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LETTER: Reader takes umbrage with Downey's year-end opinion piece

Barrie resident says Barrie-area MPP has some explaining to do following New Year's Day column

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an opinion piece titled 'COLUMN: Despite progress made in 2020, Downey says there's still 'valuable work' to be done' published on Jan. 1. 

Capitalism fought a bloody battle with communism for 45 years after the Second World War. The capitalist world declared victory 31 years ago when the Berlin Wall came down, ending communist reign in the former USSR and satellite states (Poland, East Germany, etc).

Capitalism defeated communism, not weapons and soldiers. The Iron Curtain’s economy, incapable of self-correction, simply collapsed. They used to trumpet the capitalism’s wastefulness; how production lines manufactured too much product which could not be sold. I recall my own doubt how capitalism could continue in the face of this waste.

What waste? I loved browsing books remaindered for one-quarter the posted price. But there are more examples. “Bargain basements” of many department stores were filled with excess clothing production. I still own some top quality shirts bought very cheaply! Where do you think Dollar Stores and Winners get their stock?

Capitalism has few redeeming features. It squeezes employees and suppliers mercilessly and fights unionization. When unions win higher wages, capitalism moves production overseas. It tries to ignore dreadful working conditions: fires in factories whose exits are locked to prevent theft, children deprived of schooling because parents desperately need their (pitiful) wages, factories constructed so poorly that they collapse, etc.

Capitalism has one redeeming feature, and it is huge: endless renewal. If you are forced into too many “fire sales,” you cannot pay your bills. If too many products do not sell (remember the Edsel and the Aztek?), the company fails. Ford and General Motors survived, but how many people remember Packard or Studebaker?

Broadly, there are two routes to bankruptcy: the simple inability to pay your bills, and being sued into insolvency by customers harmed by your product or service.

Doug Downey, Member of Provincial Parliament for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, made a list of his accomplishments as Attorney General of Ontario.

He forgot one. Ford’s government, presumably led by Downey’s ministry where responsibility for laws lie, made it more difficult – perhaps impossible – to sue long-term care homes. For folk who have been isolated from radio and internet, these facilities are where the overwhelming majority (over 80 per cent) of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have occurred. We knew this through several reports, one famously prepared by Canadian Forces called in to staff nursing homes who could no longer cope with COVID-19.

Am I the only person finding it odd that a Conservative Party touting its capitalist roots has forgotten capitalism’s “saviour”?

Capitalism renews itself by forcing companies making unsaleable products or providing services which fall short of expectations into bankruptcy. That’s when other capitalists can buy the assets of a failed company for pennies on the dollar. Shareholders take a “haircut," while the directors and officers are fired, hopefully for cause and without severance!

“My team has worked to transform and modernize the justice system decades in a matter of months. This means Ontarians will have an easier, faster, and more accessible justice system.” (Taken from Downey`s Jan. 1 column.)

I invite Mr. Downey to explain to us how shielding nursing homes from being sued creates a “more accessible justice system” for Ontarians. Do your job Mr. Downey. Right now, you appear to be Ontario’s minister of injustice!

Peter Bursztyn