Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sept. 23: Keep 'em iggerant: keep 'em amused

The Canadian government has brought down a set of crime bills that just about every authority on crime in the western world has said is worse than useless; it is actually damaging. The bill also opens up serious threats to our individual freedoms that we brag about and thank Canadians for dying for every November 11. In addition, it comes at a time when crime in Canada is low. And at a time when we are cutting spending for essential services as we face an economic crisis. So, in the face of this economic crisis, we are going to go into debt for billions to fight a threat that doesn't exist and, probably, to make the crime situtation worse. And to do it, we will have to take billions away from useful programmes. 

Why is our federal government doing this? Because it will win votes. It appeals to people who are uninformed. A great many Canadians are uninformed. That's because most of our news media keep us that way. That's why none of this news appeared in today's Moncton Times. All we get are some self-serving statements by our local MP.

The big, federal story in the Moncton Times and Transcript today is that the government is under criticism for excessive use of government aircraft. Wow! That's much more important than throwing billions of dollars away.

The front page has a story about a demonstration refugee camp built in Moncton. Unfortunately, there was no room for any news about the famine in Somalia, the refugee camps that still exist in Haiti as so few of the aid dollars that were promised still haven't reached there. There were no stories of the Nigerian refugees who have had to flee the rebel terror in Libya, or the millions of refugees left over in Iraq. Indeed, there were no stories of real refugees anywhere. Just a story of some tents in a park in Moncton.

In fact, there wasn't room for much news of any sort. That's the keep 'em iggerant part.

The keep 'em amused part is that over five pages (mostly photos) were devoted to a football game. Most of the rest were pages about which unknown celebrities are having birthdays today, and to ads - expecially car ads.

Oh, there's a recent and quite devastating study about the long term health effects of the chemicals used in fracking.   Little things - like high rates of cancer, brain damage, organ damage, etc. But that wasn't important enough to make the Times. So don't worry. Just go ahead and drink your water and don't worry about it. Trust your local shale gas driller.

The stock markets just had their worst week since 1929. That didn't make The Times Business Page. That's because they had to fit in an important story about the opening of a local car and auto accessories store.  There was no other room in the NewsToday section because the  next four pages were needed for the football game. They were mostly photos of strangers smiling for no apparent reason. Anyway, who wants to waste time on words? That's dangerous. Get people reading, and they might find out things they shouldn't know.

Bill Belliveau's column has some merit. It is, indeed, frightening than the man in charge of cutting the Canadian deficit is Tony Clement, the man notorious  for improperly diverting tens of millions of dollars to his riding, and then trying to hide it from auditors.

Norbert Cunningham made a big mistake in the title of his colum "History suggests that governments don't do development well". It's a statement that shows he knows nothing whatever about history.

Apparently, he doesn't know that the Canadian civil service was so effective in directing the economy in World War Two, for example, that for years after it was over private companies used to send senior executives to Ottawa to study civil service methods. The myth that private business is efficient and the civil service isn't comes from propaganda "think tanks" sponsored by people like New Brunswick's corporate bosses, and trumpeted by propaganda newspapers like the one Mr. Cunnigham works for.

To call Invest NB a 'crown corporation" is more than a bit of a distortion. It is to be run by second level flunkies in private business, picked by the corporate bosses to find new ways to rip us off. The only thing that makes it a sort of government corporation is that our taxes will be paid to these people to give advice on how to rip us off.

Mr. Cunnigham's says that the Board of Directors of Invest NB will be effective because they are businessmen, and therefore know how to make money.

Well, yes they do. For themselves.  I  have known some big-time gangsters who also knew how to make money. But I wouldn't give them tax money to advise the government. I knew a seven hundred and fifty pound man who knew how to eat. But I wouldn't put him in charge of a dietary programme.

Government is not just about making money. It's more about deciding who needs the money, and what it is needed for. It is about priorities. Developing New Burnswick for us is not the same as developing it to make the Irvings and the McCains and the rest even richer.

It's about  us. We decide what the priorities are, and we elect governments to carry out our wishes. Mr. Alward's decision to had over eonomic development to a gang of private business hacks shows a combination of wimpiness, ignorance and servility rarely found in even the flimsiest of democracies.

As for the ability of private business to create development, I have never heard of a private business in the history of the world that did not depend on government to support its development - everything from building roads to fighting wars for it - not to mention subsidized electricity, tax breaks and outright gifts.  Big business in New Brunswick would crash without the government and the civil service. It has no intention of making government smaller. In fact, if you check the history of governments in North America, you will find that the biggest spenders have also been the most pro-business governments.

What Invest NB is all about is big business coming out of the closet and openly taking over the government for its own benefit - not for ours. It is a direct attack on the fundamental principles of democracy. And your propaganda sheet will support it because supporting new ways of ripping off the people of New Brunswick is what your paper is all about.

And, Mr. Cunningham, if you would like to publicly debate me on this to show how wrong I am, I would be delighted. (Be careful, though.I've actually read some  history.)

The student section is even more solid that usual. Every column is a good read -( and. as it happens, most of them touch on my own experiences.)

Christina Korotkov spoke of the surprises of career expectation. I can relate to that. I grew up in a district in which finishing high school wasn't even on our radar. So I didn't finish. The peak of my ambition was to be an office boy. So I became one. My life was a success at 17.

By pure luck and accident, I discovered I loved teaching - and by more luck and accident I got to teach public school and then university. My life has been nothing but suprises in career expectations.

Jana Giles and Alex Corbett, you're dead on. We need to learn to organize; we meed to do homework to learn the organization of study and of learning. I never studied or did homework. That's why I flunked out. I did a BA at night, but still without doing homework. My grades were so low, it was worthless. Then, by luck and talking fast, I got a chance to do another year - on condition I got straight As.

So, for the first ime in my life, I organized rigid study hours for myself. I organized my time and study methods so there was still time left to have a life. So I got the straight As, and I got into graduate school. You two are dead right.

I could write more on this line for each of the student columns. But don't waste your time reading me. Read them. They, alone, are worth the price of a copy of The Moncton Times and Tribune.


  1. ...but did you mis the top line story on the front page. I think its the first time i have ever see an advertisement (tickets,,git yer tickets here!!!) masqurading (sic) as THE TOP LINE ON THE FRONT PAGE OF A "nEWSPAPER"
    From bad to worse...........and they call ita newspaper

  2. Too true. The editions of this week have been so bad, I have despaired of knowing what to say. I really just sit, looking at this abysmal stuff and wondering what to do.

    Incidentally, the empty hotel rooms say that outsiders are NOT rushing to this entertainment hub.

    That means it is NOT putting money into the local economy, but simply circulating what is already here - and with much of it then going OUT of Moncton.

    As residents and rate payers, therefore, we are not making money out of this game. We are losing it.

    I'd love to see an honest audit of this mess.

  3. It won't get better as long as a certain family owns everthing (almost) in the province.