cj#1120> New Zealand & Canada & Neoliberalism


Richard Moore

Dear cj,

"Neoliberalism", for those readers unfamiliar with the term,
refers to the present-day economic mythology -- that market
forces should reign supreme, that the private sector is in
almost every case to be preferred to the public sector, and
that free trade is an obviously good thing.

If anyone out there actually thinks neoliberalism is a good
idea, then I'm very glad you're reading this.  You have a
lot to learn.  You might start with these books and then
rejoin our discussion:

      Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization Of
      Poverty - Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms,
      The Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia, 1997.

      Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith, eds., The
      Case Against the Global Economy and for a Turn
      Toward The Local, Sierra Club Books, San
      Francisco, 1996.

There may be others who realize that neoliberalism is
destructive of everything human and good in the world -- but
who believe neoliberalism represents a 'failed effort', or a
'mistaken policy'.  No such thing.  Neoliberalism is a case
of hocus-pocus fool-the-masses... don't pay any attention to
the man behind the curtain... a fool is born every minute...
you can fool most of the people most of the time... a Big Lie
is easiest to sell, the emperor has no clothes... in short a SHAM.

Here's an example.

I'm looking at D Korten's "When Corporations Rule the
World", paperback, p. 81...  NAFTA was sold to the U.S.
Congress by many means, and one of them was a set of
computer models, which purported to show that NAFTA was
going to benefit everyone.  Korten lists some of the
assumptions programmed into these models...

    1) Capital is immobile... investors will _not take their money 
       accross the border and invest it there instead.

    2) Labor costs are the same in both countries.

    3) Americans will always clearly prefer American (vs Mexican)
       products even if Mexican products are much cheaper. (And
       similarly for Mexicans re/ U.S. products).

    4) There is always full employment in both countries.

    5) Nothing will ever be imported to (from) Mexico unless it 
       is exactly balanced by an import from (to) Mexico.

Do you get the picture??  These assumptions are not simply
wrong, not simply approximations... they are totally and
absolutlely ABSURD.  If you think Clinton (and his owners)
believed these assumptions, and promoted NAFTA out of error,
then you need a psychological counselor, not an email news

Below are some interesting reports about how neoliberalism
has demolished New Zealand, and how it is now preparing to
drain Canada dry.

bye for now,

Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 12:05:15 -0500
To: •••@••.•••
From: Mark Douglas Whitaker <•••@••.•••>
Subject: more sustainable states: the case of New Zealand

[Forwarded text that shows how structural change facilitates a more
representative polity. Mark Whitaker]

In short:
    1) Neo-liberal privatization schemes only enrich the rich at
    the expense of everyone else;
    2) NZ's experience shows how crucial important proportional
    representation is -- only their adoption of PR enabled them
    to start turning things around (although, as in the US, the
    losses are huge and will take decades to mend)

Key passage:
    The only thing that stopped the zealots from going even
    further was the introduction of proportional representation
    in the early '90s and the subsequent election of minority
    governments [in US English: governments that included
    minority representation].


Financial Post
August 15, 2000
By Murray Dobbin


Vaunted privatization push devastated the country, rather
than saving it.

It has been so long since anyone in the business press has
praised the New Zealand "miracle" it is almost as if we
imagined the whole thing. But, of course, the current
silence is really no mystery. The fifteen year free market
experiment has been an unmitigated disaster. The suffering
caused amongst ordinary New Zealanders is well known: the
highest youth suicide rate in the developed world, the
proliferation of food banks, huge increases in violent and
other crime, the bankruptcy of half the farms in the
country, the economic disruption of hundreds of thousands of
lives and health care, education and other social services
devastated by the mad marketplace scientists.

But, of course, neo-liberal ideologues don't hold much truck
with the human consequences of their experiments. So let's
examine those things they do care about. The revolutionaries
promised to tear down the "debt wall," unleash spectacular
economic growth, spur foreign investment and productivity,
create enormous new wealth and new and better jobs.

They failed on every count. Instead of a brave new economy
they delivered an economic Frankenstein's monster. The
initial wave of changes - deregulation, privatization,
tariff elimination - was justified by the infamous debt
crisis. This was a ruse all along. Even Sir Roger Douglas
admitted this when I interviewed him in 1992. The "crisis"
New Zealand faced post-election in 1984 was a currency
crisis brought on by Douglas himself.

As for the debt in 1984 it was NZ$22 billion but after ten
years of experimenting it had doubled to NZ$45 billion - in
spite of the sell off of NZ$16 billion in state enterprises.
Today it has finally returned to 1984 levels but only
through more crown assets sales.

