Free-market dogma led to crisis – opinion/Federal Election/ LETTER TO THE EDITOR – Free-market dogma led to crisis
Oct 01, 2008 04:30 AM

With the turmoil on Wall Street thanks to years of fun with laissez-faire, hands-off economics, and 19 people dead from a disease outbreak in the context of an inspection system that has been forfeited to the food industry itself due to purely ideological, experimental grounds, and a faith that somehow the “market” can solve our climate crisis, it is truly remarkable that poll numbers in both the United States and Canada show that over 40 per cent of the electorate (enough to form a majority government in Canada) in both countries supports more of the same.

News flash: free-market economics does not work, there is no way to run an economy without the hand of government, it is self defeating. Each time it has been attempted, the stock markets face one crisis after the next.

When this policy was exported through Washington ideologues and right-wing think tanks associated with the University of Chicago’s economics department in the 1970s, to countries in other continents, disaster became the word of the day. In stable countries such as Chile and Argentina, democratic governments that were working for the vast majority of their citizens, were overthrown by right-wing dictators funded by the CIA for a variety of reasons, including sometimes raising taxes on American companies doing business in those countries.

Gone were their democracies, in place were new “free” countries where industrialists could do whatever the hell they wanted at the expense of the democratic rights of the people on the ground. This was all sold and coated in the language of freedom and liberty, despite the fact that anyone who voiced their disagreement to such policies were in many cases shot, killed, or “disappeared.”

In Canada, we have a government whose leader studied at the University of Calgary school of economics, taught by professors who had studied at Chicago, under the likes of Milton Friedman, the professor whose idea it was to export “freedom” to Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and elsewhere. The results of failed attempts to rid the economy of government interference in Canada can be seen in the deaths of the 19 people from listeriosis .

David Welwood, Toronto

Nobody should be overly surprised by the latest fiasco in Washington. Whenever we have eight years of Republican rule, this seems to happen. Under Ronald Reagan in the ’80s, we had the savings and loan scandal, followed by the October ’87 stock meltdown, followed by a five-year recession. In the 1920s, three Republican presidents in a row led to the Great Depression.

My guess is Bush was hoping this whole thing would not collapse until after the election. We can only hope Canadians do not fall for the same nonsense from Mr. Harper.

Gary Brigden, Mississauga

Once again we see the ugly face of capitalism. It’s been over three years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Today, whole neighbourhoods are still uninhabitable because there is not enough funding to make the necessary repairs. But, when rich capitalists on Wall Street are concerned about their jobs and golden handshakes, the U.S. president creates panic and urges Congress to quickly pass legislation for a $700 billion bailout. That’s capitalism for you.

Bob Abrahams, Utopia, Ont.

This bailout would in fact save the American taxpayer from mass extinction. If Wall Street does not receive a huge amount of cash from the Feds, than the money lenders of the world will change the dynamics of cash and credit so abruptly that middle America would soon sink to the level of a Third World country, pushing Western culture back at least 80 years. Since the end of the Cold War, our world has been leveling off. Today there are no borders for business. We have become the Olympic motto: One World, One Dream. And you can add to that, Two Classes.

George Rooney, Ancaster

Government policy based on the free-market mantra has resulted in this current economic crisis. You can’t send all the jobs that built Canada and the U.S. offshore and expect to have any kind of health in your economy.

As we wait for the next act to see if the failed free-market policies of Stephen Harper and George W. Bush will damage us even more fundamentally, think long and hard about what kind of country you want. Don’t make these decisions in haste, as the politicians that got us here in the first place try and put on their white hats and suggest that they can get us out of this mess. They can’t. The time for socially conscientious choices is here for both countries.

Dave Trumble, President, Grey-Bruce Labour Council

Let’s put the $700 billion bailout into perspective. It takes roughly a three-foot stack of $100 bills to make a million dollars. A billion dollars would be a stack of $100 bills 3,000 feet high; $700 billion would be a stack of $100 bills 2,100,000-feet high – that’s 398 miles, about the distance between Toronto and Washington. It is also about $2,300 for every American citizen.

An incredible pile of money. No wonder they are in such trouble.

Jim Goodall, Oshawa

While Congress scrambles to raise $700 billion to bail out the greed and excesses of Wall Street, let us consider some very disturbing stastics. The current U.S. adminstration continues to spend over $10 billion a month on an unwinnable war in Iraq. According to Tim Castello, of World Vision, “In February this year alone, Wall Street bonuses totalled more than $33 billion, while total global aid to Africa for all of last year was about $28 billion. And, according to a recent UN report, a mere $700 million is needed to prevent a full-scale famine in the horn of Africa.

When will we get our priorities right? Will the people responsible for this financial mess that’s having a global effect be brought to justice? Or will society continue to turn a blind eye to corporate fraud?

Max Desouza, Toronto

As a Canadian, now living in the U.S., I have never seen such a messed up government. Washington is badly broken. Mr. Harper would love to turn our country into the American way. Is that what Canadians want? Think really hard before you put your X on the ballot.

Miss E. Melito, Deerfield Beach, Fla.

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