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article imageOp-Ed: Capitalism impedes creative thinking to deal with desperate times

By Stephanie Dearing     Sep 30, 2010 in Business
There's millions of desperate people to be found around the world, hit hard by the recession. The jobless recovery is not getting any boosts from governments who are turning away from stimulus spending in favour of austerity measures.
On Wednesday, massive protests were held across Europe. Europeans were demanding their governments put jobs and economic growth ahead of spending cuts.
The spending cuts are said to be required to allow governments to pay down debt accumulated when they spent money trying to stimulate economic growth during the last recession. That recession generated higher levels of global unemployment; and all countries - even the apparently recession-proof Canada - suffered from job losses.
Since 2009, labour and government leadership under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO) have called for a focus on job creation as the world recovered from the recession. So far, that call has gone unheeded.
Now the ILO said in a news release issued Thursday that 22 million more jobs are needed before the world will see pre-recession employment levels again, something the ILO warns will not happen until 2015.
In California, where the unemployment rate sat at 12.4% in August, and where home foreclosures have reached an all-time high, some unemployed and homeless people have come up with creative ideas to help themselves.
Take Travis Kevi, for example. Earlier this year the homeless California cowboy gained unauthorized access to a closed-up bar. Cleaning it up, Kevi opened the door to business, starting with a six-pack of beer, which was all he could afford to buy, according to Modesto Anarcho. Kevi cleverly parlayed those six beers into a slim profit, with which he purchased more alcohol, and so on until, within a few days time, Kevi was doing quite a nice business.
A local paper noticed the buzz around the former pub and wrote up an article about it being open for business again, which got the attention of the police. As a result, Kevi was arrested and later convicted for selling alcohol without a licence.
Kevi's efforts were well appreciated by the local community, who said Kevi was selling the alcohol at an affordable rate, allowing them to spend welcome time at a bar. Modesto Anarcho said the ardent support of those people ensured Kevi was only given a sentence of 15 days in jail.
The Modesto Anarchists point to Kevi's entrepreneurial spirit and argue people should take back space "for our needs," thus gaining control over one's life.
However, capitalism has a host of mechanisms in place to protect the system from the encroachments of the poor, particularly when they decide to take an alternate route to the same destination that capitalism promises those lucky enough to be employed.
In 1992, a group of low income people who called themselves the South Central Farmers, living in Los Angeles set up an urban garden on land given to them by the city. In 2006, the city bulldozed the successful organic market garden enterprise out of existence at the original location, although the gardeners are still persevering on donated lands elsewhere.
In 2008 in Ontario, California, a tent city that had been established by homeless people was bulldozed. 400 people were living in the squat at the time, reported Columbus Indy Media Center. The City had set aside the land for the homeless a year earlier, and even provided portapotties and trash removal. But word that the homeless had a legal place to settle spread rapidly, causing the tent city population to grow so much, municipal officials decided that the only people who could stay in the tent city would be those who could prove they were bona fide residents of Ontario. All non-Ontario residents were evicted from what had otherwise been vacant land.
As the levels of poverty grow in the United States, the number of people seeking a way to help themeslves out of poverty is growing. The problem, observed Gifford Hartman, writing for Turbulence, is some believe evicting self-help tent cities is the only answer to protecting property rights.
Hartman notes that capitalism is failing society. The Modesto Anarcho blog points out that capitalism serves corporate America. You would think this point of view is radical, but it has been espoused by none less than someone who knows this for a fact: Bill Gates. Speaking to Time about "creative capitalism," Gates said capitalism has worked well -- but only for the rich.
Which begs the question: why do leaders like US president Barack Obama insist on saying capitalism is the way to reduce world poverty? Especially in light of the fact that capitalism is failing Americans in a collossal way. Is Obama merely reflecting the viewpoint of corporate America?
Some would point to shrinkage in economic growth, such as has recently happened in Canada, and would say this is a clear sign that capitalism is not working. Which leads to the question: can capitalism be fixed?
We may never have an answer to that question. As Fox Business reports, when somebody proposes restructuring the economy so that it serves the individuals of a nation, the ensuing disapproving uproar about the evils of socialism and communism tend to ensure society remains secure in the death grip of capitalism.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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