Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jounalistic incompetence? or toadying? or both?

Gee golly whillikers. Seems it was just two days ago I said that when the New Brunswick people who count met for their summit meeting on the community, The Moncton Times would report it in flattering terms, and it would run a flattering editorial. Turns out I understimated the The Moncton Times enthusiasm for bootlicking.

It was the lead news article today, Tuesday, which means the story was written before the the first meeting was even held. There really wasn't any story to write yet. It simply repeated what it had already reported several days ago. But there it was, top of page one.

As for the editorial, well, it was obvious the editorial writer was in a dreadful tizzy, worrying about the order in which he/she should lick all those boots.

How would a competent and ethical newspaper have acted?
1. The assignment editor would have assigned a reporter to get information we don't yet have. And he/she would go over some questions with the reporter. For example:
a) Exactly how were the participants chosen? Were they elected? If not, who picked them?
b) Why were teachers selected as a group to be represented? If teachers, why not dentists? and retired people? and the poor? and the unemployed? and electricians? and truck drivers? and country singers? In fact, that whole summit gathering represents, perhaps, one percent of the population - all tarted up to pretend they represent a broad spectrum of opinion.
c) What, exactly, is meant by non-profit groups? Does that mean The Salvation Army and the churches? Does it mean social workers? Does it mean bloggers (I mean, this is as non-proft as it gets.)
Hint - non profit mean the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, New Brunswick's pimp for big business. Technically, it doesn't make a profit for itself. It's job to to spread propaganda that will help its wealthy supporters make profits.
d) What are the unions thinking of in taking part in a scam like this? Now, there's a questiono I'd dearly love to know the answer to.
e) How could the organizers, Ganong and Theriault, make a public announcement of one of the  major recommencations of the report (no tax increases) BEFORE THE SUMMIT HAD ITS FIRST MEETING?
Such an announcement makes the whole summit meeting a farce.
f) If they aren't going to raise taxes, how do they think they are going to reduce the debt?
g) If the leaders of the summit have made it a farce by announcing a conclusion before the group has even met, how can any person of integrity take part in it?

3. As for the editorial, it was, as expected, kiss kiss on both cheeks. The editor agreed completely that there must be no tax increases; and didn't even mention that crashing blunder of annoucing a major recommendation before the meeting was even held.
A very strange thing about the editorial is that the editor did not raise the issue of teachers being represented at an economic summit.  But aren't these the same teachers the editorial writers have been public insulting for their incompetence and laziness for the past year? Has The Moncton Times changed its mind about teachers?

The editorial gives high praise the the business orentation of the summit, and to the addition of the mayor of Moncton. These assure economic wisdom.

The editorial writer seems not to remember that these same business leaders and the mayor of Moncton, just months ago, were coming in their pants with joy at the idea of us borrowing 84 million to build a hockey rink. Hadn't they noticed there was a world economic crisis so obvious that even I knew about it a year ago? And even I knew the government debt was too high. But a business leader like the owner of the hockey team was quoted in The Moncton Times as saying it was a great idea. Will he be one of the experts giving us advice on how to run the economy.?

I haven't seen a combination like that of bad reporting, bad assigning, bad editing, and unethical editorial writing since, well, since four days ago in The Moncton Times.

So let's try another prediction. The editorial page will praise the final report of the summit. Its recommendations will be .....
1. Do not raise taxes - unless you absolutely have to. Then, make sure you do not raise them on big corporations or the wealthy. Hit the middle class and the poor.
2. There will be no mention about electricty rates for large corporations. Those must stay low.
3. There will have to be cuts in government services - like social services, education, that kind of stuff. (But no cut in hockey rinks if the federal government is crazy enough to contribute to a new one for Moncton.  Oh, and of course, we'll keep looking for a CFL team that will just need a few million dollars of taxpayers' help to make some millionaire owner into a billionaire.)
4. There will also have to be cuts in the civil service (but the report won't call it cutting. They'll call it "streamlining" the civil service to make it more efficient.) The same reasoning will be applied to social services and education.
5. There will be a recommendation that a good deal of work now done by government should be contracted out to the coporate leaders who are attending the summit. They will claim this will save taxes. (It won't. It's been tried before, in the US. It's not cheaper. It's more expensive.)

The general message of the summit can be summed up in five words. Government bad. Big business good.
And that's not fair. I have no love for either the Liberals or Conservatives of New Brunswick. I think they're both patsies for corporate leaders. That's why it's not fair to blame the government for our problems. The people to be blamed for our problems are the ones who control whichever party is in governmnent. You can tell lthem that tomorrow when they'll all be gathered at the summit.

Oh - I guess The Moncton Times shouldn't be expected to know ancient history like the 1920s, 30s, and the second world war. The idea behind the summit  - bringing people together to represent certain groups, and then pretending that gives it authority of some sort is called corporatism.  It means that, like this summit, people of power and influence get invited to the summit, with a few other groups, like teachers and unions, added for decoration. There was a surge of corporatism in Europe beginning in the 1920s.

Corporatism is quite different from democracy. Democracy means we all have the same rights - as individuals. Corporatism means we have rights ONLY according the the group we belong to - and the boss gets the right to decide which groups are the ones that count. You have rights, maybe, but only depending on the groups you belong to. And that means that most people have no rights at all.

Earlier this month, the editorials of The Moncton Times patriotically reminded us to remember our war dead and to honour them. Obviously, it has itself forgotten why they died. They died fighting fascism. Corporatism, giving rights according to group membership, was the foundation stone of fascism.

This week, we are taking a giant step back to the 1920s, back to Benito Mussolini - Il Duce. And as I watch the failure of New Brunswick and of the New Brunswick press to even realize what it is happening, let alone their cheering for it, I really despair of this place.

Well, raise right hands high. Palms up. Remember that next November 11.

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