Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 30: The Moncton Times&Transcript: from low ethikcs to no ethics

At first, it's the trivia that catches your attention - the royal wedding that's on both the front page and the news section,  with gushier prose than ever; AND with more ga-ga pictures.

Then we're back again to the hardline progranda. It's about that busrdly expensive hockey rink our mayor  and the T&T prefer to call a multipurpose centre. If this is going to be such a profitable project, why not let the Irvings, Ganongs, etc. pay for it? Then, they can have all those great profits.

But New Brunswick doesn't have governments like that, not at any level. When the owner of the hockey team wants a new arena at low cost to him, then it's a civic need, and we have to pay for it. But when it comes to giving away tens of thousands of acres or subisidizing corporate energy bills, then we are reminded of the importance of helping private corporations. (In both cases, we pay.)

It gets worse.

In its last issue before the election, The Moncton Times (which has so far pretty much ignored the election) has four pages of election candidates going "Head to Head", duking it out with the tough but fair editors of the T&T. Actually, it was five pages of kiss-kiss trivia. I guess the editors were just all tired out from watching a day of re-runs of the royal wedding.

And it gets worse.

The six candidates chosen were Liberal and Conservative. Only Liberal and Conservative.

I'm not surprised that the T&T editorial boad can be so contemptuously, openly, and insultingly unethical. I am a little (well, only a little) surprised that political candidates would be willing to take part in such a journalistic and political fraud.

So I thank the T&T for letting us know which  politicians are as unethical as its editors are. (I have friends in journalism across Canada and in Asia. Some are not very scrupulous in their reporting. But even the worst of them  get a kick out of these stories about the T&T).

As it has been from the start, the Whatever section is the best part of the paper. This is the section of stories and commentaries by students in our public schools. This time, in another excellent idea, they include French-speaking students.

 Some were thoughtful. A couple were quite touching. All were well written. All were superior to anything I have seen in a T&T editorial column. ( Dr. Wallace's adivce column for teens is a sound one.)

I taught writing for six years in public school. I also taught it as a major part of my university history courses. I have been a professional writer for major markets. These students are good. Our public schools are doing an excellent job.

Just to sneak in a couple of thoughts on two of the columns:
1.For Nathan Tinzler who wrote about rugby - British Rugby came to us from British
 offiicers based in the colonies. But it was played only by the upper classes. So it was that the upper claases in Canada made it a game strictly for their social set. In those days, that was pretty much the only social set that could go to university; so Rugby became the big, university game.

The rules were confusing, though. So they were re-written, most at McGill, to become a new game - North American football. But it was still a game only for the rich.
That's why the Stanley Cup was originally for the amateur championship of Canda. The thinking was that anyone who accepted money for playing a game could not be a "gentleman" of suitable class.
And that's why, to this day, most pro football players went to university. Most  other pros - boxers and hockey players and jockeys, etc. did not.

2. For Aureli Pare, who wrote a very mature piece on putting those things we have a passion for into a balance with what we need for ourselves. That is generally true. But, if you're very lucky, you can find a passion that doesn't take from you, but gives to you.

I felt that way from my first day of teaching. The passion took nothing out of me, but added a great deal. I even did some supply teaching after I retired - until I realized they didn't want me to teach, just to baby-sit. So now I do voluntary teaching for Tantramar senior's college..

Mind you, I also have passions for painting and writing.  At that point, I agree with you. Too many passions, and one does end up looking like Easter Island.

Congratulations to all you students. Congratulations to  your teachers. Congratulations to your parents. Even the brightest of students can do badly without stimulating parents.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29: Norbert Cunningham - Bottom Feeder

Today's column at the foot of the editorial page  is a collector's item.

Norbert is in a real tizzy because the election has been so boring and, for Liberals and Conservatives, so negative. He has the grace to say that Layton has been performing well - but the lack of grace to say he considers him goofy and stiff. (Nothing wrong with saying that - if you're also willing to to say similar things about Stephen Harper and James Irving. The ball is in your court, Norbert.)

In fact, this whole column is an attack ad against the parties that he criticizes for running attack ads. Norbert has no shown no sense of what the major issues are. (Mr. Irving probably hasn't told him yet.)

The election campaign was boring and is now confusing not because of the politicians Mr. Cunningham excoriates. It's boring because editors like those at The Moncton Times and Transcript have never informed the public about the issues, and have old us very little about the policies. Indeed, all we know about NDP policies from the T&T is that Norbert thinks them goofy. Some politicians are at fault. But the greater fault lies with our news media. In Moncton, it especially lies with a dreadfully ignorant and sometimes lying editorial board at the T&T.  For example:

In 2008, Harper was threatened by the possibility of a coalition of the opposition parties. He took the stand that such a coalition was illegal under the Canadian constitution. Norbert Cunningham and the editors at the T&T in general took up the cry that this was illegal. In fact, the constitution doesn't even mention parties.As well, and again despite the views of Cunningham and  his wretched paper, the leader of the largest party does not have the right to be prime minister. Indeed, the prime minister is not in the constitution, either.

The editors of the T&T  certainly have the right to publish whatever opinon they like. But in this case, they were either ignorant of the Canadian consitution and of Canadian history, or they were lying. It can only be one or the other. There is no middle ground.

If we are ignorant of the issues, it's because our news media have deliberately kept us ignorant - and Norbert has been a lead player. That's why New Brunswick has a Liberal Party that is exactly the same as the Conservative party. And of all of die hard liberals and conservatives out there, not one in ten thousand even knows what the words liberal and conservative mean. And I'm afraid the editors of The T&T aren't a part of the small group that does know.

In another con game, when a handful of people held a protest about the closing of Moncton High, every news medium in the city gave it full coverage. In fact, there was no story. Of a good two thousand or more parents available, there weren't enough parents at the protest for a decent game of dice. There was no story. But all the new media ran it as the big story of the day. Why?

1. Journalists can be like sheep. They follow the herd.
2. For the Times, it was a chance to further villify the school system.

They had been running an intense campaign against the teachers and the  education councils. Most of it was lies. The rest was vicious slander. The purpose was to discredit public schools so the Irvings and Ganongs and their friends could step in to suck more money out of the province.

When the Superintendent and the council chairman wrote to correct what the paper had been saying, their letters were published, and the paper laid off a bit. But it never admitted it had been wrong.

All of this time, a major writer for the T&T was a member of the education council. Why was he silent? Who put him on the council? (He obviously knows nothing about education.) Who does he really represent?

I spoke to the council last October. (Of course, the story neve made the T&T). That reporter and at least two other members were linked to corporate New Brunswick. I suspect you would find the pattern through home and school and many other groups in the province.

If our election was boring, Mr. Cunningham, it was so largely because of you and other private news media in the city. It was because of your betrayal of fundamental principles of journalism that we don't know what's going on and, not knowing, don't care.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 38: how to spot propaganda in your news.

All news media contain some propaganda, even the best and most honest of them. For example, those who killed innocent civilians at the world trade centre were called terrorists. And rightly so. Their purpose was to create terror. So our press referred to them as terrorists.

Some years earlier, an American (and Christian ) group had blown up a building full of innocent civilians, including those in a daycare centre. That was a deliberate act of terror. But no major news source in North America called the killers terrorists.They were called militia.  So it is, too, with anti-abortionists who murder doctors and plant bombs in abortion clinics.

Similarly, another American terrorist group was discovered this past year to be planning to kill two policemen, and then to plant a bomh their  public funeral. In our news, they were, of course,  not terrorists. They were militiamen.

The US organized the slaughter of 200,000 Guatemalan native peoples from the elderly to babies. Clinton admitted it publicly, and apologized for it. Far from calling this a terrorist act, most of the North American news media never even reported it.

Watch for the choice of words.

Today, the editorial page has a commentary from The Fraser Institute, a propaganda front for very big business. It's headed ,"Your annual income tax in only a protion of your total tax bill."

It begins with figures on how much we spend on taxes. All of the figures are quite correct, including such things as income tax, health insurance, pension payments, and so on. Then the commentary leaps to the give-away line " ... that means 42.3 prcent of of the family's income goes for the cost of government."

The iimplication is clear. The government takes all that away from us for itself. It is a bottomless pit, and a drain on our finances. Government costs us more than our basic needs do.

Whoa. Back up just a moment. Taxes that provide pensions are money dropped into a pit? Surely, much of that money is not for government. Their choice of words sets up government as a straw man. Much of that money goes for medicare and pensions which, I think, are basic needs for most of us.

And if we didn't pay that money to government for those needs, we would have to pay private companies for those needs. Through our taxes, all Canadians can get medical care. In the US, medical costs through private health insurance are far higher than ours, and millions can't get any medcial care at all. That's why the US has a high infant mortality rate

In this case, as in others,taxes don't cost us money. They save us money. The bogeyman of waste and inefficiency isn't the government. It's private business. Similarly, we could do away with property taxes. But then each of us would have to pay a bill to hire private firms to maintain our streets, clear snow, create parks,and all the rest.

That, like the privatization of health care, would not save us money. It would cost us more money, much more. And, as with health care in the US, millions of Canadians would not be able to have cleared streets, garbage removal, piped water, or even indoor toilets.

That's how the Fraser Insistute, like AIMS, churns out its propaganda, seemingly based on solid statistics. Choice of words is one of the keys.

The other key is in the last line of the commentary. Note both the choice of words (extract is a bad-sounding word; accountable is a good-sounding word) and the reasoning. The sentence is:

"Armed with this knowledge we can, at least, hold our governments more accountable for the resources they extract." Government is evil. It "extracts" "our resources". "Accoutable" is a good , repsonsible word.

Another key to propaganda  is to avoid certain pieces of data. In this case, there is almost no mention of the private sector.

