Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dec. 4: where to begin

A reader was kind enough to send me information from city hall concerning Highland Square. (The form reply - and another item - appear at the end of this blog.)

The property was referred to as a  CN Terminal plaza and centre appraised at some six million dollars. The yearly civic tax on it is over $280,000. What it doesn't say it that the land is really worthless in its present state because it is severely contaminated.

Gee. You're landowner stuck with a useless piece of property. It's not making any money. It's not likely to.  The spread of the automobile and the shift to large malls has made it obsolete. And it's costing big time in taxes. What to do?     OOOOOH! I know.

You start a whispering campaign - isn't it a shame that Main St. is not as popular as it used to be? Wouldn't it be nice to revive it?  Then....

OOOOH! We really need a new hockey rink. Yes. And the city should build it by borrowing a hundred million dollars. and it will make money because hockey rinks draw stores and restaurants. (Right. Like the present one.)

Good try. But not a big enough seller. OOOOOH. I know. Don't call it a hockey rink. It's an events centre - AND - with a room where old folks can sit down.

Yes. That's it. And it will be a huge money-maker. (Of course, it it's such a sure thing, why are the present owners letting the city build it? I mean, they already own the land. And they say the rink/events centre is sure to be an economic boom. So why not build it themselves, and keep all that money? I guess they're just big-hearted.)

Well, let's be real. It's not going to make money. What has happened is that the landowners get rid of a piece of property that is almost impossible to sell. They get full price. And they get off the hook for over a quarter million a year in taxes. And they don't have to spend the millions it will take to clean it up.

And all you need to do it is have a cooperative city council and a propaganda newspaper that doesn't ask questions. Then, with the whole western world on the brink of financial collapse, we will borrow a hundred million. I mean, if it could draw just those Americans who are living on food stamps, there's  fifteen million customers right there.

Will it be built? I doubt it. The name of the game is to sell a worthless piece of land. Do that, and it's mission accomplished.

Oh, there might be a smaller hockey rink built. After all, the owner of the hockey team needs a cheap place to rent - so helping him is a civic duty - like making sure everybody gets a turkey at Christmas.

By the way, doesn't the owner of contaminated land have an obligation to clean it up? I've asked that question of the minister of the environment many times. But he's a busy man. You wouldn't believe how many pencils he has to sharpen, how many boots he has to lick.

The bottom line is that the owner of the land is off the hook for the cleanup - and gets to carry off the full price as well.

Moncton would be better off with the Mafia running the city. Mafia prices are far more reasonable.

Mr. Coon is upset that, as a party leader (Green Party)  not yet elected as an MLA, he does not get an observer's seat in the legislature.  After all, the new Liberal leader, also unelected, was immediately given such a position. But Mr. Coon obviously does not understand the New Brunswick system of democracy.

You see, Mr. Coon, the Liberals and the Conservatives of New Brunswick are actually the same party with all the same principles - of lack of any. Both are under the same ownership. New Brunswick is a just-pretend democracy. And you can be a part of it.

Just kiss Mr. Irving's ring (or whatever) and you, too, can have a turn in being premier.
As for today's paper, really...what can one say?  The good news is that premier Alward is in Ottawa today to see Stephen Harper. The bad news is that he'll soon be coming back.
There is an op ed piece by Ian Cavanaugh, the CEO of Ambir Solutions. The nicest thing one can say about this is that it is an obvious ad disguised as an opinion column. Ever hear of Ambir Solutions? Know what it does? Me neither.

It speaks of organizations like KITE and NB Women in IT (which certainly sounds intriguing). I'm sure the average reader is as familiar  with those terms as he or she is with the larger organization, IT. Whatever it is that Mr. Cavanaugh and Ambir Solutions do, I hope it has no connection with communications.

And I do wonder at the competence of an editor who would not demand changes to such an unintelligible piece of writing.
Alan Cochrane offers us an op ed piece which simply repeats the message of an excellent story that appeared in the paper yesterday - the one dealing with violence to women.The only thing wrong with that is that Mr. Cochrane has nothing of his own to offer to the original story. Indeed, his column is so vague and soppy that it weakens and even misses the point of the original story.

The editorial is a masterpiece of doubletalk. While its theme is that cities must keep their debts down, the writer uses it to come to the conclusion that we should borrow heavily to buy some contaminated land to build a hockey rink on.

The only thing worth reading in the whole paper is Alec Bruce's column. This one, though about Britain, is an important part of something that is happening all over the world. A major British newspaper has been caught being abusive of its power, improperly intrusive in government, lying - a sort of big-time example of what the TandT would be if it weren't for the fact that government and newspapers in New Brunswick are both owned by the same people.

