Sunday, December 11, 2011

Food for thought

The Toronto Star has been running a series on the BRIC countries (those emerging countries that have attracted the avaricious eyes of the countries in the northern hemisphere and who have invested heavily to make big profits, i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, Brazil etc.). Economic indicators are shooting up and a little is trickling down to a few workers but mainly it's business as usual for the average Joe. For example, the Star reports, one in two Indian children are malnourished, 74% under three years are anaemic, and 400 million Indians live in poverty -- i.e. $1.25 a day! In South Africa, large investment in Mining has pushed up the GDP and unemployment has improved from 37% (2001) to 23% today. However, amid the new wealth, 67% of Africans, 41% of coloured, 14% of Asian/Indian, and just 4% of whites are considered below the poverty line. Life expectancy for the nation is 49.3 years. As always, wealth goes back to the investors and the rest share a few crumbs.
In Canada, we have failed to live up to the 1980s promise to eliminate poverty by 2000, just as the provincial governments much trumpeted 25% reduction in poverty in 5 years has failed. The recession was cited as an excuse, of course. Now, 10% of children live in poverty and they make up 40% of the nearly one million food bank clients, Canada's main growth industry.
Canadian business likes to point out that, although not recession proof, we are better positioned to cope and our banks are better regulated .Last month, though, Canada lost 54 000 jobs, most in manufacturing and construction, the unionized and better paying jobs. Socialists know that no one can escape the world economy.
Meanwhile, mobile infrastructure company Nokia Siemens has announced that it will be cutting 17 000 jobs over the next few years. In a burst of loyalty to his employees, the CEO said, "As we look toward the prospect of an independent future, we need to take action now to improve our profitability and cash generation."
The futility of reform -- the auto industry agreed to a two-tier wage system with new hires paid as low as $14 per hour. Chrysler chairman, Sergio Marchionne disagrees with the two tier system and wants every worker on the same scale -- the lower one!
Recession does not to hit some very hard though. The Globe and Mail Reported (Nov 2, 2011) that Prince Charles had to scrape by with just 133 staff to look after him and Camilla, more than 60 of them domestics such as chefs, cooks, footmen, housemaids, gardeners, chauffeurs, cleaners, and his three personal valets, who look after his wardrobe plus the important task of ironing the laces when Charles takes off his shoes. John Ayers

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