We do,  in fact, hold our governments accountable. It's done through something called democracy  (which, admittedly, is pretty much dead in New Brunswick). But the greater part of our spending does not go to government. It goes to the private sector. Shouldn't we hold the private sector responsible  how it uses our money?

Shouldn't we wonder why gas prices are rising at the same time that oil companies are reporting record profits? We know the statistics about government budgeting. What about the statistics on Irving budgeting? How much income tax did Irving industries pay last year? How much did it get, directly and indirectly, from government?

We already hold our governments responsible for what they do with our money. Shouldn't we hold private companies reponsible for our money? After all, private and public money are really the same kind of money, and both of them come from the same place. You and me.

Oh, all of the big deficits in Canadian history, both federal and provincial, have been run up by Conservative and Liberal governments, with the Conservatives (big favourites of The Fraser Institute) having the worst record.

Like all good propaganda, the wording of this article is skilful. It looks reasonable and informed. In reality, it peddles old myths through its choice of words and its selection of data.

Expect The Moncton Times&Transcript to publish these propaganda pieces more often leading up to the election. The original strategy of ignoring the election, probably to lower the turnout, has fallen apart in the past week. The "think-tanks", with the help of boot-licking editors at the Moncton T&T,  have now to worry about what could be a very large turn-out. So they have to shovel out more propaganda.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27: God bless you, M. Thibodeau

The government, which is quite eager to have us all borrow millions to pay for a deluxe hockey rink, is demanding that our schools, already so underfunded they have to impose fees to pay for supplies - and many of which are dangerously crumbling- is demanding the schools cut even more.

Can you imagine it treating a major corporation that way? The Education Minister has demanded to see the books for the French language schools of Metro Moncton. Can you imagine any government of the last fifty years asking to check the books of a corporation when it pleads that its taxes are too high? Or that it needs a low-cost loan or, more likely, a handout?

The game is obvious. The provincial debt is high (though certainly not from overspending on education).That debt is going to be paid by the general public, you and me. It is not going to be paid by the wealthy. So the hell with our children and their schools.

Enter m. Thibodeau, chairman of the District 1 (francophone) education council. He did something I have never seen anybody do to the hack politicians and corporate rulers of this province. He told the minister, in effect, to fuck off.

Perhaps, someday, New Brunswick  will become a democracy, and will no longer be ripped off by greedy corporations assisted by servile politicians and a contemptible press. When that day comes, I want to suggest  that m. Thibodeau's portrait become the provinical crest with, beneath his face, a motto along the lines of the words I suggest at the close of the paragraph above.

m. Thibodeau is that rare person (in New Brunswick, an endangered species), to display ethics, honesty, and courage in public life. I congratulate him. I envy him.We should all learn from him.

God bless you, m. Thibodeau.

Oh, for a stomach churning contrast, look at p. A3. "Irving to be honoured", (Builder of Youth Award presentation). Tickets are $250 each. That means that most of the youths Mr. Irving  has developed won't be able to afford it.

Well, that's the way it goes. Remember how Obama got the Nobel Prize for Peace?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 25: We are saved. Hallelujah; we are saved.

For an important report , it was placed, quietly enough, on p. A3 of The Moncton Times&Transcript. And it's an important story from many angles.

Mr. Alward got elected on a promise that he would listen to people. And he has. He hasn't done anything. but he has listened. However, that has changed. Now, he's going to do something.

For some time, Mr Alward has been listening to David Ganong and Camille Theriault. You may recall these eminent gentlemen were closely associated with a Mr. Irving in the economic summit of some months ago. You may also recall it was shortly later that Mr;. Irving announced to the world that he and his friends were now a part of the government (without all that nasty bother about getting elected.)

His friends, Ganong and Theriault pitched an idea to Mr. Alward - which that worthy pronounced an excellent idea. They are forming a group coming out of the economic summit which will revive the New Brunswick economy. The group will be much the same as that for the economic summit. That is, it will mostly be people like Ganong,Theriault,. Irving and their senior flunkies as the main movers, but with, a few small businesss people, a scattering of university presidents and some "polly wants a cracker" professors who will attend as potted plants. Mr. Alward has agreed to join them. (Well, not all potted plants are decorative.)

Note - our elected premier has not said he will adopt their idea. . Ganong and the boys are doing it whatever Alward says. Ganong is quoted in the article as saying he and his boys would run the show; they just wanted to make sure the government would not oppose them. 

A New Brunswick premier?  Opposing a corporation wish? Donne-moi un break?  Our elected premier wagged his little tail for the big kids, and said he accepted their leadership. So guess who really runs the province.

Their plan was developed 10 years ago in Oregon. As in NB, it began with an economic summit. What a coincidence! The idea was to make government a partner along with big business, universities and colleges to raise the employment rate and income in Oregon compared to other states.   And how has it done in Oregon?

In the last ten years, the unemployment rate in Oregon has tripled; and  the poverty rate has remained at the US average. It is not surprising, then, that no state governor has been dumb enough  to buy into such a scheme. (Yes, buy is the correct word. The schemers have already suggested "making capital more available to enterprises" Guess who is going to supply that capital).

It's been a long road. This is what the economic summit and the visit of Jeb Bush over a year ago were all about. This is what those commentaries from Atlantic Insititute of Market Studies and The Frazer Institute, etc. on the op ed pages of The Moncton Times&Telegraph were all about. This is why Alward said nothing when Irving made the arrogant and unconstitutional statement that he had formed a coalition with the government.

We're being taken -again. But this time, nobody is even petending that the opinions of government or people matter a damn. Irving's announcement just before Christmas that he had formed a coalition with the government was the signal that even pretend democracy was dead. The silence of Alward and all our elected representatives and our press told us "signal read and understood".

It's amazing how much western capitalism has been distorted over the last fifty years to resemble soviet communism in its latter days. It really has. Perhaps that's what happens to all economic systems.

Some day, I'll have to write a little piece on that to show the similarities between the two. Maybe I can publish it in The Moncton Times&Transcript&Pravda.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25: to the editor- please clean up after you horse.

Today, the editorial page of The Moncton Times and Transcript featured a commentary by Alan Dowd, Sernior Fellow, no less, of The Fraser Insitute. (In fact, Mr. Dowd has a long history of being a fellow or director or writer for all sorts of these coporation-financed, propaganda-spouting outfits. He also is a frequent contributor of wisdom for magazines on the very far right,  commenting on everything from health care to foreign affairs and how to fight wars. And what training does he have for this?

Well, he has a BA in politics from Butler University. (clap. clap.) And he has an MA in Philanthropic Studies (whatever that might be.)

Butler U. offers a list on the web of its distinguished graduates - two Indianapolis race drivers, a baseball pithcher, Jim Jones (the preacher who kiled his followers with poison), and lots of other people I've never heard of.  The don't mention Alan Dowd.

I don't blame them.

Today's gem deals with the NATO war in Libya. Dowd's writing style is almost incoherent. But enough can be abstacted to figure our he is saying that the war in Libya is protect civilians, and that the US must contribute more military power. In short, there is enough coherent text for any person with common sense (even if without a master's degree in Philanthropic studies) to realize that Dowd is either a fool or a liar.

NATO is not intervening in Libya as a humanitarian effort of any sort. If it ever wanted to do such a thing, it would have pressed for a no fly zone over Iraq when the US and Britain invaded to kill over a million civilians. (Isn't that enough to count as a massacre?)

It would now be ordering no-fly zones over Bahrain where that country's troops, backed up by Saudi Arabian troops, are now mudering protestors - not rebels, protestors. In Saudi Arabia, itself, the army is tortutring, and killing protestors. NATO could surely enforce a no fly zone over Gaza where Israeli jets and helicopters routinely attack defenceless civilians. Or they could have a no fly zone in Pakistan where US drones are routinely killing Pakistani civilians. But not a word on any of those from our hypocrite leaders.

Dowd would have to be unspeakably dense not to have figured that out. So I call him a liar to be polite. After all, It's rude to make fun of a person for being unspeakably stupid.

There is plenty of evidence that American, British and French agents fomented the uprising in Libya. There's plenty of evidence the rebels do not have majority support. There's plenty of evidence the object of the intervention is to replace Ghadaffi with a more agreeable leader.

Oh, I know. Ghadaffi is a bad man. So what? The leaders of NATO have never had trouble supporting bad men, from generations of torturing, murdering dictators in Central America, to a torturing, murdering Shah in Iran, to the King of Saudi Arabia, probably the severest and most fanatical leader in the in the middle east. So why pick on Ghadaffi?

In fact, Ghadaffi has been a close ally to Britain, France and the US for at least a dozen years. Why the sudden, bad feelings?

Ghadaffi has been a bad boy. He has allowed the Chinese a share of Libya's oil fields. And it gets worse.

The US, followed by Britain and France has been pushing for a union of South Africa. It would, of course, be managed by NATO puppets under US leadership - and it would keep all of Africa's resources, markets, and cheap labour for the NATO powers - mostly the US.

Oh, Mr. Dowd's use of terms like "time-limited" means it should go on as long as necessary; and "scope-limited" means we should send in ground troops. Yeah. That'll save a lot of civilian lives. In short, he wants another Iraq or Afghanistan becasue Ghadaffi has to be replaced by a stooge. But the only ones who will get humanitarian aid our of  that are corporations based in NATO countries.

Anyway, the troops on the ground are already there. They're called advisers, consultants, technical support - just like they were when Kennedy sent them to Vietnam. In fact, there were almost certainly small groups of NATO special forces in Libya before there was a rebellion. It's almost certainly that they are the ones who started it. Did The Moncton Times and Transcript carry the story about a leading rebel figure who was a general in the Iranian army, but who defected to the US years ago to become a CIA asset?

