Hubris: extreme pride, especially pride and ambition so great that they offend the gods and lead to one's downfall.
In the aftermath of the stunning results of the U.S. election, the mix of emotions and hard-nosed analysis spans the spectrum from feeling sorry for the irrational and politically illiterate American voter to visceral fear about the consequences of their electing a thuggish buffoon as president. But common to all reactions, I suspect, is a smugness rooted in our sense of superiority -- as if our elites are somehow more attentive to the public interest and the lives of ordinary Canadians.
I was somewhat surprised to see Stephen Poloz recently urging economists to do more work identifying and disseminating research on the supposed benefits of free trade. That's slightly beyond his job description (perhaps more fitting with his last position as head of Export Development Canada). But like economic leaders elsewhere in the world, Mr. Poloz is obviously concerned with the disintegration of popular support for neoliberal free trade deals. That disintegration will have tectonic economic and political consequences.
It's amazing what we gradually accept as normal -- even admirable -- in how we treat each other in Canada. Practices that were once seen as a repugnant surrender to government indifference, like food banks, are now virtually celebrated as a high point of citizen engagement and promoted as such by our public broadcaster once a year. And other practices, like hospitals and seniors' care homes that once had their own kitchens and cooking staff, are seemingly a thing of the past, a "luxury" that we have no hope of ever getting back.
As Bruce Cockburn's song suggests, the trouble with normal, is it always gets worse.
If recent mainstream economic reports are to be taken seriously, some of the big brains managing global capitalism these days are starting to lose faith in their neoliberal ideology. Some come close to sounding like virtual heretics -- like Jonathan Ostry, the IMF's deputy director of research and lead author of an article ("Neoliberalism: Oversold?") in the IMF's official publication. He stated, with a childlike innocence: "[s]ome aspects of the neoliberal agenda probably need a rethink.
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Most of the world economy (including Canada's) has performed sluggishly since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09. And many economic and fiscal projections now accept this pattern of slow growth as more or less inevitable, as a "new normal." This argument is typically invoked to justify a ratcheting down of expectations regarding job prospects, incomes and public services.