Thursday, December 6, 2012

Truth as propaganda....

Yes, the truth can be propaganda. In the case of Syria, for example, we have frequently been told of civilians being killed by government troops. But it has been extremely rare to mention such killing by "rebels" - and almost no mention of the "rebel" terrorism carried out against Syrian Christians. The reality is that both sides have killed large numbers of civilians. But the message of our press is that the government troops are bad guys while our friends, the "rebels", are good guys. The trick of honest lying is to tell part of the truth.

And that is what immediately struck me about the story that the auditor general is investigating questionable billing by some doctors in New Brunswick.

It's been a big story in the TandT for two days now. And it's quite possible there is some - even a good deal of - truth in it. And, if so, there should certainly be prosecution. But -

When is the last time you read of excessive funds going to corporations - in billing, in padded contracts, in questionable loans, in overpriced purchases? Of course, I realize that corporate bosses and politicians have much higher moral standards that doctors do ----but still-----

---well, at the most obvious level, I cannot understand the deal involving Moncton High School. I don't understand the proposed sale of Highfield Square. And these are surely not tough questions to find answers to - if we are dealing with an honest government.

Then there's the whole issue of private/public partnerships and highway maintenance and land and forest giveaways and much, much more. Ever seen a big story taking a hard look at them?

But what propaganda motive could there be in playing up these accusations against doctors?

Think Dr. Cleary. Think shale gas. Negative news about doctors, almost any doctors, has the effect of weakening the credibility of Dr. Cleary. It's a very natural and human reaction. And that helps only one group - the shale gas industry.

What we are watching is a very sophisticated campaign to push shale gas through. You can see it in the sudden appearance of pro-shale gas groups, all with their signs seemingly made in the same place, in the big TandT coverage given to a half wit survey carried out on a few dozen, anonymous people by a radio disc jockey, and in the recent tone of editorials in the  Irving Press.

This is not being done by the government or by the Irving Press. Nobody in either has the brains to set up a campaign as good as this one. This is the work of hired hands with big money. That's what it takes to tell the truth in order to to lie.
On a related topic take a good look at Norbert's column.  It's about maritime union - a subject of which he knows little. He talks, for example, about union being a threat to cultural uniqueness.  Oh? Really? It must be quite a shock to adjust to the cultural differences on a visit to Amherst. (Your going to hear a lot of intellectual bafflegab about maritime union in the next few weeks.)

Forget the culture nonsense. The important thing about Norbert's column is that he would never have written it if the boss were in favour of maritime union. Obviously, the boss is not in favour. Case closed. It's not going to happen. So skip all the tiresome debates. Cooperation on liquor stores and energy? Maybe - if it suits the boss. But no union.

Rod Allen offers us his usual piece of tortured  and unoriginal over-writing that he thinks is wit. I marked many a paper like that when I taught high school.

Jody Dallaire takes a pleased but cautious approach to recent government moves to pay more attention to women's issues. The key word is cautious. I would add a further caution to hers. Let us hope that the women Mr. Alward is going to listen to are different from the men he has been listening to.

There's really nothing else worth talking about in this edition - so let's look at what didn't make it into The Moncton Times and Transcript.
1. The OECD (Office of Economic Cooperation and Development) has said that this younger generation in the US will be the only generation in the developed world to have less education than the generation before it. Only twenty percent will have education equal to or better than their parents. This has never happened before.
Obviously, the economic crisis has something to do with it - but even the generation of the Great Depression managed to move ahead in education. What's stopping that now? And why is it only in the US?
Hint - The US is now well over a dozen years into a grand scheme to privatize education. (To understand why the US is privatizing education, read the wise words of Norbert - government bad. Private corporations good.)
The result has been a disastrous drop in the quality of education in the US. Worse, it has forced millions of parents to begin fee-paying for public/private schools  no later than the first year of high school. Result - by the time students reach university age, neither they nor their parents can afford it.
Norbert - sometimes public education is bad. But, sometimes, so is private education. And, as we can see in the US, the general privatization of education is a disaster in both learning and cost. Someday, when Atlantic Studies comes out with another phony study of the benefits of privatizing education, maybe you might raised enough integrity to tell them to stuff it.