Guess the name of a major New Brunswick corporation that provides support for propaganda hacks like Alan Dowd.  I would guess that Dowd makes big money for what he does. So forget med school or law. Get a BA in politics with an MA in philoanthropy. The kiss the right asses.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23: Good and Awful

The two pages of student commentaries in the "Whatever" section continue to be an excellent, well-written feature. One of the students took on the same topic as the editorial page editor did just yesterday. Editor Norbert Cunningham's article was absurdly extreme, negative, and badly written. Student Alex Corbett's was focussed, well-written, reasonable and positive. So I guess we do have a future to look forward to.

More typical of The Moncton Times as it is today is a column from one of the paper's favourite neo-conservative-god-damn-the- government-three-cheers-for-big-corporations "think tanks". This time it's The Fraser Institute.

Its point is simple (minded) enough. Private medicine and private insurance is the most economical and efficicent method is distributing health care.

How can they be such clowns as to say that? Sheer stupidity isn't enough to explain how they arrived at that opinion. They also must have in the course of their "research" neglected to look at other health systems in the world.

The United States' system, the type The Fraser Institute is urging on us is the last (or one of the last) private health care and private health insurance systems in the world. It's also the world's most expensive and most inefficient one. As well, American health figures, including life expectancy and infant survivial are among the worst in the developed world. Even little Cuba is way ahead of the US in  health care.

In the US, millions can't get any health care at all; and the number is rising. In the US, the most common case of bankruptcy, especially for seniors, is the cost of getting sick.

In fact, there is a much simpler and cheaper way to care for an aging population. We keep medicare because it's long proven itself far the most efficient and cost-effective way of providing health care.Then what we do is to look at how we raise money to pay for it.

The major problem of both Canada and the US is that our wealth is increasingly ending up in the pockets of a handful of the very rich. This process of ripping off the poor and the middle class has been going on for decades. That is not only bad economics. It also is the most destructive force one can turn loose on a society. North American capitalism is well into the process of stuffing itself until it eats itself to death. And none of us, rich or poor, will have any reason to cheer if that happens.

We need medicare. There's a simple and obvious way to meet costs that are rising as our population ages.

1. Stop giving and/or lending our money to private corporations. Stop subsidizing their energy costs. Stop squandering money for idiocies like a rink we don't need. Generally, stop putting us into debt to build toys for the rich. In anybody named Irving thought a hockey rink and convention centre would be profitable, he would build it himself and take the profit. But the people who want this absurdity know quite well it would never be profitable -and probably never even pay for its maintenance. That's why The Moncton Times is beating the frum for it.

If the owner of the hockey team really thinks a new arena is important, give him a license to hold a big fudge sale.

2. Make corporations pay their share of sustaining our society. Their tax rates are not only low. The bigger scandal is that few of them pay even that low rate. Tax laws are made at the demand of the rich to favour the rich with loopholes.

But you will never see a report from The Fraser Institute or AIMS or others of their kind for any controls or taxes for business. There are think tanks, real ones, that do make such recommendations. But you'll never see one of their reports in the pages of The Moncton Times and Transcript.

Lord, what a contemptible rag that can be.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22: Oh, Norbert......

I wanted to say something nice about The Moncton Times and Transcript today. I really did. And, after ploughing through the usual mess of blandness and triviality that calls itself a newspaper, I thought I had found something good on the editorial page. It was  Nortbert Cunningham/s column on the lack of interest in the election. It started well. In fact, it wasn't until paragraph four that I realized what an ingnorant rant this was.

He puts all the blame on the politiciansfor the low interest in voting. They are rude, l lying, don't lay out the issues, and hypocritical, and refuse to act on what we need.

As an historian, I have known many federal politicians of all parties, and have studied of them back to1867. Some of them were or are  rude and presumptuous. But not many. I, on at least two occasions, appointed Romeo Leblanc to teach Canadian Studies at Concordia University. The students adored him; and students don't adore rude or presumptuous people.  I've appeared before several parliamentary committees where I encountered some very tough questions. But I never encountered rudeness, not even from those who disagteed with me. I once submitted a brief to a roomful of Conservative senators. It was a brief highly critical of the Senate for playing cheap politics in having such a hearing in the first place. In the discussion that followed, I heard not a peep of rudeness.

Some politicians lie. Brian Mulroney was noteworthy in his evasion of the truth. But I don't recall reading any thundering editorials about that in The Moncton Times. Harper certainly lies. Most politicians will sometimes leave out the whole story. But few openly lie. I cannot recall any deliberate lie from, say, R.B.Bennett or Lester Pearson or Tommy Douglas.

Some would rather denigrate than lay out the issues. That has become a serious problem lately. One reason they do it is because it works with a poulation that  is not informed enough to understand anything but denigration. And can Norbert guess who keeps us uninformed?

Not all, and  maybe even not most, politicians are hypocritical. I knew Trudeau. He was never hypocritical. (Nor was he scared of questions. He could play the press like a yo-yo, Harper limits questions because he is scared.)

John Diefenbaker could be a nasty guy in a fight. But he was never a hypocrite. Nor was Pearson. (Mackenzie King was a hypocrite; but he was a very weird guy all round.)

And politics are so crooked they're run by gangsters who pass around envelopes in shady bars in Montreal? Actually, I knew some of the gangsters in Montreal. Most of them posed as businessmen, and got contracts that way for their legal businesses. As a rule,they gave money only to the Liberals and Conservatives. Anyway, Montreal is well out of the picture these days as a centre of big money.

Is that how the Liberals and Conservatives get their money in New Brunswick? How come you haven't assigned a reporter to the story.?You could tell us all about who gives the money and who gives it. C'mon, Norbert, tell us how Alward is a lying, thieving, hypocrite who never takes action. And tell us who is paying him off.

Politicians don't act? Ever heard of Tommy Douglas and Medicare? Ever heard of John Diefenbaker who raised the federal pension to a decent level? And who took the stand that later would end racial abuse in South Afr8ca? Ever heard of Pierre Trudeau.and Jean Chretien who got us through two separation votes?

Apparently,  you've never heard of  R.B. Bennett (from "The Greater Moncton Area") who, in 1935 ran on a platform of reforms that Canada needed. The Canadian people voted against him. But the Liberals later took his ideas and some from the CCF?NDP to build the modern Canada that Harper (and The Moncton Times) seems eager to destroy.

In fact, if I were looking for rudeness, ignorance, lying, and hypocrisy, I wouldn't look first at the politicians. I'd check out the Moncton Times.

After I read it, I could only think, "Damn. why should I vote. It doesn't matter?"

Now - why should should Cunningham (who, I suspect, does have a brain behind his moustache) write an article so exaggerated that it seems hysterical, so ignorant, and so negative?

Lesson no. 1 about the news media.

He probably wanted to discourage us from voting. A low turnout would probably benefit the Conservatives most of all. There are huge changes that would come from a Harper majority; and there's big money riding on those changes. And the big money isn't coming from shady bars in Montreal. It's coming from lush offices in St. John and Toronto and Calgary. And it's not coming to help you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21: Blah!

There is nothing much of anything in today's Moncton Times and Transcript. That appears to be their strategy for the election. Keep it irrelevant and dopey. So, on days like this, I drop into the vast resersvoir of news the T&T (and others) have never printed.

Every hear of The Project for the New American Century? It's something worth knowing in this Canadian election.

The project was drawn up by people on the far right of even the Republican party. It was signed by people like Dick Cheney, who became Bush's VP, by Rumsfeld, who became Bush's Secretary of the army, and by George Bush's brother, Jeb. You may recall Jeb. He was invited to Moncton to give a speech on education (of which he knows nothing) at the request, as I remember it, of Atlantic Insistute of Marketing Studies (of which the president at the time was an Irving.) The Moncton Times gave his speeck a lot of space, and nothing but praise. What a coincidence!

The idea of the project was to conquer the world. Of course, they didn't say that. It was put into nice words. The basic idea was this. The US now has a lot of economic and mlitary power. But it will decline as other powers, like China, grow. Therefore, the US must use its power now. Now or never.

You can read it for yourself. Just google "Project for the New American Century".

In brief, the US must challenge regimes "hostile to our interests and values". The values are not defined - which is, perhaps discreet in a nation which has more people in jail than any country in the world, and whose values include torture on a mass scale.

The interests refers to economic interests, of course. Thus the interest in Iraq and Libya. Thus the lack of interest in "humnitarian help" for protestors in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. It underlines the point with a closing sentence that the US has a unique role in preserving AND  EXTENDING an international order friendly to American security, prosperity and values.

Sounds reasonable? Okay. Just imagine powerful people in China made such a statement. Would you be all eager for preserving and extending an international order friendly to China's security, prosperity and values?  Or, maybe such a statement from Russia? The Islamic world?

Of course, there's a good word said for democracy in the project. That sounds odd for a country whose allies include some of the worst dictatorships in the world (such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain), and which has overthrown democracies that were "awkward" - as in Haiti, Iran, Chile, Guatemala...

Behind all the sweet words is an arrogant declaration that the US has the right and the duty to do whatever it likes in any country it chooses. That's not leadership. That's conquest. That's a world empire. And any such "leadership" cannot exist with democracy. How can the people of any country have any democratic choice on how they want to live when they are required to accept US "leadership"?

This project was the basis of American foreign policy under Bush. It still is under Obama. And, as Obama has proven, there is not the slightest possibility of change under the American two-parties-financed-by-big-business form of democracy.

This sort of thinking is here, right here in New Brunswick. It is spread by the many "think-tanks" sponsored by corporate leaders like the Irvings. That is why I was disturbed by Mr. Irving's announcement that he had formed a coalition with the gtovernment. It was not just that he was speaking in defiance of democracy. It was his arrogance in assuming he had a right to make such a claim. And it was the craven failure of anybody in this province to contradict him.

