The Quebec I see bears almost no relationship to both how Quebec’s political class portrays it, nor to the image that English Canada has of it because of the propaganda of the political class. What I see daily is an industrious society growing crops, driving trucks, making cheese and ice cream, fabricating steel snow plows, logging, cutting granite: in short, a busy and productive place. New cars are everywhere. Steel and wood buildings are being erected in many places to house the massive amounts of farm equipment needed to cultivate huge farms. Empty lots that had been left undeveloped from the 1970s and 80s are being built on. Activity is everywhere. People are working and prosperous.
Yet none of this activity seems to penetrate the consciousness of the political class. You would think, if you read nothing but the tweets of the Heritage Minister, that Quebec’s biggest obsession is controlling the Internet and subsidizing the arts. You might think that Quebec is obsessed with constitutional issues, if you listened to the Premier.
Perhaps the busy rural Quebec I see is the same as the busy rural Ontario or Saskatchewan where I do not live. Maybe this busy-ness reflects the rural-urban divide. It really does not matter. What I see is a systematic misrepresentation of a place, through its media and political class (same thing really) for reasons that make less and less sense. Psychically and economically, Quebec has left its dreary past behind.
This is the most important graph you are going to see in the next decade.
Whatever its cause – and historians and economists have much to explain – the gap between rises in productivity and hourly compensation that started in 1973 meant that an increasing proportion of national income has gone to the owners of assets, not the workers. Maybe capital needed to make more money; maybe the workers were making too much: I am unqualified to say. Certainly the Reagan regime did much to restore the profitability of capital.
Yet in that simple graph we can see why Trump found support to deal with a perceived problem. Perceived by whom, you ask? Perceived by the people who do not know or subscribe to the New York Times or the Atlantic magazine. Perceived by the people whose children don’t have jobs and who know people who have died from fentanyl overdoeses, people from towns where the mill has been shuttered for thirty years. Where they used to make things. Not perceived by people who work from desks and computers. No perceieved by people whose jobs have not been affected by COVID.
Nuxon went to China in 1972, thus splitting the Communist world and starting the process whereby jobs left the United States for China and places abroad. I am not asserting a directly causal relationship here between diplomatic recognition of China by the US and the off-shoring of US industry.
Nixon went off the gold standard in 1972, This meant we entered upon the world of fiat currencies, where government declares that money is worth something unrelated to the stock of gold. As many now understand, a consistent undervaluation of one’s currency can suck indistry towards the low cost producer. Is that the cause of US jobs bening leeched out of the United States?
Mark Blyth makes more sense than anyone I have heard about what has happened to our economies, US, Canada, China, and the world. I suppose he is left wing. I could not care less. He makes sense to me. Try him and see. Brexit, inflation, low interest rates, income stagnation, and a great deal more is explained. He is also quite clear (in the Q&A) that Trump is going to win the next election, and he is no fan of the Donald. But he thinks he is some kind of genius at transforming the US and the global economy.