Thursday, December 19, 2013

Were This The Best Of All Possible Worlds...

Were I of Dr. Pangloss' rosy outlook and believed that this is the best of all possible worlds, I might have some sympathy for people like Industry Minister James Moore who, as most will probably have heard, recently opined that it is not his job to feed his neighbour's child, an inapt remark for which he subsequently apologized.

He did add, at the time of his original offending remarks, that "We’ve neven been wealthier as a country than we are right now. Never been wealthier,” and boasted of his government's job-creation program.

And therein lies the problem. Mr. Moore and his ilk (i.e., the Harper regime and the neoliberal agenda) seem to reside in a parallel universe, one where there are jobs just for the asking, and anyone who finds him/herself in straightened circumstances is there largely due to personal fecklessness. In his column yesterday, The Star's Thomas Walkom neatly summed up this mindset, tracing it back to nineteenth-century liberalism:

This belief holds that individuals are responsible for their own destinies, that markets distribute income fairly and that (with limited exceptions) governments should get out of the way to let people live their lives.

That means allowing individuals to marry whomever they will. It also means relying on parents to care for their children as best they can.

Walkom also suggests that this worldview explains the federal government's refusal to consider the much-touted idea of pension reform:

The real reason for axing CPP reform, I suspect, has more to do with belief. The Canada Pension Plan is a form of forced saving. It requires workers to put aside money whether they wish to or not.

To the 19th century liberals of Harper’s government, this is anathema. Under their view, individuals should be free to save or spend as they please.

At retirement, the very poorest will be cared for by government at starkly minimal levels. The wealthiest can fall back on their inheritances.

So I might have some sympathy for the notion that people have to live within their means, save for their retirement, and essentially be as self-sufficient as possible IF we actually inhabited the world of Mr. Moore's imagination. However, the economic realities of the times, which sees an ever-growing precariat, a dearth of good-paying jobs, the erosion of company pension plans, and a massive proliferation of low-paying service jobs demand government compassion and involvement in the lives of people, something the Harper regime seems incapable of.

Let us hope 2015 sees the election of a party that has a better grasp of the economic realities of far too many Canadians than Harper's Conservatives do.


  1. Mr. Moore and his brethren live in the world as they wish it to be, Lorne -- not the world as it is.

    1. It is a pity that they lack the courage to leave their insulated existences to experience life as so many others live it, Owen.

  2. James Moore may be right on wealth. Rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. I believe it was Mark Twain who said, ' too many work for too few'. I am paraphrasing it. As far as that part of wealth is concerned Harper government is doing a good job.

    1. It is indeed a rather exclusive constituency that the Conservatives cater to, LD.