Recession? Depression? Market adjustment? Billion-dollar bailouts? Just what is happening to the economy? Like the rest of the industrialized world, Canada is in the midst of an economic crisis that is cleary of global proportions. Yet, Nobel Prize winning economists failed to see it coming. This is unsurprising since, in the words of the newly humble Alan Greenspan, the crisis revealed “a flaw in the model … that defines the way the world works.” Bankruptcies and Bailouts explains the roots of this economic disaster. The essays in this book show, in clear and accessible language, that the global capitalist economy, dependent on hyper-extended credit, fuelled by systematic deregulation and rooted in the contradictions of a mad drive for unlimited profits, must inevitably end up in this predicament. The authors also demonstrate that there are ways out of this economic mess that do not involve simply bailing out the obscenely over-paid executives whose decisions led us to this chaos.
Work, Welfare, and the New Economy
The so-called New Economy, based on huge advances in information and communication technologies, economic globalization and neoliberalism, promised to expand economic opportunities and growth, provide stimulating and well-paid jobs, reduce inequalities and develop the Third World. But the experiences of the past two decades have hardly been positive for workers and their families. While there have been significant economic and workplace changes, these changes have not been the boon to working people that was predicted. In fact, as the authors of this book show, there is significant unemployment and underemployment, including for knowledge workers. Management strategies continue to be authoritarian, and work presents new dangers to our health. Meanwhile, social services have been ripped apart. “New Economy” is simply the name being given to current attempts to reboot a very old and exploitative economic system. However, there are signs a truly new economy is possible, as trade unions, working people and progressive social movements continue the struggle for social justice.
Social Policy in a Market Society
Social policy is about citizens choosing the kind of society they want to live in. The mid-20th Century Keynesian welfare state can be seen as a citizenship package which included acceptance of intervention by the state to maintain economic growth and social stability, that meant the inclusion of many previously excluded groups in the social policy process and the institutionalization of a collective responsibility for individual welfare. But, with the ascendancy of neo-liberalism, the politics of citizenship is being replaced by a notion of citizens as consumers, whose medium of social interaction and source of economic and social security is the capitalist market.