Yesterday, The Moncton Times and Transcript published a whole page of salaries and perks in our municipal government. I was puzzled. Transparency or government is not normal in T&T reporting.
Today, the front page story was "Public sector salary debate needed:expert."
Choreographed? Well, I guess.
The expert is, course, Don Savoie (Order of New Brunswick), of U de Moncton. He speaks of excessive salaries in the public sector, jub security guarantees, etc. (He doesn't mention his own salary or his own job security and other benefits.) Apparently,soo far as the T&T is concerned, Prof. Savoie is the only expert in this whole province on salaries, economics in general, shale gas, you name it.. And it's always a safe bet what he will say.
In this, he is supported by the Atlantice institute of Market Studies (quelle surprise). the T&T's favourite propaganda house. The theme of both is that civil servant wages create unfair competition for private employers, and drive up private salaries.
That's an interesting theory. Perhaps The T&T will publish pay scales in the corporate world so we can see just how much public servatnts have pushed up pay. Some corporations are so hard pressed they have to pay executive salaries of millions of dollars, plus bonusses, plus club memberships, plus millions more if they get fired. A member of a board of directors can make more money in an evening of just raising his hand when he's told to, than many public servants make in a year.
The story closes with two, striking points. Both of them are, to put it politely, wrong.
1. Public service salaries are driving up private sector salaries. As it happens, I was once offered an administratitve position in a university. The lawyers who made the offer encouraged me to read a book, prepared for private business esecutives, on all the contractual demands I could make. I was astonished - a high salary, higher severance pay, with a continutation of the high salary as well if I should decide to step back to my old job, and a guarantee of a far higher pension.
It's not the public servants who have driven up wages at the higher levels. It's private corporations who have done it. That's why executive salaries in private business continue to rise even as the rest of us drop back. That's why American bank executives got huge bonusses from tax payers' money as their reward for triggering the current economic crisis.
2. Mr. Cirtwill of AIMS makes the closing point ( in appallingly bad grammar), "....not only are we paying the taxes to these people, they are competing with private sector viability, which don't take our taxes."
Well, in fact, the private sector does take our taxes. Most obviously, it takes them in the form of energy subsidies, grants, loans, deals, giveaways... It also takes our tax money in the form of not paying equitable taxes itself.
The editorial takes up the same theme. We gotta cut costs. Hey! I know a great way to do it. Charge Irving full price for energy. Stop giving away forest lands. Stop giving out friendly government contracts.
Obviously, The Times&Tranxcript is off on another crusade in the service of its master, with Sir Lancelot Don Savoie holding high his Order of New Brunswick.
NewsToday has another big story on Libya. But it still hasn't told us why NATO is there, who the rebels are and what they want; and, most important, we don't know why our newly re-named Royal Canadian Air Force is killing Libyans.
Norbert Cunningham's column is an unusual one for him. I can't make any sense out of it at all. It's exxentially about the meaning of conservatism, and how the world is misused by people who don't know what it means. I'm with him in spirit. I'm sure he does know the proper meanings of Liberal and Conservative. But in his column he equates Conservatism with holding on to past values. That has nothing to do with the meaning of the worl. A past value, for example, is depriving women of rights. Another past value is drowning witches. I guess he referred to past values because it sounds nice; but conservatism has nothing to do with conserving.
He also refers to Premier Alward and Staphen Harper as true conservatives. They aren't. Harper's values are those that used to be called liberal - back in the days when people knew what liberal meant. Alward has no political principles at all. He is, like Graham before him, simply the head waiter at the baron's feast.
Cinningham says he does not have the space to define conservatism and liberalism. The Osford English Dictionary, the big multi, multi volume one does it in less space than a newspaper column. It could be done in a couple of paragraphs.
Above Norbert Cunningham is an important column by Alec Bruce on Harper's new legislation to get tough on crime, proposing much more and much longer imprisonment of offenders. If that worked, then the safest and most law-abiding country in the world would be the US which has more people in prison than any other country in the world. It also has harsher conditions and sentencing than most of the world.
Harper has even spoken of keeping it cheap by allowing privately-owned prisons. (The US has them. So far, they cost more to run. And who pays? The taxpayers do.) The private prisons have also currupted the judicial system. An American judge was recently caught found guilty of accepting a huge bribe for sentencing large numbers of children to a privately-owned prison. I hope his judge sends him to one.
What's even more disturbing is that this is another example of Harper appealing to the support of the ignorant and fearful. (Canada's crime rate is no high, and it is actually declining.) Harper's action will create the same atmosphere of political hysteria we now see in the US where propaganda, ignorance and fear have taken over the direction of the country.
And that, Norbert to the conntrary, is not what conservatism means.