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Could it be a manufactured economic crisis?

Remember back in the 1990s when Ontario Education Minister John Snobelen was caught boasting of the evil Conservative scheme to ‘manufacture a crisis’ in education? Basically, the scheme involved deliberately deceiving the public into believing that education spending was out of control, that educational standards were going down the toilet, that teachers were to blame, and that the province needed to impose drastic measures to fix the crisis before it was too late.

Does anybody else wonder how much of the current economic crisis was manufactured? (Or, if it wasn’t manufactured, how much it is being exploited and used as an excuse for advancing hidden agendas?)

I’m not convinced of this. I have no way of knowing, really. But I deeply mistrust the people who first put this economic crisis out there, starting with Bush. And I don’t trust other politicians and corporations not to exploit it for their own advantage. There’s a huge amount of money changing hands because of it.

Just out of curiosity, have any of you started to actually feel the impact of this crisis yet? Is it affecting your life?

22 comments to Could it be a manufactured economic crisis?

  • Have you read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein? If not, I highly recommend it. It talks about the very issue of manufactured crises.

  • Think you’re dead on about politicos and corporations exploiting the crisis they themselves are responsible for. Whether it was manufactured, I don’t think so. ‘Twas pure greed on the part of Wall St and the banks which drove this, via the sub-prime idiocy.

  • WC, I haven’t read it – I’ll put it on my list. Thanks!

    Hi Chrystal – I was thinking about you the other day. Someone sent around a link to your blog post: Homelessness: Advice from a Rougher. Excellent piece.

  • Greencolander

    Nope, I haven’t felt any impact… yet. I work in the non-profit sector, so it will be interesting to see how things go in the last quarter.

  • Yes, I have wondered if it could be a manufactured crisis. Iran, Venezuela, Russia and other rogues regimes were getting awfully wealthy off the high oil prices. Rivals of the West like China, were also making good money. A crisis does give the West a breather before these countries definately get richer than them.

    Or you could even argue this is a crisis created to save the planet, to slow down the overheated economy before we burn up all the earths resources…

    Well, we don’t know. Probably never will. It makes for some good political-fiction scenarios, though…

  • Zoom, that sounds so pathologically paranoid, it could just be true. You’re my kinda blogger…

  • 600 people got laid off at the company I work for .. a few co-workers, but not me, so I guess I’m not feeling it. But I can point to a few people who are…

  • I firmly believe this is manufactured. I believe most of the impact we’re witnessing is response to spin and not response to something that’s actually happened. If enough “experts” say the sky is falling, then it must be a fact.

    I haven’t felt the impact and know no-one who has.

  • Tom Sawyer

    Has my life been affected? Yes & no. I just sold my house. And I got TOP dollar. (So I am eating store-bought food again, and my cat has a new lease on life. But I’m leaving my hair long–the chicks LOVE it!)

    As for working, I haven’t for years. And I’m not looking. It just bores me to death. (But before I DO die, I desperately need to figure out my friggin’ guitar. It’s driving me nuts.)

    As for all this talk of bailouts: A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there. It is SO petty.

    Zoom, if you are taking requests, write us a fresh story about your guitar. Please.

  • Stephanie

    I think I might be. I graduated with a rather nice BA (a joint honours) in May and have been pretty much unemployed ever since, because no one in the waitressing-cashier-barista sector will hire someone with a degree on the assumption they will leave for a better job within the month, and no one in the requires-a-BA field is hiring in the area (and if they are, a semi-retired boomer steps in). I’m at the point of taking my degree off my resume so I can pay the bills.
    This was exacerbated by the retail seasonal jobs being seriously cut back this year. Instead of three positions, a store might take on one part time… and a lot of places that aren’t able to take on any are laying off their year-round staff after Christmas.
    Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s just the Maritimes, but I’m feeling some pressure.

  • This economic mess started with the changes made to the way banks work in the US after exposure of the S&L Junk Bond debacle fifteen years ago.

    Congratulations on the third place finish in Best Activity Blog… I voted as often as I could but apparently after the first one they all counted towards Yarn A Lot.

  • …Harlot. Yarn Harlot. And the S&L thing was twenty years ago. Whoops. Looking forward to seeing your new smiling beaver in your sidebar.

