Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Recession and the Flames of Change

For those who still believe that the coming Great Depression can be tamed by spraying money on the bonfire....or pissing on it with tax cuts.

Or think that we can hold back the burning devil of protectionism...with the watering can of rational arguments.

Or forget what could happen when all the deadly threats facing the planet come together in one roaring inferno.

I offer up this somewhat gloomier view from Britain.

The International Labour Organisation predicts that another 50 million or so will join the jobless queues around the world, out of a world workforce of around 3 billion. The wildcat strikes at refineries and power stations across the UK, and anti-government protests from Latvia and France to China and Mexico, may be just the beginning of much more radical, violent backlash against globalisation.

Despite pledges to resist "the retreat to protectionism", the pressure on governments to "protect" domestic industries and jobs has become irresistible; legislators on Capitol Hill plead that they can do no other than inject "Buy American" clauses into the fiscal packages and other bailouts now being assembled, such is the public anger about what has happened to the economy.

Having just elected the most protectionist Congress in 60 years, American voters expect their legislators – and their President – to deliver on promises about "American jobs", and are deaf to the arguments for free trade.

The scale of the economic, social and political problems the global rise in unemployment represents are frightening. Indeed, this recession could easily result in the biggest loss of paid employment seen in human history...

Pressure on land, water, food and housing, and levels of poverty, will soar; the temptation to argue with neighbouring nations over natural resources will grow. The world may soon witness its first "water war". The price of mass unemployment – human, economic, social, environmental – has always been high. This time it will be higher than ever.


But when I think about all that suffering, and my cheated generation, I'm afraid I'll go even further.

I'll predict that when all the Horsemen of the Apocalypse come together on the burning battlefield, a lot of people are going to question whether the jalopy of Capitalism needs more than an oil change....or a shiny new set of wheels.

And will shake the world to its foundations.

With demands for real change.

Can you feel the anger...and the despair?

Can you smell the tear gas?

Can you hear the song...


Zorpheous said...

Thanks Simon, I off to shoot myself after reading your bleak vision of the future.

Beijing York said...

Some are definitely going to fall hard with this recession, but it might not touch many we know personally as hard in the short term. But it will eventually if not sooner.

It will also rear its ugly head as more people become homeless and desperate. We will eventually have to own this human misery. How many
have to suffer to actually make an impact on the rest of us is hard to know.

Hopefully not too many.

susansmith said...

When the biggest winner in the libercon budget are banks, and providing tax breaks for cottage renos, instead of any green focused initiatives, or protecting women's rights, or giving little to the masses of unemployed who are coming on line, one knows that the foxes do not give a crap.
The simple fact, the Liberals were all bark, no bite, and at the end of the day - that dog can't hunt. One has to get off the porch if it wants to play with the big dogs.

Simon said...

Hi Zorph....sorry about that. But I can't help feeling that some of us in the Great White North are living in a state of denial. My feeling is that the way this monster is growing we should be prepared for the worst.
On the other hand you might be interested in my Plan B. Which is to find a little island off the Yucatan...near the barrier reef...and live off the fish I can catch.
But then maybe you've thought of that as well... ;)

Simon said...

Hi Beijing....all I can say is that almost all of my friends who have one or more jobs in retail have had their hours cut drastically. So even if they are nominally employed they are now hardly making enough money to live on. And as for paying for school forget it...
Then there's the social unrest and the crime factor. Did you know that the crime rate in NYC has gone up by 50 percent in the last few months...especially bank robberies.
I can forgive the Liberals for just about anything. But I can't forgive them for failing to take advantage of Harper's weakened position to push for changes to the EI system. We're all going to pay for that one BIG TIME...

Simon said...

Hi Jan...well you know I believe the same thing...that the failure to take advantage of the Coalition opportunity will prove to be a historic mistake. That exceptional circumstances require exceptional actions. But unfortunately the Liberals didn't have the nerve so now we're back to where we were...fighting the united right with a divided and fragmented left.