Tom Walkom writes that The Great Recession has not been like The Great Depression:
This slump is not like the Depression of the ’30s. It is not a time of total economic collapse. Rather it is a time of relentless grinding down.
Unions are being ground down; wages are being ground down. Jobs are being ground out of existence. With the economy so weak and foreign competition so fierce, domestic firms find it harder to expand.
For many, the only solution is to squeeze their workers.
Before the Great Recession, goods moved easily across borders. So did capital.
But what’s new about this slump is that labour has become an equally fluid component of the production process.
Sometimes labour moves physically. The federal temporary foreign worker program is designed to shift individual labourers swiftly and painlessly into Canada in order to accelerate the downward pressure on wages here.
The Harper government is intent on lowering wages. It is a self defeating strategy. If workers have less money to spend on goods and services, an economy stalls and goes into reverse. It's happening now in Europe. That's why the IMF is warning Canada to take its foot off the brakes:
The IMF said Tuesday that Canada's economy will likely slow to about 1.5 per cent this year, down 0.3 points from its earlier expectation and also from 2012 growth, before picking up to 2.4 per cent in 2014.
Their recommendation is to make use of "economic stabilizers," like employment insurance and infrastructure spending. Unfortunately, Stephen Harper promised that he would balance the budget by 2015 -- and that will require elimination of those stabilizers. He intends to keep his promise, come hell or high water.
Harper is committed to The Great Grind Down. Like Captain Ahab, he is fiercely focused on going down with his own white whale.