Monday, February 14, 2011

Feb. 14 - Ignotance and/or lying in The Moncton Times

Yesterday, I suggested the newspapers should clearly label who their commentators are, and what they represent. Today has a first rate example of the problem I had in mind. "Fred McMahon." the blurb tells is, "is the Fraser Institute's vice-president of international policy research." Sounds great. But only if you don't know that the Fraser Institute is a pimp for big business, and Fred McMahon is either crashingly ignorant of international policy or he's a liar. I'm afraid there is no middle ground on this one.
His argument is that democracy can develop only in a free market society, but never in a dictatorship. Here's a man who doesn't even understand Canadian and American development.

Business people in Canada were fiercely opposed to the free market until very recent times.  In Canada, it was the Conservatives who led in defence of the protected market. It was the Liberals who wanted a free market, but who gave it up in 1896 to win an election. The US was opposed to the free market even longer than Canada was.

Grand Imperial Wizard McMahon sees a connection between free markets and democracy. In fact, plenty of dictatorships, with full American support have embraced free market treaties. Most of the Latin American dectatorships and fake democracies spring to mind. (And they are all supported by the US.)

Canada and the US embraced free trade because Canadian and American capitalists for well over a century needed a protected market to grow. They changed their minds only when they had grown as big as they could in the domestic market - and were now seeking to penetrate the markets of other countries not yet well enough developed to compete with them.

He also links capitalism to democracy. Bullshit. The US was not founded as a democracy in the first place and, arguably, has never been able to become one. In 1775, way over half the population of the was not allowed to vote. Women, of course, were out. So were the slaves who were forbidden to vote until the 1869s, and then commontly serverely restricted in voting until the 1960s.

In foreign affairs, leaders of American capitalism have commonly used their influence to overthrow elected governments, and install dictatorships. There was the elected president of Chile, murdered and replaced by a general who had US support.  There was the president of Guatemala in the 50s, who was overthrown by a gang of "freedom-fighters", paid and equipped by the US, who overthrew the elected president, then installed a dictatorship with American blessing. There was Haiti which lived for most of a century under the rule of the American army, and then under American-imposed dictators. When the Haitians finally got an elected president who wanted to improve lives, a US armed and paid invaded. The US then invaded "to protect law and order" - and exlied the president. There was the elected president of Iran, overthrown by the US, France and Britain about 1950 in order to hold control of the oil fields. He was replaced by a murdering and torturing dictator, the Shah. There was the elected president of South Vietnam, who was murdered with American cooperation, and then replaced by a series of generals.

Big capitalism isn't interested in democracy. A democracy might want to tax them to pay for silly things like schools and hospitals. A democracy might want them to follow a lot of bureaucratic nonsense - like not poisoning rivers with oil sands and mining wastes. If their must be a democracy, the business prefers democracy in which parties get their funding largely from big business. Check out party finances for Liberals and Conservative in the last NB election. Check out Harper who wants to eliminate government help to parties so that they have to rely almost entirely on big, private money.

McMahon has the mandatory denunciation of Cuba's Castro as a communist ideologue. I doubt whether he McMahon understands either "communist" or "ideologue". And McMahon has to be a liar if he claims not to know that the first country Castro turned to for help was the United States.

Cuba had, like Haiti and Guatemala and so many latin American countries, been decades under the control of extraordinarily brutal dictators. They were loyal to the US because "foreign aid" went directly into the bank accounts of the dictators and a tiny elite, such as generals and higher bureaucrats, around them. In return, they made sure American business had full access to their resources, ownership of anything worth owning, and little to no taxes. (In fact, it is exactly the same way the US controls Egypt.)

Castro wanted Cubans to have some share of their own resources, and some right to shape their own futures. He turned first to the US, meeting with Vice-President Nixon - who turned him down cold. The US would deal only on the old terms. It would pay off the ruling class. The ruling class would then cooperate in the pauperization and suffering of their own people.

Castro knew that no Canadian government would help, not if big brother was opposed. So he turned then to Russia as his only choice for economic survival.

McMahon says the US continually pressed Egypt to become democratic.  In fact, the contrary is true. The US paid off Mubarak and his generals in uncounted billions of "foreign aid".  Even Obama was muted in his reponses to the demonstrators until he had the deal he wanted. Mubarak was out. But the army, bought and paid for by the US, was in. Nothing has changed. What they will attempt now is a fraudulent exlection, establishing somebody like Mubarak again.

