America: Europe and Canada’s Willing Chump

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Yves here. This post makes an important point: neoliberals often like to depict America as having no choice but to participate in a race to the bottom in worker wages “because markets,” as Lambert likes to say. But in fact, as Dan Fejes points out, America is conveniently playing a leading role in the erosion of wage and environmental protections relative to key advanced economy (and in the case of Mexico, not so advanced) trading partners.

By Dan Fejes, who lives in northeast Ohio. Cross posted from Pruning Shears

One of the more memorable turns of phrase I’ve heard in the past few years came during the effort to unionize an Ikea plant in Virginia. In the same way that Mexico became an attractive location for American capitalists because of lower wages and less stringent environmental standards, some European employers began finding America more to their liking. Or, put more colorfully:

During its successful campaign to organize the Danville workers, the International Association of Machinists (IAM), through its Machinists News Network, produced a web video called “Same Rules, Same Respect.” It charged that “when on American soil, IKEA is playing by a very different set of rules than when at home.” In the video, IAM Woodworking Division director Bill Street says, “We’ve become Sweden’s Mexico.”

That isn’t Europe’s approach across the board, of course; heaven knows Volkswagen did its best to give its American workers more of a voice. But there has definitely been a willingness for other Western nations to take advantage of America’s willingness to put itself at risk or a disadvantage. This has been especially pronounced with fossil fuels.

For instance, Canada has been at best ambivalent about building pipelines for its Alberta tar sands. On the one hand, its political and media elite is not only firmly in favor but vigorously lobbying for them. On the other, the combination of grassroots activism and court challenges has made building them in-country dicey. So it looks like Ottawa might just decide it’s easier to build what Charles Pierce called a death-funnel down the spine of the United States. Since Keystone has the enthusiastic support of climate science-denying cretins in both the House and Senate, it just might succeed.

(Post intermission #1: Canadians’ flattering image of themselves as unfailingly reticent and polite is wearing a bit thin lately. The actions above are not those of a reserved and self-effacing people but an aggrandized and obnoxious one. Please own your new identity and stop insulting our intelligence, thanks.)

A similar dynamic is playing out with fracking. It turns out there is a new trade agreement under negotiation called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), not to be confused with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) except to the extent that both are awful. The TTIP would, among other things, greatly increase American energy exports to the European Union. Since Europe is still acting like Hamlet on fracking, the effect is basically this: Let America bear all the hazard with unconventional extraction and let EU countries get the benefit. And since fracking enjoys roughly the same political constituency as Keystone, there are plenty of takers in Washington.

(Post intermission #2: These international pacts have gone from going from “free trade agreements” to “partnerships.” Maybe that’s because free trade agreements now have such a foul odor, but in any event the change of nomenclature is useful. Monstrosities like TTIP and TPP have less to do with trade than with forcing all participants to abide by individual signatories’ worst practices.)

Incidentally, the push to get Europe off of Russia’s energy supply line is also leading to some fairly scary developments in Ukraine. While it would be lovely to think Hunter Biden’s recent employment with a Ukrainian gas giant is a noble attempt to beat back creeping isolationism in the States, there is unfortunately a more plausible and disturbing explanation.

Since neither Keystone XL nor fracking are long term job creators, it isn’t even like the US is selling out on these issues. “Selling” would imply some kind of profit. American workers will have virtually nothing to show for either, and the economy will be similarly unmoved. Extraction industry executives will make out like bandits, and that’s about it.

Anyway, let me conclude by being very clear on something: The point here is not to demonize Europe or Canada. Neither Keystone nor TTIP will happen without the substantial, ongoing support of America’s political system. No one is pulling a fast one on us here. We know exactly what’s happening. But here’s what I find curious: There are a whole lot of “my country right or wrong” types who bristle with indignation if they believe America is being taken advantage of – yet they have been silent on both of these issues. Apparently it’s no longer a stain on the national honor to play us for a fool. I’ve never been a fan of that antediluvian notion, but it sure picked a bad time to fall by the wayside.

