From Empires to Anarchy

We would not remember these scenes. This is from the Great Depression. It doesn’t take an economist to determine that we, in North America, are well on our way to another Great Depression that would make the original seem like halcyon days.

The politicians would have you believe that our economies, Canada and the US, are on their way to a slow but steady recovery. Don’t believe a word of it. Use your heads, use your common sense and look around. We used to be countries of manufacturers, export – we used to be economic powers; real economic powers, with actual cash, not computer print-outs. We could buy because we could sell. We could buy because we had the labour force required to create goods.

We have nothing to sell anymore. And our labour force? We have unions, we have medical and dental insurance for the workers, and we have lunch rooms, 8 hour days, paid overtime. We have paid vacation and statutory holidays. We have maternity leave, we have paternity leave. We have paid sick days and disability insurances. All of which take away from the manufacturers’ bottom line; their main and only concern, a high profit margin. It is financially stupid to manufacture anything in North America anymore.

Labour is far more plentiful, far, far cheaper and less demanding in China, in Indonesia, in India. You better believe there is no medical or dental insurance, no paid holidays or breaks. No compensated overtime. And so, this is where the manufacturing sectors have gone. They have flown the North American coup to the east, where they can be assured a very high profit margin. Sentimentality and national pride have nothing to do with business. They aren’t in business to play nice; they are in business to make money, and that is the sole purpose of business, to make money.

Anyone with a modicum of common sense and intelligence understand this concept; we may not like it but we understand it. It simply makes good business sense. You go where there is low overhead, where the liability that comes with a workforce is kept to a minimum, where safety, health standards don’t drain the company coffers.

Now, stop – look around. Very, very little of what we buy is actually made in North America. We have gone from a market with extremely strong exports and a reasonable amount of imports, to a continent that relies on exports for our very survival but if we are not exporting, how is our economy going to survive? How can we survive when we spend more money importing than we earn by exporting? The answer is simple, we won’t survive. Not much longer. Oh the robber barons, the uber-rich have made their money – their futures are secured but our futures? The futures of our children? They are dismal.

Our wealth is a glamour, created by numbers on flickering boards in the stock market, manipulated by Finance ministers and others whose very livelihood depends on how well they lie to us. We have built a house of cards and in the very near future, your house and my house will come tumbling down. If you were to lose your job tomorrow, if the banks and credit companies called in their loans to you? Would you join the ranks of the homeless? Of course you would. Statistics show us that we are all living far beyond our means. What about your RRSP’s? Mutual funds? Investments in the North American economy? You stand to lose everything, every single cent that you have managed to squirrel away because that money is simply a collection of binary codes in a computer. When the economy fails and the investments you have fall? There will be no way to rescue them, to re-invest because there will be nothing left, here, to invest in.

I am not a conspiracy theorist; I am not a Chicken Little who sees the sky falling at every turn. I am not storing toilet paper and tins of beans in a mountain cabin somewhere. No. I work in the import/export business and in all honesty, every day scares me just a little more. We are a continent that needs, not a continent that provides anymore. We need. We need everything brought to us by containers, by aircraft, from far off lands. We need the things that we used to manufacture for ourselves. There will be no construction industry because there will be no construction. There will be no retail industry because there will be no money left to buy. Schools will begin to crumble because there will be not be enough tax money to keep them going, only folks with jobs can pay taxes and without the manufacturing sector to shore everything up, there will be no jobs. Same with the hospitals, nursing homes, long term care facilities and let’s not forget universities; no tax money means they too will fall.

The import/export – freight forwarding world saw the implosion of the American economy coming long before it happened. There is another one, on the way, far bigger than this one. Our society as we know it now? Finished. No more running out to buy the new IPhone, or picking up the latest DVD. Forget buying clothing at malls – we’ll be lucky if Good Will and the Salvation Army can keep up with the demand in the short term and this, this will be very long term. No more fast food meals or restaurants. No more cases of beer or bottles of wine. There will be NO redemption, no fixes by dream politicians. The manufacturing sector has gone and they won’t be back, not in our life time anyway. Not until we have known real poverty of the sort that exists in the so-called Third World countries. When we accept less than is being offered in those places? Then maybe, just maybe, the manufacturers will return but we’ll never see the lifestyles we have known. We are the emperor right now and babies…we have no clothes, they were all bought on credit and the piper is here to be paid.

*As a brief aside to the politicians?  Now that you’ve managed to sell our natural resources to foreign interests?  When the walls come a’tumblin’ down on you?  Don’t expect them to hold out a helping hand.  Not only is labour cheaper in other nations but so are dishonest politicians.*

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