Monday, March 23, 2009

The News on March 23rd, 2009

The Canadian chapter of the plunder story made a big splash when it was announced that the Neo-Liberal Conservative Party government took an important step in continuing to sell off the social property of Canadians, as it decided to sell
Petro-Canada, the state-owned oil company, to the Calgary-based Suncor corporation. This reafirms once again that the ruling conservatives think the country's future lies in coddling the market, and that Canada's assets and resources should serve in bolstering private wealth. The article in question, in The Globe And Mail newspaper, states that "The deal would create a new champion in the Canadian Oil patch and unite two of the biggest players in the oil sands of Northern Alberta, provided the companies can stickhandle their way around federal legislation once thought to make Petro-Canada immune to a takeover." Stickhandling in the oil patch sounds like good righteous fun, and implies that the merger effort found a legitimate, ethical way of conducting the deal without any innapropriate pressure on the government, but in reality Suncor could simply "get around the law by appealing to the federal government for a change to the ownership rule." The pro-market government and big business team have combined once again to rip off national wealth by profiting from the recession crisis to transfer PetroCan at a bargain base price, even potentially toying with company names and wording in structuring the deal as a reverse takeover, where Petro-Canada, technically speaking, would be taking over Suncor. Because "other potential suitors have approached Petro-Canada in the past", unsuccessfully, other short-sighted, unilaterally interested sources have suggested, quite distastefully, that the takeover might produce "an "awkward" situation for the Harper government" rather than create concern about accountability to the Candian public, as it should. Either way you look at it, the merger amounts to either aggressive lobbying, or simply to an opportunistic handing over of national assets. This is a perfect example of how capitalism continues to further the legalization of plunder, in this case with the elimination of the last vestige of public involvement in Canada's billion dollar resource.*

Another article in the same newspaper is entitled "Ottawa, Banks Take Action to Rescue Mortgages", as if all these government rescue packages in the world's industrial nations are really aimed at helping people. It states: "The five big banks are all taking a more flexible approach in an effort to avert mounting defaults and bankruptcies, which would increase credit losses and eat into bank profits. Toronto Dominion bank, for example has been working with CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.) to determine how it can modify loans to help its customers." In other words, the big banks and government agencies are working together to ensure the banks lose as little money as possible, and CMHC is a watcher and guarantor of corporate profit.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has announced that "as many as six million families are expected to face foreclosure in the next several years, and millions more are likely to have difficulty making their mortgage payments." That is a projected six million families that will lose their homes in the upcoming years. Calculated at 3 members per family that is at least 18 million economically displaced people within the United-States, and that is a conservative estimate; probably more than 20 million Americans falling out of the middle-class and into the ranks of the poverty. In both Canada and the United-States, in the case of banks and governments combining to help save mortgages, the options for homeowners will be either a temporary
short-term deferral of payments, extending the term, lowering the monthly required payment, or adding already missed payments to the mortgage balance. All these options might prevent families from physically losing their homes, but it will only extend debts for a longer period of time, benefiting bank profits in the long term, and to an extent where many people will be forced to keep making mortgage payments well into retirement age, and in certain cases will see people unable to ever fully pay off their mortgages.

In war news, the number of civilian casualties attributed to pro-government, coalition, and NATO forces in the Afghanistan War rose by 39 % between 2007 and 2008. It is difficult to even contemplate progress in a country where people have to concern themselves everyday about whether or not they will live to see tomorrow.


* In this particular case, the process of deregulation is seemingly more elegant and subtle in the face of a generally unpoliticized and uninvolved Canadian public.

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