Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The King Of Austerity

The damage Stephen Harper has done to his country is everywhere.  Three years ago, at the G20 Summit, he touted Canada's economic growth. But now that he has implemented his austerity agenda, things aren't looking so good. The Canadian Press reports that Canada is no longer the fastest growing economy among the G7 countries:

Capital Economics says Canada's economy will only grow by 1.5 per cent this year, and slow further to one per cent in 2014 as the country's over-built housing market comes crashing to earth.

That would mean the U.S., Germany and likely Japan could outperform Canada in growth in one or both years.

Canada generally outperformed the Group of Seven industrialized economies during the 2008-09 recession and in the aftermath, but has seen the actual growth rate slow each year of the recovery period from 3.4 per cent in 2010, to 2.5 per cent in 2012, to 1.7 per cent last year.

We tend to forget that, besides tanking the Canadian economy, Harper has also had a hand in tanking the world economy. Linda McQuaig writes, in The Toronto Star, that the prime minister pushed for austerity at the G20 summit in 2010:

The embrace of austerity at the 2010 Toronto summit was a dramatic reversal of the stimulus spending that the world’s rich nations had quite effectively adopted to counter the devastating 2008 financial crash — in line with the lessons taught by the great 20th century British economist John Maynard Keynes.

Harper played a key role in that lamentable change of direction. At his urging, the G20 nations agreed to commit themselves to halve their deficits by 2013 — a draconian approach that returned the developed world to obsessing about deficits and ignoring unemployment.
(Ironically, the high unemployment produced by austerity reduces tax revenues and increases social spending, making deficit-reduction difficult. Much to its embarrassment, the Harper government has had to revise its deficit estimates upward. So far this year, Canada’s deficit is rising, not falling.)
But the fixation on deficits, which has dominated public discourse for much of the last 30 years, has helped divert attention from the fact that austerity is part of a larger agenda (including tax cuts and privatization) that’s redistributed money toward the top.

We don't consider Harper to be a player on the world stage. As George W. Bush liked to say, we have "misunderestimated" him. He is the king of austerity.


CK said...

The economic devastation due to austerity that Steve promoted at Toronto G20 -- It's not that Steve genuinely wanted everyone to pay off their debts per se. It's definitely not because he wanted the economy to improve. No, economic devastation is exactly what he wanted.

That whole Toronto G20 mess, where Harper insisted on holding the event smack in Downtown Toronto where both then premier Dalton McGuinty and then mayor David Miller basically plead with Steve unsuccessfully to hold the event elsewhere. It resulted in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history, surpassing the October crisis of 1970. Those arrests were what Steve wanted too, as he would put the message out that dissent will not be tolerated in the new order. Then set out to brainwash others, deflecting their attention, see? Look, the left are law breaking savage hooligans of the fringe!!

There was another article this morning in the Huffington Post. don't have the link off hand, I will post it later. But should be found and read -- how Steve uses psychology to convince the masses that pro-corporate health care a la US is what Canada needs now.

Owen Gray said...

Your analysis is solid, CK. Harper has a hard time dealing with dissent -- even dissent within his own caucus. The G20 Summit was designed to be a display of strength.

And the message was clear: Dissent will not be tolerated.

JimL said...

And, just as the G20 was designed to display strength and control, repression of collective bargaining followed. Now he has created a situation in which the federal government id being told to butt out of provincial jurisdiction - and health care is in that area. So we need to very watchful.

This guy is no economist but I think there's a good chess player in his PMO - or at least someone who's read The Art of War a few times.

Owen Gray said...

Harper has never come up with a fresh idea in his life, Jim. But he loves strategy; and he loves to win.

Not only does he love to win. He lives to obliterate his opponents.