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James Steidle: Nothing worse than bleeding hearts defending billionaires

They will argue success in business is no crime, no matter what the social and environmental costs of that success.
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The existence of billionaires is a failure of our economic system, not a success.

We have too many bleeding hearts, I’m told.

I agree.

Just look at the sad state of affairs. 

Our economy, at almost every level, is becoming ever more concentrated, with increasingly powerful mega-corporations dominating food distribution, meat processing, agriculture, banking, technology, railways, and the list goes on. 

We are getting gouged at the pumps, the grocery stores, and our cell phone bills.

We are being sold garbage that falls apart and breaks down and we keep getting charged more money for it.

Once upon a time, farmers could repair their tractor. Now the giant manufacturers won’t even give them the computer codes to find out what’s wrong with them so the dealerships can gouge them on the repair bill.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of satisfying sawmill and pulpmill jobs throughout B.C. have disappeared, replaced with automated supermills owned by an increasingly small number of forestry megacorps who pull billions in profits and leave the communities in the dust.

The endless drum beat of efficiency and shareholder profit driving the monopolization of our economy has impacted all facets of our lives. Not even the faith in our economic system has been spared.

We haven’t kept track in Canada, but an ongoing Gallup poll found that nearly half of Americans - 48 per cent - were satisfied with the size and influence of big business in American life back in 2001.  Now, in two short decades, this number has fallen to 26 per cent.

I can assure you that opinion is shared widely on this side of the border, where the situation is no better and is likely worse.  

We see ourselves becoming a society excluded from the overall ownership of our economy. Everywhere we turn, the opportunity for entrepreneurship gets whittled away by the great corporations and their subsidiaries.

Whenever there’s a crisis, government regulations and lockdowns seem to hit the mom-and-pop businesses but never the big-box stores, the fast-food joints, or the big meat packers or forestry corporations.

We can’t even build basic tools like screwdrivers for ourselves. And even if we did, we could never do so at the scale necessary to market them on Amazon, the giant behemoth laying waste to brick and mortar small and medium businesses from coast to coast.

The scale of the globalized economy and the power of Chinese manufacturing is insurmountable. And a myriad of government policies from port expansions to free trade deals make this worse.

And yet the bleeding hearts. You hear them constantly coming to the defence of the downtrodden billionaires. They will argue that “efficiency” is the essence of all meaning in life. We do it because “it’s cheaper,” even though our grocery bills say otherwise. They will argue success in business is no crime, no matter what the social and environmental costs of that success.

I’ve grown tired with the bleeding hearts. We’ve shown them enough sympathy. Might is not right, and the existence of billionaires is a failure of our economic system, not a success.

James Steidle is a Prince George writer.

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