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  1. John

    Yeah, let the US make all the spills.

    Europe does not have Koch equivalents. Or do they? If Europe was so high minded we would be pushing for more energy efficiencies. But we are not. In fact, everything is business as usual. Dirty energy is still making it to where ever it is needed.

    Keep in mind Europe was pushing ahead with solar panel installations until the economic crises struck. All of a sudden, out of of the blue, subsidies dried up and the authorities told us they wanted to help other industries out who were not getting subsidies. As a result. solar installations have flatlined in Europe over the last 2-years. Each country has a target date for CO2 emission reductions. Will they meet them? Were the authorities honest? No way.

    It turns out the dirty fossil fuel energy industry lobbied fiercely for local parliaments to kill off those pesky solar subsidies. It was having a major impact to their bottom-line. They got their wish.

    Europe is a willing chump like any other country when it comes to dirty energy. Parliaments threw thousands of businesses and people under the bus to prop up the fossil fuel industry. That is no over estimate.

    We have elections this weekend. Are candidates pushing for a greener environment? Not a chance. By the looks of it, right-wing, pro-USA, pro dirty energy politics will come out on top.

    1. Dan

      Killing off solar subsidies is a key project for the ALEC/Koch/Americans For Prosperity groups in the US as well. It’s happening at the state level though (like in my home state) so it might be flying under Europeans’ radar.

      1. Vatch

        I bet the Koch brothers aren’t trying to eliminate the oil depletion allowance. I guess the oil industry is so new and shaky, they need this huge subsidy to help them get on their feet. Eventually, when the oil industry is well established, maybe they won’t need so much government assistance.

        1. President Costanza

          I suspect the Koch Brothers also want to keep the tax shelter carve outs for oil and natural gas (limitations on passive losses do not apply to oil and gas enterprises), the royalty treatment for royalty income, and many other fossil fuel subsidies.

  2. William

    Good to see this phenomenon pointed out. And it is not just Europe and Canada. The whole world follows the US lead–in all things. When the US was torturing people after 9/11, that gave the green light to any other government. Indeed, the US sought those governments to “partner” with as torture associates. The neoliberal/neoconservative model is eagerly adopted everywhere by those whose only gods are greed and power.

  3. Skeptic

    CANADIANS, “Please own your new identity and stop insulting our intelligence, thanks.”

    Canadians are often pontificating about their “democracy”. Well here is a good example of their democracy. In the recent Quebec election the winner got 41.5% of the popular vote but took 70 of the 125 seats in the legislature. That translates into 56% of the legislature. And with that the Government has an absolute majority. This is Canadian demockracy. It is repeated over and over in Canadian elections yet the average Canadian accepts this system without queston or objection.

    As for CDN healthcare often discussed here by people who know nothing about it, it is riddled with Big Pharma, for instance convicted Racketeer PFIZER, and many of other other Giants of SICKCARE. Also, folks, it is not free but paid for with tax dollars or $$$$ the Government borrows. In addition, those with influence jump to the Head Of The Line and receive treatment at the expense of those with less influence at the rear of the line. Those at the rear may NEVER get to the front. Again, a system unquestioned by Canadians.

    As for “hockey”, it is a game designed for advertisements to shill the usual mega-corporate crap (cars, booze, Fats Foods, fizzy drinks, etc.) which are occasionally interrupted with staged fights by goons.

    1. EoinW

      Yes and no.

      Yes Canada has nothing more than a meaningless pseudo-democracy. We’ve had two referendums in the past 40 years, both in Quebec and both demonized. of course when a referendum on GMO labeling is defeated one has to wonder what’s the point of giving people a choice. But in Canada we get no choice on anything.

      NO, despite endless cuts and an attempt to undermine Canada’s universal health care, it is still very good. I found out for myself this past winter and have no complaints. It may be on borrowed time but it’s still world’s away from what you appear to have in America. Yes it’s paid for with tax dollars that don’t exist. That does make one fearful for its future. At least some of our money goes to do some good. In the USA those same tax dollars go to your military.