Anyway, there is a scheme going around to impose legal controls on all news media. I know. I know. In New Brunswick, that wouldn't make any difference. But a free press in Britain has generally done a good job The problem is the occasional bad boy who distorts the news. I

But if we ever allow government to pass laws placing restrictions on newspapers, it will be a cure worse than the disease. (In fact, the publisher at the heart of the British scandal is Rupert Murdoch who is also owner of FoxTV. His influence in government is so great that any government legislation affecting newspapers would make them all as bad as his.)

This is part of a much bigger problem. Take a hard look at the world. Capitalism is in collapse. It's not because of the capitalist system. It's because, as we can see in New Brunswick every day, the abuse and distortion of capitalism by the very people who claim to represent it. Throughout the western world, the greed of those who (quite wrongly) call themselves capitalists, has so funneled money only into the pockets of the rich that of course there are few customers left to buy their goods.

As well, it was not the people on food stamps or living off welfare who destroyed the banks in the US. It was the corrupt and even illegal behaviour of the capitalists who ran the banks - and who then put the American people into hopeless debt forever. And not one of them has ever faced a court.

Add to them those corrupt politicians and defence industrialists who have bled the country dry.

Western capitalism is in collapse because of the perversion of it and because of the greed and, it must be said, the stupidity of its leading figures.

With that collapse there comes a need to impose severe controls to prevent civil unrest. the sort of unrest we are just beginning to see in nations like Greece. It is a repression that has long been common in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia. Now, we're increasingly seeing it in a US in which the president can imprison and even assassinate people with no charge or trial, a US which now has a domestic espionage system which is the largest in the world, and free to investigate the most private affairs of anybody without warrant, and to compile massive files on virtually every living American. This is a police state. This is what the word means.

Now, though it isn't in the TandT, the UN is getting into the act. It wants to control all use of the internet through a body that would meet in secret. Its laws would affect all member states of the UN. For a start, that means a law desired by China (which almost forbids the internet) would become law in Canada - so long as China could round up enough support. And that support would not be hard to find. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, the US.....  Yes, the US.  The social media are a threat to the controlled message sent out by most of the  press. There is already support for such laws in the US - and in Canada.

The social media have given us access to information and opinions. Those in power, including those in the so-called 'democratic' world, don't want us to have that access. So the threat is a very real one.

But don't worry. Just stick to reading the TandT, and you won't even know it's happening.

Remember - tonight (Tuesday) at 7 is the meeting of the current events group at Moncton Library.
Below, I will try to post a copy of the city report on Highland Square that I began with - and a superb letter to the editor on fracking that the TandT refused to publish. (sorry to give you so much reading.)

PAN: 5339925 Assessment Year: 2012
Location: 1222-1234 MAIN ST County: Westmorland
Current Assessment: $6,020,400 Current Levy: $280,815.54
Property Description: CN TERMINAL/PLAZA&CENTRE Tax Class: Fully Taxable
Taxing Authority: City of/Cité de Moncton

Via Upriver Environment Watch by Jonathan Augustine on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 10:13am

I am not a politician, I am not an activist, and I am not a scientist. I am a Mikmaq, keepers of the land we know as turtle island, or for the rest of the world, North America. I am from Elsipogtog First Nation. But more important than that, I am a human being. I do not represent the views of all of the Mikmaq Nation, or the views of Elsipogtog First Nation. I represent myself, but not only myself but my children, my children's children, and the rest of my descendents that have yet to come. It do not have to be a politician, an activists, or scientist to know that shale gas fracking is wrong!

There is a balance in the natural flow of life. Just like when you open your car window, half the air goes out, and half the air goes in. There is always the same amount of anything everywhere. By changing the structure and natural balance within the earth, how do we know that it will do nothing to the outside in which we live. When you start changing the inside of anything by removing something in it, it disrupts the balance. It seems true now that with all the environmental changes we have going on. We are getting stronger storms,more violent earthquakes,and the earth is warming pretty quickly.

First of all, we have already started pumping oil out of the ground now for a while now. We think that just because it is there that it was there for us. How do we know that the oil that has been taken out was not used by the earth to lubricate the plates? Is it also possible that the friction that the less lubricated plates rubbing together is the reason for the extra heat. I'm not a scientist but when you rub 2 unlubricated sticks together, it makes fire.

Or if you push 2 unlubricated sticks together, there is more vibration than you would with lubricated ones. Now think of it in a larger scale. This could explain the more violent earthquakes that we have seen in the past few decades. Also this could explain why the planet is heating up. I am not stating a fact but it is a viable cause. How do we know that the fierce tornadoes and hurricanes are not trying to cool the earth? Or the tsunami's are mother earth's way of fighting back!

And now we want to make cracks inside the earth so we can extract a gas that is locked inside the pockets of the earth's crust. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is just plain stupid. It is like thinking that if i were to make cracks inside the foundation of a house, it would not fall. Wouldn't that make it easier for more violent earthquakes or other harmful gases to come up and contaminate everything? And they say that the cracks that they create will be small. Yes maybe your right, however, a lot of small cracks in many different areas will create a much larger unstable area.

