Saturday, February 16, 2013

Feb.16: They must think we're......

....really stupid.

Front page - Craig Leonard, our minister of energy, has announced the new, shale gas rules; and he says they're strong. Well, yeah, I wasn't expecting him to say they were weak and full of problems.

But the opening sentence of the story is a statement by the head of shale gas company that says the rules are onerous, will hurt the companies, and are far too strict.

So there is our valiant minister of energy, standing up to those giant oil companies to defend all us helpless widows and orphans.  Indeed, the story dwells on how unhappy the industry is with the new regulations. and on the determination of the Alward government to defend the people of New Brunswick.

Writing a story like that is called propaganda.
1. It still doesn't tell us what the regulations are.
2. It casts the government and the shale gas companies as being at odds with each other when, in fact, they have been in bed with each other for years. (a scene which I prefer not to dwell on.)
3. There is not a single word in this story from opponents of shale gas development. They don't exist.

This isn't a news story. This is propaganda, quite deliberately  propaganda, to convince us that we now have tough rules, and the government is valiantly standing up to the industry. Below the "story" is a picture of David Alward. Take a look at that face. Does that impress you as the face of a super-hero who stands up to giants?

Oh - I notice the paper still has no mention of the massive  protests against pipelines in the US. Those protests are the reason the industry wants a pipeline across New Brunswick.  Nobody else will accept it. It has nothing to do with the charm or charisma of David Alward.

In this story we see the elements of the biggest crisis facing us - the abandonment by big business, government, and the news media of any trace of moral or ethical behaviour. I'll have to return to that on the Faith page.

NewsToday still has not a word about the charge by Human Rights Watch that police in northern BC enforce a climate of fear in aboriginal communities through beatings and rape. Prime Minister Harper has refused to even look at the charges. So has the Irving press. However, you can find it all over news media around the world.

And so, with our federal government, we can broaden the powers that operate with no sense of ethics or moral code.

The Your Business page continues to be a mystery. The Cochrane Rerport opens with a free ad for a car dealer, then moves to Peter Mansbridge's re-appointment of chancellor of Mt. A.  What does this have to do with business of any sort? And why should I give a damn?

It also has a psychology column on how to be happy and successful. It has useful advice - concentrate on what you have, and be grateful for it; practise forgiveness; practice gratitude. Well, I can see the business sense of that. It is precisely those principles that have marked the careers of people like Mr. Irving and shale gas operators.

The editorial is the usual kiss-up for shale gas.

Norbert delivers the deep thoughts he promised yesterday. It's headed "Our future depends on finding new approaches". Wow! Heavy. I bet nobody ever thought of that before.

First thing off the bat, says Norbert, is we have to privatize NB Liquor. Way to blaze, it baby; come right out on the big issues.

Develop tourism. Gee! nobody ever thought of that before.

Yeah, and privatize a lot of the infrastructure for health care and education. Actually, Norbert, that isn't a new idea. At one time, all of that was private. In the US, it largely still is - which has produced the most expensive and least effective  health care and education systems in the developed world.

These aren't a idea. They aren't ideas at all.  They're barely neanderthal grunts - private good, public bad.

In politics, he says, get rid of the spin doctors - the communications staff who feed government views to the public. Norbert - you are a spin doctor for the politicians and for big business. The whole Irving press is an apparatus of spin doctors. Do you ever think before you write this puerile crap?

The number of these high paid spin doctors in our public service is astounding. Yes, Norbert. And there are even more of them and more highly paid in the big business world - and business-financed propaganda houses like Atlantic Institute of Market Studies. And you regularly publish their bilge, and call it news.

This is a column about new approaches that offers no new approaches at all. And Norbert is honest enough  to say they didn't originate with him. Quite so. Most of these originated with people who wore bearskins and carried clubs.

He promises to have more for us tomorrow. On Sunday? This a man who can't even tell what day it is.

Bill Belliveau's column is a disgrace. He makes McKenna look like a model of ethical and moral behaviour. It's yet another kiss-up for the pipeline. It's also badly informed. The pipeline debate is NOT driven by Alberta's oil glut. It's driven by the utter refusal of most parts of North American to allow such a pipeline to go through their territory. Any pipeline, given the high rate of accidents and spills, even under the "strictest" regulations, isn't wanted. And Alberta's dirty oil is definitely not wanted.

That's why it's being sent in this direction. And there's no guarantee it will come to us. Ever hear of Portland, Maine? Ice free port. New refinery. Owned by Irving.

And New Brunswick would become a world leader in the integration of fossil fuels and sustainable alternatives, according to Mr. Belliveau. Yeah. And if we had an events center, the Wildcats would win the Stanley Cup.Nobody is proposing to make New Brunswick a centre of anything. The proposal is to make it the dumping ground that nobody else wants to be.

Good, intelligent column by Gwynne Dyer. It's about the retirement of the Pope; and it is not a cheerful one. Unfortunately, I think he's right.

Something new is a section called "Focus on Education". I don't know why. It has nothing of any significance to say about education. In fact, most of the  "stories" are really just free ads for various schools. Others are just silly.

