Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June 7: Some good journalism - and a lot of zeroes.

The lead story in today's Moncton Times&Transcript was a solid choice, and heartening in the response it reported from local individuals and groups. An immigrant family from Korea has been ordered deported because medical treatment for the youngest child would be a drain on the Canadian economy. The story is well reported. Their is an editorial that only a scrooge would criticize and, if he did, would certainly get hell from all three ghosts. The same page also carries an excellent comment on the issue by Alec Bruce. Proof of local sympathy covers the whole of the letters to the editor page. This is exactly what a newspaper should do; and this edition does it well.

This story has no boosterism, no free ads, no propaganda, no hidden agenda. It is honest reporting and intelligent comment on a matter of concern to the whole community.
This is the stuff of what makes one proud of Moncton - if ashamed of Canada.

From there, things go off a cliff.

The business page has yet to notice that unemployment in the US is dipping to depression levels, with new jobs predominantly minimum wage and part-time. American capitalism, is in crises and, even in hard times, is making the richer richer and the poor poorer. That, surely, has some implications for us.

The NewsToday section sill hasn't noticed there's a war on in Libya, and we are in it. Nor has it noticed we are considering Canadian military bases all over the world, probably including Latin America. Gee. I wonder why.

The editorial page also carries the usual column by a far right "think tank". In this case, it's the Fraser Institute. But this one is different. It is at least true to its neo-conservative principles that the free market should be left alone to work its magic. ( Usually, "free" is twisted into a demand for special treatment for big business.)

This time, though, it is a criticism of special treament with its  headline "The Canadian automakers bailout was always a bad idea." It argues, quite reasonably, that bankruptcy is a part of the working of a free market. Accordingly, to prevent bankruptcy with a government bailout is wrong. That is certainly consistent and reasonable in the context of neo-conservative economic thinking.

Neo-conservatives believe that buisness should be left alone, as free as possible of taxes, of regulation, and of help as possible. Under such conditions it becomes a sort of magic wand to cure all social problems and to create universal  prosperity. Actually, that idea of perection closely resembles Marxism.

Both Marxism and neo-conservatism believe there is such a thing as a perfect system, and one which works in all situations. Alas, as we should have learned from Lenin and Stalin and Mao, there is no such thing as a perfect  system.

On this earth, systems are run by people. Just about every religion ever known has pointed out a problem we people have. We are all just human. The system may be perfect. But it there is only us people to operate it. And we are not perfect.

No system in history has ever worked perfectly, not even for a short time. All systems - capitalism, communism, socialism - have been and will forever be corrupted by human greed, exploitation, paranoia, fear, stupidity, sociopathy...and the list goes on. One can see that as clearly in the commentaries by The Fraser Institute as in the decisions of Stalin. Communism produced torture, police states, and mass murder. So has capitalism.

The USSR did not permit democracy. The United States has done the same thing by corrupting democracy. So much private money is poured into campaign funds that nobody who criticizes big business has a chance of being elected. (And Canada is already making moves to follow suit).

Stalin made the news media agents of the state by law. Most of our news media are agents of big business by ownership.

The USSR was ruled by an aristocracy of party officials. We are ruled by an aristocracy of wealth.

Add to that the reality that the needs of each country are different - and changing. No system, capitalism, communism, democracy, dictatorship, fits evey need and every time.  Equally, any of them might, however imperfect, be needed for some times and places.

We humans are a messy lot. With faith, you can find perfection and  even eternal truth in spiritual matters. But never waste faith or hopes for eternity on any political or economic system. Any one might have value for now. None will be perfect or eternal.

Bottom line - anybody who would say that communism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, conservatism, democracy or dictatorship are good at all times and in all situations is either a liar or a damn fool.

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