Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oct. 13: check previous blog

I wrote a blog late last night. It should appear at the end of this one. I think it's more important than this one.

As for the Oct. 13 edition, there is almost nothing to say about the trivia that fills the news pages. To go along with the trivia, this edition must have set a record for ads, including a three page one from the boss.

The one surprise I got is that it gave space to the Occupy Moncton gathering that begins this Saturday noon at City Hall. Unfortunately, the reporter does not seem to know what the movement is about. One motive is, of course, to make the very rich pay their share of taxes. (Is there some reason why they shouldn't?)  However, it is above all to restore real democracy to the western world. Currently, our politics and our lives are controlled not by us but by the super wealthy.

Most of us have lost faith in the democratic process as it is now. That's why voter turnour has been dropping. That's why less than half of all potential voters took part in Ontario's recent Provincial election.

Democracy is being destroyed. One would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to see that in New Brunswick. We have to say that we want democracy restored. We have had enough of the Allwards and the Grahams and most of their predecessors. We want government that responds to our needs, not just to the wants of those who own the parties.

Alec Bruce's column sets my theme for the editorial and op ed pages. Bruce, influenced by film-maker, journalist, writer, stand-up comic Josh Freed (who happens to be an old friend of mine) complains about the ignorance that gets paraded as wisdom these days thanks to news media  and  the web. He's quite right, of course -though I thought it cruel of him to single out bloggers at the start.

But that has, as he says, always been part of the human condition. And it  includes newspaper commentators, editorialists, professors - all sorts of people. Even Alec Bruce. What has made it worse is that some of these "experts" now can employ very sophisticated propaganda to sell their nonsense.

The answer, as it has always has been, is to make yourself as well informed as possible, to think about what you read, to discuss it, and to form your own opinion. There is no other way. We are not robots, perfectly programmed. We are humans and, like all humans always have been, subject to prejudice, bigotry, ignorance, greed, cravings for power, fear, indifference to others. But we still have to make decisions. There is no other way to exist.

Currently, most of our "expertise" comes from the very rich and their  servants. And if you think very rich equals wise, you would have loved Al Capone. Perhaps you might want to elect the Mexican drug cartel for the NB legislature. (Perhaps you already have.)

For an example, take a look at the editorial. It responds to the final report of the Canadian Council on learning, a federal body of people who have spent their lives as teachers, administrators and scholars of education. The editorial writer, who has almost certainly never taught for a day and who almost certainly doesnot  have even a basic teaching certificate, dismisses the council as "bureaucrats". (This suggests the editorialist is also unfamiliar with the meaning of the word bureaucrat. Don't they have a dictionary for TandT staff? Doesn't he know newspapers have a bureaucracy - and he is part of it?)

Incidentally, the editorial does not even mention the most damning part of the report - the part dealing with universities.

Norbert Cunningham, similarly, has a column about education, a subject he clearly knows nothing about. He advocates public/private partnerships as a way to save money in building and maintaining schools. It works, he says, and saves money. Oh? Where is it working? Where is it saving money? How can it save money? The private partner has to cover cost PLUS a profit PLUS bonusses for top execs. Public/private partnerships have generally been marked by higher costs - and more than hints of political favours and corruption.

He also says the public must play a role, provide input. Great. But how can it play a role when it gets no information, nothing but propaganda, from Brunswick Media? And how can it play a role with a government that doesn't give a damn what the public thinks. Remember fracking?

Rod Allen, the staff writer for for this day's op ed page, avoids charges of being a phony expert in the way that all writers for this column do. He writes about nothing. These staff writers must be the world's ho-hum champs.

Once again, Jody Dallaire's column stands out. That's because she doesn't pretend to give expert advice. She gives information and argument. She doesn't tell us what to think. She convinces us.

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