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The photo on top is my spouse Muriel on the left and my sister Taeko on the right taken in South Africa. Picture on the right is me, Tad Mitsui and my cat, George.
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ECONOMY SHOULD NOT BE JUST ABOUT MONEY
In June 6, 2014, Canadian Prime Minister stood before the media defiantly declared that he would never risk Canadian economy and jobs for the sake of environment. He had his soul mate Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on his side to stand up against Barak Obama’s bold move to curb the carbon emission. Meanwhile, on June 10 in the Lethbridge Herald, there was a glossy special insert, which was all about business in Lethbridge. And I said to myself: There is something missing in the notion of economics from what I think it should be part of.
I thought economy meant more than capital, finance, productivity, profit, and the like. In my “ECONOMICS 101” class sixty some years ago, I heard that the word economy came from a Greek word “OIKONOMIA ” and that it meant the management of a home (OIKOS). I don’t like the way people defined the word OIKONOMIA into something too narrow and yet too complicated. They say, economy is bigger than a household. It’s about “macro economics”: It’s about a city, or a country, or even the world. And it’s all about money. I don’t buy that. What about welfare of people?
Economy, to me, should also be about fairness and other warm and fuzzy stuff like happiness and compassion. Without those qualities I will not be a sucess in the management of my family household. I hope that such a notion of economy is applied on the macro level as well. Warm and fuzziness should extend to towns and cities and countries not just my home. If you apply a narrowly defined meaning of economy, you can call China most successful. But where is freedom?
Of course, it’s about money too. You need money to have basics to be sure. Without money you suffer humiliation and indignity. But on the other hand, when the CEO on the top is compensated three hundred times more than what an average worker of the same company, and it is considered to be normal, there is something wrong with this notion of economy. Where is fairness? If it is about maintaining that kind of system, I don’t want to be any part of it. We need oil; we need gas to run my car; yes, we need money for sure. But that should not be the bottom line of the story of economy.
Temporary Foreign Workers
Conservative movements always seem to have the same quandary. Industries say that unrestricted free labour market is essential to stay competitive. But the libertarian base wants none of it: the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) brings in too many non-European faces. Jason Kenny is caught between two camps among the Conservatives over the TFWP. He tried to appease the base by tightening up the TFWP, which in turn angers the industries. History proves that xenophobia of the libertarian variety destroys competitive edge of any economy. So Mr. Kenny somehow must find the way to please the Conservative rich friends, while hanging on to the support from the libertarian (Reform Party or Wild Rose) base.
I have observed the same catch-22 in other times and places. The Dunsmuir Collieries brought in cheap Japanese labour to the coal mines on the Vancouver Island during the late 19th Century. It angered the conservative base and the racists in B.C. It made them turned against the Eastern establishment and the Federal Government. When fishermen on the B.C. coast struck against the processing plants demanding higher price for their salmon catch, the industry brought in Japanese fishermen as scabs to break the strike in 1901, it angered both the labour left and the racist right. Resentment festered until the racist riot in Vancouver in 1907 against Chinese and Japanese.
Apartheid in South Africa was introduced to appease the Calvinist Afrikaners who felt that it was their mission to establish Christian European country in Africa. But the industries were unhappy because it created an expensive skilled labour pool: it was reserved only to whites. Apartheid economy was unsustainable in the global market. That was why big money like the Oppenheimer and the De Beer were supporting the Liberal Party of South Africa against Apartheid.
Now a tighter TFWP is threatening Mr. Harper’s pride and joy, Free Trade with India. India’s IT sector demands free flow of highly-skilled IT workers between Canada and India. What is the Harper government going to do?
It is just like an in-fight within the same GOP in the United States between the Republican Party main stream and the Tea Party libertarians over undocumented immigrants.
I believe that the immigration policy open equally to everyone is a key to a successful economy. Everyone should have equal rights in Canada: a key to a successful country.