By PAT WATSON
September 11, 2001 is a date that the world continues to remember for what happened in the United States on that awful late summer Tuesday. The spectacular destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the business district of New York City and the deaths of nearly 3000 people from all over the globe who worked in that building, as well as rescue workers who tried to save them, remain an indelible memory.
The question of who was responsible has receded somewhat, but the extent to which the U.S. has changed and the tensions that continue to be fed throughout the world as they are attached to the trope of ‘Islamist Terrorist’ remain.
Washington’s decision to invade Iraq should be seen as having something to do with this. The recent appalling strategy of publicizing beheadings of American journalists is but another addition to this chain of tragedies in this post-9/11 era.
Other dramatic transformations have followed that terrible day 13 years ago. Police forces are now militarized. These new ‘robocops’ now hold the line on a status quo with which a growing population does not identify. It is beginning to feel as if the ordinary citizen is now the enemy of the state.
The remarkable change in the world economy has been an even greater assault than the events of September 11, 2001 because it has given rise to a new era of poverty-related despair. Significantly, there has been a tremendous rise in the level of poverty among those living in what used to be considered the richest nation on Earth.
This is not to diminish the repercussions and the anguish of that day. Rather, it is to point out there has been another kind of attack on a much larger population. Post 9/11, ordinary people have become the victims of terrible and callous greed that has left more people destitute than can compare to the number whose lives were extinguished on that fateful day 13 years ago.
The level of homelessness and unemployment has reached epidemic proportions. Economists cautiously labeled it a recession. But there is something else that tells us just how strange our world has gotten. While the rate of unemployment remains uncomfortably high, and job creation remains depressingly low, the gross national product remains high. What that means is that money is making money for the few while labour is not making money for those who need jobs. Money remains and moreover grows in the hands of fewer and fewer individuals and diminishes more and more out of the hands of the many.
Something shifted after 9/11 so dramatically that it bears asking whether the current increase in the level of poverty has anything to do with that tragic day. Was it just coincidence or was it a reaction to that event? Why has money making taken on a life of its own so that it generates itself at the expense of actual job creation? Post 9/11, gamers at financial houses had fallen into a mode of rigging the system so that junk mortgages became the linchpin in a toppling tower of money markets, and a tsunami of mortgage defaults sent the world economic structure into a tailspin from which it still has not recovered.
Specifically, those who were at the bottom of this pyramid scheme have not recovered. Those at the top, those who initiated this insanity, walked away unscathed, and with more money than before, financed by the very people who now have no jobs and no prospects for the near future.
Yet, there have been enough military conflicts post 9/11 to consider that there should be a labour boom taking place. After all, wars boost economies. Instead, the military-industrial complex has been marketing to police forces, large segments of a city can suddenly be transformed into gulags and the class of the poor has been increasing. We have seen all this happen right here in Toronto.
A note on youth job creation…
It’s great that civic groups and government are talking about taking action to address the high rate of youth unemployment. It is an urgent matter, so let’s get on with it.
Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens. Twitter@patprose.