You likely know I tend to stay away from the grand, global debates and focus on economic development issues in our backyard. I made this decision years ago even though I was told by a mentor this would be career limiting. If you want to be a big name in economics, he told me, you need to talk about more than how we can foster economic growth in Bathurst.
In my experience there are tens of thousands of experts focused on global economic issues - international trade, capital flows, innovation, etc.; thousands of experts focused on national economic issues - think tanks, academic researchers, private consultants, government agencies; and hundreds and hundreds of experts focused on the performance of big provincial economies such as Ontario. By the time you get down to little old New Brunswick, there might be a handful of folks that have a very good grasp of the provincial economy, its nuances and distinctions (thank the good Lord for Dr. Herb Emery).
So I tend to focus here - at the bottom of the rung where few bother to tread.
But, after a conversation with my youngest, I thought I would venture into the shark-invested waters of a ‘global’ issue. She casually mentioned this week that it seems to her that more and more of her university friends and acquaintances are becoming ‘anti-capitalist’. I asked her to define this further and it seems to be a blend of aversion to billionaires but also a dislike of big, multinational companies. My daughter, who is not an anti-capitalist per se, would prefer to only buy products and use suppliers that were local. She mostly eschews the mall and Amazon - preferring Main Street boutiques, local coffee shops and artisan products.
My only comment to her and anyone else on this subject is to understand who actually owns all these big, multinational firms. Sure there are many billionaires but it is just as likely that the owners are mutual funds and government pension funds that fund granny’s monthly pension cheque.
Just government pensions (not including all the money you have personally invested in mutual funds) have trillions and trillions of dollars invested. Ontario’s teachers alone have $250 billion invested in the stock market and various other assets. In fact, a subsidiary of this pension fund is buying up New Brunswick agricultural land and leasing it back to the farmers. Kind of makes you wonder again how much of Vestcor’s assets are invested in New Brunswick. Maybe it would be nice if New Brunswick teachers were investing in New Brunswick agricultural land, but I digress.
You can and should still be critical of individual firms and scrutinize their ESG bona fides. I applaud efforts to engage local producers and buy local (mostly). We can and should have a conversation about taxation and wealth. But if you want to bring down the whole capitalist system just remember you could be bringing down that evil capitalist in the rocking chair who is knitting your next sweater.
Now back to the regularly scheduled programming related to how we can address labour shortages in Carleton County.