Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More Poor Choices?


Yesterday, the Harper Party released its latest campaign ad. It was Stephen Harper's steady hand at the tiller, the ad claimed, that has guided Canada through the economic storms of the decade. But Scott Clark and Peter Devries beg to differ. The economy, they write, is dead in the water:

The dismal job creation numbers over the past 12 months merely show a long-term trend becoming entrenched. The economy has been in a growth and employment slump since 2010, with economic growth and employment growth falling year after year. The government’s response to this stagnation has been to repeat the same, threadbare talking point: that a million jobs have been created since 2008.

The Harper government has been in denial about Canada’s poor economic and job performance for some time. The overall unemployment rate remains mired at seven per cent and the unemployment rate for young Canadians has been stuck between 13 and 14 per cent. Two key numbers — the labour force participation rate (the number of people employed as a percentage of the population) and the employment rate (the ratio of working people age 15 and older to the population) — are both below their 2001 and 2008 levels.

Too many Canadians have stopped looking for work altogether. Most of the jobs created over the past year have been part-time; in fact, Canada seems to be degenerating into a part-time employment economy with stagnant labour income. The government seems oblivious. Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s only jobs strategy is to hope for a recovery in the United States. He believes, apparently, that there’s nothing the federal government can do to strengthen domestic demand and job creation except stick to the plan to eliminate the deficit by 2015-16.

Oliver’s predecessor, the late Jim Flaherty, spent years sniping at the U.S. and other G7 countries for failing to take action to eliminate their deficits quickly. Washington ignored him, taking the view that a rapid reduction of the temporary stimulus from the 2008 recession would undermine the recovery.

And guess who turned out to be right? The United States -- not without obstruction from Harper's cousins, the Republicans -- made better choices. It is, after all, a matter of choices:

The Harper government is committed to lower taxes, lower spending, balanced budgets and smaller government. But why should Canadians accept these as the only options? There’s nothing inevitable in this climate about years of sluggish growth. It’s a choice — a political choice.

And if their latest ad is any indication, the Harperites are betting that Canadians will make the same choices in 2015.


thwap said...

Well, we're fucked then. Because the US recovery is a mirage. More than this, the printing of trillions of dollars to buy back bonds and thereby inject cash into the hands of the 1% has produced such asset inflation that the world's central banks are thinking about raising interest rates to stave-off inflation.

All of this 19th century economic policy has been a disaster. The harpercons have been the worst for clinging so dogmatically to it.

Owen Gray said...

If you're addicted to looking in the rear view mirror, thwap, you're bound to smash up on the highway ahead.

Anonymous said...

What of all of the jobs, given to foreigners? What of all those jobs, taken from Canadians?

Jason Kenny out and out blatantly lied regarding, his TFW program. He is bringing foreigners over, that are not even ticketed nor certified. The two people that quit their jobs, are absolutely right. The foreigners are damned dangerous to work with.

The oil, gas and mine barons are, bottomless pits of greed. The wealthy sit on all of the money, to gain control.

I believe Harper has Canada in, over $4 trillion in debt. Harper very much favors, global governance for Canada. He said so, in his speech.

Owen Gray said...

Harper's economic policy has never been about job creation, Anon. It's been about wealth accumulation.

Askingtherightquestions said...

"Counter cyclical spending is a well established response to a recession, Asking. Harper was forced by the opposition to adopt that strategy when he held a minority.

But a majority gave him the opportunity to practice stupid economics. And now the chickens are coming home to roost."

Owen, you commented two days ago about the very nature of this. I responded about Harpers (and the Republican's) neo-Austrian economics. We are in a very different position form most recessions this time. Economic demand is awful and unemployment is nasty. While USA monetary policy certainly has helped, Obama has been kept from pursuing a truly useful path to success by the Republican right. Only the USA's unhealthy focus on war making has arguably helped by providing a form of government employment for some. Only ideology has kept them from more wisely investing some 3-4 TRILLION dollars on infrastructure over the past 10 years.

Harper's insistence on "balancing the budget" ASAP (question why this is such good policy under our current economic situation??) will eventually hurt him at the polls, todays report is further confirmation of his wrong choices. More importantly, it will prolong needless suffering in the Canadian economy.

He certainly is giving the opposition some real meat to work with. Why are they not hammering Harper on this?

Owen Gray said...

They aren't hammering him, Asking, because both the Liberals and the NDP have been infected by the same corporatist virus.

Harper happens to be a carrier of the most virulent strain. Big money still writes the cheques.