Budget time is here. And by now, we have all heard it a million times. Consumer spending is the ticket to stimulating the economy. But how do we reconcile that with the fact that consumerism and unbridled credit-driven spending are a good part of what got us into both the economic and environmental crises we now face?
It is unlikely that Harper or Flaherty get this but thanks to coalition politics, even they will have to pay lip service. The answer to our current economic challenge is to use government money wisely to make sure that the most vulnerable among us don't drop out of economic activity. This is not just a charitable or social justice perspective. This is hard-nosed economic necessity. The Depression was all about people losing their jobs and through poverty, dropping out of economic activity. That is what turned the stock market crash into a depression. The government spending on the New Deal was all about bringing the unemployed back into the economy so that there would be a market place where money could circulate again.
The weird thing about times of crisis is that so many invisibles become plain as the nose on our faces. The environmental crisis has made it clear that unbridled exploitation of the natural world is really a threat to ourselves. The economic crisis shows us how poverty and the increasing impoverishment of the unemployed is likewise, the demon we must control or it will doom us ALL to prolonged economic difficulties.
Social justice and environmental transformation are the two legs that, working together, can give Canada's future something to stand and walk tall into the future on. Let's settle for nothing less.
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