The Project for the New American Century (and The New Irving Century) is not something happening somewhere else. It is here. The political leader most in tune with it is Stephen Harper.  Michael Ignatieff will do what corporate leaders want him to do. So he'll probably be on board.

This is probably the single, most serious issue in the election. We have been drawn into what will probably be an endless series of wars to make super-rich people super -super-rich. Our children and our children's children will pay one hell of a price for our failure to oppose this.

Have you ever seen a news report in The Moncton Times about the project? Think you ever will?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20: I cried until I laughed....

The federal election has at last caught the attention of The Moncton Times@Transcript. The occasion was the debate between our local candidates in our federal elections. Well, sort of a debate. Sort of about the federal election. But as nearly as I could tell from the reporting, three of the candidates stuck their noses firmly into their own belly buttons, and kept them there.

The big debating point, it seems, was the crushing need for a big, activities centre (hockey rink) to save downtown Moncton. Boy, I bet that's a hot, national issue all the way out to BC. Yesiree. Even beyond that to the streets of London and Baghdad and Beijing where everyone talks about nothing but the growth of Moncton, and already ready rushes for tickets to our hockey games before we even decide on a location of the new arena.

Hey, kids. This is a federal election, the kind that determine the direction of Canada for years, maybe decades, to come. There are surely a few issues in here that are more important than a hockey rink.

1. Will the economic downturn and the deficit be met by hammering the poor and the middle class?
2. Will we keep corporations taxes low and subisides high to stimulate the economy. It has never worked in human history, and it has brought the US to the edge of social breakdown.... But, what the hell, the editors of The Moncton Times think its a good idea. So do the corporations.
23 Will we hit the middle class and the pooe even more by privatizing parts of medicare?
3. Exactly what should be Canada's stance on foreign affairs?  Britain and France are both puppets of US foreign policy. Canada certainly looks like one. While our politicians babble about a new hockey rink, we're drifting very quickly into a series of wars, most of them followed by long-term, military occupations, for as long as can be seen. Canada is now at war on two fronts.

Will Britain, France, and the US and Canada go beyond the UN mandate by sending ground troops into Libya. In fact, Britain, France and the US already have, under the names of advisors and special ops. What will Canada do?
4. Getting sucked into wars has pretty serious implications for our economy. World War One taught the world that one cannot run a war based on a peacetime economy because that's leads to inflation, heavy public debt, and inefficient use of resources. The US has been fighting wars while living on a peacetime economy since 1950. Look at the result. Do we want to go that way?
5. What happens when the US economy goes down even more? (and it will.)  That's some 90% of our market. Who will buy our goods, particularly our consumer ones? (If you think the Chinese will be lining up for Moosehead, think again. The Chinese make their own beer, so good and so varied that we can only dream of having such beer.)

- and one could list the issues for a very long time.

But that federal election debate was like a vote for town council. A very childish town council.

I'll declare my politics now. I don't believe in any ideology - capitalism, socialism, communism, conservatism, liberalism as a remedy - in its pure form. Nor do I believe any of them cures all, or fits all situations.

I have usually voted NDP because it is really the closest party to the middle of the road. Liberals and Conservatives are both instruments of corporations. Our national Conservatives are the more dangerous of the two because they actually believe the nonsense they talk. Beware of true believers.

I have twice , I think,voted Liberal for Warren Allmand, a genuinely moral, intelligent, and caring Liberal who served as Solicitor-General under Trudeau. He is, I believe, still active in Catholic Social Action.

I was not surprised by the triviality (ignorance? deceit? cynicism? childishness?) of the Liberal and Conservative candidates. I was surprised and disappointed by the failure of the NDP candidate to be drawn into the hockey rink debate as though it were a compelling national issue. The NDP still has principles. It shouldn't hid them.

I was impressed by the attempts of the Green's candidate to raise the level of the debate.

This is what you get when you have trivial, uniformed news media whose ideas of news and opinion is whatever the journalists are told they will be by the owners. Result - there are really people out there who are going to vote for whoever will promise them a hockey rink that a millionaire thinks he needs for his team (which has a tough time filling its present arena.)

As for that multi-purpose centre (hockey rink), get real. Downtowns across North America died with the rise of cars. People went to malls because they could park there. A hockey rink/convention centre will make downtown Moncton worse, not better. That's why dowtowns in some cities have been revived by providing cheap and convenient alternatives to the automobile. Montreal's downtown lives and thrives within a block or two each side of its subway line.

(I should add that when the the Montreal Canadiens moved from their old arena to a new one that was a good two kilometres away, there was no noticeable change in the character of the area in it moved from. There was only one change in the area it moved to. A small sandwich shop opened up, mostly for the lunch trade.

There is also a downside possible in reviving a downtown.. In that long band of offices that have survived thanks to the subway, there are whole streets of restaurants and bars, pretty much jammed every night, also thanks to the subway. There, bartenders and waiters commonly peddle drugs supplied by local gangsters who also collect a regular toll from the bars, in return for protection and a selection of hookers with, you know, class. It's a very lively downtown.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19: The Moncton Times&transcript - no longer even boring

What a slow day for the Moncton Times!  Even the editorial (lots of self-praise) to made advertisers happy) was boring. At. least, The Times seems to be taking a break from those propaganda reports from Atlantic Instute of Market Studies and its brethren like The Fraser Insyisute. But with its minimal and uninformative coverage, it still has made the most crucial election in Canadian history just boring.

There were two reports on local debates. Unfortunately, there are few ways more useless than debates in getting out information to people. Given the short time, the many issues, and the constant shift from person to person, you cannot transmit ideas in a debate.

To explain a point of view, you need first to have an audience which understands to issue in the debate is. Very few news media anywhere in North America provide that understanding. You cannot explain even one of those issues, then explain the position you take on it, and reasons economically, socially, practically (and with luck, morally), then stop while an opponent interrupts with words that might provoke an audience to think but, more likely,will just cause confusion and leave prejudices intact.

Frequently, the politicians themselves don't know what all those words mean. I asked one what economic politicis his party stood for. He said, "We believe in sound economic policies that will make Canada a better country."  (Well, there's flash for The Moncton Times. "Most Canadian political parties stand for unsound economic policies -also want Canada to be a worse country.")  Donne-moi un break.

The result - an uninformed people, an uninforming news media across North America, a bored electorate which doesn't understand what's going one - and a turnout that drops in every election. All other issues aside - how long do you think democracy will survive in a country like that?

Or we can take a look at a specific issue. We're at war in two countries. Why? Were we attacked? Did the British monarchy order it like they used to in colonial days? Why isn't  that an alection issue?

Oh. You've been told its to help Libyans win democracy? So why don't we support a no-fly zone over Bahraen where the dictators of Saudi Arabia are torturing and killing protesters who want democracy?

The reality is that the case of Libya has nothing to do with humanitarian aid or democracy. It has to do with setting up an African version of NATO which, like the western one will be dominated by the US. There will be at least a generation, probably more, of these wars in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Each like Iraq, will require an army of occuation troops (oh, sorry. I meant military advisors). This election may well decide how far we will be sucked into that swamp.

The Moncton T@T could do a real service in running a non-partisan commentary series on the parties, their principles, and the issues so that voters could at least have some sense of what's going on. It could stimulate people to think, and to vote. But it won't.

At the very least, the editorial writer could sign his or her name. Mind you,  I understand the desire to remain anonymous. I understand and even symphathize becasue I used to wear a bag over my head when I had a ticket to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18: How to be pompous, self-righteous, irresponsible and ignorant - all in one column

The Moncton Times&Tribune for today is its usual , trivial self. Without a couple of columns and a shooting on Mountain Road, there would have been nothing in it at all. However, for collectors of the preachy and distasteful, the editorial remains a must read. This one is headed, " District 1 DEC must share the pain".

New Brunswick is not (yet) in recession - though I expect it will be as the global economy worsens. For now, it's problem is a massive debt. That meant budget cuts for education, social services, that sort of thing. Meanwhile, of course, corporations would continue to pay low, low taxes - and to get various free gifts fromo us taxpayers as always. No problem. This is a province that has been getting ripped off by its business leaders for a hundred and fifty years.

Accordinlgy, school budgets were cut. It wasn't much, just under one percent. But when you're trying to run schools that already are so underfunded as to require substantial charges for parents for school supplies and to sell chocolate bars to provide what should be normal school supplies and events, and when you have schools that are dangerously under-maintained, even a small cut is a paralyzing one.

The District Education Council (aka a school board) for District 1 said no. The editorial was furious. I was delighted to see a group in this province with brains and guts and integrity.

The schools must share the pain? In real talk, that means our children must share the pain. Corporations and wealthy individuals who have grown pretty fat in this province don't have to share the pain. They still pay the same, low taxes, get subisdized utilities that we pay for.

The excuse (which makes no economic sense) is that if we hand over bigger profits and make the rich richer, when then we'll all get richer. Yeah. It has never worked in human history.But that's the great Premier Alward plan which is not, now I think of it, any different from the Premier Graham plan.

Harper, Alward, Irving and friends are all on the same track. If things get tough, the poor and the middle class must share the pain. And we must all make sacrifices to make the rich richer because the rich are our hope for the future. Apparently, our children are not.

(Incidentally, this is a province has by far  the cheapest funding for pubic libraries in all of Canada. Then The Moncton Times blames illiteracy on the schools which don't get enough money, either.)

This is a province in which a dozen or so parents rallied to protest the closing of a school which was dangerous to their children. And the news media reported it as the big story of the month. (The news media also lied about it.) I can think of only two other challenges, until now, to this appalling treatment of the public schools. One was a public statement by the DEC of the District 2. The other was a commentary by the superintendent of District 2.