    2. Moneta

      Quebeckers because of their language do not fear the US. They kind of embrace it. English Canada is always looking for its own identity which is typically I am Cdn as I am not American. And the line is getting thinner with every new Harper policy.

      I think most Quebeckers have never heard of neo-liberalism but know about neocon. Neocons are usually associated with oil and Alberta.

      Right now neoliberalism is flying high in Quebec but I’m pretty sure not many see it… it looks like their new liberal Doctor will be imposing austerian measures.

      1. EoinW

        Afraid that is very Canadian to say that. My point that Canadians are good at blaming others – especially America – but never take responsibility for themselves.

        Two points: 1) Canadians were in charge of the NHL when they moved its headquarters to NY. Hockey in Canada has always been focused on American funding.

        2) The CFL(Canadian being the biggest oxymoron of them all!). Prior to it’s creation in the early fifties, football in Canada was played almost exclusively by Canadians. Since the CFL taking over the big stars have all been American, with token Canadians sprinkled in to keep up the illusion.

        Sports or politics or whatever, Canadians have a natural talent for selling out – then blaming the Americans for it.

        1. Moneta

          It’s called the rich wanting to get richer and going for economies of scale that don’t exist in Canada. Corporate Canada will always sell us out for that reason. That’s why I believe Canada needs to be socialist to survive.

          The problem right now is that with real estate gains it’s hard to find a socialist… right now many think Canada is doing just fine and that if government was cut, they would be doing even better….

        2. Moneta

          And my point is that if you think it’s hard for Americans to delodge its own elite, imagine the herculean effort you are asking of Canadians to delodge their elite which is beholden to the US elite.

            1. Dan

              That is literally the first time I’ve seen “pardon my French” used in reference to accidentally dropping French into a conversation, and not in reference to this.

              1. Moneta

                LOL! Using wrong words can be considered a profanity on these blogs and I am constantly mixing up English and French words as well as expressions.

    3. Fiver

      Your remarks re Canadian health care are fatuous – of course it’s not ‘free’, it’s universal single-payer provided by each Province from a number of revenue sources, including Federal Government tax dollars. While prescription drug costs are indeed a problem for the shrinking number of people with good employer plan coverage due to neoliberals’ headlong race to the bottom, that can and will change if Canadians vote strategically to evict the Koch Brothers’ main man in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

      Hockey remains the game employing the highest levels of all-around coordination, speed, strength, agility and endurance – only the final minutes of a close game in basketball can compare to the skill and speed and dexterity you’ll see on display throughout a hockey game.

      1. neo-realist

        As an American hockey fan, it bewilders me that the game hasn’t caught on with the masses considering its skill, speed, power, and explosion.

        1. kj001313

          I love hockey but it is far better to watch it in the arena especially since you don’t see the puck when it is along the boards. American Football is built for tv and it has grown with the advent of new tv technology. Also Fantasy Football helps keep many fans interested.

          1. OIFVet

            I love the energy of the United Center crowd, it makes for a great experience. But I disagree that hockey on TV is not as good an experience. For me anyway always seeing the puck is not what counts, watching great athletes move and jostle for position away from the play is just as fascinating. Remember Boland’s cup-winning goal last year? It all started with his movement behind the net. Go Blackhawks! I think hockey’s problem is that it is still perceived as a “white” sport, one for the Palins of the north woods. But that might be changing. Over the past six years I see more diversity in Billy Goat for the pregame beer and burger and in the stands of the UC, and more black kids wearing Blackhawk jerseys.

            1. kj001313

              @OIFVet As someone who is currently watching both NHL Playoffs and the IIHF Tournament I can say we are both hockey obsessed LOL. I have many friends who complain about the viewing experience who enjoy hockey a lot more when we are watching the Rangers at MSG or even watching a minor league hockey game.

