Opinion: Let’s talk about the cruel fallout from our economic system


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After reflecting at length on columnist Chris Nelson’s June 24 opinion piece, “Authorized Leftists Ignoring the Needs of the Working Class” (Herald Opinion), I would like the opportunity to respond.

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Being part of the group made up of “green lobbyists, the crowd of college professors, social justice warriors and apologists for all that happens under the sun” allows me to say that I am not incapable to understand “how vital a job is to ordinary people.”

Yes, I have the privilege of having a pension beyond the CPP – something not everyone is lucky enough to hope for. But I also consider this financial advantage as a call to assume a responsibility linked to the public service. As a university professor, I am not alone here. As far as I know, each of my colleagues works extremely hard in teaching, research and service. Are there any who benefit from it? Probably, but I haven’t met them. Nelson writes as if anyone with a decent pension or the so-called security of a government job is living the life of some sort of tax leech, who takes but never returns.

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But to dig deeper into the issue of capitalism and its discontents, my position is that every economic system has its costs and it should be part of the public discourse to bring them to the fore so that the appropriate adjustments can be made. The groups that Nelson seems to be so impatient with are simply trying to do their civic duty by noting some of the current costs of contemporary capitalism.

Yes, jobs are vital for ordinary people, and it is one of the highest prices in our current system that getting and keeping a job is so difficult. Additionally, the challenge comes from the uncertainties inherent in a global marketplace – uncertainties over which employees have no real control. As for employers who can only exist to the extent that they can generate profits in a hyper-competitive environment, they are generally not able to provide their workers with the kind of retirement that would allow them a comfortable retirement.

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Another cost of capitalism is the fear, anxiety and anger that stem from the aforementioned uncertainty. Money that could be used for greater economic security is funneled into health care and even the police to control the toxic fallout of all the human suffering the system seems to generate.

A third cost is the subtle corruption of the soul that comes from basing its success on the failure of another. Yes, I guess we should be proud of our economic achievements – achievements based on ingenuity and hard work. But what about the ingenuity and hard work of its competitors? In this regard, Nelson explains how other countries would take over if Canada lost its competitive edge and its economy “imploded”. Does this imply that other countries would suffer in one way or another if Canada maintained its economic advantage? Are we supposed to feel good about our relative success if it’s related to someone else’s failure?

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There are, of course, other costs (for example, the threat to jobs from increasing automation), but a cost that is not unique to capitalism arises when the problems plaguing a system seem so vast. that those who live there develop an inability to resolve them. constructively and start seeing critics as the enemy. Yes, there is a lot to fear when it comes to going back to the drawing board and rethinking the basic assumptions we have chosen to live our lives. But we obviously have to try; and while some critics of the system might not be on the angels’ side, others want to make things better. Just as American naval hero John Paul Jones once said, “I haven’t started fighting yet,” I feel like we haven’t started talking yet. Let’s get started.

Ronald Glasberg is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Film at the University of Calgary.

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