The Home and School, at any level, is useless. So is Parent-Teachers. Ditto for most of the parents. All of them accept this abuse of their children. Why? It's partly,I guess, because they are scared of the corporate leadership of this province. It's partly because they're so badly informed by their news media. And, of course, some just don't give a damn.

Thank you, District 1 DEC. Your critics do you honour.

"District 1 DEC must share the pain"?  Good boy. Now go to your master. He's bending over so you can kiss him.

While you're kissing, think over the next few years. Both Canada and the US are dealing with the global economic crisis by making the rich richer, and everybody else poorer. The world has been down that road many times, usually with the road ending in violence and social breakdown.

Too dramatic? Harper and Obama don't think so. That's why  the US has a full combat brigade permanently stationed in the US. That's why he and Harper have been carrying on talks to move American and Canadian troops to either country in case of civil disorder.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16: A pleasant surprise in The Moncton Times and Transcript

My pleasant suprise was confined to two pages. Most of the paper was its usual, blah self. There was little on the federal election - and nothing of any significance. "Bill" Beliveau wrote a much too blatantly Liberal commentary. Evidently, politics in New Brunswick are rather like religious faiths in which one believes without knowing a whole lot about them - doesn't know what they mean, but jumps for joy and shouts Hosanna in the highest for (whatever) party.

But, oh, check out pages F2 and F3 in the Whatever section.

There you will find eight commentaries, all intelligent, well-written, and interesting to read. All of them are by students in our public schools - the same ones the The Times and Transcript has so unethically (and unintelligently) poured its venom on.

One of the commentators is Jana Giles, a grade seven student. I taught grade seven students for several years. I never in those years saw a piece of writing that came close to this one. Indeed, I have had university students, more than a few, whose writing was below Jana's level.

I disagreed only with one commentary. It was well-written. It was intelligent. On first reading, I quite agreed with it. This is the column by the Whatever Editor who is, like the other writers, a public school student. But I felt uneasy about it on second thought.

This is the item headed "One-size-fits-all approach to teaching. It is a complaint that the schools seem to be shifting shifting away from streaming courses which puts gifted students in a certain subject in one class, and and those who have difficulties in another.

The problem here is that to note the shift, and even to voice an opinion about it would be quite legitimate. To mention nothing of the other side of the story - and to blame the school disctrict for it - well these are not legitimate. What have here is a case of editorial disease. Luckily, we have caught it early, and the patient's mind seems unusually healthy. So, it can be cured.

1. I would start such an editorial with a statement that the teachers I have seen in Moncton have worked very hard, harder than I have known in other provinces (and countries) to help those students who need coaching.They freely give up their lunch hours, and they give up periods set for other duties, to help students. That is voluntary effort; and it deserves recognition and credit.
2. As a student who was educated in streamed-class schools, I know their failings. Students in the "bobo" class know damned well that they've been slotted as dummies. It can happen way too early in life that a person is, in effect, taught he is of low intellectual quality. And so it happens that Selective classes can convince children they lack ability - at an age when it is far too early to make such judgements.

Beware of anything that "brands" children - either with inferiority or with superiority. The errors you make can affect a child for life.

I feel a little stongly about that because I was branded as  hopeless loss, and was told by the principle to leave school in the last year of high school. So I became an office boy which, he had told me, was all I would ever be good for.

Ten years later, he still  had his BA.. I never got a high school certificate. But I did get a Ph.D.

3. Then there are the questions of cost and use of resources. Were they factors in the decision?
Did the editor ask those questions? I see no evidence she even thought of them.

Beware of modelling yourself on editors. For the most part, editors are hired hands whose job it is to sell papers, and to be the owner's mouthpiece. That can be true even of quite prestigious ones. The result is generations of editors who have written editorials (often inflammatory ones) on subjects they know nothing about - except that such is what the boss wants.

The editor of The Moncton TandT once wrote furiously about the illegality of coalitions in our political system. This was the official line adopted at the time by the Conservative leadership in Ottawa. In fact, there is nothing wrong with coalitions, a piece of information easily determined by reading those pages of any History of Canada which mentions the First World War. It can also be determined by a reading of the history of the Conservative party since 1867. Harper lied. The editor who believed him was either a hack or an ignoramus. Perhaps both.

Before writing an editorial with the judgemental tone of yours, it would have wise to ask some questions and, even then, to avoid assigning the blame.

(Oh, Shakespeare would never write "shoe-in". The expression is an old one going back to the fifteenth century, and perhaps dating back to Latin. It had various spellings such a showe-in and schowe-in.  Today, it is spelled shoo-in. It has nothing to do with the feet -( unless you swat at a fly, and say "shoo"..)

The Whatever Editor should take this as kindly advice. She's good. She can write. She's intelligent. She is much to good to waste her talents by imitating newspaper editors.

This is really an oustanding section of The Moncton Times&Trnscript. Today, certainly is was the best section.

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 15: The Singular Incident of the dog in the night....

Fans of Sherlock Holmes will remember the mystery "Silver Blaze", of a racehorse taken from its stable one night to be crippled. Toward the end of the story, Holmes tells his faithful Dr. Watson that the answer to the mystery is in "the singular incident of the dog in the night."

Watson, baffled as always, said, "But the dog did nothing in the night."

"That," said Holmes, "is the singular inicident."

Moncton has a dog that has done nothing in the election. Today, The Moncton Times and Transcript had just one story on the federal election - and a largely irrelevant one, at that. Nor was there an editorial on it. On the same page, Norbert Cunningham confined himself to a commentary so esoteric and irrelevant that few are likely to read it.

The editorial comments have recently had more federal politics in them than the paper as a whole has. Well-drawn (if with pretty juvenile wit), the cartoons tells what the paper's bias is.  This is a cartoonist who seems to have built his career on knowing what the bosses want.

But there's nothing in the paper....except...maybe... the editorial "Canadians fed up with prison system". That could be our singular incident of the dog in the night. This is a story about a dangerous murderer who was rejected by the parole board, but given a daily (supervised) work release by the Correctional Sevice of Canada. I quite agree with what the editorial says, but... if I were the editorial page editor, I would have called the editorial writer in for a chat.

"You can't use that headline."

"Why not, chief? It's true."

"It is also true that you really would be more presentable if you made proper use of tissue paper in caring for your nose. And you may write an editorial on that if you so wish. But I would not label that one, either, "Canadians fed up with prison system."

" In fact, your editorial contains no evidence whatever that Canadians are fed up with their correctional system, and no evidence that they even know much about it. A headline is supposed to reflect the message of the story. The message of this story is that we object to the release, even supervised, of such a dangerous person. It is not about the attitude of the Canadian people toward pir prison system - of which most people, in fact, know close to nothing."

Obviously, this conversation never took place. Why not?

A paper like The Moncton Times and Transcript chooses its side in an election long before any election is called. But to show that too early turns people off. So they do what they did to the public schools. Any story, however trivial, that generates negative feelings about public schools was published. Any that was positive got ignored or attacked.  When ten or so paents objected to the closing of Moncton High, they go full media coverage. The more than a thousand who didn't object got scarcely a mention.

Remember the time New Brunswick was praised nationally for its high school completion rate? The Times responded by attacking the schools bitterly, even accusing them of not teaching ALL the students - whatever that means. Then there was the story of a girl in elementary school who wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom in time -and so wet her pants. That was a big item of the day in hack newspapers and radio stations.

It's a simple propaganda device. Use information to spread a general sense that somebody or some thing is hateful. Don't say it directly because that betrays prejudice. Make it appear like you're just telling irt as it is.

In the case of today's "singular incident", it may not suprise you to remember that Harper has made "getting tough on crime" a major issue.

Editorial heads are usually written by the editorial page editor. The editor who let that head blow by is either unethical or as thick as the proverbial brick. Alas! I think he's actually quite clever. Give the Moncton Times Credit. It may be trivial, uninformative and even misinformative. But it knows something about propaganda.

Expect The Moncton Times and Transcript to keep us uniformed on the election. It many then, the day before the election, give us its thoroughly nonpartisan advice.

As for the cartoon, I still wait to see one making fun of either Stephen Harper or James Irving.  Talk about lacking integrity.....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14: What election?

There was, again, only one story on the federal election in today's Moncton Times and Transcript. And it was the unavoidable story of last night's debate. At that, the Today'sNews section was topped by a bizarre article asking why Republicanism has not taken root in Canada. This is a crucial issue facing Canada? Must be. It not only led the NewsToday section; it was a longer story than the debate was.

The TandT also missed what was surely the oustanding story to come out of the first debate. Harper was caught in an obvious and blatant lie in the first debate. When charged with making it difficult for refugees trying to flee to Canada in fear of their lives,and also of making it difficult to immigrants to come to Canada with their families, Harper said it was not true. He said  that, in fact, immigration has been rising.

Reporters who do research (hint - not from Brunswick Press) dug out the real figures. Immigration and acceptance of refugees has beein decllining dramatically for years - and as a direct result of government policy.

It is not possible the prime minister would not know that. He's a proven liar, and not for the first time. But The Moncton Times had no space for that story because they had a hot one on the burning issue of whether Canada should become a republic. (Hint to editor - republicanism is now more commonly used to refer to the Rebpublican party in the US. That's a confusing head.)

So far, I have seen nothing about the "greater Moncton" candidates.Nor have I heard of any political party meetings. Nor can I get the slightest sense of the general issues facing Canada and, in particular, New Brunswick from reading the Brunswick Press.