  • Tom Sawyer

    Smiling beaver? Where can I get a smiling beaver?

  • As much as we all like to blame Bush, I’ve seen no evidence that Bush had anything at all to do with this.
    The under-regulation of the free market led to large-scale greed, which made a few people very rich at the expense of the working class. Surely we don’t need yet another conspiracy theory?
    It has definitely affected us over here in Scotland. Business are closing; people are losing their jobs; house prices are falling through the floor. Banks aren’t lending, even to small businesses that require revolving credit to meet their payrolls.
    While my job looks secure, my employer has canceled our Christmas bonus (target-driven) and capped yearly salary increases to a maximum of 2%.
    The crisis is very real, but the worst fallout is going to be in the UK and the US.

  • XUP

    I agree with Andrew. I think the economic crisis was created by politicians (esp. American) in that it’s their fault for laying down on the job vis a vis regulating lending. But they did it to curry political favour with corporate America, not to create a crisis. Because the crux of the crisis exists mainly within corporate America with the rest of suffering from the fallout. Our perception of this “crisis” is also filtered through the media so we probably don’t have a very good grasp on exactly what the state of the economy is. Personally, I haven’t been affected, but that’s mainly because I had nothing to lose. I do however know a lot of people who’ve taken a big hit on their investments and are very pissed and/or worried sick. I also know people who’ve lost their jobs because of the economy. I’m interested to know who you think manufactured this crisis. The US presumably? Was it the Democrats to discredit the Republicans just before the election? Or the Republicans who blamed it on the Congress/Democrats/Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae??

  • Financially – no I haven’t felt it.. but all around my work (a large daily newspaper) you can feel the tension. In November they sent out forms for a voluntary departure program, and then an email extending the deadline and expressing dissapointment that very few people decided to take advantage of it. Apparently they will be cutting 2 creative positons (ad designers) for sure, and whole knows what else.
    I don’t think the crisis is manufactured, but I definitely think it’s being exploited.

  • I live so far below my means that it breaks my financial advisor’s forecasting software, so other than my investments being in the toilet, I have not been affected. BUT my financial advisor’s office here in town is being closed! How ironic is that?

  • Greencolander – me neither, and me too.

    AngryFrenchGuy – that’s an interesting twist – a crisis manufactured to save the planet. Of course, one might argue that a genuine crisis already existed on that front, so there was no need to manufacture one.

    Coyote – I know, eh? It’s just so insanely diabolical it’s probably true. And you and I are just paranoid enough to be sane.

    Steve – yikes! 600 people! So I guess you’re at least feeling the indirect impact?

    Susan, that’s exactly how I’m feeling. It’s all smoke and mirrors and sleight of hand and propaganda.

    Tom Sawyer – what a pleasant surprise to see you back here and to learn that things are looking up and the cat’s eating cat food again and you’re not. Are you going to sign up for Eve’s course this summer?

    Stephanie – I seem to recall other people having similar difficulties over the years following graduation. It takes awhile to get a toe-hold in the economy. However, it could be worse right now because employers might be taking a wait-and-see approach to hiring. I wish you luck though. (Maybe you should have two resumes – one aimed at ‘just getting a job’ and the other aimed at ‘career opportunities.’

    Gabriel, thank you. I’ll sort all that sidebar beaver stuff out tonight after the other categories are announced. :)

    Tom – patience!

    Andrew – well it did happen on Bush’s watch, and we do know he already manufactured a war in order to advance his own agenda and that of the corporate bosom buddies of the Bush Administration. It doesn’t seem like that big a leap…

    XUP: Who do I think manufactured the crisis? I don’t pretend to know. But I do know it’s quite likely that the people who are benefiting the most from this crisis probably had a hand in creating it. Follow the money.

    Valerie, that was nice of them to make it voluntary (for starters, at least). But I would think it wouldn’t feel so good to work somewhere where they’re expressing disappointment that more of you didn’t quit while you had the chance. :(

    Abby, that IS ironic. Just like when MY broker dropped dead a day and a half after retiring.

    Just a little point of clarification: even though I think it might be a manufactured crisis doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s real. A man-made lake is still a lake.

