Friday, September 26, 2008

The Bailout and the Bubble

(Written for's election coverage.)

North of the border, Stephen Harper progresses toward election day, inside a protective bubble that keeps out the general public, protestors and media who want to talk to his candidates while he is on the set. And so far a metaphorical bubble has protected him from having to deal with the fact that south of the border, his ideology is going up in flames.

The bailout battle in Washington is about Democrats, who are prepared to do their duty to safeguard global capitalism and the American Empire, lining up alongside the detested Bush administration, now ruled by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, to do so. Republicans, however, prodded by their increasingly wacky presidential candidate John McCain, who has come to town in the guise of Jimmy Stewart, are trying to save, not only Wall Street, but their sacred beliefs. The limited state, free enterprise, anti-regulation, individualist faith is being exposed for the tawdry joke that it is---a cover for predatory capitalism. Republican Congressmen, under assault from their constituents, are hiding from their own party leadership in their petulant fury.

So far our politicians are behaving as though the American financial crisis does not affect us. Not only will we be taxed indirectly but assuredly by the inflation that will be generated by the bailout, we have already been taxed by the role the Bank of Canada is playing in the crisis, as it joins other central banks in helping re-float the American economy. And the crisis will hit us directly in the form of a prolonged period of economic slowdown and painful restructuring.

Stephen Harper is a true believer in the nostrums that are on the funeral pyre in Washington. The NDP, Liberals, Greens and Bloc need to pierce his bubble and bring these realities home to Canadians.


ken said...

Capitalism has always been a matter of profit rather than free markets. As any libertarian will tell you the US system has always been far from any ideal of free markets. Not only are large groups such as farmers subsidized but intellectual property rights that give monopoly rights and protects from competition make a mockery of the idea of free markets. The ideology of free markets is exactly that an ideology that serves the ruling classes well in many circumstances but when it gets in the way of profit or threatens the system then it reveals itself as what it is purely an ideology not some natural law.

Anonymous said...

The problem with bubbles is that reality often pricks them. The U.S. credit contagion continues to spread, despite the bailout. Perhaps, Jack Layton will point out that Sarkozy of France told the UN that strict controls on international capitalism are needed. Layton should tell declare that Canada needs to join the French, Germans, Brits and others to convene a conference aimed at reform. A responsible PM, as opposed to a lackey of whoever sits in the White House, would join the call and show up at the conference leading the charge for strict controls.
Will our Jack do it? Probably not. He's too busy being the non-threating, smiling social democrat to play the heavy.