It's not as though the issues aren't pretty obvious.
1. Canada is militarily and politically tied, and in a subordinate position, to a nation that is in serious and rapid decline. It is a relationship that will draw Canada into an endless series of wars in Asia,  Africa and South America - exactly as it drew us into a war in Afghanistan, and is now pulling us into one in Libya.
2. Our reliance on the US to buy our exports has, as most business leaders have recognized, become a handicap. We need to get into the great market places that seem to be developing in India, China, Brazil. But what are we going to sell them? Computers? Television sets? Cars?
  The problem for large corporations is not such a pressing one. They can simply move their investment money from here to Brazil, India, and China. Lucky them.
   But what about the rest of us? Do we all go back to the old days of selling off our natural resources for low wages?
3. We have a dangerous problem with the spreading gap between rich and poor. That is quite likely to lead to civil violence in both Canada and the US. (Harper and Obama both know that. That's why they've been working on a deal to use American and Canadian troops interchangeably in both countries, just in case the ordinary folks get restless.)

This is the most important election in the history of this country. It is also the most trivialized one. Except for a quick visit by Harper (in which he said nothng), one could easily get the impression that nothing is happening in New Brunswick. And, in that respect, The Moncton Times is an accurate reflection of the political indolence of this province.

That's what makes it so easy to plunder New Brunswick.

But,  hey,I just bet the whole world is pretty excited about the talk of a new hockey rink.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 13: Not with a bang, but a whimper...

Today, in the midst of a frederal election, and probably the most important one in Canadian history, The Moncton Times and Transcript carried one story (count them, folks, one) on the election. At that,it was the unavoidable story of the leaders' debate.

Most Canadians still have almost no idea of what the election is about. Nor has the debate made much difference. TV is a terrible medium for the transmission of ideas. Ask anybody who has ever worked in the firld. People's  minds are active and concentrating when they listen to radio. But TV puts the brain to sleep. It's all pictures. As a general rule, the winner of a TV debate is the one who stays calm and doesn't move much. That's why Trudeau was so effective on TV.

Harper was short on any clarification of what his plans are. He dodged most questions and charges. He had nothing of import (or even of truth) to say. But I would guess he won the TV  debate because TV is being a picture,not a thinker. Harper undoubtedly has strengthened his hold on the functionally illiterate vote; and that alone can take him a good part of the way to a majority.

Speaking of functional illiteracy, the Moncton Times has its predictable editorial "Tax cuts defensible", defending tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Making the rich richer helps us all, it says, because the rich then invest it, and create jobs. I connect that with illiteracy because illiteracy must be the only excuse for not knowing what nonsense that is.

After decades of tax cuts for the rich and corporations, the US is deep into a recession CAUSED by the rich and corporations. In that period, way of half of all the wealth of more than 300,000,00 Anericans is  held by 400 families. Almost none of those families pay anything close to even the low taxes assigned to them. That's because the tax laws are full of loopholes for the rich.

In any given year, as many as 20% of the richest and the largest corporations in the US will pay no taxes at all. For others, the real rate of income tax paid is commonly something like ten percent or less of profits. The situation in Canada is the same, and will get worse under a Harper majority.

Nor is there any reason to believe that tax cuts for the rich will be used to invest in Canadian or New Brunswick jobs. Investors are not agents of charity. They invest money where it will make money.Increasingly, that money is being invested in the new economic powers -China, Brazil, India... We hand over gifts in the shape of saved taxes to coroporations. But we have no control over how or where they spend it.

With the cutting of taxes for corporations, the middle class and the poor have not gained. In fact, they have both lost ground. The wealth of the very rich has rocketed out of sight. If all New Brunswickers from birth to death were to work at the average New Brunswick wage, and to carry that on for a full century and to save every penny of it, then the whole province of nearly a million paople all put together would still not match the wealth of the Irvings. Somebody is making big money out of this. But it isn't  you or me.

All over the world, there are countries that have low to zero taxing for corporations (largely for corporations owned by western investors, including large numbers of Canadians.) This has been going on for centuries. Almost all those countries  are in wretched poverty with no services and, often, death-dealing pollution  - Haiti, Guatemala, most of Central America, Congo and, indeed, most of Africa. In every case, nothing of the investment has gone back to the country. As the British looted South Africa and Iran and Iraq, and Libya and India, they left behind them mostly poverty, disease, ignorance and despair.

Now, North American corporations are completing the looting of the US and Canada as they move on to newer empires.

That editorial is not only ignorant of the basics of economics, but is childish in its ignorance. (To be fair, we have to consider the possiblity that the editorial writer is really a skilled economist, but is lying. Hard to tell with TheMoncton Times and Transcript.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12: No. Today, I can't blame the Moncton T&T

Today's paper had virtually nothing about the federal election in it. There was a poll showing Harper is close to Majority territory. That other story, quite reasonably so, is that Harper has been caught in another scandalous case of boondoggling to go with his choices of convicted thieves in his entourage, his manipulation of audiences at election speeches, and his flagrant lies to parliament. None of this matters.

As they go into what will be, I think, the most important  federal election in the history of this country, most Canadians must don't give a damn. The parties were quite right to pospone their French debate when it conflicted with the time of a hockey game. If they had gone ahead with the debate, they would have had no viewers.

I have never seen Canadians (and Americans) behave with such indifference to an election. Perhaps it's an understandable disillusionment with democracy. Perhaps it's the growing interest in trivia that we see reflected so often in our news media and in those absurd tabloids we see in supermarkets - that seem to outsell the regular newspapers on any given day. Perhaps it's just a stunned fatalism.

It is rare to find anyone who knows what the party platforms are, let alone what pressing issues are not even mentioned in the news media.

The world is going through a change as big as the fall of the Roman Empire; and Canada, despite its relatively stable financial position, is not at all prepared the economic and military changes that are coming - and coming soon. The changes are many but, admittedly; hard to predict. For example, the continued growth of China would have a severe impact on us. If it doesn't grow -  if for example, the Chinese government loses its iron control - and it is at least possible that it will - then we shall all have reason to fear a nuclear power in a state of collapse.

The Moncton Times carries two columnists who are among the best you will find anywhere -and I do mean anywhere. Check out Alec Bruce and Gwynn Dyer. (I think I'm being neutral. I've never even met Alex Bruce, and I knew Gwynn, but it was many years ago on radio. Read their columns on the editorial page today. You may find yourself thinking we really do have bigger issues than what a nuisance it is to register a gun.

Instead, Canadians will, if they vote at all, vote on knee-jerk reactions as in - 'Conservatives are good at handling an economy' (even a glance at Canadian history will show they have the worst record of bad and excessive spending); the 'Liberals are too deep into social spending' (a myth that goes back some sixty years. In fact, Liberals have done just enough social spending to avoid civil unrest, and to get re-elected).' The NDP is socialist.' (I might wish it were, at least a little bit. In fact, it has not been socialist since it was formed out of the old and only partly socialist CCF).

How will it turn out?

My guess is a great many won't even vote. The ones with special interests will vote because Harper has played to them. Most of us will ignore the profound military and economic consequences that face our children and, probably, most of those who read this. The special interests will turn out strong for Harper because they think the big issues of the day are gun registration, unconditional support for Israel, unconditional support for an American empire in its last, desparate years, privatization of everything, and more prisons.

That's how Harper will win, and we all will lose. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Oh, and read the letter to the editor by M.P.Martin. it's excellent. I congratulate the T&T not only for publishing it, but for naming it The Letter of the Day.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 9: Nothing in the The Moncton Times day, so Obama

Much of what happens in political life is quite obvious. But we don't see it. That's because we don't want to. It was surely obvious from the start that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was a slick opportunist, and a man of no political principle. We ignored it, and elected him, anyway. Even as some of the truth came out, we have refused to see and to take action on his behaviour. Nor have we considered the obvious implications. Surely, Mulroney's lobbyist was not the only one in Ottawa. And surely other politicians have received offers either of personal bribes or of party funding.

We see. But we refuse to allow ourselves to believe what we see. That's why most of will refuse to believe this post.

Obama, who spent a record 750,000,000 on his last presidential campaign, announced a few days ago he will raise a billion dollars for the next one. That could have been a politically damaging announcement for him. Obama would look a fool if he failed now to raise that money. But Obama  is not a fool. That means the money is almost sertainly in the bag already.

Who is it being raised from?

Is it coming from the unemployed? From the poor and the ill and the homeless whose help is being cut in order to lavish hundreds of billions on failed millionaires in banking and the automotive industry? And on a hugely profitable defense industry?

Will herraise it from single or deserted mothers struggling to live on the minimum wage paid by a big box store? From the millions who lost their homes to a Wall St. scam? Certainly not.

He will get a billion dollars from the same corporations and wealthy individuals who gave him his campaign funding the last time. That's not speculation. The figures are public. Look at them. Look at them, and see what's there. (looking and seeing what is really there is not, alas, the same thing.)

Obviously, Obama has been a good boy for his funders. He has followed almost exactly the same policies as George Bush - who was also financed by the same sort of people, often exactly the same people, who financed Obama. The people elected Obama. Obama sold them on the illusion that change was possible within the American political system.

Blame him or blame the system. It doesn't matter which is to blame. What we can see, if we will look and really see what is there, is that change is not possible within the American political system. With at least three to six lobbyists lobbyists for each congressman, with corporations paying the bulk of election costs, it is no longer possible even to imagine change happening through the present system.

People will take a great deal of punishment so long as they hold illusion they can change things. What they will do if they realize they can't is unpredictable, but almost invariably destructive.

The significance of Obama's announcement is that it is a statement that change will not happen. I don't think Obama ever was more than an illusionist. But he has destroyed even his own illusion. What rule the US now are the forces of personal interest and a greed so obsessive as to be suicidal.

Look at it. See the reality. But don't,if you're a Canadian, feel smug.

