Chrystia Freeland: Mental Retard Or Political Turncoat?

Chrystia Freeland doesn’t just reside in Canada. She also inhabits Cloud Cuckoo Land.

The latest news on the ‘Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement’ (CETA) is that the European Union says it’s hopeful it will still go ahead despite being blocked by Walloon and two other French-speaking areas of Belgium. This will please the Canadian Minister for International Trade, Chrystia Freeland, who’s been pushing hard to clinch a deal with the E.U..

It’s difficult to comprehend why Ms Freeland is so keen to hand Europe and Canada over to the corporations, given that back in June 2013 she gave a talk condemning plutocracy and suggesting “we [the people] need a New Deal.” Below are some excerpts:

…we’re living in the age of surging income inequality, especially at the top. What’s driving it, and what can we do about it?

One set of causes is political: lower taxes, deregulation, particularly of financial services, privatization, weaker legal protections for trade unions, all of these have contributed to more and more income going to the very, very top.

A lot of these political factors can be broadly lumped under the category of “crony capitalism,” political changes that benefit a group of well-connected insiders but don’t actually do much good for the rest of us. In practice, getting rid of crony capitalism is incredibly difficult…

…I’m even more of a fan of globalization. This is the transformation which has lifted hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people out of poverty and into the middle class, and if you happen to live in the rich part of the world, it’s made many new products affordable — who do you think built your iPhone? — and things that we’ve relied on for a long time much cheaper. Think of your dishwasher or your t-shirt.

Globalization and the technology revolution, the twin economic transformations which are changing our lives and transforming the global economy, are also powering the rise of the super-rich…One of the things that worries me is how easily what you might call meritocratic plutocracy can become crony plutocracy. Imagine you’re a brilliant entrepreneur who has successfully sold that idea or that product to the global billions and become a billionaire in the process. It gets tempting at that point to use your economic nous to manipulate the rules of the global political economy in your own favor. And that’s no mere hypothetical example. Think about Amazon, Apple, Google, Starbucks. These are among the world’s most admired, most beloved, most innovative companies. They also happen to be particularly adept at working the international tax system so as to lower their tax bill very, very significantly. And why stop at just playing the global political and economic system as it exists to your own maximum advantage? Once you have the tremendous economic power that we’re seeing at the very, very top of the income distribution and the political power that inevitably entails, it becomes tempting as well to start trying to change the rules of the game in your own favor…

…Those same forces that are creating billionaires are also devouring many traditional middle-class jobs. When’s the last time you used a travel agent? And in contrast with the industrial revolution, the titans of our new economy aren’t creating that many new jobs. At its zenith, G.M. employed hundreds of thousands, Facebook fewer than 10,000. The same is true of globalization. For all that it is raising hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the emerging markets, it’s also outsourcing a lot of jobs from the developed Western economies…

Today, we are living through an era of economic transformation comparable in its scale and its scope to the Industrial Revolution. To be sure that this new economy benefits us all and not just the plutocrats, we need to embark on an era of comparably ambitious social and political change. We need a new New Deal.[1] [my bold]

This woman is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. She admits the rich are getting richer at the expense of the rest of us. She then lays out the political causes (low taxes, financial deregulation, etc.), which are due to weak and corrupt government bending to the lobbyists and corporations, yet she’s happy to push CETA which will hand even more power to the corporations.

She then refers to globalization as lifting “hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people out of poverty and into the middle class,” before berating Amazon, Apple, Google, and Starbucks for being “adept at working the international tax system so as to lower their tax bill very, very significantly,” because, “Once you have the tremendous economic power that we’re seeing at the very, very top of the income distribution and the political power that inevitably entails, it becomes tempting as well to start trying to change the rules of the game in your own favor.”

She seems totally oblivious to (for example) the 100,000 employees at the Chinese mega-company, Pegatron, who work sixty to eighty hours a week for $1.60 an hour, making the iPhones and iPads for Apple, one of our “most admired, most beloved, most innovative companies.” I doubt that those 100,000 workers have yet made it to the middle class. And that’s from just one Chinese factory. What of the numerous clothing-factory workers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri-lanka, etc., etc., whose lives are miserable due to foul working conditions and beggarly wages, so Westerners can buy cheap clothes from Asda, Walmart, and many other retail chains whose board members grow wealthier by the minute? This is the real-life globalization.[2]

Yes, indeed, it becomes all too tempting once one has economic power, “and the political power that inevitably entails,” to start trying to change the rules of the game in your own favor.”

That’s very true, Ms Freeland. We see it all the time since the advent of globalization. We see corporations banding together for even greater political power. We see them coercing heads of state – even the President of the United States, himself – into pushing secretly concocted ‘Trade’ agreements like the TPP, TTIP, and let’s not forget, CETA, onto the people who elected them democratically. These ‘agreements’ will do nothing for those people, but hand so much power to the corporations that democracy will be killed off and wealth will continue to flow ever more readily into the coffers of the stinking rich.

Frankly, Ms Freeland, if this is your ‘New Deal’, it can only be because you’ve sold out your principles to the corporations you obviously pretend not to represent.

[1] “The Rise Of The New Global Super Rich Chrystia Freeland, TED Talks, June 2013

[2] “Apple making big profits but Chinese workers’ wage on the slide” China Labor Watch, August 24th 2016