Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14: Propaganda is welcome at The Moncton Times and Transcript.

It wouldn't be The Moncton Times without its daily dose of propaganda from  neo-conservative "think-tanks." Today's is from one of the seedier outfits, even by Moncton Times standards, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. The source is Troy Media, an organization that specializes in distributing propaganda for big business. The writer, Cam Dahl, is what journalists call a flack, someone whose job it is to get big business propaganda into the media. Good journalists treat this sort of thing with caution. The Moncton Times doesn't have many good journalists.

Mr. Dahl opens with a line that is both trite and meaningless. "We owe our envious lifestyles to science."
Well,  lifestyle is a word so vague nobody knows quite what it means. Roughly, it seems to mean the way we live. That includes war, corruption, millions in Canada living below the poverty line (tens of billions around the world), a love for display, and piling up wealth based on cheap labour and the poverty all that causes. Is this entirely enviable? And who is us? Obviously, it's not most of the people around the world. It may not mean even most in Canada.

It seems to me that much of what is enviable in our "lifestyles" has nothing to do with science. Science did not invent "Though shalt not kill" or "Thouw shalt not steal", Nor "love they neighbour". But I think moral standards have a good deal to do with creating an envious "Lifestyle) - whatever that means. Indeed, there have been many successful societies in history that survived with very little science. I cannot think of one that has survived with some code of morality  (and most those codes remarkably similat to each other.)

The thrust of his his commentary is that people like David Suzuki don't know what they're talking about. (Mr. Dahl has an Master's degree in science. (Whoopee! That, and a dollar fifty will get you a coffee.) That's kind of a tricky argument because thousands of scientists around the world agree with Suzuki  - and Dahl's whole point is that it is dangerous and foolhardy  to turn our backs on science. In fact, his real point is we should turn our backs on science.

I don't know what Dahl learned in his science degrees; but it cerrtainly wasn't logic.

His main concern is genetic engineering of crops. He says this is the way for the future to feed the poor,etc. Well, feediing the poor is not entirely what he is about. Genetic engineering can produce bigger crops. But it's a private business; and you have to buy fresh seed from each year. See what that means to a farmer in a poor region?

His country is poor. The World Bank generously offers it aid money. But there is a little catch. It has to spend the money in a rich country to buy seed - every year - forever. The World Bank (which really represents western business) is happy. Private suppliers are happy. But....

Before, the farmer was able to get seed from one year's crop to plant the next year's crop. Now, he can grow more, but at such a greater cost than he and his family are poorer than ever.Meanwhile, his extra food can be exported to maintain our envious lifestyle.

He also attacks scientists who claim no technology should be used until it is proven safe. "This," he says "is a ridiculous and dangerous interpretation."  Really? Perhaps The Moncton Times and Transcript should alert the Japanese government about this so they can stop worrying about radiation from nuclear plants.

(By the way, ever wonder why Somalia fishermen suddently became nororious pirates, holding ships for ransom? It might have somoething to do with their fish disappearing. And the fish disappeared - and people started dying - because western companies and governments were dumping shiploads of nuclear and chemical waste along the waters and the shores of Somalia. Simlarly polluted shores can be found in much of Africa.)

This is a silly, uninformed and illogical article which says we shouldn't turn our backs on science, then says we should - which makes most money for billionaires. And the editors of the Moncton Times make sure that commentaries like this appear frequently.

Let's  learn a new word today. In yiddish,, a commentary like this is called schlock. Good word, schlock.

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