  • Techwood

    We’re in a combination of retail and service – we’re feeling it. We have had a good commercial client announce that they were pretty much shutting down their operation, several others with slowing cash flows. Many of our distributors recently announced their “lists” of manufacturers that were going to increase prices by 20-30% across the board because of our weakening dollar. That part is kind of pathetic, because we didn’t see price drops of that caliber when the dollar was doing well. Every distributor has recently increased freight charges to us do to “fuel surcharges”. This I could understand if they did it last spring when prices were up.

    To throw a wrench at things, we did the environmentally smart thing
    and setup our store/office with a pellet-fuel heating system last year. Now there’s a pellet shortage and rates have gone up, mostly due to last year’s oil prices and all the people that went and bought pellet stoves to save dollars this year.

    I have a hard time believe the economic situation has much to do with the environment – fuel prices are down. Hard economic times mean most consumers will be only short-term price-minded and not take into account their environmental footprint or social standards if it means getting the lowest price. Walmart will thrive and small businesses will feel the crunch.

    With that said, as a business we’re doing everything we can to offset the impacts of an economic crisis by looking at alternatives that are environmentally conscious and affordable when every dollar needs to be stretched.


  • Techwood:
    Well said. Over the past year I’d been thinking a lot about green technology and how I might make a living at helping small businesses become greener without going bankrupt. But now is the wrong time for a small-time entrepreneur with no business experience… I’m gonna hold off for awhile.
    It’s going to be a tough time for everyone over the next decade. Those with balls will do well. Those (like me) who go into hiding will further strain the economy. Money will start going under the mattress instead of into the banks. Furniture stores, high tech stores, car manufacturers – basically all the big ticket items – they will all go under unless find a new business plan.

    Zoom, and others here: You can’t be serious! Of course Bush went to war under false pretenses. He lied, and he continues to do so. And there is plenty of evidence to back that up.
    But what evidence can you show me that he or his cronies had anything to do with this? It was *not* political – it was corporate greed. I am not defending Bush or his policies. I only ask for well-reasoned arguments rather than the usual Bush-bashing hysteria.
    Every nation has its share of corruption, even so called ‘developed’ nations. The US political system is a joke. (And so is Canada’s these days!) In Washington, money talks and it gets things done. But there is one thing about money and power: once you get a taste for it, you want more. And one of the sure-fire ways to continue to make money is to help others make money. The last thing those in power (politically or corporately) wanted to do was to crash the party. This was stupidity and greed and out of date legislation, nothing more.

    There is no conspiracy.

    Everyone here has the right to “believe” what they want. But only a rigorous examination of the facts will get us to a place where we can do something about the calamity we are presented with.

  • Bubba

    Bush doesn’t own this recession/depression. CONSERVATIVE IDEOLOGY owns this one.

    Lack of regulation is what caused this crisis. No oversight- one of the basic functions of government in the economy – is what was missing.

    Anytime a conservative wants to remove oversight – pay careful attention. He might just be trying to make his friends rich and his ‘base voters’ fat. And then the cards all come crashing down when it all turns out to be bullshit economics (aka Voodoo economics).


  • Pierre

    omebody said “Have you read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein? If not, I highly recommend it. It talks about the very issue of manufactured crises.”

    I have just completed the reading. Wow! What a mess. « The Shock Doctrine » is an absolute must to read.

    Yes, I truly believe that we are all manipulated with the actual crisis.

    Just remember what happened in Canada in 1992, 1993, 1994: there was what we know today to have been a false alarm about “bad Canadian economy“. At the time Moody and Standard & Poor’s where giving us the best evaluation, a triple-A. But apparently some Canadian Bankers where asking for a devaluation!?? So the direct effect, has been drastic cuts in education and health departments. At that time too, the Federal government had cut 44 billions in the worker’s Employment Insurance, without consulting the Parliament. Naomi Klein talk about that situation.

    In Novembre 2008, Harper just decided to take 75 billions and give it to some banks.
    Many banks will use it to buy Canadian Bonds. And the same banks will lend money to the Federal Government. So the public will be penalized twice paying taxes on bonds and the money that the banks will lends us back.

    Well if you want to have a bette idea, read this :