We are well along in the same direction. Only two parties (plus, possibly, the Bloc) can raise enough money to put on a successful campaign in the face of the corporate funding available to the Conservatives and, still, to the Liberals. Corporations do not give millions to political parties to enourage the democratic process. Indeed, they make sure that some parties get no funds from them at all.

The US Supreme Court has recently decided that corporations are jes' folks like the rest of us, so it lifted the few retrictions there were in corporate funding of parties. Harper has made it clear he will do his bit by withdrawing government help for parties that cannot tap the corporate piggy bank.

To add to that, neither Canada nor the US has news media that are non-partisan, and that keep us fully informed on what is going on. That includes the most prestigious outlets in both Canada and the US. They are all owned by much the same people who control the corporations. Even the CBC, certainly the best of the lot in ethics and honesty, has to pull its punches for fear that a leader like Harper will slash its budget or, most likely, sell it.

We do not have the information to even understand what the issues are. Our news media don't inform us. They manipulate us.New Brunswick newspapers are not different from other North American newspapers. Their only distinctions are that their ethics are even lower than most of the others, and the quality of their editing and reporting are in journalism's toilet.

Nobody in New Brunswick, surely, has any serious doubts about who runs this province. Everybody knows that no party will get adequate funding or publicity unless it can be pleasing to those who run the province.

We are well through a period of rapid and fundamental change. That creates fear and hysteria -both already manifest with the creation of the Tea Party.

Democracy is, for all practical purposes, gone from North America. Soon enough, it will be impossible even for the most optimistic among to kid ourselves that we can still see it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

April 8: an offensive commentary -and a missing story.

Norbert Cunnngham has a "To the contrary column" that is  (quite unintentionally, I'm sure) offensive. I quite agree with his view that people who invite us to commercial lectures on how to get motivated talks are taking the gullible for a ride. Where we part company is the notion that fierce drive and energy are the essentials to becoming rich.

In fact, most rich people are the children of rich parents. George Bush II at no time in his life was either intelligent or hard-working. Much of his youth was lost in drugs and booze. His university grades were too low to get into a good MBA programme: but daddy fixed that and got him in, anyway. Miraculously, the drunken druggie who couldn't perform up to standard in a BA, did well and got an MBA.

Then,with Daddy's help, he dodged the raft for Vietnam. Only then, at long last, did he get his first job. It was a job as CEO of an oil company. Talk about working hard to get ahead! (I'm sure it was just a coincidence that the share holders of the oil company were daddy's friends.) The company went broke.

So George was invited by become head honcho of another company that needed connections to pull off a big deal involving a baseball team. George's father, by then, was president; and had just finished using his influence to get his son out of a fraud charge arising from the oil company failure. George became a multimillionaire out of that one. He also got a "thank you" bonus of twelve million dollars that was delivered to him after he got his third job - governor of Texas.

Sam Bronfman, who founded Canadian Distilleries and a family dynasty, founded his fortune in prohibition days as a booze smuggler. So did Joe Kennedy, the father President Kennedy.

What it takes to be rich is fully explained in a book that is a big favourite of rich people. It's called "Atlas Shrugged", by Ayn Rand. That book has become The Bible of the very rich. It's argument is that greed, self-interest, lack of concern for others, are all good; that these are the qualities that make you rich. These are the qualities that the rich, themselves, tell us we should admire.

As a professonal speaker, I met a good many multi-millionaires, some of whom I quite liked. But I would characterize few of them as hard working, not when they had ample spare time for exclusive clubs with long and expensive suppers with guest speakers. They also had lots of spare time for golf and travel to exotic places.

There are people in this world who work very hard, indeed. You will find many of them struggling to survive on minimum wage. I don't think I have ever met a rich person who worked nearly so hard as any deserted mother struggling to raise a child on a job at Walmart. Even a couple, working at average wages, find it hard to make ends meet in this province. I have never met a rich person who worked nearly as hard as a single mother on minimum wage, or as hard as a lineman working on second-storey wires on a -20 day in a blizzard, or as hard as an average elementary school teacher.

Working hard has nothing to do with getting rich. What counts is greed, towering ego, a sense of entitlement, and a rich daddy.

Meanwhile, all the news media missed the significance of the most important news story of the week. President Obama has publicly stated he intends to raise one billion dollars to fight the next American election. That's a story that tells you all you need to know about the reality of where the US is, and where it is going. Maybe I'll try that one tomorrow.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7: Two naughties and two goodies in today's Moncton Times

In the section News Today (a humorous title?), The Moncton Times carries the story of the how the American government might run out of money on Saturday. Right on the ball, kids. except -

That was yesterday's news in The New York Times - which means the story was known to news media two days ago.

At that, it's a pretty shallow report with little sense of just how serious this is. If the budget is not approved, most government services will have to shut down or be seriously reduced. That includes everything from support for autistic children, food for a large part of the US population, law services, and pay for the military, including for troops in Afghanistan. All that will be enormously damaging at home, and even worse in terms of world standing for the US.

Nor does the arcticle make it clear what has caused this crisis. Big business is determined that the cost of the recession (which big business caused) will be borne by the poorest and most vulnderable in American society. Republicans are fighting to save money by cutting off the poor, the sick, the unemployed - while cutting taxes for the very, very rich - large numbers of whom don't pay taxes at all, anyway.

  Why such a badly written (and late) story? That's because the T@T gets most of its news outside the metropolis of "greater Moncton" from Post Media, a news agency whose purpose is to play down the greed and social irresponsibility of large corporations and their political flunkies.

The other piece of junk news is the decision of Moncton council  to ask Canadian taxpayers to put up 25 million for a glorified hockey rink. The rest of the hundred million or so is expect to come from NB and , especially, from Moncton taxpayers.

Wasn't it just very recently that the editorial writer was foaming at the mouth over a pay raise for city workers that was too high by a few hundred a year?

The undertaking would, of course, be a "partnership" between government and business.However, in this partnership there appears to be no mention of the business partners putting up any money. What a clover patch this is going to be for rich bees. Yeah, we're partners, see?

The hockey team owner (and prime beneficiary of this project) has generously agreed to terms. In a badly written sentence, the story seems to say that the hockey team will be the anchor tenant, and as payment will contribute 2.5 million  - spread over ten years - to HELP with maintenance costs. In other words, maintenance alone will cost over a quarter million a year, and the main beneficiary only has to pay part of the maintenance to get a hundred million dollar stadiusm. Zippo on the loans because we'll be paying them, How would you like to live in a nice, big house on those terms?

No wonder Moncton attracts so many scam artists - not just from the "better sort" of people, but also from common thieves. That's the trouble with common thieves. They aren't smart enough to incorporate themselves, set up their own news medium,  and to finance elections.

The editorial, which gleefully bashes anybody who isn't rich - teachers,city workers, etc. has not a word to say on these two, major stories. Instead, we get the usual bilge that the whole world is watching Moncton.

Luckily, there are two, good columns of comment on the editorial page. (The cartoon, as usual is trivial; it's about the rise in the price of coffee at Tim's).

Except for those two, solid columns on the editorial page,  the paper isn't worth reading unless you really,really want to know which celebrities you never heard of are having a birthday today.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Apri l6: footnote

For Moncton readers, my current events group April meeting at the Moncton library will be held on Thursday, April 7.  2 to 3 pm.

April 6: A concise guide to the federal election

Since the Moncton Times has said close to nothing of any intelligence about the election, here's a short guide to your choices.

To begin, forget the words liberal, conservative, socialist, left, and right. Very few people have the faintest idea what those words mean - with the result that they are used as a sort of shorthand for various prejudices. The Conservatave party isn't conservative. The Liberal party isn't liberal. And the NDP isn't socialist. Those labels are used to build hatreds or fears and confusion; and to conjure up cartoon figures for political bigots.. But they really don't mean anything to most people who use them or to most people who hear them.

As well, people who claim to be capitalist and anti-welfare state can actually be very pro-welfare state when it comes to get government grants, easing of regulations, cutting of their taxes. You soon learn that they are against welfare only when it doesn't go to them. In that sense, some of the biggest welfare families in Canada come from New Brunswick.

The two biggest parties in this election are really both the big business party. Both the so-called Liberals and Conservatives disguise the reality of who funds them and who they work for. But they may disguise it in various ways. For years, the Liberals disguised who they worked for by introducing social programmes, but doing as little as possible and a slowly as possible. (That technique was actually first introduced by a Conservative prime minister, R.B. Bennett, in the election of 1935.

Another way is to appeal to special interest groups and by appealing to fears. Harper is appealing to fears by promisiing more jails and longer sentences. (If that worked, then the US with the world's largest prison population would also be the world's most crime-free country.) He also works to satisfy evangelical Chistians and Zionists because these are highly organized groups that can get their voters to the polls.

It's the same with his promise to end gun registration. In the range of serious problems that face us, whether guns should be registered is a piddling issue. But Harper knows there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are foolish enough to vote for him on the basis of that one issue alone.

For at least twenty years, the Liberals have lost any sense of what even their phony appeal would be. Mackenzie King, who delayed social legislation for years in this country, was a smart enough politician to pretend he was leading the way. In reality, King was always a servant of big business while pretending to be for the "common people".  Ignatieff's problem is that doesn't even know how to fake having principles.

The NDP is not a socialist party. There was a time when it was moderately socialist. That was when it was called the CCF. But those days ended when the unions became its major source of funding. Unions, generally, are not enthusiastic about socialism. In fact, their general outlook is more like that of big business than they are prepared to admit. But it is not until we arrive at the NDP that we come to a party that is not owned by big business.

