Friday, October 19, 2012

Oct. 18: Visions vs. mirages....

For the second day in a row, The Moncton Times and Transcript has a front page story on the demolition of Wesley Memorial United Church. As others of this paper's twice-told stories, it says nothing of substance in the first appearance, and rather less in the second.

This time, it's geegollywhiz, what a great chance to develop a new vision of St. George St.. Vibrant. that's what it will be - vibrant.

Now, I hold no brief for the preservation of that church. Architecturally, it is boring. Its physical departure is no loss to the street. In fact, it's replacement by a pile of rubble gives it a kind of unity with the rest of St. George St. Maybe we should keep it that way. But I do wish the TandT had someone who could see the significance of what has happened.

The demolition is a sign of something more profound that is happening. All the TandT can see is a chance for developers to make some money (almost certainly with our tax money. If St. Peter's in Rome were to collapse, I can see the TandT headline. "Vision Rome sees opportunity to develop tourist cafes, enliven downtown Vatican City".)

Look. Something profound is happening in our society. Religion is disappearing. That's why Wesley closed in the first place. Like it or hate it, religion has been a central feature in the societies of this world for millenia. It's ending. Locally, New Brunswick does not operate on any religious principles I can think of. That's a huge change, even bigger that building a hockey rink to revive Main St. It will have a profound effect on the world we live in, certainly far more profound than any of the visions, schemes, plans I have seen from all of our governments, private developers and business leaders put together.

In our society now, it is virtuous to be greedy, to make others suffer so that you can be rich. Killing and torture are to be admired. Covet? Bloody right. Coveting is what makes the world go around. Love your neighbour? Hey! If your neighbour isn't loved, that's your neighbour's problem. Forgive? No bloody way.

Maybe that's good. But it's still a profound change. That change is the story of Wesley United. It's more than a story. It's a subject for a good deal of discussion and commentary. It may well be the most important event we're living through. The roots of medicare lay in religious thinking. That is true for most of our social programmes.It is, or was, the basis of our criminal code and legal system. It lies at the base of the concept of  human rights.

But all we're getting is -  duh - they're tearing an empty building down - duh - great chance for a promoter.

This may explain why (on A2) our schools don't yet have their annual budget. I mean, who gives a damn about kids? There will, however, be lots of money to send pro-shale gas people on speaking tours around the province.
P. C3 has "Health costs weigh on fiscal woes: analyst". This one is a report from somebody hired by a "non-profit" organization, The Macdonald-Laurier Institute". The gist of it is we can't afford all them there people on medicare. And we are, as usual, assured that we can trust the Macdonald-Lauier Institute becaue it is "non-profit".

Like hell it's non-profit. Like the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, it was founded by Brian Cowley. Both groups are really hired hands for big business to produce propaganda  reports that will make profits for big business.The institutes themselves don't make the profits. But they sure make profits for the people whose boots they lick.

We can't afford medicare? Actually, we can't afford private care. Private care, as in most of the US, is far, far more expensive than medicare, and far, far less efficient. It's the leading cause of bankruptcy among American seniors, and produces close to third world results in life expectancy and health. But, oh, it make money for a few people. Nothing could demonstrate the collapse of morality better than the push of big business to end medicare.
There is the usual sort of editorial which appears to  have been written by the village idiot.

Otherwise, the editorial and op ed pages are very solid. (I do wish, though, that Norbert would be more critical in his reading. The world is on the brink of the Third World War, perhaps a nuclear one. There is fighting and  disintegration going on it a great deal of it. There are official and unofficial wars going on. Yet Norbert continues to bow to Stephen Pinker who says the world is more peaceful than ever. 1. Pinker is a psychologist, for Pete's sake. 2. he has a reputation for gaining attention by making sensational claims.
A quick roundup of what did not make the Moncton Times and Transcript:

1. Yesterday's Globe and Mail published a study showing that Public/private partnerships (as in roadbuilding and maintenance) are expensive, far more expensive that Public only operations are. In fact, they are up to 19% more expensive. Of course. They're nothing efficient about big business. It's generally over-priced and over-profitable.
2.Drones used by the US in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia kill only small numbers of militants. Some 80% of the dead are quite innocent civilians. (Ever notice the TandT never carries a story on who dies in drone attacks?)
3.Forty-five percent of babies in Iraq are still-born. Of those who live, half have birth defects. This has a good deal to do with the toxic effects of tons of exploded munitions with long-lasting effects - as depleted uranium artillery shells. It also has to do with the destruction of hospitals, daily and long outages of electricity, and general failure to rebuild much of anything despite huge payments to contractors friendly to the government.
4. The US now has more mercenaries than US army soldiers in Afghanistan. The hired thugs outnumber the American soldiers by some 30,000.
5.Thanks to our interventions in Libya, Syria,  Yemen and Somalia, Africa and the middle east are now flooded with weapons donated by the west. These include sophisticated anti-tank and anti-aircraft rockets. Many, perhaps most, of these weapons have found their way into the hands of those the papers tell us are our enemies.
6. In Britain, the government has presented legislation to force internet companies to keep copies of all internet use by their customers. These are to be freely available to police and other authorities. Police state, here we come.
7. In the US, a congressional report shows that 2,400 American households with annual incomes of one million dollars a year eacn are collecting unemployment insurance.
8.Yesterday's report of a terrorist trying the blow up the Federal Reserve building in New York is a bit misleading. Ever since 9/11, the FBI has been on the lookout for young Moslems who seem not very bright. An agent befriends the target, pretends to be a terrorist agent, talks the target into a terrorist attack, supplies the bomb. Then, at the last minute, other FBI agents appear just before the crime is committed - and announce that America is saved once again. (Actually, the bomb wouldn't have worked, anyway.)
Almost all "terrorist" arrests in the US since 9/11 have been of this sort.
Finally - for another day. Let's talk about shale gas and shale gas developers. I'm not in favour of shale gas under any circumstances. But, it we must have it, we been talking only about the silliest way of developing it. I'll have to touch on this soon because it's a sure thing neither the Times and Tribune nor the Atlantic Institute of Marketing Development will.

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