              Yup there is more diversity in hockey than ever before and it’s great to see young exciting players like Okposo and Subban. I still think minorities, especially those who are growing up in poorer neighborhoods, will flock to Football & Basketball since there are youth leagues everywhere, easy to play a pick up game and there is the promise of college scholarships down the road.

  4. trish

    re Keystone, it’s not just about climate science cretins, it’s about the oil/gas lobby. And when it comes to obama, congress, both parties, it’s pretty much all about oil/gas companies or the banks or or pharma or whatever corporation.
    No chumps, our govt just playing a leading role in the erosion of wage and environmental protections because profits, and when has profit anytime in the last 50 years been about workers? It’s working for those whom our govt has been working for. And our neoliberalism is going global.
    The chumps are the voters who have voted against their own interests, though in fairness the propaganda has been both insidious and relentless and and our “watchdog” media co-opted.

    1. Dan

      Ah, the eternal “evil and/or stupid” conundrum. It’s hard to tell which at a distance, and each is plausible. Since it’s a tossup I prefer to go with stupid, because the rhetorical framing of mockery is more effective. The powerful might well get off on being ascribed malign intent (Cheney famously loved being called Darth Vader), and going that route credits them with complex thinking & intentional action.

      Mockery does none of that. It makes them look foolish and blundering, and no one gets off on that.

      1. Moneta

        I tend to agree… I am willing to bet that new Dr. Premier in Quebec probably does not consider himself a neolib who has benefitted from all the money printing subsidies of the last 4 decades. He probably genuinely believes he can fix the system.

      2. tim s

        What they get off on is “getting away with it”, and if looking foolish is the best enabler of that, then I’m sure that they have no problem with it. Looking foolish is a pretty effective smokescreen.

  5. Thorstein

    There are some glimmers of hope out there. Nebraska has been bucking Keystone, and I’m happy to report that last week the Collier County, Florida county commissioners voted 5-0 to oppose a new acid-fracking well outside Naples. This is a 180 degree turn-around from a year ago when we protestors were effectively barred from County Commission meetings. We suspect there’s a lot of kayfabe going on here, but even the kayfabe means that Rick Scott, who has been castrating the Florida DEP, thinks he too will be dead meat if he goes into November’s election on a Drill Baby Drill platform.

  6. EoinW

    Only one world is needed to describe Canadians: hypocrites. We are the “holier than thou” grand masters of hypocrisy. The greatest “do nothing” nation for sitting back and passing judgement on everyone else but never looking into the mirror at ourselves.

    The worst thing to happen to Canada/Europe was the election of Obama. Bush had done such a wonderful job of isolating America that eight more years of Republican Presidents and there might have been some refreshing daylight between us and the Amerikaner Reich. Instead Obama’s election(Bush with a smiley face) proved to be perfect political cover for our Quisling leaders to recover the close relationship to the Empire. Do you think Canada would have elected the most Bush like politician(Harper) if a Republican had been in the White House?

    Thus the relationship between America and its allies continues, business as usual. Great for the elites but terrible for everyone else. Please don’t be angry at Canadians. We sell you oil and lumber and other stuff and get potentially worthless green paper in return. At a time when we should be dumping our US dollars and allying with the Asians and the future we are instead still hanging tightly to the Empire’s coat tails. We have enjoyed the ride up. It’s appropriate we down endure the ride down.

    1. Dan

      I’ve never known what to make of the Harper election. At first blush it had a “ships passing in the night” quality – we get rid of our wingnut and you install one of your own. I’d never considered that Obama’s election might have been a catalyst for Harper, and that’s a pretty interesting possibility to consider.

      Re: “don’t be angry,” I don’t really give citizens of a country a whole lot of wiggle room. When we were launching our war of aggression in Iraq I heard a lot of liberals say things along the lines of “lots of us hate this war, ordinary Americans aren’t crazy like their leaders,” etc. Fuck that. You, as a nation, elected those people and you, as a nation, are responsible for what those leaders do.