And economic growth? In the years 1985 - 92 average economic
growth in the OECD countries totalled 20% while in New
Zealand it was negative: -1%. The promised creation of
enormous new wealth went into reverse with real GDP in 1992
at 5% below the ^85-86 level. A burst of growth from1993 to
1995 petered out and steadily declined until it dipped into
negative territory in 1998, posting the fourth worst growth
in the OECD.

The transformation of the economy was supposed to spur
foreign investment but it mostly meant a feeding frenzy on
domestic corporate assets. In 1993 the proportion of GDP in
investments was just 70% of what it was in 1984.

The restructuring of the economy failed most dramatically on
the unemployment front and the country has never managed to
get back to any where near the 1984 level of 4%. The
"workless and wanting work" figure peaked at over 18% in
1993. In 1999 that figure had only been reduced to 11.2%.

The radicals also promised increases in productivity but
again they failed to deliver. After eight years of
restructuring and massive labour deregulation New Zealand's
productivity began a steady decline compared to its
neighbour, Australia. From 1978 to 1990 the rates had been
similar. The gap steadily increased between1990 and 1998
with Australia posting a 21.9 % increase and New Zealand
just 5.2%.

Only the wealthy in New Zealand could see any success in
this destructive exercise in social engineering. Between
1984 and 1996 only the top 10% of income earners measurably
increased their share of total income. The lowest 10% lost
21.6% of their 1984 income. Over 50% of the total working
population had lower real income in 1996 than in 1984.

There are lessons from New Zealand, but they do not involve
adopting that tortured country as a model.

The first lesson is that the unfettered application of
ideology is inevitably destructive -- not just of democracy,
social peace and equality but of the economy. Even as the
revolution continued to deliver disastrous results its
promoters claimed it was because it had not gone far enough.

The second lesson is that parliamentary democracy Anglo-
Saxon style has proven extremely vulnerable to the ravages
of ideology. A virtual executive dictatorship can implement
policies that are never even debated during elections - as
happened in New Zealand in 1984. The only thing that stopped
the zealots from going even further was the introduction of
proportional representation in the early ^90s and the
subsequent election of minority governments.

And that leads to the last lesson. Globalization is not
inevitable nor irreversible. The current New Zealand
government (a coalition of a chastened Labour Party and the
left-wing Alliance) is unfortunately still committed to
signing free trade and investment agreements. But it is
reversing many of the most destructive policies. Included in
this re-think is the reversal of privatisation of Accident
Compensation Insurance, an immediate rise in pensions, a
halt to sale of state houses and a commitment to rebuilding
the state housing stock, the appointment of review committee
on electricity pricing, the freezing of tariffs on clothing
and footwear, and the re-recognition of unions.

The pity is that New Zealanders had to suffer through so
much in the first place.


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Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 18:11:32 -0400
From: Steve Kurtz <•••@••.•••>
X-Accept-Language: en
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: Coopers List <•••@••.•••>,
        RunningOnEmpty <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Blue Gold:The fight for Canada's water has only begun


By Jim Hightower
Utne Reader <http://www.utne.com/magazine/freeissue.html> 

Should we invade Canada with armed forces? Sure, they're
nice people, and ever so peaceable. (It's going to be hard
to work up much xenophobic hatred toward a country that
thinks "jeepers" is an expletive, and that has "Be Polite"
in its constitution.) But Canadians have something we need,
and I don't mean hockey players. "Blue gold," it's been
dubbed by a Canadian newspaper, but it's far more valuable
than that implies, because the world can do without gold.

Water. That's what Canada has that parts of our country and
much of the world might literally kill for.

Hell, you say, water's everywhere. Yes, but as Canada's
Maude Barlow points out, less than half of 1 percent of all
the water on the globe is drinkable. An author and agitator
for common sense, Barlow heads the Council of Canadians and
is founding chair of Action Canada Network, two grassroots
groups working for progressive policies. "Worldwide, the
consumption of water is doubling every 20 years," she writes
in a stunning report called "Blue Gold: The Global Water
Crisis." In a very short while, most of the world's people
will face shortages or absolute scarcity. This is not a
matter of seeing more stories of wretched African children
dying in horrible droughts, but of imminent water crises in
America (the Southwest, Florida, and California especially),
Southern Europe, India, England, China, and other nations
not usually thought of as facing massive water shortages.
Canada, on the other hand, has a blessing of agua fresca.
Some 20 percent of the world's entire supply of freshwater
is in its winding rivers and countless lakes. This reality
has not dawned on Canadians alone; others are casting their
eyes northward. But it's not countries making invasion
plans--it's corporations.

