Monday, February 25, 2013

Feb. 25: slim pickings

In the whole of section A, there are, perhaps, two news stores worth reading. Amazingly, one of them is the lead story on p. 1. "N.B. needs new approach to child care: advocate".

That puts it mildly. Along with most of Canada, New Brunswick has the worst and most expensive system of child care in the western world. And it's not as if child care were some sort of subsidy for parents too lazy to look after their own children.

Women are essential to our work force. They always have been. At no point in history have most women been able to lie around the house eating chocolates. In the nineteenth century, women were essential as cheap labour as laundresses, farm hands, factory workers, and very cheap teachers for the new, public schools. The 1920s, and the need for cheap office, workers opened up a whole new world of employment which could be filled only by women.

As well, of course, they had the unpaid labour of housekeeping.

Our society, more than ever in history, cannot function without women in the workplace - and commonly at low salaries. So what's going to happen to the children? With the exception of Quebec, nobody has an adequate and affordable system in place.
On the same page is a curious story, "Young readers get a boost". It's a story of great advances made by researchers at University of New Brunswick in assessing the ability of students, advances now being used across Canada to assess reading skills, and to train teachers in more advanced methods of teaching them.

Good news? You bet.

So why the hell has the NB government given two and a half million dollars to English Literacy Inc., an organization whose leaders know nothing about education, to stick their noses into our schools and operate a literacy programme?

And this is an organization which uses volunteers to teach. So who's getting the two and a half million?

The story mention English Literacy Inc. - but just in one sentence. And at that, it doesn't mention that the head honcho of it is Jamie Irving, publisher of Irving Press. In other words, this looks very much like the Irving's big move in on they have been interested in before - muscling in on the education of our children so that the Irvings can begin privatizing the system (at greater expense). And that kind of privatization has already proved itself a disaster for chldren in the US.

But who cares about our children? The important thing is to create a sort of susidized daycare system for Irvings. Mind you, the family is not without ability. Why, young Jamie, after only two years at the St. John Telegraph, by pure hard work and inherent ability, was promoted to the rank of publisher for the whole Brunswick Media. Gee! There's no telling how far he could go.

The family has also established chairs of journalism at St. Thomas and U. de Moncton - so God help the the journalism prof who dares to criticize them.

And that's it for the news, unless you'r really, really interested in a whole page on potholes.

The big story in NewsToday, the section that takes a deep look at the whole world, is "Ottawa will soon require warning labels on tanning beds".

The Your Investments page has a big story warning Premier Alward is taking a risk in holding a referendum on an HST tax. But I'm afraid the big stories misses the point.

The idea of democracy is that we elect a government based on its principles and its expertise. It then decides on whether an HST is necessary. It then tried to convince people that this is the right way to go. And if it doesn't, we vote them out next time.

We do not choose a government that has to ask us what to do. We have what is called responsible government. That means it makes decisions, and is then responsible to the voters for what it did. We do not elect governments so that it can ask us what to do. If that were the case, why would we elect these clowns at all? We could just hire one person at minimum wage to hold referenda on every issue that comes along.

And that's it for NewsToday. No mention of severe rioting and disorder in Greece and Spain and, possibly soon, in Italy. The problem is that making the poor pay for the recession with lack of jobs, lower pay, and cuts in services.

No mention of the planned breakup of countries in the middle east in order to make them weak and ineffective, of the assassinations and civil wars all over Africa to make the US the dominant force on that continent so that American business can rob it blind. No mention that we are now in a cold war with China and, possibly, with Russia. No mention that a Third World War is close enough to smell it.

The problem is not just that this causes enormous suffering. The bigger problem, much bigger, is that this solution (often called austerity) simply doesn't work. It never has worked. It never will work. It's important for us to know that because austerity is the policy being followed now in Britain, the US, and Canada.

The theory here is that if you let the rich get rich enough, it will trickle down to us. That is rubbish. It doesn't work. The rich don't ever let anything trickle down, not ever. If they did, Saudi Arabians would be rolling in luxury - instead of half of them living in poverty.

The course the West is following will lead to severe social disorder, a social disorder caused by the greed of the rich - but all of the rest of us will get blamed for it.

There is no mention of the planned breakup of countries in the Middle East in order to make them weak and ineffective, of the assassination and illegal drone attacks and fabricated civil wars all over Africa to make the US the dominant force on that continent so that American business can rob it blind. No mention that we are now in a cold war with China, possibly with Russia. No mention that a Third World War is close enough to smell it.

No mention that  civil war is being deliberately stirred up in Pakistan.

The editorial is just silly. Man steals gas. Court punishes him by seizing he car. Wow! Great excitement. This will solve the gas theft problem.

Get real. Punishment of any sort has only limited success in changing criminals. Taking his car sounds dramatic - but it's really no different than a fine. And no great fine because the car is fourteen years old, and probably worth less than the gas that was stolen. Hell, the criminal is probably ahead of the game. The only lesson in this is it makes sense to buy a really old car, and then steal all the gas you need.

This is a simple-minded editorial, complemented by an even simpler-minded op piece by Craig Babstock that starts off on the same topic. (What sloppy editor let that happen?) Then Babstock drifts off into some fuzzy idea that confiscating the cars of drunk drivers would somehow end that problem.

Allen Abel is even more pointless than usual. I wish I had known in my early days of journalism that I could make a good living by writing mindless bilge like that for newspapers that don't want their readers to know anything.

Norbert wanders so badly, I really couldn't figure out what his point was. By the end, even he is lost. The result is that he doesn't realize that his "The last word", though, like his column, about police, is not really about the same point at all.

Alec Bruce saves the day. His column is on Harper's wasteful spending on things like the War of 1812 "celebrations", the diamond jubilee of the Queen, the Office of Religious Freedom....

He doesn't say why Harper spends money on these things - but I have no doubt he knows why. Harper is pure politics. Every one of those festivals of wasteful spending has a purpose. Every one is aimed to please some minority group that will vote for him. And, as he learned, you can win power without anything like a majority. All you have to do is line up enough of the sort of people who think that Canada's biggest problem is that we don't have enough pictures of the Queen.

Some day, I must talk about the habit of the Irvings of referring to the "public" sector and the "private" sector. This is a way of spreading a sort of propaganda about what kind of society we are.

To speak of us a consisting of a private sector and a public sector sounds harmless, but it's really a profoundly undemocratic way, even a fascist way, of describing a society. That puts it in a class with Mr. Irving's statement of a couple of years ago that he is now "in coalition" with the government. And it has links to Jamie Irving's attempt to start taking over our public school system.

Public sector - private sector - yes, that's a piece of ignorance and double-talk that's worth mentioning.

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