Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12: First things first

Most newspapers of any quality place the most important news of the day on the front page. This is the news that we need to know about. Currently, for example, the Canadian government is ramming through the longest and most complex piece of legislation in the history of this country. It will profoundly affect most of us, probably all of us, for the rest of our lives.

This is the time we need to be fully informed of what the bill is about, what it's implications are; we need discussion; we need to hear the reasoned opinions of the people we elected. Even those among us who voted for Harper have a right to know what he is doing (and the majority of us didn't vote for Harper.)

But not one Candian in a thousand knows what is in that bill, let along what effects it all might have. Even our elected m.p.s don't have time to read it all; and certainly no time to think through its implications. After all, it's well over 500 pages long.  Nor is it at all like reading a 500 page novel - because it's not on one topic. It's not one story. It's hundreds of stories, most of them quite different and separate from the others, and all requiring special knowledge and training to understand them.

And some of them may have very profound consequences, very profound indeed - cuts to environmental protection and energy alternatives, major changes in EI, in pensions, in fisheries - and so many others that nobody even knows what they all are.

This is the most arrogant and undemocratic procedure this country has ever seen. It is also one that will affect the lives of all of us and our children and, quite likely, our children's children. It's safe to say this is the most important piece of legislation ever presented in Canada. But we and our elected representatives aren't going to get a chance to discuss it or even to know what it's all about before it passes.

For that matter, most of the Conservtives who vote for it will be doing so without themselves even knowing about it.

Say goodbye to democracy. (Actually, as many New Brunswickers know, democracy has been gone for a long time.)

Here is a story of major importance for the tremendous sweep of the bill, the radical changes proposed in it, the general ignorance of what it's all about, the speed with which it's being pushed through, the fact that it's being pushed by a government that has only minority support across Canada.

From the little bit we do know, it looks as though Harper is throwing away any chance to deal with climate change; it looks as though lower income Canadians are facing disaster; it looks as though we're going to be tied even more closely to the hysteria that is driving the US into war after war, taking us with it, and ever closer to a nuclear war. And all of this is in what is called a budget bill.

But that's not enough to make the front page of The Moncton Times and Transcript. No, sir. The big story is that a man injured in a parking lot is getting better. The Moncton Peace Centre is moving into new offices. A farmer is facing SPCA charges.  And the budget bill?

Section C. Page 1. At the bottom

And at that, it tells us nothing. The tone is set by the headline.  Take a look at it. You'll think the story is about a pyjama party. And, as reported in the TandT, it is. Just a pyjama party.

To get a sense of how dangerous this omnibus bill probably is, take a look at the editorial and op end pages for Gwynne Dyer and David Suzuki, both of them a good deal more intelligent than Stephen Harper.

And be scared. Be very scared.

Next time you're in a supermarket checkout line, look over one of tabloids at the counter. You know, the ones with headlines like "Brad Pitt has shocking addiction to ice cream."  "Shocking revelation: Kate's baby will be next Dalai Lama." "Prophecy says world will end if you do not buy this paper."

These tabloids are written for morons whose whole lives are wasted in triviality.  The Moncton Times and Tribune is not a serious newspaper. But it's not quite a cheap tabloid, either. It isn't designed to appeal to morons.

 It is designed, quite deliberately designed, to create morons out of intelligent people by highlighting trivia and ignoring reality.

For a prime example of the style, read Alan Cochrane's"opinion" piece at the top of the op ed page.

The behaviour of people like Harper and Alward and, yes, the Irvings, is destroying the fundamental rules of our political and social system. That's all very nice if you are prepared to put a new and workable system in place. But they aren't. They're arrogant enough and ignorant enough to presume they are.

But they are simply working on greed, arrogance, ignorance - and a severe case of short-sightedness.

That's what causes social systems to collapse - something I really don't look forward to because any such collapse is commonly followed by something even worse.  Think of the Russian tsars, and then of Stalin. Or, as is more likely in this case, think of Germany's Weimar Republic and then of Hitler.

Democracy is far the best way to go. But we don't have much time to get it back.


  1. I often hear the right-wing Americans talk about how America is not a democracy but a "constitutional republic", which usually seems to be a misplaced gloat about how some people don't deserve to have their voices heard. Never mind that constitutional republics still count as a liberal democracy.

    One thing I often hear from the right wing as well is how a country should be run like a business. Does that mean the president should be appointed by a board of directors and that the average citizen has no say?

  2. running countries is the very thing business has proven itself to be incapable of doing. There are huge differences between a country and a business. It would make just as much sense to say a country should be run like a turnip farm.

    Western countries are in a state of collapse right now - because they are run like business and by business.