The Moncton Times and Transcript finally does it. Both the editorial page and the op ed page are worth reading - for the first time ever.
The is a solid editorial on the return of mass transit to Moncton - without the attacks on the drivers that have marred past editorials on the subject. In fact, this time it takes a hard look at management, something long delayed. The management of Transpo seems not to have the faintest idea of how to run a mass transit system.
One might add that council doesn't, either. It has yet to suggest the radical re-thinking necessary for a world that will have to rely less on automobiles and oil. It has yet to adopt any city development plan to cut down on the need for transit. This is a city designed for 1950. And, when you see a city council of the twenty-first century planning to develop Main St. by installing parking meters, you know they must be smoking something.
But the editorial is a good one - and much better written than the usual one. Well, there was one little flaw. The writer suggested it should begin operations gradually, starting with connections to retail stores and commuters. Well, yeah. But, gee, that means just about all the connections. So we start gradually by getting everything going?
Norbert done good. His column is on the dismissal of mayor Ford of Toronto for conflict of interest. Damn right. Conflict of interest, even over relatively minor matters, should not be tolerated. Norbert makes the point clearly. Now....
When Mr. Jim Irving accepted (asked for? demanded?) the position of official adviser on economic planning for the minister of finance, wasn't that a conflict of interest? I mean, his business affairs certainly overlap with the provincial economy. And they might sometimes conflict with what is best for the province.
And then a committee of business people associated with Mr. Irving was appointed as a committee to advise the minister. Isn't that conflict of interest?
Read Norbert's "Who Cares?" section near the end of his column.
"Who cares in the Maritimes? We all should. It can happen here too. The damage done can be considerable, particularly when the inability to grasp simiple realities is as profound as in Mr. Ford's case."
Bang on, Norbert. But, it can happen here? Norbert, it does happen here. Indeed, conflict of interest is the basis of the whole of New Brunswick's economy and politics. It always had been.
Figure you might try a column on that?
Alec Bruce has a column on the disgusting behaviour of Harper in refusing to help millions of suffering people all over the world, help that would save lives, and cost Canada nothing. Harper has refused to send cheaper, generic drugs to treat HIV/AIDS.
To bleed the poorest people in the world dry by by sending only more expensive brand-name drugs - which mean we can send fewer drugs - which means millions will die who could have been saved.
To please Harper`s fat-cat friends in the pharmaceutical business who want the government to send only their brand-name products - and to pay full price for them.
Partly because Harper is a narrow ideologue who really believes the rich should be allowed to get as rich as they like, no matter what the effect on others. And it's almost certainly partly because the industry donates heavily to his party.
In Africa, they are dying by the million. They die in such numbers that the dead are often buried at roadsides, or just abandoned in dumps. This is like the Black Plague of the Middle Ages.
Harper and the pharmaceutical companies are letting people die in order to let a few people get very, very rich. If you do that - and don`t have political connections or lots and lots of money - it`s called murder.
Lynda MacGibbon, as she often does, has a column that looks light and homey - but has deeper implications for the way we think about others, and the way we treat them.
And there is a fine column by senator Percy Down on super-rich tax cheats. Not, of course, that there are any such people in New Brunswick. However, there are such people in other parts of Canada in the US. In fact, recent estimates suggest suggests there are trillions of dollars,never reported for taxes, which are hidden away in tax havens all over the world.
As the senator suggests, waitresses who fail to report tips in Quebec get charged with tax evasion. But Brian Mulroney who didn`t report a suitcase full of big bills got......well, he recently got to give a speech in New Brunswick on the subject of principles.
The rest of the paper is its usual self. You might, though, want to look at a whole page of colour photos of the social set at a gala. (A8) I love looking at pictures of my social betters.
And hurry, hurry, hurry. Your can still get copies of Ralph Costello ( biographer of K.C. Irving), `The Price of Honesty` at the TandT office.
I emphasized just two pages of today`s paper because they highlighted our central problem. I`ll begin by saying that all economic systems from capitalism to communism can work - sometimes. All of them can fail. The problem is not the system. The problem is that any system is run by people. Us people are the problem.
The communism of Stalin and Mao bore no relation to what communism was supposed to be.(and, in any case, such a system is probably impossible.) The capitalism of western Europe and the Americas bears no relation to what capitalism is supposed to be. To talk of such a thing as private enterprise in our society makes sense when we speak of small business. But it bears no resemblance to big business which, with a corrupt democracy to help it along, is simply welfare for the extremely rich.
Democracy itself is profoundly corrupted. The basic requirement is that people have the information they need in order to choose. But they don`t have it. In the case of shale gas, for example, the TandT and the provincial government and the shale gas industry have made damn sure we don`t get the information, that what we get is propaganda.
The Liberals would be no different. Both parties are paid hookers for big business. Both know that they stay with the guy who brung them, or they don`t get paid.
In the US, election law has created a system so expensive that only those two parties supported by the very, very rich can run with any hope of even being noticed. And the American press, on average, is only very slightly better than the Irving press.
Capitalism is not working. It is not working because because the big capitalists have effectively destroyed it with short-sightedness, greed - and murder and human suffering. In the US, where the bankers who drove the world into recession still live in 25 million dollar mansions, record numbers of people are living in poverty, dependent on food stamps to barely survive. And that includes some who are employed in places like Walmart.
Capitalism and democracy have both been seriously damaged by the greed and, it must be said, the incompetence of big business. And that does not begin to tell the suffering and death it has caused in Africa, Asia, now spreading to Europe and to North America.
What will happen is obvious because it has happened over and over again throughout history. Those who are so greedy and stupid as to destroy the system will provoke a reaction from the general public. Being greedy and stupid, those in power will react with force and suppression - as we are now seeing in the US with domestic espionage, secret lists, imprisonment without charge or trial.....
And that will provoke a violent response from the population. We might be lucky. The violence might lead to a better system. More typically, it won`t. It`s usually better to respond through democracy, however faulty it might be.
What that means for New Brunswick is that we have to get rid of both the liberals and the conservatives. If we don`t, we`re dead meat. If this province votes for either of those wretched parties in the next election, I would advise every young person in the province to look for a future somewhere else.
And, no. I would not suggest the United States.