Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18: Propaganda as news that treats as readers as brainless

The Moncton T&T has just begun a new series of economic "studies" on the NB budget. It's all about the faults of the civil service and the unions. That seems odd. If you study a problem, don't you begin by looking at all the elements in the problem? How can one decide the cause of a crisis without looking at business practice, for example, or political corruption, or the impact of big spending on elections?

And shouldn't a sober study of the subject  avoid emotionally evocative words like "worst crisis", "soaring" and inexorable?"

And when we're looking for information, shouldn't we look at other sources besides big business propaganda agencies like AIMS, Canadian Taxpayers' Federation, and The Frontier Insitute?

There is a particularly cheap shot at Moncton workers who got 2.75% raise a year. Did the reporter bother to ask about the incredible rises of pay and bonuses, sometimes at hundreds of percentage points a year - and for companies that are being driven broke - but will be okay because our "nanny" governments step in to bail them out with low interest loans, grants, low electricity rates and other goodies?

How much is the growth in the public service is there to serve big business?

There is a very sensible comment by Professor Hudon of the department of Public Administration at U. de Moncton. But it is so deep in the story that few people will ever read that far. And editors know that.

And if anybody at The Moncton Times and Transcript knows poop about economics, why was the paper campaigning to borrow even more millions for a hockey rink and a CFL franchise just weeks ago?

Then, a reporter, writes two, full pages on an interview with the Minister of Finance,

Then there is a massive two-page interview with Blaine Higgs, and with no fewer than five pictures of him. Now, I admire Mr. Higgs' face as much as all New Brunswickers do. But I think I can get the idea with one picture.

And Mr. Higgs has spent his life as an executive with Irving's. Wow! What a concidence! Is that the same Irving's that owns the The Moncton Times and Transcript and the Fredericton Gleaner and the St. John Telegraph?

In that whole two pages Mr. Higgs says close to nothing. He's encouraged to because the reporter asks close to nothing. Here's a sample passage.
"T&T: "...with a wife and four daughters, I wonder how you manage to adjust the household testosterone level. I am permitted a tom-cat for the household pet."
B:H: "I have a male dog. but he likes his wife more than me.
T&T: "Ha! Are the children all grown up, and are any living in New Brunswick?"

And there's much more. All of it just as good. Look for the part about how much Mr. Higgs enjoyed holidaying in Hawaii and going on an African safari.  Then ask yourself - How many Moncton city workers get to spend holidays in Hawaii and to go on African safaris?  And did Mr. Higgs average less than 2.75%  a year in pay raises?

Very, very few are going to read all this drivel. Editors know that very well. This is not a study of the civil service at all. It is a study in how the editors of TheMoncton Times twist propaganda so it looks like news. A quick read of bits of this will produce what the editors want - a public pushed toward panic at a time of crisis - and a public that believes the whole problem is caused by the civil service and by unions. This has nothing to do with informing the public. It was everything to do with protecting private corporations from paying their share. When we cut budgets for our children's education, or for social help, or for medical care, we aren't harming the families of billionaires or even millionaires. We, who built these corporations, often with our tax money and low wages, are the ones to suffer.

If the Moncton Times and Transcript wanted to do a real study of the causes of this crisis, it would do a study of how much corporations cost us in grants, gifts,subsidies, insider contracts. What is the average annual pay raise plus bonusses for a senior corporate executive? How quickly has that been going up in the last quarter century? If we were getting good service from them at their old payrates, why is it necessary to pay so much more now?

But I don't think testosterone levels at The Moncton Times and Transcript are anywhere close to being enough for the challenge.

And this godawful crap is just the beginning of a four part series.

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