And then we have the Faith page. This time, the sermonette is about using lent to give up habits of anger, malicious language, etc. A good idea, no doubt, and delightfully sterilized and abstract since it mentions no people who do these bad things.

Look, we live in a world that we have made into a moral and ethical vacuum. There is a reason for morals and ethics. It's not just because they are goody-goody things. It's not just because God wrote them on some rocks as sort of arbitrary rules for Moses. And there's nothing abstract about them.

When a Frank McKenna goes public to boost shale gas, and does so without mentioning his close and personal interest in the business, that is amoral and unethical. When the Irving press hides news, lies about it, manipulates it, that is amoral and unethical. When big business enriches itself while making others poor, that is amoral and unethical.

There's a reason for morals and ethics. Any society which abandons them destroys itself. We glorify greed. There are books written on how greed is good, how it encourages economic growth and prosperity.

That's not true. What greed does is to make some prosperous by making billions poor. We have spread destruction, murder, starvation, brutality, torture in Central America and Africa, for example, for our profit - most of it going to big business but, for some years at least, some of it reached the rest of us.

No society can survive that absence of ethics and morality. A system of amorality and not ethics seemed to work from 1945 to, perhaps, the 1980s. It still seems to work for the very, very rich who are getting richer.

But it has not worked for the rest of us. All over the western world whole social systems are collapsing. It's happening even here without us seeing it. Take a small example. CSIS and the RCMP have been ordered to spy on environmentalists. These people, whose concern is that we are causing irreversible damage to our world and are using their right as free people to speak and demonstrate against it, are now classed as terrorists. Why?

Because our amoral and unethical big business world finds them in the way of its greed. So our police now are used not to enforce the law, but to investigate people who aren't breaking it - and then to report their finding regularly to big business. Lack of morality and ethics has caused our governments and our police not to enforce the law, but to use their powers as agents of repression. And to repress freedom.

It's going to get a lot worse. In the US, we've seen a breakdown in social structure as the greed and illegal behaviour of big business have impoverished millions, and sent the money that might have helped them into a  defence budget that uses every cent of income tax revenue collected. And much of that money goes into corrupt and grossly inflated contracts.

That will cause even more breakdown and, probably, violence. That's why the US police forces have been militarizing, and why the US so intensively spies on its own people. And it's coming here. Harper and Obama will be entering talk on the matter quite soon. The emergence of a police state is just one more example of our social collapse.

As our social structures collapse, we are also driven increasingly into war. You won't get much sense of this from the TandT because it is not only unethical and amoral, but also blessed with ignorance. As a result, few people have any sense of how close we are to World War Three, and what it's all about. (Terrorism has nothing to do with it.)

Ultimately, the amorality and lack of any ethical code in big business will destroy big business along with the rest of society. That's the reality the churches face.

But churches just love to play it safe by discussing abstractions and trivialities. We get a Pope who thought the issue of using contraceptives was at the heart of the Christian message. We have Baptists who seem to think that Jesus came and suffered and died to deal with the terrible problem of homosexuality. And the sermonettes on the Faith page are common trivialities.

The reality is that the churches live in a world in which the concepts of morality and ethics have all but disappeared. Greed and killing and lying (communicatons) are celebrated.

The church is not being attacked by the amoral and the unethical. Why should they attack it? The church has make itself irrelevant.

There's a real world out there dominated by forces who do not reflect the values or moral codes of any religion I have ever heard of. Jesus came to draw attention to that. Our churches seem more concerned with concentrating on the abstract and trivial.

After all, they don't want to look controversial or unrespectable.

No. The churches are disappearing in a socially respectable way. If any church ever preaches a real Christian message, you'll know.  Because CSIS will begin spying on it.


  1. Most NBer's are either indoctrinated, or too fearful to speak out against the Irvings, or Frank McKenna's near-criminal actions.

    But, what would NB Elementary School kids say, or NB High School kids say if they were informed there was a big, deliberate push to poison our water and air here?

    Is there a way we can inform them?

  2. There is no way you would be allowed in the schools with such a message.
    over the last thirty or forty years, a massive onslaught by big business through "think tanks", through the news media they own, and through fear, it has managed to make people think that what it proposes is quite normal.

    In fact, what they propose has taken past fascism to something close to a dictatorship by big business. It has convinced people destruction of the environment is quite normal, that greed is what makes the world prosperous, that we're entitled to attack any country they want us to, and to use military power in a way we would have considered despicable in WW2. In fact, we hanged Naziis for doing less.
    I don't think defence is the best approach here. We need to be positive in our response, to offer an alternative. People need the opportunity to understand that what we are is not only destructive, but also misguided and counter-productive compared to what could be done.

  3. A reader has just sent me a note pointing out that the fracking regulations are not enforceable - and they are designed not be enforceable because they are not laws, and there are no penalties.

    I've just had a chance to take a quick look at the proposal. And I think the reader may be quite right.

    If so, we have a real pack of lying scum for government and economic leadership in this province.