HOW DOES CAPITALISM SURVIVE WHEN IT APPEARS HELL-BENT ON SELF-DESTRUCTION?
I just finished a three year stint at College here in the Niagara Region of Canada. After three years, I will soon be the proud possessor of two Community College Diplomas, one in General Arts and Sciences, and one in Social Service Work. Luckily for me, I still do not need to work full time in the local labour force, with its dumbed-down mostly non-unionized wages in the service sector, where I would not even be able to earn enough money to cover my monthly living expenses, as was the case when I ventured into the labour force when I first moved here in September of 2013 and briefly took a stab at establishing a beachhead of an employment history in the area by working at such establishments as Call Centres.
The bottom line is that after just under four years of living in this area, I have essentially been living off of my personal savings and inheritance for most of the time since I got here, having summarily ploughed through roughly $80 000.00 in savings in that time, and having been summarily disqualified from government student loans because of said assets. I briefly was able to get income support from the Canadian government in 2013-14 after a protracted fight, in the form of Employment Insurance (EI), formerly known as Unemployment Insurance (UIC) in the good old days of gold-plated government entitlements. This income support gave me a total of roughly $1100.00/month, whereas my cost of living was roughly $2200.00/month, which was pretty basic. So I had to eventually dip into my life savings and family legacy to make ends meet, and have been living off of it ever since.
I managed to get some employment while I was studying at College, for which I was very grateful, but it was woefully insufficient to cover even my most basic needs such as rent and food. I got a six day contract working for the Ontario government at a polling station during the 2014 Provincial election, for which I was very grateful. I earned some self-employment income from some translation contracts back in Quebec City, which brought in several hundred dollars. I got a minimum wage part time contractual job at my Community College where I studied working as a Student Assistant at the International Department as well as at the various Orientation sessions at the beginning of each semester.
I also won a total of $5 500.00 worth of private, external scholarships from a variety of philanthropic foundations, for which I had to apply to a total of roughly sixty organizations to get five scholarships! So essentially, what I am saying is that I am glad that I was in possession of the personal, private wealth which I had and still have, because, if I had relied on government largesse to fulfill my basic needs, or much less, relied upon the vagaries of capitalism, such as it is in the current state of the Niagara Region, the Quebec/Windsor Corridor, and the American Northeast and Midwest, I would have starved long ago, for want of the ability to supply the monetary ability to fulfill my most basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.
After crunching the numbers every year for the last decade and a half, I have come to the realization that my cost of living has gone up considerably, but my standard of living has dropped considerably as well, seeing that I have transitioned from being a wage-earner who was one notch above the poverty line in Quebec City, holding down anywhere from three to four jobs at any given time of the year so as to be able to earn the requisite $2000.00/month in employment income I needed to keep my head above water, to being first a wage earner, then a student in the Province of Ontario, where the level of taxation is lower, but the level of government services is also comparatively lower than in Quebec for low to moderate income earners such as myself.
I used to be able to get by annually on an income of $25 000.00 roughly, with a monthly budgetary outlay of roughly $2000.00, to living in Ontario, where my costs for car insurance increased dramatically, and my grocery bill as well as energy costs continue to climb, to the point whereby, before the cost of education, my monthly budget was now up to roughly $2300.00/month. After adding the cost of education, I am now up to roughly $3000.00/month in living expenses, for an annual outlay of $35 000.00.
Which brings me finally to the subject of this piece. If the cost of living keeps going up, then why does the so-called ‘Free Enterprise’ system keep making it more and more difficult for the average working person or student to make ends meet? Why is it, that in the name of ‘creating wealth’ and ‘helping wealth-creators create more wealth’, our governments are passing more legislation, at the behest of these same so-called ‘wealth creators’, to essentially rob working people of what little wealth and entitlement they ever had, and to almost literally take the food right out of their mouths and to prevent working people to not only be able to earn a decent living, but to be able to find a well-paying job at all which will enable them to support themselves and their spouse and children?
It would seem that ‘Free Enterprise’ is all about enabling those that already own property and have a certain amount of wealth, to be able to arrogate more of the same to themselves, at the expense of those who heretofore had been able, in days gone by, to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, through the time-honoured instruments of hard work and class-struggle, including utilizing their freedom of association and freedom of conscience to form labour unions and enter into collective bargaining relationships with their employers so as to ameliorate their standard of living.