The Bloc Quebecois is less dependent than the liberals and conservatives on big business for its financing. But it is a party that has no interest even in the existence of Canada. It also relies heavily for support on bigotry in Quebec. (I am not, by the way, at all anti-French. I am anti-bigot. I am, therefore, equally anti those bigots in New Brunswick who speak English.)

The Green Party has, by its nature, a very narrow platform. However, they don't really need a broader one because they know they aren't going to form a government.  They are also the party big business is least likely to contribute to because big business doesn't give a damn for the environment.. As a result, Canada is notorious for having done the least in the whole, developed world to improve the environment. A vote for the Green Party has mixed results. It may do something to get Canada to move a little bit on environmental issues. But the certainty is that a vote for it is one that probably splits the riding vote enough to improve the chances for Liberals (or maybe Conservatives) to win.

And don't rely on The Moncton Times for any helpful information. I don't think they have yet published the information, from excellent sources, that the new fighter plane Harper intends to buy will not cost $39 billion for a squadron, but something approaching 150 billion. It is also the opinion of military experts in Canada and the US that it is, even by the standards of today, not a very good aircraft - and this is something we would have to use for twenty years and more.

So - what will happen if the Conservatives win? Big business will be popping champagne corks as its taxes get cut, and the middle class and poor are made to pay the price of the recession. We will also continue to be so subservient to the US we can expect to spend at least a generation - if the world lasts that long - fighting American wars.

What will happen in the Liberals win? Not a whole lot different. We would try, at least, to get out of that disastrous fighter plane deal. And we probably wouldn't be spending billions on prisons that would create even more crime. Otherwise - hey, it will still be the same bosses.

In either case, our democracy will continue to decline - and it barely exists, now.

Any majority government could be only Liberal or Conservative. Either one would be immensely destructive of Canadian society.

Some people complain at the idea of a coalition. In fact, some of our best governments of the last fifty years have been near-coalitions. A coalition has the virtue of disarming the extremists on both sides.

Given the current choices, we would be wise to pray for a coalition. Our situation is very dangerous. I don't think we begin to understand the forces that are so rapidly changing the world. Democracy is in serious danger. The concept of societies organized in nation states is on shaky ground. (Globalism has aspects to it that we have not even begun to understand; and it has crippling features to it that endanger the existence of even the concept of democratic and/or national government.

 A coalition would buy us time to realize just how dangerous our position is. A majority government would almost certainly put an end to anything we know as Canada.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April 5: it's them there poor people what's causin' all the trouble

Read it. "City must hold line on wages" is today's editorial. It seems city workers and their conniving union won an increase in their contract  - and it is almost a whole one percent more than the editor thinks it should be.

I would have more respect (though still not much) for that editorial writer if he/she had ever made a similar complaint about out leading people in private business. For at least thirty years, the incomes of the very rich have been skyrocketing, even in the recession. When banks failed in the US due to their own shoddy practices, the government gave them at least hundreds of billions of dollars from the tax payers. The senior executives promptly gave each other bonusses of milions of dollars for the fine work they had done.

The editorial writer rails at people whose raise amounts to a few hundred dollars a year (much of it already gone on new taxes). It makes no mention that Moncton council will happily tax us (with cheers from The Moncton Times and Transcript) to give away money to billionaires - as in the form of a hockey rink and other perks for the right people.

For thirty years, we have been watching a steady growth in poverty in Canada, and a steady and rapid rise in the "wages" of the very rich. Would the editorial writer have the guts, the integrity, or even the wit to write about that?

The very wealthy are using the recession to complete their looting of North America. Their device is the argument that letting them get richer is the road to prosperity. And so it is - for them. If cutting taxes for the rich and cutting social services is what makes a nation prosperous, then Congo, Haiti, Guatemala and others would be the richest countries on earth. Billions of dollars have been taken out of those countries. They have virtually no taxes, no services, no education, no health care. Whatever they have is what it pleases private business to give to them. So it doesn't give them anything.

Cutting taxes for the rich and for corporations will not create prosperity. It never has. It never will. Cutting social services will create more unemployed to join the misery of those who are already unemployed.

When Belgium took over the Congo almost a hundred and fifty years ago, it extracted billions of dollars in natural resources, enslaving, torturing and starving millions of people. (The reason it gave for taking The Congo was that it would Christianize and civilize the people. True enough, that is the way our Christian civilization behaves.)  Western countries (including Canada) are still there, and will stay there until it is bled dry. They pay extremely low wages, virtually no taxes. They just loot, and the Congolese live in poverty.

Check the growth of the income gap in Canada and the US. Watch this recession being used to make the gap even bigger by cutting taxes for the rich, breaking unions, cutting government - except for its role in letting big business fill its pockets.

Watch the current budget fight in the US Congress to see what's planned for us.

That, Mr./Ms. editorial writer is what the "real world" is like. That sort of greedy and selfish power has already made democracy close to a farce (thus the spectacle of our current federal election.) At the present pace, even the farce of democracy will soon end.

Remember the day just a few months ago when Mr. James Irving announced in his newspaper that he had formed a coalition? I said at the time that was anti-democratic (since in a democracy you have to be an elected member to join a coalition), and that it was arrogant, and that it was the starting point of corporatism which was a way station on the road to Benito Mussolini's fascism.

I know many readers must have thought I was exaggerating. I wasn't. Such things happen. We're watching it happen. That's the "real world".

Monday, April 4, 2011

April 4: What are the real election issues?

You won't find out what the real issues are in The Moncton Times&Transcript or any other news medium. The Times is not alone in being vacant today. Almost all of our news media have vacant days. New Brunswick takes it a step further.  Vacant is its normal, basic stage of New Brunswick papers, usually followed by  vacuous and then vitriolic.

So what are the real issues?

Forget about the economy. We're heavily linked with economies all over the world; and we're one of the smaller players. If the rest of the world picks up, so will we. If if doesn't, we won't. We survived the his the US took - not because our corporations are better run, but because we have used government to regulate them so that it's harder for them to pull off giant scams.

Simlarly, we are committed to military alliances and promises  (US, NATO, Israel). If any of those sinks deeper into wars and debt, so will we. If economies get really bad, and there is civil unrest, we are already well on the way to committing Canadian troops to put down rioting in the US, and the US is reciprocating.

Of all the things we can deal with, only one is likely to receive much attention in the news media - proportional representation. I think it's a good idea. Unfortunately, it won't solve the major problems of our political system.

The major problem is that most ordinary people have no real control over who gets elected.
1. Elections cost big money. The only parties that can get themselves significant media space are ones that are obedient to the sources of big money - large corporations and the very wealthy. Harper has promised to make it even worse by cutting off government funding for parties.
2. The news media of Canada keep Canadians largely ignorant of what is going on in the world, and what our choices are. That's because most big news media, like print, radio or TV, are owned by very wealthy people who want the news to carry what they want us to think.

Result, most people  haven't the faintest idea what the elections are about. That's why the last New Brunswick election was inane. Remember how the Liberals lost because Shawn Graham and his Liberals were discredited by the energy proposal with Quebec?

Come on, folks.  Do you seriously think the energy deal was Shawn's idea? Did he ever give the impression of being a daring and inventive person who would push through a piece of legislation with tremendous implications for manufacturing costs - and without being told by corporate leaders to do it?  If you do, get real. Like Premier Alward, Shawn Graham is a pet dog. The boss throws the ball, and Alward and Graham chase it. It's like that in most provinces, and federally.

Canadians cannot cast an informed vote because they have no information.

Have you ever seen any figures on how much large corporations cost us taxpayers per year? Taking into account all grants, subisides, contracts, reduced taxes, civic works, etc. carried out for private benefit? Do you know how much tax of the total of all taxes is paid by large corporations? So you know that there are a great many large corporations in both Canada and the US that pay no income tax at all? Despite doing well for their executives and shareholders? And that takes us into another, related issue.

3.The US now has the largest gap between a few wealthy and millions of poor in all of the developed world. Canada is moving in the same way. The giant corporations that fight a rise of a buck fifty or so for minimum wage, give 20%, even 100 %, increases to their senior execs (plus all the perks of club memberships, diners' cards, paid holidays, massive severance pay, etc.) Right through the recent, bad years, their share of national wealth has been increasing dramatically, while poverty has risen.

What they are doing - and doing on a national and international scale - is not only a perversion of the principles of capitalism. It is a destructive force that can destroy our society just as it is now destroying Libya and Egypt.

Greed and excessive ambition will destroy our society as surely as they have destroyed so many societies in the past. The only way to prevent that is to ensure that business is intelligently regulated, and that wealth is widely distributed, both as money and as services.

4. Then there is the question of our foreign policy - which mostly means our relations with the US.  No matter who is president, the US faces years of war and a declining economy as its inlfuence is challenged all over the world. That's what the middle east rioting in about. That's what much of the civil warring in Africa is about. That's what Afghanistan is about. It looks very likely to be repeated in Central and South America where the price of US dominance is being seriously challenged.

Do we want to join those wars? The Canadian Council of CEOs will want us to, just as it wanted to send troops to Afghanistan. (Some members of the council so rather well out of cheap labour and lack of regulation in Central and South America. Canadian mining companies are particularly notorious.) Do we want a generation and more of those wars? All other considerations aside, can you imagine the impact that would have on our society?

As oil gets more expensive, will we be allowed to sell it wherever we wish? Will we be allowed to regulate (and enforce regulations) on oil drilling in the high Arctic?

As inland water levels drop (check out Hoover Dam), will we be allowed to control our own fresh water?

Where is this being debated for the public in this election? Where is the informed commentary?

No. We won't see it. Mr. Harper was here and in PEI, presumably because of the election. He said nothing of substance here, and ditto while serving up coffee in PEI.

In a badly informed country, this province and PEI are probably the worst informed, and the least open to serious public discussion.

There's a price for that.