      1. tim s

        bullshit. there is no real choice regarding the national election for an ordinary citizen. This has been shown in any number of ways. The “leaders” are accountable to noone but their masters. Why do you think that the” leaders” (and masters) of most nations have a massive wall of security between themselves and the citizens? What an asanine statement. The people of most nations are subjects, regardless of how they are referred to, and most subjects have the choice of going with the flow and trying to survive or rebelling at the risk of their life. Given how strong the survival instinct is, it is no surprise that many do not throw themselves headlong into the abyss with a faint hope that the bottom may exist, rather than jagged rocks, a small hole on which the other side is utopia that they may slip through.

        1. Ulysses

          “There is no real choice regarding the national election for an ordinary citizen.” This is absolutely true, yet I would add the caveat that grassroots campaigns– at the local level– can still sometimes succeed in the U.S.

          For example, an unapologetic socialist, Kshama Sawant recently won a city-wide election in Seattle.

          Again in Seattle, the fight for $15 movement just succeeded in moving the city’s minimum wage a lot closer to a living wage:

          It’s not an easy battle, even at the local level, but I for one will keep trying to push within the system locally, while of course working for more radical systemic changes!

          1. tim s

            I agree 100% Ulysses. I was afraid that I implied that we as citizens were powerless when I definitely know that that is not the case. It is our responsibility to do all that is in our power to the best of our ability and if we do not do that, we should be held accountable. That being said, it must be understood that there is only so much that any person or group can do at any given point in time, and for anyone to imply that they are responsible for any more than that can kiss it.

        2. EoinW

          I tend to lean towards people needing to accept responsibility, though I understand your point that there’s much to discourage the average citizen from daring to do anything. Yet the simple fact is that it doesn’t matter what we believe. In the end a terrible price could be paid by all and it won’t matter whether we think they deserved it due to their apathy or they really were innocent victims. I suppose my point would be that in retrospect people might regret just going along with everything. But I don’t consider Dan’s post BS. if anything, he offers the only solution that might have avoided all this. Alas human nature was against that solution ever being acted upon.

    2. Moneta

      IMO, if Canada wants to survive it has to be socialist. We must work harder at everything we do to stay on the treadmill… for example, we are a vast country with not many people so economies of scale are limited. We only get a fraction of the harvests most of the US gets. We could be treating our healthcare system as a revenue center by become a worldwide hub of excellence, instead we treat it as a cost center. I could go on and on…

      Frankly, I don’t see how Canada can remain wealthy without cooperation and Harper is contributing to the focus on natural resources to the detriment of everything else.

    3. JDM

      Canada did elect Harper while Bush was in the White House. Harper’s been in since 2006. More time-traveling by Obama?

      1. Moneta

        Canada is always a decade behind. When the US sneezes, Canada catches a cold… just you wait a few more years when the incubation period is over.

      2. Dan

        Um, sure. Sorry about that, I dashed off my comment with EoinW’s 2nd paragraph as my jumping off point; should have checked out the timeline before posting.

        That said, 2006 was the election year Bush famously called a thumping. The bloom was decidedly off the rose by that point, so the “ships passing” metaphor still holds (I think), just not the Obama as catalyst part.

        1. Moneta

          I would argue that Harper was a response to Bush in the first election and that Obama did have an impact in the next election…

          Canadians voted more “liberal” but their votes got split between the NDP and the Liberals and Harper got his majority with 39% of the votes!

          1. Fiver

            Harper was Bush’s response to Cretien’s (Liberals) wise refusal to involve Canada in the Iraq War. Paul Martin, who succeeded Cretien, was a quintessential Canadian elite player who’d always had excellent relations with the press and power elite. The ‘scandal’ was the revelation the Federal Government under Cretien, not Martin, had spent $30 million essentially advertising ‘national unity’ to avert a perceived national catastrophe (Quebec separation) in the lead-up to a referendum for independence in 1995, some of which went into the wrong pockets. On an objective scale of scandals, 1 to 10, it rated roughly a .05 in terms of the money involved, but was pure gold for the now out-for-blood corporate press and the opposition Conservative Party, with its infant, yet inexplicably very sophisticated, well-oiled, and funding-rich Conservative Party political machine (one with shadowy ties to US neocons and Israel-firsters) and its new far-right wolf in centre-right sheep’s clothing leader, Mr. Harper. He has been actively disliked by most Canadians during his entire tenure, yet for reasons of blind ego, the opposition will not combine to defeat him.

