The need for compassionate capitalism
The world may be on the verge of a socio-economic crisis. The US and Europe are facing huge financial problems. Thousands of people have been protesting throughout the Middle East for fundamental rights such as democracy, free speech, a free press, and an independent judiciary. The Asian markets are essentially helping Canada stay afloat and not enter into a deep recession. Countries all over the world including western governments are going to be forced to cut spending and balance their budgets during a time when a fiscal stimulus wouldn’t hurt.
Social programs will probably be the first to go. This may compound social problems as citizens start to rebel. We have already seen the UK shaken by riots in part I believe due to its government’s economic policy and social program cut backs. Social programs are the glue that keep the people content with the status quo. If you starve the people of their basic necessities then many will find a way to get back what they lost one way or another. The strongest and smartest survive.
Any government policy that is seen as oppressing the majority of its people may lead to a public revolt . In BC, the Liberal government could not even pass the HST without a backlash. Times are changing and some say for the better.
So what is Stephen Harper to do? Well he can shelve his love of right wing ideology and adopt what I like to call “compassionate capitalism.” This refers to a mixed economy with private and public ownership but still maintaining the capitalist mode of production; promotion of human rights and ethical decision making including the creation of clean, green, environmentally friendly industries; continued investment in federal social programs such as CPP, OAS, and EI; support protections for workers and the creation of new jobs; help to moderate the booms and busts of the free market with government interventions; and the development of crown corporations to provide national security in key sectors of the economy especially water and food security.
This compassionate capitalism approach will help maintain the quality of life of all Canadians and preserve the socio-economic base of the nation.
The wealthy also have to do their part. A recession is actually good for people with money because they can buy everything up at fire sale prices. The government needs to take steps to encourage the wealthy and corporate elite to wipe out the debt and deficit and help stabilize the economy. This is in everyone’s best interests especially the rich who have a lot to lose if Canada defaults on its debt or has its credit rating downgraded like the US.
Time for Stephen Harper to adopt a compassionate capitalism approach for Canada.