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THE UP- AGAINSTNESS OF LIFE by Sylvestre McLaren

posted 25 Feb 2014, 07:44 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 25 Feb 2014, 07:48 ]
On Wednesday 19, February I attended the funeral of Nola Maureen Valerie Cox. At the time of her death, she was 62 years of age. Nola was an active member of the Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU). She and Bernice Jones who also passed away more than 10 years ago were instrumental in getting employees of the Cindy Shoe Company to join the Union. Bernice was the wife of deceased TIWU trade unionist James Jones.

The conditions under which they were employed led Nola and Bernice to act on the advice of the union organiser and they were able to convince the other employees to join the union. She remained an active member of TIWU even after the Company closed its doors in the late 1970s. In delivering the homily, Father George Archer spoke of the challenges which Nola faced throughout her adult life; not unlike the working class from which she came. He described those challenges as the “up-againstness of life” 

There are challenges which the ordinary working people come up against almost every day of their lives: poor health services, bad roads, inadequate water supply, poor drainage and flooding when there is heavy rain fall, the crime situation and corruption just to name a few. I suspect that he coined that phrase in order to speak to her strength of character in the face of her personal challenges: the death of her son and the disease which eventually led to her death. These are some of the issues which the working poor can relate to because they can feel it; they can touch it. 

But there are challenges which will present serious consequences to their livelihood and those of their families which they are not aware of, but the powers that be will not inform the population about these challenges. 
 
They will not tell the population that the so-called liquidity in the economy, (plenty money in the banking system but local investor are not borrowing) and commercial loans for the purchase of cars and so on, will not serve to expand the economic base because it does not create new jobs. Even the discovery of new oil and gas fields does not mean a better life for the poor; when one consider the fact that America is now relying mostly on its local oil supply; Brazil, Angola, Nigeria and other countries on the African continent have also found gas and oil. 
 
So if the powers that be, whom so ever they may be now or in the future, continue to believe that the future of the country can be secured because of our oil and gas and through privatizing the state sector to complete the handover of the family jewels, then, they do not have a clue about what is happening in the world economy. Disposing of state assets in an auction sale - that is what it is - is not the solution and it is certainly not the way to plan the economy in charting the way forward for this country's future. 
 
Against the background of the economic uncertainty in the USA and the Euro-zone countries where the rate of unemployment is high and economic growth seems to only benefit the wealthy, and where economies in Latin America and the Caribbean are likely to experience a drag on the pace of recovery, this is likely to have an impact on the purchasing power of consumers in these markets. Such an eventuality will certainly affect exports from this country. 

Already we are seeing that Royal Bank of Canada has decided to dispose of a substantial part of its portfolio, no doubt because of the uncertainty which is lurking in the shadows; partly because of the turbulence in the major economic centres of the world. One would expect that in the face of this situation, where it would be unwise to depend on the local private sector, who is clearly not interested in investing in projects with a long gestation period.

It is interested only in the use of foreign exchange for the purchase of foreign goods for the local retail market, the government would see the wisdom in taking the lead in investing in new and innovative areas and in agriculture which has been stagnant for years. One benefit to be derived from the expansion of the economic base of that sector, downstream and also up stream, would be to phase out our heavy dependence on foreign agriculture products both primary and refined. 
 
Although the Finance Minister gave the assurance some time ago that the Heritage and Stabilization fund is healthy and our foreign reserves can meet our expectations whenever the need arises it would be wise of him to be alert to the fact that many of the products being sold on the financial markets are junk and are also suspected as being toxic. The public is not aware that our foreign reserves and two reserve funds earn returns -interest- because the government makes investments on our behalf. Therefore, these investments must be made wisely.

You see, it is alleged, that paper products purporting to represent real gold products are currently changing hands. It is also alleged, that certain leading economies that are steeped in debt and whose balance of trade does not support the amount of new money released into the financial markets through the creation of paper gold is likely to spark an inflationary spiral. The people who would benefit from such an eventuality are those who control the financial power in the world economy. If one should pay close attention to what is happening in G.20 circles you would discover that there is a struggle between the major western powers and the BRICS countries; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.  

For the time being, it appears to be waged according to the rules of the diplomatic hand book. But this struggle is about markets, cheap labour and energy resources and to decide by fair or foul means which grouping will control them. We had such a situation in the past which led to slavery and colonialism in the 1400s and in the early 1900’s which led to the First World War and in the late 1930s when the Second World War erupted. On this occasion, we have a situation where old imperial and colonial powers are facing up against a group comprised of entities with a so-called socialist present and past background and some new emerging powers.  

Such countries as Brazil, India and South Africa had a colonial past. When you look at the geo-political map what you see, is where the area of influence of the BRICS countries becomes a counter to the western powers led by America. Each of these countries peddles influence in geographical areas, defined by their physical location and also in other jurisdictions defined by language and cultural ties. All of the BRICS countries have within their borders the energy oil and gas and cheap labour resources which some of the former imperial powers need. 

The western powers are looking towards Eastern Europe for cheap labour and oil and gas from the Ukraine, and countries of the former Soviet bloc. America is bent on securing a cultural and economic bridgehead in the Middle East with the help of Saudi Arabia and Israel. The problem, however, is that Russia, Iran and Pakistan to a lesser extent, have been placing obstacles in its way. 

In my estimation, there is going to be a major power play, because the controllers of the financial power in the world are bent on having their way. It is clear, that they are prepared to create financial crisis after crisis, if that is what it will take in order for them to continue to control and direct the future of mankind. 

What should be of interest to us, however, is that Russia which is no longer led by a Socialist government, still appears to be managing a very large state economic sector. This is because some western multinationals it is alleged, are reluctant to invest because of the stringent legal conditionality which they must meet in order to qualify. China, on the other hand, is led by a Communist Party, but it seems to be running a mixed economic system in which the state's influence is pervasive. I raise these concerns under the phrase “the up-againstness of life” because they are challenges which our country must face in its relationship within and without these two economic blocs. 

Are countries associated with them to follow a mixed economic path or should they lean in the direction of a more open system, where internally the balance of forces may be trending in that direction. We know where the head of the western powers are - as we would say in the local vernacular. The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, in responding to what she described as current and future trends, is advising the international community, the real power brokers, to develop a multilateral approach in order to avoid another collapse worldwide. But that would be dependent on which camp is in control of the political war room in the G 20 club. 

In order to prepare to meet such an eventuality, we must begin to think extra-regionally, regionally and internally and plan accordingly. So those politicians who are now in government and the ones that are offering themselves as replacements, must understand, that privatizing the state sector will not prepare us to face the crisis which the extremists are prepared to unleash on the world in order to achieve their goal which is to dominate and control political and economic power on a global scale. That is what globalization is about. 

Therefore, the challenge which we face is to begin to diversify the economy away from oil and gas, even as we deepen ties with countries in the BRICS camp. But even as we do so, we must be alert to the machinations of China, which is currently in competition with America on the African continent. 

China is presenting a face of friendship and a willingness to enter into trade agreements which for the time being, reflect the mutual interest of each partner, but China's foreign policy posturing seems to suggest that there is more than what we see on the surface. That is to say, one must not forget the fact that China sees itself as a great power and believes that it can replace America in the geo-political game which is to seek to control the greater share of the world's resources. 

It must be noted that the control of markets includes the control of governments and countries under the leadership of these governments. If we did not know it before, we must know it now: the geo-political game is the game of thrones. Therein lie the challenges we must face, our up-againstness of life.

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