Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 22: ..Far called, our armies melt away...

A hush has descended on New Brunswick. We have our budget. It's exactly what we might have expected. Large corporations have been exempted from feeling any of the pain at all - just like the American banks who drove the US into recession, then got rewarded with tax cuts and tax payer dollars.

At no point is there any sign of an examination of exactly what has caused our recession. That's like a doctor doing heart surgery without first finding out if there's anything wrong with the heart.

On of the very few experts quoted said it was good to hold the line on taxes. But the budget didn't hold the line on taxes -and it most particularly did not hold the line for anybody making less than a hundred thousand or so a year. If there is a tax on cigarettes, for example, the poor will pay exactly the same tax as the rich. If the rich should become sinful, then,  and decide to take up smoking, the tax is meaningless. But we must save the poor from sinning. That's the trouble with any flat tax. it increases the already huge gap between the very rich and the other ninety-nine percent of us.

Captialism is very good at creating wealth. It is lousy at sharing it. A flat tax, one in which we all pay no matter what our means is not only unfair and harder on the poor, it also contributes to what destroys many societies - too much money and power held by too few at the top who have too much greed and self-interest. That destroys the fabric of a society, with the results we are now seeing in Egypt and Libya. Canada and the US are both far out of line in their distribution of wealth, with both getting worse every year.

The expert consulted on this doesn't see it. That's because he's an accountant. For example, he does not see the rise in the post-secondary costs as a tax because it isn't called one. But the end result is that those who need an education will have to pay more. Minus 200 a year is a tax, by whatever name you may call it. And it's a tax that makes no difference to the rich - but is a death blow to the ambitions of many of the poor and the middle class.

Simlarly, a slight increase in education budget is not "holding the line" when the budget was far below needs in the first place. Again, it won't bother the rich, who send their children to private schools. But it will certainly harm the rest of us.

Worse, there has been no discussion about what caused the deficit - except for rants about civil servants and unions.  The attitude of the government (which is why corporations finance the major parties) is to make us think that corporations come here only to fling tons of loonies at us. In fact, their main purpose is to take tons of loonies out - and with all the freebies they can get from the governments on their way through.

Well, a brief peace. But we will soon hear more about unions, civil servants and other forms of acne. The real game is 1. get people to accept the budget as a reasonable one - and The Moncton Times did what it was told to do. 2. To cut down on civil servants so the government has to contract out as much as possible to private busines. 3. To revamp the civil service so it will work on the model of a private corporation. You know - like those great corporations that caused the world economic crisis. 4. To break unions in general. That way, the corporations can get rid of silly ideas like mimimum wages, pension plans, health insurance,...

An exaggeration? Not al all. That's what happened all over the western world in the 1930s. We've been here before. Many times.
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As usual, the editorial page has a commentary by a "Fellow" of a far right "think-thank", this time the MacDonald-Laurier Institute. Mr.Wilner talks about counter-terrorism, a subject of which he clearly knows nothing.
1. He recommends deterrence (stiff penalties for terrorism). Brilliant -except when was there a time in human history when we did not use deterrence against terrorists? Didn't he hear Bush's speech on why he bombed and then invaded Afghanistan? (Incidentally, Bush was lying. US officials have long ago admitted publicy they have no reason to believe the Taliban had anything to do with 9/11).

2. He advocates attacks on every govenment that harbours terrorists. That would be interesting. Is he aware that the US has sponsored and provided refuge for terrorists it hired to set bombs and kill people in Cuba? Is he aware the US government sponsored a massacre of 200,000 Maya in Guatemala? Whole families? And that Clinton publicly apologized for it? Is he aware that the US bombed cities in Cambodia, deliberately killing a half million civilians? Does he know that Israel was founded by terrorists? Has he never heard of the Stern gang or Irgun?

3. We should also deny terrorists access to targets. What? Are we just letting them in now? Do we put up signs with an arrow and the words "this way to bomb targets"?

 4.Talk to the community the terrorists come from and convince them terrorism is against their religion. Right. It's also against any  major religion I can think of. And terrorism has been practiced by countries of every religion I can think of.

Wilner does not seem to have heard of a point 5 which was been proposed by the British military some sixty years ago. Stop creating terrists in the first place. Give a clear indication to the people we are there to help them - and so try to avoid making a bad impression by killing them.

He might also give some thought to a point 6. Stop putting dictators into power (like "the royal family of Saudi Arabia, the "president" of Egypt. Stopping using such dictators (like Ghadaffi in Libya) to impoverish the people of the country while western oil and mining companies rip off their resources and pollute their land.

I taught a course on military history for some years. This is without question the most childish writing on the subject I have even seen. Editors of military journals would burst into helpless laughter just at the headline "Deterrence making a comeback in counter-terrorism".

Only in The Moncton Times&Transcript. And probably The Gleaner and the Telegraph..

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