Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sept. 19: credit where credit is due

The Moncton Times and Transcript has carried a story that I did not think it would. Mother Jones Magazine took a secret video of Romney giving a speech at a fund-raising dinner for his campaign. It was given in a quite exclusive club; and only the wealthy were  invited to attend. The message was simple.

The middle class and the poor in the US were lazy, spoiled, and had a sense of entitlement to that which  they had not earned. It's not a surprise he made such a speech. It's not a surprise that his wealthy audience applauded.

I've known many people who sit in boardrooms, who are rich and have been rich from birth, and who routinely pour contempt on everybody who isn't rich. (That's even true for those who were born into money like George Bush in the US and __fill in the blank_____________ in New Brunswick.) In those circles, they hire entertainers who sing songs that ridicule the poor, and employees in general.

These are the people that Alward and Harper answer to. That's why, in a time of recession,, they take the axe to services for people who need services but can't afford them. That's why they investigate unions, but not corporations. That's why Americans have such poor health care. That's why the US cuts spending on school meals for hungry children while it cuts taxes for the very rich. That's why they don't give a damn what drilling for shale gas might do to you. It's a perfectly normal and human reaction.

Even the very rich, though,  have consciences that need to be kept quiet. They make their money out of exploiting other people with the lowest possible wages and the cheapest possible services. If there's a recession caused by their own greed and illegal behaviour, then they rationalize it as the fault of the poor. I've read many of their statements that do exactly that. They hire columnists for their newspapers who make a point of saying that sort of thing. Guess who the TandT routinely blames for a strike, any strike. Bus drivers, they say, aren't worth it. Ever see the TandT say that a billionaire wasn't worth it?

Their banks go broke? Not their fault. They get a enormous bailouts all over the US and Europe. And the poor will pay through cut social programmes. And the bankers will get bonuses and tax cuts. Greece's billionaires go broke - and the middle class and the poor get condemned to generations of hardship for it.

Until you have met the rich, you can have no idea what contempt they hold you in, and how highly they think of themselves. How else could they rationalize their thievery?

Romney took that contempt of the poor to make a point that the poor were the lazy, useless, "entitled" people who supported Obama. He said that they were also the 47% to 48% who supported Obama.
In fact, the ones who pay little or no taxes are the ones who support Romney, just as they are the ones who support Alward and Harper. I haven't seen a figure for Canada, but in the US, 25 of the largest corporations paid no income taxes whatever. (The poor who don't pay taxes are people who have no money. The rich who don't pay taxes are those who get sweetheart deals from politicians, or who have bogus head offices on remote island states.) The rich who skip taxes are a small percentage of the total population - but they are one hell of a proportion of what doesn't get paid.

Will this have much effect on the election? I doubt it. Most American news media are owned by the very rich. They'll either ignore the story, or explain it away - or attack Mother Jones for revealing it. Will the middle class be affected by the story? Some will. Some not. Many middle class like to kid themselves in the same way the rich do. They'll say the rich help us all by their generosity in giving. Sure. Steal a billion. Give a few hundred thousand back. And the TandT will write you up as philanthropist.

It should be possible to see the video on Google, Mother Jones, or Youtube.

That's why P. A4 has a story on fees for government services going up. That's why children going to public schools have to pay fees and buy school supplies. That's why drinking and gambling, long recognized in most societies as creators of addictions and social problems, are encouraged for everybody by government. The keep taxes for the rich down. (You pay them in lottery tickets.) The level of gambling and its problems were much lower when it was all controlled by the mob.

The lead story in NewsToday is a good example of how The TandT is still stuck in the 1890s. It's headed "Census data to provide family snapshot". So what? We know what a census is. What's important is what's in it. But the newspaper went to bed shortly before the census was released so it didn't know what's in it.

That's why the story is useless information. And by the time you read the paper today, you could have had the story of what's in it on Google news. All the story in the paper does is to confirm that newspapers are useless for this sort of story. Now - a detailed analysis of what it tells us about Moncton and New Brunswick could be useful for tomorrow - something to give the census meaning to us.

C12 has an example of a very bad story, "Dozens of charities lose their tax-exempt status". (This is in relation to federal taxes.) What's wrong with is that Postmedia simply took a government statement. and used that as a story. - Really, a reporter is supposed to ask questions.

The headline spoke of dozens of charities. But it gave reasons for only two. So what's the scoop on all the others? After all, Harper has been known to cut off charitable groups that he just doesn't like. We need to know that. But any Postmedia reporter who asks the wrong kind of questions can expect to end up counting  snowflakes at the North Pole..

The editorial, as expected, is pretty silly. Again it says bus drivers are overpaid. (Has it ever carried an analysis of whether the TandT's owner is overpaid? or the TandT's editor?) As well, it's suggestions of how to redesign the transit system are childish and even ignorant. What he would do is to create a system just dandy for 1945. That way we could have an antique transit system so we could read our antique newspaper on the way to work.

And, Wow! Norbert likes Bob Dylan, and knows something about him. I wonder if Norbert still has his flared jeans. It's a side of  him I never guessed.

The op ed page is,well, it is. What can y' do, eh?

Where is the story, now over a week old, of the Moncton physicians and other medical workers who demanded a moratorium on shale gas?

Where is the story on the American woman who is being deported - almost certainly to an American prison - because she was disgusted by what she saw as a soldier in Iraq? She was in Canada as a refugee from the treatment she expected in the US for becoming anti-war. (The US is, after all, the country that uses torture, solitary confinement, and in which one can be imprisoned indefinitely without trial simply on the word of the president or the army.) Her children, born in Canada, will also be deported - but separated from their mother.

She went to war. She saw the killing of civilians, many of them children. It turned her against war.
George Bush dodged war service. He killed over a million people. We are sending a women of conscience to prison because she has a conscience. We honour Bush because he doesn't have a conscience.

There are warrant out for Bush in several countries, countries on our side with whom we have agreements to deport people to be tried for their crimes. Bush is charged with war crimes, among them torture. Would Harper depart Bush? No. But he will deport a woman with two children because she opposes war.

Our hero.

I have written to city council about the pollutants under Highfield Square. There is an online form at the city's site. It's not entirely used friendly. For example, it asks for a signature - on the screen. I'm sure that's possible. I'm not sure many people know how to do it. I know I don't.

It also requires the precise date of the information that I ask for. How can I give a precise date when even the city can't know precisely when the pollutants developed? And they won't tell me when they discovered them?

We'll see.

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