Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26: The use of force

 In today's "news" story, a very big one on p. A1 and A11, Brent Mazerolle has moved a step up on the social ladder. He gave up being a journalist long ago when he became a pimp for the boss' latest causes. Today, he moved up to mining enginerr. Today's report does not even pretend to be journalism. It reads like the report of a highly trained authority on the subject of shale gas. Perhaps next time he will give us a list of his credentials.

Again, the anti-frackers are naive, even ignorant. Not at all like Mr. Mazerolle. Studies that he doesn't like are dismissed as inconclusive. Opinions he likes are reported as though they were brilliant scientific studies - when they are simply opinions.

He cites reports produced by US government committees as if they were for real. Obviously, Mr, Mazerolle is quite ignorant of how such studies are produced - and of the profound influence of interested parties on what they say.

He does not cite the reports that led to bans or moratoriums on fracking in Quebec, France, South Africa and Australia.  Gee, one would think his recently announced pride in his Acadian roots would lead him to take more interest in what Quebec and France have done. (And he can skip the charge that I am anti-French. I am at least as French as Mr. Mazerolle is (also Scots, English, and Native).

We are assured that fracking is as safe as the production of oil. That will not, I think, do much to reassure people who depend on fishing off  Alaska, in the Caribbean, the North Sea, and the rivers of Alberta. Nor will it be much reassuance for Nigeria which faces decades of cleanup because of its oil industry.

What has been remarkable in the T&T's very limited and biased coverage of the shale gas question is how little study seems to have been done about it. Yesterday, Mediapost flack Yedlin admitted that much. Mazerolle seems to be unaware of that problem.

There are big stakes here. We can expect a long and hard sell by The Moncton Times&Transcript, full of deceit and ignorance. I should not be surprised if this series is used to deliberately promote anger and division leading to civil disobedience. Indeed, that would be a useful solution for SWN since it can call on much greater force to put protests down, and go ahead with its plan.

Would a company do such a thing?  You bet. It's been done often enough in the past - both in Canada and the US. As Frank Scott observed:

Please do not say the use of force
Is how we change the social course.
The use of force you surely know
Is how we keep the status quo.

On the op ed page, we have the usual propaganda from that puppet for the super rich, The Fraser Institute.. It wants the gradual privatization of medicare, beginning with user fees. Of course. Then we could move toward a really expensive and inefficient system like the American one. Many people would live in sickness and die younger - as they they used to. Total health care cost would actually rise. But the rich wouldn't have to worry about that - and they'd make profits out of it.

Feeling sick? Let Drs. Irving and McCain look after you. And good luck.

Meanwhile, we won't even think about the economic crisis that is far worse than that of medicare, and even worse than any government debt. The wage gap. For two generations, the nation's wealth has drifted from the poor and the middle class in the pockets of the super rich - who have become even richer through the recession. In fact, one reason we have a recession is that this concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few has left so many people who now don't have any money to spend, Notice the drop in American tourists?

As well, the super rich feel no obligation to change things. The don't intend to pay equitable taxes. They don't entend to give up subsidies. They don't intend to raise minimum wage. In fact, they don't five a damn what happens to the rest of us. When there is no further money to be made in Canada, they'll simply move their investments somewhere else. That is going to lead (already has led) to profound suffering and social disorder. But we won't talk about that. We'll just raise user fees to discourage those useless poor people from seing doctors. That will leave us more money to lower taxes and raise subisidies for the rich.

The editorial page has its usual lout eidtorial, this one putting forward the remarkable view that the oppostion to the government has no right to criticize it.

Cartooonist de Adder seems to be really hitting  his stride in the past few weeks. Always a good artist, he is now showing.wit and subtlety.

Alec Bruce wrote an untypical but still very worth reading column.

Norbert Cunningham, writing on animal species, ended his column  with a line that should be read by the whole editorial staff of the T&T. Hint - it could have a bearing on fracking. "...we are converting the Earth's natural landscapes so quickly, with total ignorance of our impact on the life in them."

Total ignorance, Mazerolle. Check those words in a dictionary. And, a hint. We, even you, are part of the life on these natural landscapes.

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