To get their hands on the gold, the corporate grubbers first
have to change how drinking water is managed. Instead of
letting countries treat it as a commonly held resource
allocated for the general good, they want it considered as a
commodity traded by private investors for profit. Like oil
or pork bellies . . . only this is your drinking water they
want to privatize. Will it surprise you to learn that those
bratty globalization twins, NAFTA and the World Trade
Organization, contain provisions that advance the commodity
concept? Both baldly assert that "water, including ordinary
natural water of all kinds," is merely one form of "goods,"
subject to the new rules of global trade.

We're talking about bulk sales here: not Evian, but whole
lakes and aquifers bought and mined, rivers siphoned off,
the Great Lakes themselves on the market. Barlow and others
report that multinationals are ready to use supertankers,
pipelines, canals, river rerouting, and other mammoth
schemes to shift the product from the water-rich to those
willing to pay top dollar:

o Nordic Water Company totes H2O from Norway to thirsty
Europe across the sea in giant, floating plastic bags.

o Global Water Corporation, a Can-adian firm, has cut a deal
with Sitka, Alaska, to haul 18 billion gallons of water per
year from nearby Blue Lake to China--"Water has moved from
being an endless commodity that may be taken for granted to
a rationed necessity that may be taken by force," says GWC's
chilling statement.

o The Great Recycling and Northern Development Canal
involves building a dike across James Bay to capture water
from 20 rivers that feed it, converting the bay into a giant
reservoir, then building a network of canals, dams, and
locks to move the water 400 miles south to Georgian Bay,
where it would be "flushed through" the Great Lakes into
pipelines that would take it to America's Sun Belt for lawn
watering, golf course sprinkling, and other essentials.

o The McCurdy Group of Newfoundland hopes to "harvest" some
13 billion gallons of water a year from one of that
province's lakes, pipe it to the coast, pump it into old oil
tankers, and ship it to the Middle East for a hefty profit.

o One Monsanto executive, seeing a multibillion-dollar
business opportunity, says bluntly: "Since water is as
central to food production as seed is, and without water
life is not possible, Monsanto is now trying to establish
its control over water. . . . Monsanto [has launched] a new
water business, starting with India and Mexico, since both
these countries face water shortages."

"Canada," barked editor Terence Corcoran of the Financial
Post in a 1999 editorial, "is a future OPEC of water"; he
urged that the country begin trading this commodity. But
thanks to citizen groups like Maude Barlow's, the Great
Canadian Water Sale-a-Thon has yet to begin; their vigilance
has produced a temporary moratorium on bulk sales. This
might be a good place to add that Maude, and Canadians
generally, are not saying, "It's our water and the rest of
the world can go suck eggs." To the contrary, they are
pushing for a public policy of sharing their bounty to meet
the global water crisis, allocating water particularly to
help those in need.

But the pressure is intense to simply let "the market"
decide who needs it. And the big stick of "free trade" is
being wielded to turn the water loose. Sun Belt Water Inc.,
based in Santa Barbara, California, has filed the first
NAFTA water case. It had an agreement with a British
Columbia company to ship water in tankers from B.C. to
Southern California. But such an outcry ensued when the
scheme became public that the provincial government enacted
a moratorium on all water exports.The corporation sued
Canada in 1998, claiming that its future profits were
"expropriated" by British Columbia's export moratorium and
that, under NAFTA's Chapter 11, the nice people of Canada
owed it $468 million.

Money isn't enough, though. Sun Belt CEO Jack Lindsey is
also outraged at what he perceives as Canadian stinginess:
"California has 33 million people--more than the entire
population of Canada. This is expected to double in the next
20 years, and they have been living in a permanent drought
condition. In 20 years, the shortfall in California will be
4 million acre-feet of water [per year]--1 percent of what
spills into the Pacific Ocean from British Columbia--and
they're saying 'Sorry, you can't have it?' " Such a
humanitarian. Jack just wants a few drops for California's
poor parched people.

What a crock. Bulk water deals have nothing to do with
global need and everything to do with global greed.
Privateers will deliver the water to whoever will pay the
most--like Silicon Valley's water-gobbling high-tech comp-
anies and agribusiness corporations that suck up aquifers
like insatiable sponges. Then there is Lindsay's snide
comment about water that just "spills into the Pacific
Ocean," a common refrain, as if water that isn't being used
commercially is being "wasted." Never mind that water
running to the sea is essential to the ecological cycle,
delivering nutrients, sustaining fishing economies,
replenishing wetlands, and doing much more useful chores
than fattening the wallets of would-be water barons.

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Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
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