Elizabeth Warren looks like a deadly serious prospect for the Democratic presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders may never make it to that promised land, but there is no question that his spirit is still moving the Democrats toward democratic socialism. The party’s activist base and youth wing grow more anti-capitalist by the month. It’s enough to turn many a libertarian or Chamber of Commerce conservative into a Trump supporter, despite the president’s own defiance of free-market orthodoxy on trade.
Yet the president might as well be Milton Friedman compared with some on the right who are, if anything, outflanking the left in their critiques of capitalism. ‘The main threat to your ability to live your life as you choose does not come from the government any more,’ Tucker Carlson told the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, DC last July, ‘but it comes from the private sector.’ Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, and the editors of First Things have likewise taken aim at corporate America, particularly the tech sector. These conservatives are as likely as Sen. Warren to espy virtues in a wealth tax.
Socialists to the left, nationalists to the right — these are daunting times for defenders of capitalism. This year was the 75th anniversary of the publication of Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and the Austrian economist’s admirers could be forgiven for thinking his book’s lessons have gone unlearned.
But Hayek himself might rethink that judgment in light of everything that’s happened since 1944, when he warned that even a little socialism and central planning would lead to a lot more. Since then, what has become obvious is that there is simply no stopping commerce. Far from being a delicate flower easily crushed by careless would-be gardeners, capitalism is robust, even to the point of being weed-like.
Lenin had already discovered by 1921 that ‘full communism’ wouldn’t work even with the power of a totalitarian state behind it, a reality that compelled him to adopt what was called the ‘New Economic Policy’. It restored a small degree of private enterprise within the Soviet system. The USSR’s participation in international trade was another link — a lifeline — to the real world of prices set by demand and availability rather than by party bureaucrats. And of course, the Soviet Union had a thriving black market, in some respects the freest kind of market of all.
The Soviets tried to the bitter end to minimize the power of market forces within Russia and its empire, with results that are celebrated now in the memory of the Berlin Wall’s demolition and the collapse of the USSR itself. The other communist superpower of the 20th century, the People’s Republic of China, remains with us to this day, but only as a result of having adopted capitalist reforms and harnessing the ensuing prosperity. Yet therein lies an ugly truth: capitalism as an economic system has proved to be quite compatible with despotism as a political system. This should not surprise us. Even in Europe capitalism once existed alongside absolutism.
Commerce has been a commanding influence on western civilization since the Middle Ages. It was in quest of commodities that Portugal and Spain blazed their way around Africa to India and across the Atlantic to the Americas. The earliest English settlers in North America came as colonists of the profit- seeking Virginia and Plymouth Companies. A decade before the Revolutionary War, the independence of Britain’s American colonies was foreshadowed by their eagerness to trade with His Majesty’s enemies during the French and Indian Wars.
The variety of US wars that have been fought for territorial expansion (which is also commercial expansion), market ‘openness’ and the upholding of a trade- oriented ‘liberal international order’ would be embarrassing, if not for the unceasing efforts of journalists and academics to disguise more recent conflicts as exercises in sheer altruism.
The great Anglo-Celtic minds of the late 18th century — such as David Hume, Adam Smith and indeed Edmund Burke — tried to humanize the struggle for markets and goods by showing how cooperation could achieve more than war and the brutal ways of the British East India Company.
They only partly succeeded: today wars are still fought over access to and ownership of goods, but access and ownership are understood as features of a market system, rather than merely as the interests of a nation or company. There is a need to rehumanize capitalism, now that liberalism has become a hypocritical dogma. Nationalism is the way to do it.
Trump’s economic nationalism has been an effort to save capitalism, not to bury it — to prove it can still work for a free America and not just for a despotic China, and that it can serve Americans of all regions and economic levels and not just the investor class.
This, rather than a rehash of the 20th century’s clash between communism and free markets, is the conflict of our time. Capitalism will triumph again whether the next century is Chinese or American. But capitalism without Smith and Burke and the best of the Anglo-Celtic tradition America inherited will look more like it did in the 17th century and earlier, when trade wars were shooting wars, states sponsored privateers and companies indulged in colonialism and worse.
Liberalism cannot save capitalism with western characteristics because liberalism has become both illiberal and anti-western. What is needed now is for America and the West to harness capitalism as successfully as China has, in the service of our civilization and our way of life. Of all our great institutions — family, faith, citizenship, representative government — free markets are the least endangered. They should be a source of strength to the rest: our civilization’s fate depends on it.
How Canadian churches are helping their communities cope with the wildfires
As wildfires burn across Canada, churches are finding ways to support their members and the broader community directly impacted by the crisis.
According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, as of June 13, there are 462 active fires across Canada – and 236 of them classified as out of control fires.
Whether it’s through phone calls or donations to community members, here’s how a few churches across Canada are handling active wildfires and the aftermath in their regions.
Westwood Hills, N.S.: St. Nicholas Anglican Church
In Nova Scotia, St. Nicholas Anglican Church and other churches in the area are collecting money for grocery cards to give to families impacted by the Tantallon wildfire.
The fire is now considered contained, but Tanya Moxley, the treasurer at St. Nicholas is organizing efforts to get grocery gift cards into the hands of impacted families.
