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.)

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