Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Watching the Sunset



In the 1980's, America's economy began to rust out. Ronald Reagan told the unemployed in cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Garry, Indiana that they should move out of town and seek work in one of the burgeoning McDonald's franchises. Michael Moore chronicled the fate of the newly unemployed in his film, Roger and Me. The plight of those left behind was illustrated most pathetically by a woman whose hand painted sign advertised that she sold rabbits "For Pets or Meat."

In the second decade of the new century, the Economist reports that Canada has developed its own rust belt:

IF YOU visit south-western Ontario and the Niagara peninsula you will see scenes of industrial decay. Steel mills, vehicle-parts factories and food processors sit abandoned, their car parks studded with tufts of grass. The region has the look of a rustbelt, and that has Canadians worried.

Manufacturing took a beating in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when high oil prices drove up the value of the Canadian dollar, making factories less competitive. But Canada should now be recovering from that bout of Dutch disease. The “loonie”, as Canadians call their currency, has been dropping along with oil prices. On August 25th it fell to its lowest level in a decade against the American dollar. That, plus the strong economy in the United States, the market for three-quarters of Canada’s exports, should have scraped off much of the rust.

So far it has not. Factory sales rose 1.2% in June, but were 3.1% below their level of a year earlier. The failure of manufacturing to respond to the tonic of a weaker currency is one reason why the economy probably contracted during the first half of 2015.

Now Canadians are starting to suspect that much of what they lost may never come back. In 2000 manufacturing accounted for 18% of GDP, not much lower than the share in Germany; by 2013 that had dropped to 10%, about the level in Britain and the United States. Factory employment has fallen by about 500,000 since 2005, to 1.7m. In the decade to 2012, some 20,000 factories shut down.    

History is repeating itself. Neoliberalism doesn't die. It just finds new places to take root, peddled by new snake oil salesmen. Reagan claimed that it was "Morning In America." Stephen Harper claims that the sun is rising on a brave new world.

Most of us are watching the sunset.


13 comments:

Hugh said...

Most manufactured stuff we purchase in Canada seems to be made elsewhere - clothing, furniture, tools, etc. I don't see why we can't manufacture more stuff.



Owen Gray said...

We used to manufacture a lot of our own stuff, Hugh. That's what John A. Macdoanld's National Policy was all about. If you wanted to sell your stuff here, you had to manufacture some of it here.

Hugh said...

I see Canada is in recession. But real estate agents are doing good:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/gdp-economy-recession-1.3210790

Owen Gray said...

And, likewise, Harper says his government ran a surplus during the same period. Something's wrong with this picture, Hugh.

Dana said...

A large part of why the manufacturing sector is moribund is because Harper needed it to be.

The only way oil and gas could become the sole driver of the economy, and thus lead to political power shifting west, was for Ontario's manufacturing sector to become weaker.

Thus the "strong dollar" policies from the early days of the Harperium, the withdrawal of subsidies to the manufacturing sector at the same time as the huge increase of subsidy to oil and gas.

And yet somehow Ontarians apparently really like getting fooked in the ear by pudgy, ceramic haired dorks.

Owen Gray said...

Ontarians who voted for Harper were voting against their own self interest, Dana. They were not the sharpest tools in the shed.

Askingtherightquestions said...

But to be fair Owen and Dana, Ontario based (and other Canadian) "conservatives" have been actively mislead by the Harper CPC. Surely by now any citizen must agree that this gang is lead by the greatest obfuscator of all! Needless fear, ambiguity, misrepresentation, blatant untruths and disregard for the law and constitution have surrounded this Prime Minister for his entire tenure. I hope many conservative voters are finally realizing they have been taken for a ride. I caught his latest campaign "event" on television today in Burlington Ontario, including his response to the FIVE daily questions. He is SO dangerous because he sounds assured and credible, masking the nasty, vengeful nature of his politic. He can answer a difficult question adequately but followups are not allowed. He will not defend his record, something that any leader for nine years must be compelled to do. The only way to take this type of dissembler down is through thorough questioning and fact checking, something that the MSM seems (with few exceptions), loathe to do. Honestly, and I know we all have been saying this for several years, is this the leader for Canada?

Owen Gray said...

That's the question we should be asking ourselves, Asking. And, while we're asking the question, we should remember that people like Joe Clark, Flora MacDonald and Keith Martin warned us that Harper is a nasty piece of work.

Dana said...

Askingtherightquestions...according to most of the more recent polls the Harperians are showing very strong in Ontario. Ontarians are lining up to be abused some more.

I just returned home to BC after 9 weeks in the City of Kawartha Lakes area. The hillbillies there would elect a turd if it was Conservative blue and it's much the same for dozens of rural and semi-urban ridings there. The dumber and more bent the better. Much like Canadian farmers - they get screwed over royally by the Harper and get angry and vote Conservative anyway cause they're incapable of constructive thought that doesn't involve dirt. Or like armed forces members - I fully expect the veterans attempt to convince soldiers to not vote for the Harper party to fail because, once again, soldiers are incapable of independent thinking. They're probably being led to believe they're DND under orders to vote Conservative and couldn't possibly not obey orders.

Feh...

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Dana, I find it hard to believe that Harperians are showing very strong in Ontario, polls or no polls. If previous elections are any indicator, and I think they are, the election held for the Premier voted a liberal majority.Maybe certain parts of Ontario such as where you were are more conservative, but I think overall in Ontario that is not the case.

Mogs Moglio said...

Harper is a part of this octopus or should I say a willful servant a vote for Harper is a vote for slavery. I don't say this to alarm or upset but as I have been researching a book I wish to author I find this 'coup' has slowly silently enveloped the entire world. Octopus because it has its tentacles in everything inclusive of our government. Will a new government be able to break the shackles? That is the question we must answer for Canada to remain a free sovereign nation. Already Harper has bound us to the 'tentacles' through his various "secret deals" [Trade partnerships etc.] and given over our sovereignty to BIS [Bank of International Settlements]. Our government has been reduced to a figure head. Make no mistake the process started long before Harper arrived on the scene he has just willingly wittingly participated in escalating the destruction of the Canadian government and the subservience to an outside power since his majority.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article22247.htm

http://geopolitics.co/2015/04/12/bank-for-international-settlements-bis-the-vaticans-central-bank/

"First, facts about Canada. Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it." Stephen Harper from speech made when he was VP of the ‘United Citizens Coalition’ to the Council for National Policy. Its obvious he wants to destroy that in spite of Norway's success.

“You won’t recognize Canada when I’m through with it,” warned Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006...

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/noah-richler-a-nation-playing-war

Anyone know when and where Harper issued that ultimatum? I haven't been able to find a direct source...

http://ellenbrown.com/2014/12/12/bail-in-and-the-financial-stability-board-the-global-bankers-coup/

Owen Gray said...

His agenda has been clear for a long time, Mogs. We were fools to not take him seriously.

zoombats said...

As Dana said the hillbillies do blindly vote tory blue. Don't mistake toronto for representing Ontario. I come from Aurora where we (not I) sent Belinda to Ottawa as a conservative only to resend her as a Liberal only to elect Lois Brown as a con. Where I live in Georgian Bay, Tony Gazebos riding I am in a sea of Con stupid rednecks. We better get straight on this and keep a watchful eye over our shoulder!