2. The US has developed a bomb which does not explode. When it hits, it emits energy waves that destroy all electrical devices - ALL pf them. It doesn't kill people. Isn't that nice? (Well, actually, it sort of kills them. It destroys almost all capacity for food production or transport; it shuts down hospitals; destroys the economy by shutting down all financial transaction,..well, in fact, it kills millions by starvation, lack of medical care, stuff like that. But, you know, it doesn't splatter them or do anything messy. You can read about it in Israil National News, Dec. 12.
3. Quebec is amending its language laws to force even small businesses to conduct all work in French. Even saying "good morning" would be a violation. Talking to customers in English would be a violation. As well, any Quebecker signed up for Facebook would have to write all personal information for the home page in French. Oh, and it will be tougher, much tougher for English-speaking children to get into English schools.
The purpose? There are two. a)to force more anglos out of the province.  b)To maintain power by exploiting hatred and fear of the anglos. The separatist movement, in its early days, had a progamme of quite useful social legislation. But that was always a front for a movement that was always about pushing out anglo billionaires so that franco billionaires could replace them and get all the government deals. With no economic or social programme left, the PQ has to rely on fear and hatred. So we can expect lots more irrational and destructive language legislation.

My sympathy for Acadians in new Brunswick is rooted in my Quebec experience of the damage a bigoted majority can do.

3. Have you read anything of Mr. Harper's "omnibus" budget? Got a cottage on a river or lake? A couple of days ago some two and a half million Canadian lakes and rivers had environmental protection. Today, that number is somewhat reduced. It's now 62. (No, not 62 million, just 62).Thinking of buying or renting a cottage on the water? Better choose a river or lake that has a Conservative cabinet minister living on it.

This is all part of Harper's environment "streamlining" -which really means destroying environmental regulations to make resource industries (shale gas springs to mind) happy.  Mr. Harper, who publicly claims he does not believe in global climate change and be flexible, though. Due to the melting of the ice sheet, he wants turn oil companies lose on our far north. I guess he figures it's only the Arctic climate that is changing.

4, Israel now has the second highest poverty rate in the world. One quarter of all Israelis live in poverty. What's curious about this is that Israel, with barely 8 million people, gets more US aid than any other country in the world. With so much money coming in to so few people, how come a whole quarter of the population can be living in poverty?

5. Harper has been "streamlining" standards for meat packing. Regulations for meat being exported remain high. But regulations for meat that is just for Canadians have been considerable relaxed.

Oh, I forgot the poll report on A 1.

New Brunswickers remain steady in support of Alward. (I have no idea why.)
The Liberals have a new leader who looks nice. So they also like him.

That means that by the next election they might be made enough at the conservatives to vote them out and vote the liberals in - to teach the Conservatives a lesson. Just like they taught the Liberals a lesson in the last election and just like they taught the Conservatives a lesson in the election before.

Frankly, until New Brunswickers wake up, take a little bit of trouble to figure out what politics is about and spending just a little bit of time thinking of something besides which rock group member is having a birthday today, the province has no future at all.

If either the Liberals or the Conservatives have any economic, social or moral principles, I am damned if I can see what they are. Indeed, I would appreciate any reader sending us a brief note on the social, economic or moral principles of either of those parties.


  1. Point 4. Where did you get this? This index puts it at #91.


    1. sorry. You're quite right. I left out a key word. The phrase should have been "second highest rate of poverty in the DEVELOPED world."

      The source you suggest is generally considered a quite reliable one. But I'm not sure how precise any of them is. One problem is they frequently use the definition of poverty - as set by each country. And they may differ a great deal on what poverty means. So - a poor country that has a very low line set for poverty may be suffering more than a country that sets a high line.

      I really wondered how Tunisia could have such a very low rate of poverty, almost the lowest in the world. I've been there. It didn't look all that prosperous.
      I also wondered about the excellent ranking for Ireland, a country that is pretty close to bankrupt.