It has been a while since my last blog post, and a lot has happened since then. While I have been vlogging regularly on my YouTube channel, the backyard harvest season, and back-to-school period, have taken most of my time. With winter already coming, I would like to get back to sharing my thoughts on my blog as well.
In November, in a result that surprised the world, the US elected a new president. An election result resembling the Brexit vote, the discontent of the people and their desire for change. Just days ago, a similar outcome of the Italian constitutional referendum – backlash against the status quo. It reminded me of the way people in post-comunist Eastern Europe were looking for change in the perpetual economic crisis we were living in.
The election results, time after time, showed also the way ordinary people see the world we’re living in – the “jobless recovery”, the fake unemployment statistics, the rising prices of goods and services, the decreasing quality of life. This is what people hope will change.
Personally, I did not support either Mrs Clinton or Mr Trump. It is a fact that, no matter who got elected, the situation the US would still be the same – the US national debt would still stand (as of November 11, 2016) at $19.86 trillion, there would still be more than 94,609,000 people ‘not in the labor force’, and the labor force participation rate, at 62.8%, would still have been at near-historic lows.
For Canada, these same numbers are: National debt of $633.7 billion (as of December 6, 2016), number of people ‘not in the labor force’ for 2015 was more than 10,000,000, and the labor force participation rate was at 65.8%.
The new reality of part-time, low-paying jobs and temporary work, is where people want to see change. They want to have better jobs, higher salaries, job security, benefits and pensions. This is the reason for the frustration expressed by Canadians during a young workers’ summit last month when, during a meeting with the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, young people turned their backs on him, in order to show the Prime Minister how they feel he has turned his back on them. It was also their reaction to the remarks, a few days earlier, of the federal finance minster, Bill Morneau, that people should get accustomed to precarious working conditions – meaning multiple careers, part-time and/ or temporary work, with no benefits or pension, often times at a low or minimum wage. He simply told them to get used to ‘the new normal’, the new reality we’re living in.
Unfortunately, Mr Morneau is right: “high employee turnover and short-term contract work will continue in young (and not so young) people’s lives”, and there really isn’t much that he, or Mr Trump in the US, can do about it. At the very least, he is honest about it.
We have a number of different processes, all hapenning simultaneously, and all of them leading to the same result – more part-time jobs, less jobs available, and lower salaries. Some of the more important of these processes are: globalization, automation and robotisation, and an aging baby boomer population that will need more healthcare, pensions, etc.
In my next articles, I will try to go into more details about each and every one of these processes. I will also start laying out some simple steps that could help with the rising cost of food, living more frugally, and having a (relatively) good quality of life despite the changes that we are witnessing all around us. We need to change our way of life, and our way of thinking, in order to survive this “new normal”, survive these tough times we are facing.
And, while we are hoping that the government will, in fact, think about ‘How do we train and retrain people as they move from job to job to job?’, and that the government will also provide the help promised by Mr Morneau as he said that “we need a way to help people through their career … something that will soften that blow”, in addition to all of that, we still need to find ways to help ourselves too.