            He immediately set about on a relentless effort to re-make Canada in the image of the worst of the neocon/neoliberal US, and has succeeded in inflicting extremely serious damage to the nation’s future by placing the tar sands, give-away resource extraction, corporate welfare, legalized criminal greed, insane environmental de-regulation and militant pro-Israel/anti-Arab/Islamic policies, at the centre of his Agenda. He has no vision whatever for Canada in any positive, independent sense, just an image of himself (and Canadian oil) on the same level as the Big Boys at the tables of Power – a goal which is profoundly embarrassing to any Canadian who retains a historical memory, i.e., anyone who has consciously observed the long process whereby Canadian history and values have been deliberately obliterated by Canadian servants of US corporate, political, military and media power.

            1. Moneta

              He has been actively disliked by most Canadians during his entire tenure, yet for reasons of blind ego, the opposition will not combine to defeat him.

              Mot of these leaders in the opposition have been riding the monetary coattails for the last 30-40 years and they all have skeletons in their closet . As we have seen, Harper is ready to stoop very low to get what he wants.

      3. EoinW

        Oops! my mistake. The Liberal scandal in Quebec was responsible for that. Harper’s majority came after Bush. Plus the political cover is as much for European leaders as for Canada.

      4. Jim Haygood

        October 2002: Canadian troops deploy to Afghanistan as part of U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom.

        Get in bed with neocons, and you emerge with fleas. And 158 dead Canadian soldiers.

  7. Field Marshall McLuhan

    You’re spot-on that we Canucks have done a lot to tarnish our own image as a nice, quiet, tucked-away society. But let’s not confuse the mendacity and criminality of our economic and political elites with the mass of our citizenry, most of which is simply profoundly stupid, just like everywhere else. We lucked into a position as a huge country flush with resources, with very few people to have to share the wealth around with – and we’ve proceeded to squander our good fortune with gleeful abandon. We all bitch and moan about the oil sands and the horrible consequences of their exploitation…but very few of us are willing to quit driving. (I’m have stopped driving, and will never own a car…but then again, I’m a smug and useless asshole).

    There are quite a few of us who have spent years beating our heads against an increasingly blood-splattered wall trying to get some form of proportional representation set up at the national level. I’ve more or less given up at this point. Democracy is as dead here as it is in the rest of the world.

    1. Fiver

      How very true. Especially since WWII, no people ever had such tremendous fortune as Americans and Canadians, and the abilities, because so very gifted by Nature and circumstance, to once and for all make the world a truly better place, yet both have squandered these once-in-human-history opportunities in pursuit of increasingly wretched, planet-destroying, exceptionally stupid short-term self-interest.

  8. Moneta

    For instance, Canada has been at best ambivalent about building pipelines for its Alberta tar sands. On the one hand, its political and media elite is not only firmly in favor but vigorously lobbying for them. On the other, the combination of grassroots activism and court challenges has made building them in-country dicey
    Alberta has the oil and does not like to share. It went through a couple of decades of tax breaks after the oil price tanked in the 80s and now thinks the ROC is feeding at its teat.

    Many provinces are using this pipeline as a bargaining chip.

  9. kevinearick

    Canada has many advantages, but as to it financial structure….
    the critters all play last to lose, with whatever hand they can acquire…

    1. Fiver

      Agree – Canada is all-in with the Koch Bros (owners of half the leases) on the dirtiest oil there is. When the enormity of that error becomes evident, the banks, insurance companies, pensions and everything else goes with it. Yet go it must.

    1. Fiver

      I’d suggest it’s the gulf between what Canada might’ve been vs what it is now that bothers those with a larger vision.

