Sunday, May 3, 2009

Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine is well-researched and well-written.  I can't say I found it to be a fun read, because the issues she raises are quite disturbing, but sometimes the truth hurts.  For instance, her chapter on torture techniques is stomach-churning (how can people do that to each other?).  However, she crafts her argument to show the evolution of the implementation of neo-liberal policy ideals (market-based policy solutions free from all those stupid government regulations) from torture, to funded-revolt, to the (bland-in-comparison) manufactured crisis.

The hardest part about reading this book is the slow dawning of realization that she's writing about New Brunswick today.  Not to say that she actually writes about New Brunswick, but her argument is very applicable to current events in our province.  Our governments seem less interested in regulating for the people, and more interested in regulating for industry.  In fact, we may just be at the height of our own manufactured crisis.  

Using the current global recession as a backdrop, Shawn Graham's Liberals have passsed a budget with a $700+ million dollar deficit.  They've disguised this as a fiscal stimulus package, failing to point out that with all of this stimulus, there will need to be significant austerity measures (i.e., cutbacks on crazy social spending like literacy and poverty-reduction).  Moreover, the new and flatter income tax structure, which primarily benefits the richest of the rich in New Brunswick, accounts for half-or-more of this deficit (between $300-500 million in lost revenues).

With a Libreal majority and a Progressive Conservative opposition (who are sympathetic to tax decreases) and not an NDP MLA in legislature, barely a peep has been made.  Of course, turning to our newspapers is a joke (although I'll give it a try) because they are owned by the very people who most-benefit from both income and corporate tax cuts - the Irvings.  Some economists in this province believe this may very-well be the end of public healthcare for us in New Brunswick, and the thin-edge-of-the-wedge for the rest of Canada.

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