Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28:

There's a story on section A, p. 5 about our New Brunswick fishermen and the low price they get for lobsters, the lowest of any Atlantic province. There has always been something strange about the wholesale buyers of lobsters in this province. It's not just the low prices they pay. Sometimes, it's about late payments, no payments at all, payments that are less than promised.  This has been going on for a long time; but it seems never to have attracted the attention of anybody in government. Here's a case where a newspaper could do a bit of digging. But it never has in the past; and it almost certainly won't now.

The front page headline is the Transpo bus lockout. There is a second story about it on A11 "Residents upset by lock out"(which should be spelled lockout). The second story carries a gem of inanity - that the bus drivers are wrong to ask for raise similar to that for Halifax bus driver - because Halifax is a bigger city.

Think about that.

To the best of my knowledge, even in Halifax, bus drivers drive only one bus at a time, and for the same hours as Moncton bus drivers.  But more bothersome, much more bothersome, is the attitude we see in Mayor Leblanc and in today's editorial of putting a price on what people are worth. It's treated as if it were a moral issue; and I'm suprised that officials at Callander University seem not read enough of The Bible to question.

The reality in our world is that people are worth what they can get. That's the principle we work on. Nobody gives a damn what their real worth to society might be. Nobody gives a damn what they need. All that counts is the power to get.

For almost a century, the wealth of the United States was built on slavery. (So was a good deal of the wealth of Canada -with both Africans and native peoples used as slaves.) Without the slaves, that wealth would simply not have happened. The slaves got nothing out of it except short and miserable lives. But George Washington, slave owner, became the wealthiest man in the US.  George Washington had power.

Very few people (in fact, almost none) of the people who made great contributions to this world became wealthy as a result. Winston Churchill, who has been hailed as the greatest man of his century, never made big money. Noe did Nelson Mandela who endured years in prison to come out - and free South Africa. Martin Luther King didn't make big money. Tommy Douglas probably made a bigger and more lastinig contribution (medicare, for example) to Canada than any politician before or since him. But he never lived in a mansion or had limos.

(Perhaps the experts at Callander University can check this out, but I can't recall Jesus or Buddha or Muhammed or Confucius living the high life.)

But in Canada, a third-rate hockey player who makes no great contribution to the world at all  (nor, for that matter does a first-rate hockey player)  is 'worth' many times as much a year as any prime minister, surgeon, engineer......  So is a rock star who can only paint his face, strum three chords on a guitar, and wail through his nose.

How much does Mr. Irving make in a year? What outstanding skills and training does he have? (I don't know of any at all.) How has he made our lives better? Would he have a business empire if he had not inherited it? Without him, would nobody have cut down our trees and made paper out of them?  Would we have no gas stations? No convenience stores? No newspapers?

Would it be possible for Mr. Irving to run all his empire without low wage labout?  Without our high taxes and his low ones? I'm sure he couldn't. So we are, all of us,in real terms, worth at least as much as Mr. Irving. Unfortunately, what people like the editorial writer of TandT do is to use worth as though if meant power - and only power.

That idea of  'what people are worth' is crass, ignorant, and immoral by any standard I can think of.

The fact is that City Council has never come to grips with the issue of providing a decent and efficient mass transit system. That's why so few use it. That's why it costs us a subsidy. Thats why the mayor is punishing the drivers for his own failure to act in an intellgent manner.

C1 has another excellent example of how Postmedia News turns news into propaganda. The headline says "Canadians want choice in health care access: poll".  But you have to read almost to the end of the article that if the choice were between medicare and a private health system, 80% of those polled were against private care, and wanted medicare.

The headline, based on a different question, gave the opposite impression. And any journalist knows that the headline and a bit of the story are all that most readers will look at.  So Post Media is really lying. Why did Postmedia do that?

It's no accident. Like The Moncton Times and Transcript, Post Media and The National Post are essentially propaganda agencies to peddle the big business line that all government is bad, and everything should be privatized.

Reuters, another propganda outfir, is whipping up the usual frenzy about killings in Syria. In fact, the western world kills far more people in Africa ever day than have been killed in the whole Syrian war. We do it by holding back on aid to stop HIV, by putting impossible conditions on such aid, and by paying absurdly high prices to pharmaceutical companies for the little aid we do send. (But this is a long story that I'll save for a slow day.)

C6 is a must-see page for people who just love pictures of smiling strangers holding up giant-sized cheques.

Norbert's column is a must-read for anybody interested in some very old rules of grammar. The final paragraph is a gem. He manages to blame the schools for not preaching grammar in the old and discredited way he preaches it - another sign that he knows nothing about education.

Then, for a gem of a final sentence in a column about grammar and clarity, he writes, "--- English rules that schools haven also paid less attention to than they should have."

Rod Allen once again demonstrates he can fill a half-page with nothing. I guess we can consider him a sort of bus driver who spends his whole life driving an empty bus.

Good columns by Alec Bruce and Joday Allaire.

There is a cute letter from David Barnett which (in humour) suggests private schools as a cheaper alternative to the Royal Oaks scheme, and which would be superior to public schools. In fact, private schools are more expensive than public ones, and with no special advantage. The spread of private schooling in the US, for example, has led to a stunning drop in world rankings for American education.

Mind you, in a province that smells of dirty deals like the Royal Oaks one, it might be as well to have private schools so we can see the corruption right out in the open.  Of course, the teachers would have to be paid less than in Halifax because Moncton is smaller than Halifax.

Oh -July 3 (Tuesday) at 7 pm, the current events group at the Moncton Library. I'd love to see you there. The TandT has again forgotten to advertise it in its section of events for the week.

But there's no need for me to feel personally offended. The TandT must also be one of the few newspapers in the world that today has not carried the story of the terrible fire in Colorado Springs.







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