Chrystia Freedland, the prominent Reuters editor just recruited by the Liberals to contest the nomination in the Toronto Centre riding vacated by Bob Rae, remarks how capitalism deserves credit as "the best prosperity-creating system humanity has come up with so far." True enough, it has done better than feudalism, slavery, hunting, fishing and food gathering. The issue is whether it is time to move past profit seeking as the answer, and on to a better economic system, or whether capitalism just needs to evolve.
Our current incarnation of capitalism -- variously referred to as savage capitalism, extreme capitalism or euphemistically as the "free market" (free of any constraints) -- is in one of its periodic crises. For years many assumed that the smart people who ran the system and benefitted from it would find a practical way to fix it. The problem is that the solutions are all framed within an ideology that makes that extremely unlikely. Neo-liberalism is like a religion and once you are a true believer you see other solutions as heresy.
On July 16, Toronto City Council will vote on a proposal to amend the city's Fair Wage Policy. The policy, which was established in 1893, requires contractors and suppliers for the city to pay their workers the prevailing market wages and benefits in their field of employment or, for unionized fields, union rates. The basic idea behind the policy is to protect workers from unscrupulous contractors trying to underbid their competitors by paying their workers less than the prevailing wage rates. A second goal of the policy is to enhance the city's reputation for engaging in ethical and fair business dealings.
The most significant, recent news -- that trust in neoliberalism is dead, that confidence in the unrestrained free market has become unfathomable to the majority of U.S. citizens -- has become more evident since 2008. The event is of course obscured by neoliberalism's continued dominance of conservative and centrist governments, political parties and media, yet it is evident that we are now witnessing its inevitable sequence of delegitimation, ruin and replacement.