There is a hotel in rural BC. It was taken over by rich Americans who already owned two other hotels. They renovated the building. They increased the price of everything. They tried to clean the place up, they barred some of their best customers. In their efforts to turn it into an upscale place, they ended up having to sell it and a group of people who patronized the hotel came forward to buy it. So now, instead of being owned by foreigners expanding, this hotel is owned by people that live around it and go to it and have an interest in preserving its character.
Let me tell you the story of a mill, also in rural BC, whose owners decided to shut it down forever. The people who cared about this mill the most and it’s impact in the community were able to get it and own it for themselves, investing their money close to home, where they also invest their time, in an industry that benefits their community and provides for its future. This is real wealth creation, made possible by the turbulent state of the economy.
I could tell you about a documentary I saw about Argentina, where there was a financial crisis and the money wasn’t worth anything. Foreign investment pulled out, and because factories were not paying their workers, the workers ended up owning the factories, which they had an interest in keeping running. Where they once worked for bosses, they now own, and manage in a way that benefits the largest number of people. If the owners of a business live in the environment where the business takes place, they will manage it quite differently than if they are scattered around the world, interested only in the profits the business is making. The impression I got from the documentary was, that in the end, the country of Argentina will be better off for having had a financial crisis than they would have been if they had continued to be exploited by multinational corporations, WTO and the world bank.
Imagine how the Canadian economy could change if the companies that export our natural resources in a raw state were no longer viable. If the multinationals that spread disease in our waters with very little thought to the future of our food sources were not able to continue, it wouldn’t be a tragedy. If our manufacturing jobs were worker owned, there would never be a reason to move them overseas to countries with lower standards. Can you imagine an economy where people invest their money in goods and services, which they want to continue to use and patronize in the community around them in the future as well as the present?
If, for example, the international group which took over BC ferries were to succumb to financial crisis, the province of BC, as the former owner, could then repossess what they never should have sold, and reinstate it as a public service. This is perhaps the only way this could happen, legally and fairly.
Perhaps it is time to put the money where the heart is, close to home, in services and industries you use and value for yourselves and your community, and use our investments to help create the sort of future we actually want to see happen. Money is but a token of our time, effort, and energy; the economy exists as a result of where we place it.