Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pen Meets Paper March 23 '09

Opinion by Helge Nome
Lately, I have been a rather avid reader of the works of economist John Kenneth Galbraith who had his beginning in rural Canada and has since risen to world wide prominence in his profession. Among other things, as a young man he was responsible for price controls during WWII in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration in the U.S.
In his book, Economics and the Public Purpose published in 1973, Galbraith writes about the rise of the “corporation” and its bullying effect on the rest of us. Moreover, he notes how the boards of these corporations are becoming less and less effective in guiding the organization until they end up as rubber stamps for decisions made by executive staff members who increasingly look after their own interests at the expense of both shareholders and consumers of their products.
And wasn't he ever right! Look at AIG and its arrogant and greedy executives who walked away with wads of public money confiscated from the public by a corrupt federal administration.
Over the years the quality of the people who have entered public life, both here in Canada and in the U.S., has gone down hill to the point where those that make it into paid office simply carry out the will of the cliques that run the large corporations. So, the wants of Big Food, Big Pharma, Big Energy, and above all, Big Finance, overrule the needs of us, the real shareholders in what is being produced.
On the federal level here in Canada my point has recently been supported by statements made by the Right Honorable Prime Minister Stephen Harper in regard to the Canadian economy and its relative immunity from the global economic downturn. Harper lays claim to being an economist but was quickly corrected by David Dodge, former Governor of the Bank of Canada (which, by the way, belong to us) who said that the severity of the global crisis should not be underestimated and that Canada is very vulnerable to world events. And you don't need to be a scholar to figure that out with some 80% of Canada's exports going to the U.S.
And finally, here in Alberta we now have Bill 19 which seeks to bulldoze Albertans out of the way of Big Energy, whenever it suits the Minister, with no recourse other than being arrested if you pipe up too much against the Minister's pleasure. It reminds me of something that actually happened in Britain a number of years ago: His Lordship was getting tired of the view from his balcony being spoiled by a part of the local village appearing in his line of sight. So he ordered it razed and replaced with suitable vegetation. Is that what we want?

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