As of June 12, four churches in the area – St. Nicholas, Parish of French Village, St Margaret of Scotland and St John the Evangelist – raised nearly $3,500. The money will be split for families’ groceries between five schools in the area impacted by the wildfire.
Moxley said she felt driven to raise this money after she heard the principal of her child’s school was using his own money to buy groceries for impacted families in their area.
“[For] most of those people who were evacuated, the power was off in their subdivision for three, four or five days,” she said. “Even though they went home and their house was still standing, the power was off and they lost all their groceries.”
Moxley said many people in the area are still “reeling” from the fires. She said the church has an important role to help community members during this time.
“We’re called to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and house the homeless and all that stuff, right? So this is it. This is like where the rubber hits the road.”
Is it ever OK to steal from a grocery store?
Mythologized in the legend of Robin Hood and lyricized in Les Misérables, it’s a debate as old as time: is it ever permissible to steal food? And if so, under what conditions? Now, amid Canada’s affordability crisis, the dilemma has extended beyond theatrical debate and into grocery stores.
Although the idea that theft is wrong is both a legally enshrined and socially accepted norm, the price of groceries can also feel criminally high to some — industry data shows that grocery stores can lose between $2,000 and $5,000 a week on average from theft. According to Statistics Canada, most grocery item price increases surged by double digits between 2021 and 2022. To no one’s surprise, grocery store theft is reportedly on the rise as a result. And if recent coverage of the issue rings true, some Canadians don’t feel bad about shoplifting. But should they?
Kieran Oberman, an associate professor of philosophy at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, coined the term “re-distributive theft” in his 2012 paper “Is Theft Wrong?” In simplest terms, redistributive theft is based on the idea that people with too little could ethically take from those who have too much.
“Everybody, when they think about it, accepts that theft is sometimes permissible if you make the case extreme enough,” Oberman tells me over Zoom. “The question is, when exactly is it permissible?”
Almost no one, Oberman argues, believes the current distribution of wealth across the world is just. We have an inkling that theft is bad, but that inequality is too. As more and more Canadians feel the pinch of inflation, grocery store heirs accumulate riches — Loblaw chair and president Galen Weston, for instance, received a 55 percent boost in compensation in 2022, taking in around $8.4 million for the year. Should someone struggling with rising prices feel guilty when they, say, “forget” to scan a bundle of zucchini?
The homeless refugee crisis in Toronto illustrates Canada’s broken promises
Canadians live in a time of threadbare morality. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Toronto’s entertainment district, where partygoers delight in spending disposable income while skirting refugees sleeping on sidewalks. The growing pile of luggage at the downtown corner of Peter and Richmond streets resembles the lost baggage section at Pearson airport but is the broken-hearted terminus at the centre of a cruel city.
At the crux of a refugee funding war between the municipal and federal governments are those who have fled persecution for the promise of Canada’s protection. Until June 1, asylum seekers used to arrive at the airport and be sent to Toronto’s Streets to Homes Referral Assessment Centre at 129 Peter St. in search of shelter beds. Now, Toronto’s overcrowded shelter system is closed to these newcomers, so they sleep on the street.
New mayor Olivia Chow pushed the federal government Wednesday for at least $160 million to cope with the surge of refugees in the shelter system. She rightly highlights that refugees are a federal responsibility. In response, the department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada points to hundreds of millions in dollars already allocated to cities across Canada through the Interim Housing Assistance Program, while Ontario says it has given nearly $100 million to organizations that support refugees. But these efforts are simply not enough to deliver on Canada’s benevolent promise to the world’s most vulnerable.
The lack of federal generosity and finger-pointing by the city has orchestrated a moral crisis. It’s reminiscent of the crisis south of the border, where Texas governor Greg Abbott keeps bussing migrants to cities located in northern Democratic states. Without the necessary resources, information, and sometimes the language skills needed to navigate the bureaucratic mazes, those who fled turbulent homelands for Canada have become political pawns.
But Torontonians haven’t always been this callous.
In Ireland Park, at Lake Ontario’s edge, five statues of gaunt and grateful refugees gaze at their new home: Toronto circa 1847. These statues honour a time when Toronto, with a population of only 20,000 people, welcomed 38,500 famine-stricken migrants from Ireland. It paralleled the “Come From Away” event of 9/11 in Gander, N.L., where the population doubled overnight, and the people discovered there was indeed more than enough for all. It was a time when the city lived up to its moniker as “Toronto, The Good.”
Now, as a wealthy city of three million people, the city’s residents are tasked with supporting far fewer newcomers. Can we not recognize the absurdity in claiming scarcity?
Business4 months ago
The Canadian Armed Forces are hiring for several non-combat military jobs
Lifestyle4 months ago
Ontario Line subway construction permanently shuts down beloved Toronto bakery
Business4 months ago
Porter’s new loyalty program promises to match Air Canada’s Aeroplan status
Business4 months ago
People call out Sobeys for ridiculous prices after another expensive find at Ontario store
Business4 months ago
‘Here, everything feels much closer’: Entrepreneur says leaving Toronto for Innisfil good for business
Business4 months ago
Indigo store in Toronto will be first to offer alcohol in strange rebrand
Lifestyle4 months ago
Woman crashes car and runs around highway with bottle of booze on typical day in Toronto
Business4 months ago
Toronto is in a housing ‘crisis’ leaving newcomers, residents in the lurch