Scientist say that it is safe. But how can we know that it will stay safe in say 100 yrs, 500 yrs or even a 1000 yrs? That is a big risk that we are taking. It may not seem like one now, however, this is just a start.

New Brunswick is a beautiful province. It is rich in clean air, clean springs, and a very beautiful land. Many wealthy people have chosen this place as a refuge and it is also the home of the Mikmaq. If all the money in the world disappeared, we can still survive. But once the earth goes, we have nothing. We cannot survive without our planets natural resources.

The loud trucks that will be passing by, the polluted air, and possible contaminated water will drive out the moose, may kill off our salmon, and disrupt the very delicate ecosystem that is unique to this region. The rich say that if it gets bad, we can move. The poor say, if it gets bad, where can we go. The almighty dollar will do nothing for you, when the earth finally has enough and shakes us off the planet for good. The money you make will not make the air breathable nor the water drinkable. Nor will it make the foundation of earth stronger.

All life depends on water, from the tiniest bacteria to the largest tree. I do not want to paint a bleak picture but it is what it is. The circle of life is so interconnected and so delicate that every action we take, there is an opposite and equal reaction. I can't begin to imagine the conseqences of shale gas fracking. It is too overwhelming to completely process. Even the weatherman is sometimes wrong when predicting the weather. And they are supposed to be experts. But even if we could predict the weather, there is no way we can control it. And the foundation of our earth is more important and larger than the weather. So really we don't know what will happen. And what happens to one, will happen to all. It does not matter if your rich or poor. It also does not matter if your white, black, yellow, red or polka dotted. We will all suffer. Mother earth will always win no matter what. She will always protect herself. Even if it means getting rid of us all.

So to the Alward government, please think about what your doing. We beg you. The lives our children, grandchildren, etc depend on us. We need to keep our water, air, and land clean so that we can all keep living for generations to come. Yes, the planet is very polluted, but we do not have to add to it. The earth is always replenishing itself, but we are destroying it faster than she can fix it. How terrible it would be if our descendents could not eat or drink water any more. I do not want this and I pray that you do not either!

Jonathan Augustine


  1. Graeme, can you please explain what you mean when you say : « It's not because of the capitalist system. It's because, as we can see in New Brunswick every day, the abuse and distortion of capitalism by the very people who claim to represent it. Throughout the western world, the greed of those who (quite wrongly) call themselves capitalists, has so funneled money only into the pockets of the rich that of course there are few customers left to buy their goods.» If we look at the definition of capitalism, isn't the whole point of it to make profits, and to create different social classes by dividing the capital and the means of production ? So, how are the very rich distorting capitalism ? Isn't the problem the very structure of capitalism ?? Isn't the failure of capitalism the idea that we can generate infinite growth and profits in a world where the resources are finite ? Andie C.

    1. All systems fail in time. It's not the system. The problem is that all systems are run by people. And people are easily corrupted to be driven by greed or fear or lust for power.

      In principle, communism is the most Christian and compassionate system I ever heard of. But it didn't work out that way in either Russia or China.
      Capitalism as a system presumes that capitalists will look out for themselves, not rely on government welfare and favours, not cheat to eliminate competition, not exploit slaves, not control governments and send them to war to steal resources, cheap labour and markets. But capitalism is run by people - and frequently by people who are not terribly bright. The result is that capitalism is destroying itself.
      I would prefer a mixture of (regulated) capitalism combined with some socialism.

      But that, too, would have to be run by people - and would require qualities I have not seen in any pronounced way in New Brunswick - involvement, public discussion, access to accurate information for the general public, some sense of guiding morality for society. (It doesn't have to be a religious morality. It can even be atheist. But there has to be a sense of morality.) I haven't seen much of that not even in the churches.
      Oh. How are the rich destroying capitalism? By greed. By failure to realize the limits of exploitation both human and the earth, itself, by lack of any moral sense, by lack of any sense of social obligation, by controlling the press to spread propaganda, lies and ignorance, by creating a disillusionment with government which will, in the not too distant future, kill any pretence that we have a democracy.
      Where they should have shared wealth, they have created poverty. Where they should have encouraged social order rising from a secure society, they have created insecurity that will create social disorder and violence.
      They have made the dreadful miscalculations that every aristocracy that ever there was has made. They have assumed that because they were born rich, they have earned wealth. They have presumed that because that wealth has given them the power to corrupt, they have a right to use that power. And they have assumed that because they are rich, they have brains.
      In all the above, they are no different from the twits of the French and Russian aristocracy who caused the revolutions that ended them.

      No system will work unless the people are informed and involved. We are a long way from both.

  2. Good answer ! Thanks ! :)