Writing the Wrongs
Dissension in the Kampf?
by Sydney White

As I listened to Toronto's 680 News June 3rd, the sacking of Paul Martin was announced. Included were dire predictions of a "government crisis" and a "fall in the dollar" as a result of the white-haired boy being sent down. There were warnings that "The top bankers will be watching to see if Manley can keep the country on track." (The train that leads to Third World conditions and debt slavery must be unhindered.) The final admonition was: "The country could lose faith in the judgment of its government." Really?

The Metro paper's headline pronounced that "Martin had the knack for balancing finances. He was the architect of the recent Canadian economic boom and the man who slayed (my emphasis) the budget deficits that were threatening to bankrupt the country."

Like Tom Brown, let's wade through the translation of Spinspeak -- a language whose nuances and obscurities are on a par with Latin or ancient Sumarian.

Martin's "knack for balancing finances" pertains to his "discovery" that items of public infrastructure were really worth more than one dollar. For decades, every time the government raised a building or built a bridge, the investment was treated as if it were a debt and thrown into the deficit. Legitimate expense accounting was cast aside; there were no public assets depreciating yearly. The excuse for this "idiosyncrasy" in bookkeeping was that "these structures had no stream of income, while in the private sector, they did."

Suddenly, in 1998, that convenient rule was disposed of. For the first time in 40 years or more, the government admitted that we had enormous assets; they removed them from the deficit and placed them where they belonged: in the black. Viola! The scales balanced. The public assumed that this marvellous feat was accomplished by the bloody cuts to social programmes. And no one told them any different. (Martin's undisclosed shift to reality was explained in the May 1998 issue of this newspaper.)

Despite this sleight of hand, Pauley's best shot at the throne failed. Now the barely disguised in-fighting among the dyNASTY has surfaced like sharks to blood. Chretien, after his coup, had to hurriedly pledge his allegiance to the permanent government -- as Lewis Lapham calls the bankers. He would carry on "balancing the budget, reducing the debt, and cutting more taxes."

Notice that no one pledges to pay off the debt; the (s)elected know that the fantasy cannot be stretched that thin.

The "economic boom" is part of that fantasy. Thousands of downsized yuppies and cheated investors now know what the working poor have always known: pyramid schemes need free labour.

As for Martin "slaying the budget deficits", the metaphor itself is evidence that those in command know they are part of an economic Grim(ms) fairy tale. The maiden was sacrificed long ago when our temporary government stopped borrowing at no interest from our own central bank and bent their knees to the "top bankers". Martin is no saint, and the dragon of debt is a self-serving chimera. The "man who would be king", lost.

The important question is: "Do we care?" Martin or Manley -- plus la change, plus la meme chose.

When a country is left in the dark, all cats are grey.

Sydney White is a member of the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform. She teaches Studies in Propaganda at the Free University of Toronto.