The
modern economy is incredibly integrated and socialized. To harness its
collective power and not squander it with
unemployment and low capacity utilization, the economy needs the close
attention, cooperation and expertise of the workers directly involved
in all sectors. On the contrary, Harper's retrogressive line throws mud
on those Canadians who want to solve problems. However, those Canadians
are beginning to awaken
to the reality that Harper and other neo-liberals are blocking them
from gaining the political and economic empowerment and control
necessary to solve problems, renew the country and economy, and set
them on a pro-social direction.
The people are not content to have the Harperites speak
drivel and then expect everyone to nod their heads in agreement. The
mass media in particular bring shame on themselves for not questioning
the Harper nonsense and demanding answers and action to deal with the
very real problems Canadians know exist
because they, their relatives, workmates, neighbours and small business
face those problems every day.
Harper employs the old trick of conjuring up a premise
or agenda and demanding all respond to what he says. The people are not
allowed to fashion their own premise or agenda. They are not allowed to
think for themselves and deal with the world as it presents itself.
Instead, they are expected to respond to
Harper's preset agenda, which in this case is a government budget with
revenue and expenditures of his doing, which have an irrational aim of
balance. What problem does a balanced budget solve aside from the issue
of being balanced?
No broad discussion is permitted as to
what makes up the content of expenditures and revenue. The method of
collecting revenue is set as taxation, which is now mostly individual
with personal income tax at an all time high of 7.1 per cent of GDP.
This side of the equation is not to be questioned. But why in
a socialized economy are the claims of government not made at the point
of production of goods and services, from the value that workers
produce and reproduce? Why should the claims of workers on the value
they produce and service they provide, their wages, benefits and
pensions, become the main source of
From the expenditure side, the social and economic
problems are ignored and buried under a barrage of propaganda that
expenditures must be equal to or less than revenue and revenue claimed
directly from the big monopolies must be less and less.
Even the gaping wound of permanent unemployment is made
one of treating the symptom from available revenue from employment
insurance premiums. The EI account has a $3.8-billion surplus and
growing; yet the unemployed suffer greater difficulties in claiming EI
and in addition, nothing is done to solve
the cause of the problem, as the Harperites simply shout to "stay the
Canadians are expected to wait for Statistics Canada's
monthly labour report and "ooh and aah" over jobs gained or lost while
the root problem of unemployment is never resolved. Harper goes on and
on about balance and cutting social programs but no one including the
media talk about the enormous loss of
value from 6.5 per cent of workers not working, especially the damage
to the country's precious youth and the stupendous loss of value from
the capacity of means of production not fully utilized or even closed
for self-serving private interests, such as steel and coke making at
U.S. Steel's Hamilton Works.
The update announces a revenue surplus for next year and
the entire country is supposed to jump for joy and pat the Harperites
on the back and re-elect them for a job well done. Well, Canadians are
well past such infantile responses. They want the economic and social
problems of the economy and society tackled,
not ignored and buried under deceitful propaganda. The people demand a
pro-social agenda of their own making not a preset one concocted to
serve the privileged few and attack society, which a fawning mass media
Stop the attacks on the people and their society!
Stop paying the rich! Increase investments in social
Organize and fight for a pro-social agenda and new
direction for the country and economy!
ISSUES | HOME
Read The Marxist-Leninist