Normally, the US does not like democracies unless they, like Canada, are very, very obedient. With very few exceptions, the US has only rarely encouraged democracy. One of its closest allies in the middle east in Saudi Arabia, a religous and dictatorial government that is much like the Taliban.

This is a commentary in which almost every sentence is either a lie or a demonstration of ignorance. In all kindness, I would suggest that McMahan cannot be as ignorant as he appears to be. Nobody is that ignorant.

But this is the kind of crap propaganda the owners of New Brunswick newspapers want people to believe. And, evidently, we have the kind of editors who will do what they're told. The fundamental role of The Moncton Times and Tribune is to keep us in ignorance of just about everything - unless it's something like the Rivalry Cup or who's coming to the casino.

For several summers, I taught journalistic ethics to working journlists in China. In that highly dictatorial and lying country, I saw more newspaper ethics than I have seen in New Brunswick.


  1. Hello:

    I think we met a few years ago at a history conference. I teach Canadian history at UNBSJ. I moved back to NB in 1999 and I was shocked by the tone, biases and poor quality of the print media. The Telegraph Journal has been particularly controversial. I have been tracking some of its excesses since 2004-it got really bad in 2007.

    Greg Marquis

  2. I miss teaching. I really loved it. However, I will be doing a free course in Moncton for six weeks. It's one I designed at Concordia, and it always did well. History of recreation and leisure in Canada. (And it's not nearly as fluffy as it sounds.) It takes in education, social aspects of sport, literature, the meaning of wilderness..lots of fun.
    The print media in NB are bad news. And I've been disappointed at the failure of universities to response to their destructive neo-conservative campaigns to take over public education. I'm disappointed at their silence, but notsuprised. I've never know university administrations to have much in the way of integrity.

  3. Spell check is a great tool.
    Ignotance, dectatorships, exlection...
    and grammar: 'If their must be a democracy'.

    'A democracy might want to tax them to pay for silly things like schools and hospitals.'
    Companies don't pay taxes. They simply pass the costs on to the consumer. If you require a company to pay excessive taxes, they will simply move themselves and the jobs to a better place.

  4. Thank you for your corrections. Happily, you were able to understand what I wrote - and I would gather from your other comment that this is a rare experience for you.

    Right. Companies don't pay taxes. So why do they raise such a stink about it? (In our corporate welfare state, we routinely hand out gifts to corporations - though not yet at quite such a rate as the US does.

    But how can there be excessive taxes if they don't pay taxes in the first place?

    Look - to say that companies will move if we chage them excessive taxes is a truism -as, for example, meat will rot if left out of the fridge too long. Of course. The questions are -what is too long? what is excessive?
    When does our help to them become excessive - as in extendiing free interest loans, money gifts, uncompetitive contracts, crown lands, etc.
    It's a big world out there. Try to learn more about it.

  5. God Almighty you're a bitter man. You daily heap scorn and criticism upon the newspaper and the people who do their best to publish it despite obvious pressures from above...but the very least reference to errors in spelling or grammer in YOUR work and you respond in a harsh and childish manner. That reflects on the integrity of your total efort.

  6. Ah, I see. "people who do their best to publish it despite obvious pressures from above." You are probably an employee of the paper, or the relative of one.

    Look. I'm sorry I have to tell the truth. But the people of New Brunswick are being manipulated and damaged by unethical newspapers. And if anybody at the Moncton Times is struggling to end that, I have yet to see any sign of it.

    I did respond to you harshly. That's because I thought your comment was loutish. I think I can understand now why you wrote as you did.

    On spelling, I have a very busy life. It's hard for me to get these blogs out every day. My blog system doesn't have spell check. I read each one over - but it's still in a hurry as I try to get on to the next thing I have to do. And I can't afford an editor.

    For the future, you should be aware that I have to approve any comment before it appears. That is not my idea. Blog systems are set up that way.

    I shall, of course, continue to approve anything you send. If the comment is simply to be abusive, I shall p;ublish it but not respond to it.

    If you should actually show an interest in discussing some point, I shall be delighted to respond.