It would appear that now, ‘Free Enterprise’ is all about destroying the fundamental basis upon which a sustained and sustainable level of consumer spending through Fordist-levels of purchasing power, was edified after WWII, when business, labour and government essentially replicated the fundamentals of the Roosevelt New Deal which had been implemented in war time, subsequently in the Post War era.
Why is that? What does ‘Free Enterprise’ really gain by destroying the middle class, and also destroying the very social and cultural fabric upon which a healthy market economy is predicated? People with good-paying jobs who can afford to make healthy eating choices and healthy living and other lifestyle choices are a lot less likely to engage in deviant behaviour such as consuming crystal meth or crack cocaine or engaging in theft or robbery to support a drug habit because they are poor and jobless and see no hope living in an America or Canada which has turned its back upon them and abandoned their community by shutting down all the factories so as to go ‘create wealth’ somewhere else where there are no unions and where the ‘wealth-creators’ don’t have to do anything annoying like sharing their wealth through having better wages, benefit plans and pension plans.
So, in the final analysis, I have to wonder, if capitalism is all about ‘creating wealth’, then why are there so many more poor people in society? Is it because capitalism is all about ‘creating wealth for the few?’ Or is it because it is about the ‘concentration of wealth’, or ‘accretion’ of wealth and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many? And if so, why are we still being led to believe in the essentially false doctrine that the structurally flawed process of ‘wealth creation’, such as it is construed presently, is supposedly some sort of magically virtuous and ideologically ‘pure’ form of doctrine and dogma concerning the so-called ‘invisible hand of the market’, and that all of the Adam Smith ‘Wealth of Nations’ dogma and doctrine from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which have essentially been hijacked by the neo-conservative ideologues and demagogues of Wall Street, who have essentially foisted a bourgeois anti-mercantilist form of republican industrial era agenda, and have updated it slightly from the 1980s onward to reflect the financial imperatives of the Wall Street barons at Goldman Sachs et al., are some sort of postmodern update of Weberian Protestant Work Ethic theological/socio-economic virtue for the ‘elect’ members of society who have found favour with the gods of high finance through their privileged relationship with their Creator?
Because if this is the case, then may God have mercy on our immortal souls, because surely we are not to believe any longer that Capitalism, left totally unfettered by the laws of man or God, being of a mind to maximize pecuniary gain while minimizing cost, would in any way show itself capable of being able to be beneficial in ‘creating wealth’ for all humanity. This I argue because Capitalism is structurally deficient and flawed in that since it seeks to minimize the costs of production of goods and services (in the name of ‘efficiency’ and ‘productivity’), and that the biggest single cost of production for any capitalist is labour, ergo, the ultimate goal of capitalism and of the individual capitalist and capitalist enterprise is the absolute reduction if not total elimination of the human element in the process of production of goods and services through the reduction and eventual elimination of the cost of labour through full automation of production.
However, conversely, Capitalism’s ultimate goal, subsequent to having sought to totally eliminate the cost of labour through full automation, thereby starving the market mechanism and the market economy and the social and cultural fabric of society of billions of dollars in potential purchasing power through lost wages, is to then turn around and seek to sell its goods and services which it has manufactured in fully automated factories, to legions of mindless ‘consumers’ with great gobs of discretionary income, which they have earned obviously elsewhere than in the production of goods and services, to purchase their goods and services in an exponentially or linearly increasing quantity ad infinitum.
I can see at least a couple of minor flaws in this scenario to say the least. This situation obviously is leading to a global growth in neo-feudal style debt peonage, as wage earners in manufacturing countries in the east and south do not earn enough to buy what they are producing, and wage earners in consumer countries no longer for the most part earn enough either to buy what is being produced overseas. Sounds like a recipe for the perfect storm for global financial and economic collapse and self-destruction if you ask me.
But what do I know? I just live here. I’m not a ‘Wealth Creator.’ Maybe I don’t ‘get it.’ Maybe there is some grand master hoodoo voodoo New World Order, Bilderberger Group/Council on Foreign Relations/Trilateral Commission/Skull and Bones/Masonic/Zionist/United Nations/Rothschild/Papist/Illuminati/Mafia/Alien Agenda type of deal going on inside some secluded mountain resort in Austria or Switzerland or Brazil or the Caribbean or wherever these dudes meet.
Anyways, I’ll let them figure that out. Meanwhile, I still have to deal with life on life’s terms and living one day at a time. I didn’t drink or use today and I loved God and loved my neighbour as myself. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Take care folks.