A Culture of Dependence

I’ve referred to Robert Paterson’s posts many times before and I like his approach of looking at the systemic causes of our economic and learning challenges. Rob has recently posted a document that outlines how to build a post-industrial economic model. It makes much use of the work of Rob Cross and Richard Florida. The premise is that we have to change our culture by developing loose networks that can become social spaces and later incubators for change and economic development. Rob gives some case studies in his paper and from a short distance I have watched this happen on PEI and it’s quite exciting. I think that this statement sums up Rob’s perspective:

Adventurous people create sustainable jobs not government. Buildings don’t create sustainable jobs. Creative people create sustainable jobs.

A different perspective comes from Moncton. David Campbell is a new featured blogger on CBC Radio One, where he discusses economic development. My reading of his blog is that we need to get more outside investment into the province so that we can create more jobs. Jobs equal economic development.

When Irving, UPM-Kymmene or any of the other large forestry companies in New Brunswick start closing their plants and laying off thousands of people (like Nackawic), I hope Veniot, Taylor and the NDP lady [CBC Radio political pundits] will be prepared to shoulder some of the blame. They, in effect, help shape public opinion on issues such as this. The forestry industry is a critical economic driver for the province. The industry is sending a very clear message. The government is delaying and the pundits are calling for politicians to "stand up" to the industry. "Fight for the rights of New Brunswickers".

One perspective is to grow our own business (Rob Paterson calls these jobs but many are in fact independent workers) while the other is to find large corporations that provide us with traditional industrial jobs. I think that being a salaried employee within a corporation is a state close to indentured servitude. The larger the corporation, the more dependent you are. You are dependent on someone or something else for your wage and in return you yield to the corporation. A population of salaried workers is in effect a dependent population – dependent on the corporations for jobs, security and economic vision. David’s reference to Nackawic shows how one town became completely dependent on one multinational employer, who left them on short notice. I see these two views as offering the choice of a new vision that will take longer to implement but will be more sustainable while the latter looks to continue the dominance of managerial capitalism. Rob’s view of local networks (of small businesses and free agents) that create local wealth and social security is more robust than David’s model of attracting more external capital to create jobs for indentured servants.

Given the extremely low costs of international communication today, we can connect to almost any market in the world, so our geographical location is no longer a limiting factor to our economic growth. Our culture of dependence is.

3 Responses to “A Culture of Dependence”

  1. Anonymous

    16 tonsReading this post I suddenly, and quite unconsciously, began humming Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “16 Tons.”

  2. Anonymous

    and what do you get?… a little bit older and deeper in debt. ‘Cause I sold my soul to the managerial capitalists 😉


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