Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Feb. 26: New Brunswick's infectious rot....
Very briefly, today's Times and Transcript has very little news, a kiss-up editorial, a hick-town column by Norbert, and and an utterly brainless and irrelevant column by Alan Cochrane. The edition is saved only by superb columns from Alec Bruce and Gwynne Dyer.
Oh, as well, there are excellent letters by Denise Melanson of Indian Island and by Barry Ogden of St. John. Ogden's letter is particularly an important one in the light of certain propaganda which is the only news in this edition.
But before we can talk about any of this, we have to understand the disease which has afflicted this province for at least two centuries. It's a disease of moral and ethical rot which has been carried by the economic masters of this province over all those years, has spread to government, news media, certainly elements in the universities, is now reaching into the public school system and has blighted the lives of millions over the years.
From the days of timber-cutting rights to the days of oil, this province has been dominated by the greed, the selfishness, the indifference to others of those who got control of the timber-cutting rights and the oil. The rot has always reached deep into the politics of the province, the news media, and deep into the lives of the hundreds of thousands who are afraid to discuss public affairs openly and honestly for fear of losing their jobs.
The rot has created generations of poor who need not have been poor. Contrary to myth, this is not a poor province. Some people have become very wealthy indeed out of it, people whose tax favours alone would pay for all the food banks and hospital needs, and healthier housing, and more in this province.
How far has the moral rot gone?
Just last night, I was reading an old story (2005) about how Irving Oil bullied St. John (with its high rate of poverty) into giving it municipal tax savings that could amount to a hundred million over a period of 25 years. People will suffer for that. People will live in unhealthy housing. People will go hungry. Yes, a loss of a hundred million dollars will be noticed. (But, duh, we might get some jobs out of it, duh...)
The papers asked Professor Donald Savoie of U de Moncton what he thought of all this. (Our unethical newspapers always consult Professor Savoie on such matters, perhaps because his answers are always so predictable.)
"This how business is conducted these days," said the professor.
I suppose if he were asked about the illegal detention and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo, he would answer, "This is how business is conducted these days."
And there must have been a German professor in the 1940s who, watching the Jews being used as slaves, then taken off to the death camps, said, "This is how things are done these days." And a professor in Virginia in 1840, asked what he thought of the millions of slaves who died just in transport to Virginia, and who were then whipped to work and early deaths if they survived the trip, would say, "This is how business is conducted these days."
And, yes it is. Very insightful, professor. And in doing so, it transmits a disease of moral and ethical rot to everything it touches.
Part of the lead up to all this was a propaganda campaign, a very subtle one, mostly in the newspapers. I don't think the journalists did it deliberately because I have seen to evidence to suggest they have the brains to understand it.
Notice how business leaders like to speak of our society as having a private sector and a public sector?
In fact, it doesn't. Not if it's a democracy. In a democracy, there are no sectors. We are all equal. We all have the same rights. The idea that we have rights only according to the sector we are in is the old aristocracy and peasant one - the one our ancestors rebelled against to create democracy.
What is the private sector? Well, it's those in private business (in which all are not equal. Indeed, some are one hell of a lot more equal than others.)
What is the public sector? That is generally used to mean the government - the civil service...
So what are we? Chopped liver?
Worse, to speak of sector and a public sector is to imply they both have rights. Most important, the private sector has a right to be involved in government. It has a right to share in government projects - like education. And, of course, to make a profit out of it.
That concept is now so accepted that Mr. Irving was foolish enough, just a couple of years ago, to openly announce that he was a member of the government. In fact, he did it. He got away with it. Could I do it? Could you do it?
Of course not. It's unconstitutional. But Mr. Irving can do it. He's Mr. Irving. He's above the law And he's certainly above being equal to us peasants. And that sort of thing is how the moral and ethical rot begins.Mr. Irving has a right to be involved in government without bothering to get elected. We don't live in a province of equal people. We live in province in which you have rights not as individuals, but according to the sector we belong to.
That is the classical definition of fascism. That is how far the moral and ethical rot has taken us.
And that takes us to the only big stories in the paper. One is the story of how the Irving have induced Premier Alward to remodel the government so that the civil service follows a faddish business model that the Irvings are much enamoured of.
It's a fundamental change in how government will work because it is modeled on the business need to cut costs and increase profits. Sound good? Well, so far, there's little evidence it works even for business. And, more important, government is not a business. It does not and cannot run on a cut cost/raise profits basis. It's not that mechanical. It has to respond to human needs. And it has to operate on programmes that cover years, not just the three months at a time that is business practice.
Mr. Alward has agreed to a fundamental change in our form of government. It's a change with profound implications for democracy. And Jamie Irving's papers have told us virtually nothing about it. This is a rot which has eaten its way into Mr. Alward's brain (no easy target).
In addition, our government, without public discussion or even information, has handed over two and a half million dollars of our money to Mr. Jamie Irving and some business pals and political stooges to take over an area of teaching in our schools. They will take over the teaching of children with literacy problems. (The news reached us today - well after the deal became a fait accompli.)
What qualifications do Mr. Irving and his business buddies have to take on sucha responsibility? None whatever. But Jamie Irving has his nose into what the Irvings have lusted after for a long time - the public education system. This is the beginning of "the private sector", using its fascist status to begin the process of privatizing our schools so that our tax money is not simply wasted on our children, but will also go into Irving pockets.
Could nobody else help with literacy? Of course others could. Universities around the world have people who have done nothing but develop methods to deal precisely with that problem. But their names aren't Irving. And they aren't in the private sector.
But won't scholars in our university faculties of education protest? After all, privatization of the public schools has been a disaster wherever it's been tried. And it costs more because it has to produce profits.
But, no, you won't hear a word of criticism, not from any university in the maritimes. If anything, you might catch a word of praise from a sell-out. Or from a professor in another field. One thinks, for example, of a professor who's so wise that he knows more than our chief medical officer does about health - even though he's in a different field.
But any professor who criticized this daylight robbery of our children would be in for an unpleasant meeting with the university president.
This is just the beginning of the moral and ethical rot of this province reaching down to our children. And one more step in the impoverishment of New Brunswickers to provide even more wealth and power to those nice people who have their own, lovely chapel where we are urged to sit, and reflect.
This school break-in is one of the major projects that Atlantic Institute of Market Studies was set up to accomplish. Their earlier attempt didn't work. But they'll be giving each other high fives today. Norbert was a big admirer of their earlier attempt. He'll slobber all over this one.
They've done it. Thanks to Mr. Jamie Irving, they've done it. And Jamie has proven himself a worthy Il Duce of the family. The moral rot has gone far enough so we're a real, fascist state.
Well, as Jesus said, "Bring the little children to me. I can make a buck out of them." Reflect on that next time you're sitting in the Irving Chapel.