  10. Joe Jubb

    Take off, eh? Harper is an abomination and Canada will be a better place when he is turfed from office along with his jack-booted minions. Nothing seems to stick to him (sound familiar?) – his bunker-style, dead-eyed, mean-mouthed style reminds me of Nixon in his glory days. Maybe Harper will eventually go down in HIS own little watergate. Will be oil extraction related if I am any judge. Meanwhile, Quebec has swung back towards centre, looks like referendums will be off the books for quite awhile, and that other feckless boob, Rob Ford, will be in therapy a very long time (and maybe move to Hollywood as a reality TV star..). So not all bad news. And before I forget. However you want to cut it, we have national health care that works. Period. You should give it a try. (After all Germany has had it since the late 1800s. Even thru Hitler. So It can’t be THAT hard to do. )

  11. Fiver

    Canada rightly deserves unabashed bashing to exactly the extent its economy, politics, culture and people have emulated or adopted the worst of the worst in values in the US – and there is nothing more noxious than insane pursuit of ultra-short-term wealth for a minority at the cost of the planet, a la the Koch Bros, Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force and the Alberta tar sands. So that’s one well-deserved bash.

  12. Roland

    It’s kind of silly to blame the weaker political entities for the globalist bourgeois phenomenon, although of course the local bourgeoisies are eager participants.

    The reason I say it’s silly is this: if Canadian political leadership wanted a global race to the bottom, but the American political leadership did not, do you think that our world would be characterized by a race to the bottom?

    Of course not.

    Power-politics matter.

    Canada’s last chance of avoiding absorbtion in the global capitalist system was in 1988, long before Harper.

    The 1988 federal election was fought on the Free Trade agreement. Rarely have I seen an election campaign where most people were actually focused on the issues. Voter awareness was good, and turnout at the polls was very high (over 80%).

    The result was clear: Canadians chose to have less sovereignty in exchange for faster GDP growth. They chose higher individual incomes above a separate national economic development.

    Canadians decided to dream of being post-national bourgeois in a global economy. Too few of them were able to figure that only a minority would live that dream.

    Today, of course, Canadians are mostly deeply indebted proletarians, living their powerless lives in a generic satellite state of the Western Bloc.

    As most people in the country have become poorer, more divided, more deeply immersed in global mass culture, and less secure, the country as a whole has become markedly less friendly. Canadians, by and large, are no longer a quiet or compassionate people.

    1. Moneta

      I agree. And to this day most are still blind to their indebtedness thanks to home equity.

      Many boomers are starting to catch on when they start planning for their retirement and realize that their 100K+ mortgage is an impediment… or when they realize that they built themselves a 60K life but they are only generating 30K at retirement.

      One by one eyes will open.

    2. Fiver

      Agree re 1988 Free Trade Deal as a disaster for Canada, but it should be made clear that Canadians were deluged with corporate media blather re the benefits, but told nothing about the downside – which was revealed by a decade of sub-par performance in the ’90’s. In fact, only the global commodity super-cycle set off by soaring Chinese and other Asian demand for raw materials, driving commodity prices sky-high, have allowed Canada to maintain the appearance of a sound economy – whereas in reality it is one Chinese bubble-pop away from real trouble.

  13. digi_owl

    Meh, neolibs don’t have a nation. They have a flag of convenience.

    As such, they play states against states and nations against nations in a race to the bottom.

    Thing is that they have become almost too good at talking to the people on the street in the guise of consumers, with the race to the bottom being presented as a victory for them. This because it will supposedly lead to better and cheaper products.

    But what the neolibs don’t say is that the very same people on the street have a second guise. Those of the workers who have to work longer hours for less pay to produce those very same products.

    In USA it was a race to the bottom about corporate charters and taxes.

    In EU it is a ongoing race about worker rights and wages.

  14. vidimi

    a primary goal of the TTIP is also to allow american companies to license fracking to european companies and break some countries’ stubborn opposition to fracking. countries can’t just frack their soils willy-nilly: american companies own most of the intellectual property involving fracking.

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