Our Security Lies in the Fight to Defend the Rights of All

Beware of the Fend-for-Yourself Aspect of Federal Economic Response to COVID-19

This past week the federal government made a series of announcements which it says are aimed at coping with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government ministers have repeatedly stated that their aim is not perfection but speed and asked for the cooperation of the public, if implementation does not go smoothly. Overall, an impression is created that the government has everything under control and Canadians can rest assured they are being looked after. 

What criteria should Canadians use to draw warranted conclusions about the government's measures? Clearly, a neo-liberal government is not going to change its spots and suddenly solve problems in any manner that is not advantageous to the narrow private interests which have long-since seized control of all state institutions, including the political parties that form a cartel party system that keeps the broad masses of the people disempowered.

This issue of TML Weekly is organized to inform Canadians about the government's measures so that they can draw warranted conclusions about these measures and make sure they do not hand over the initiative for their own well-being to anyone but themselves. It is urgent this crisis be resolved in their favour, not in favour of the rich and powerful. In this regard, the government's economic response to COVID-19 falls into two broad areas. The first category is stopgap social programs directed at the working class, and small and medium-sized businesses, which on first inspection appear inadequate. Besides which, everyone is forced to fend for themselves to access these things. The second category is the pay-the-rich schemes to help the financial oligarchy weather the storm. Within this, are the measures that offer those companies able to provide the goods and services required to fight the virus with incentives to do so.

The stopgap measures are said to give workers, including those not covered under Employment Insurance, some financial assistance during the crisis. They also offer a small amount of one-time additional funds to families under the GST rebate program for low income workers and child benefit payments, temporary tax relief for individuals and businesses, and a capped rebate to small enterprises for ten per cent of workers' wages. The measures to extend Employment Insurance to those not normally covered are not permanent and not adequate either. Some consider all these measures a cruel joke played on those in need. Besides the amounts being insufficient to meet the need, they are far from a guaranteed livelihood for many who, even when there is no coronavirus epidemic, are already in dire need.

Despite the appearance that the government is stepping up to the plate, the refusal of the ruling elite to increase investments in social programs to meet the needs of the people under all conditions has created many of the problems Canadians now face, including those of a health care system and public service ill-equipped to meet the current challenges.

The pay-the-rich schemes to protect the big financial institutions from losses arising from defaults, bankruptcies and other problems during the pandemic are similar to those during the economic crisis of 2008. They are meant to preserve the private wealth, privilege and power of the ruling imperialist elite.

The federal government ignores the two greatest strengths of the modern economy of industrial mass production: the modern educated working class and the socialized interrelated nature of the productive forces.

Not only is production socialized as a matter of fact but the modern educated working class is more than willing to be mobilized on a mass scale to deal with the crisis. A lot is said by government ministers to praise the front-line workers in all sectors of the economy but in the absence of a spirit and atmosphere of equilibrium and mutual respect and control, needless suffering is the rule, not the exception. The ruling class is, of course, not inclined to permit the unleashing of the power of the working class. Its entire system is kept in place by preserving an oppressed reserve army of unemployed and underemployed captured within an imperialist labour market. This outlook comes to the ruling class naturally, coronavirus crisis or no coronavirus crisis. One would not rationally expect them to resolve a coronavirus crisis in any manner other than the one which shores up their own narrow private interests. If this protects the population as well, all the better. If not, too bad. The outlook and modus operandi of those who own and control the productive forces is to buy workers' capacity to work and use it to preserve and enlarge their private fortunes even during periods of crisis. The ruling elite see no utility in mobilizing the working class to work if that work does not preserve or enlarge their private wealth and power.

A conclusion that will once again emerge from this crisis, as it does in all the recurring crises of the imperialist system, is that private ownership and control of the socialized economy of industrial mass production in fewer and fewer hands blocks the economy from unleashing its latent and complete power of extended reproduction on a mass scale to meet the needs of the people and humanize the social and natural environment.

The pay-the-rich schemes to funnel state funds into the coffers of the private institutions of the financial oligarchy are the refusal of the ruling elite to change the direction of the economy to one that favours the working people, the interrelated socialized economy, and society. This reveals that the people must empower themselves. An immediate demand should be that all the state public funds that have been and are being doled out to the big banks and other monopolies of the imperialists should be used instead to establish public financial and other enterprises to eliminate serving private interests as a consideration and aim. Public banks should become the primary source of borrowing for Canadian individuals, businesses and even governments, eliminating public debts to private lenders and their onerous and parasitical interest payments.

The billions of dollars to respond to the COVID-19 crisis should be used to mobilize the working class to greatly increase the public service, to establish dedicated supply chains of goods and services, expand the health care system and long-term care for seniors, and to look after those in quarantine or otherwise in need of help such as the homeless. Funds should also flow to the Indigenous nations to further their economic development and improve their social programs under their control and direction and strengthen their defence against the pandemic. The production of health care supplies, especially those needed during the emergency, and pharmaceuticals and their necessary related scientific research, should be put in the hands of public, not private, enterprises. It is made to appear that putting all aspects of health care production, supply and delivery into private hands with even the army mobilized, is a responsible way to go. It is in fact self-serving, as well as socially irresponsible and irrational, to use the resources of the state to advance private interests.

The current crisis reveals that the Canadian economy needs internal strength and local control that does not depend on trade from abroad for basic goods other than what cannot be produced in Canada, such as certain food. An economy under the control of Canadians would also manage the distribution of goods and services at the wholesale level and the retail level as well, if the current big grocery enterprises, for example, continue to prove incompetent and often more interested in real estate, land speculation and development than distributing food. Prices at the wholesale and retail levels should closely match their prices of production and not those dictated by the global financial oligarchy. Much can be done now to deal with the emergency in ways that favour the people and a new pro-social direction for the economy.

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 9 - March 21, 2020

Article Link:
Our Security Lies in the Fight to Defend the Rights of All: Beware of the Fend-for-Yourself Aspect of Federal Economic Response to COVID-19


Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca