Saturday, June 8, 2013

June 8: Words, words, words....

Us human types are forever using words we don't understand - and, worse, we speak them to other people who don't understand them either, but whose misunderstanding is a different one from hours.. And so we get into hopeless shouting messages so meaningless that one of us could be speaking in Dutch and the other in Swahili for all it matters.

One writer in the TandT said that conservatives are people who are sober and careful in spending. But that's not what the word means.I have no idea whether conservatives are particularly sober - but, as an historian, I do know they have a record in both Canada and the US for big spending. (However, spending, whether big or small, has nothing to do with the meaning of conservative.

When I was a child I thought of myself as a Liberal because it sounded - you know - generous, broad-minded. And I thought conservative meant old-fashioned, backwards, fat and cranky.

It wasn't until I began studying history that I realized that Liberals were just skinny Conservatives. And that Liberals weren't liberal at all, and Conseratives weren't conservative. But it really doesn't matter, because very few have the faintest idea what either word means, so we have these tremendous debates with both sides using words they don't understand, and each side have different meanings for them.

I thought of this as I read a note from a reader who wrote in to disagree with me (see comments under yesterday's post). He ended on a huffy and righteous note, saying he refused to carry on discussion with a person who invoked the name of Hitler.

I had mentioned Hitler. But mentioning is not the same as invoking. To invoke means to refer to a person AS AN AUTHORITY. But I didn't. I said there were some people who referred to Hitler as an authority - people prominent in American and Canadian business and politics. THEY invoked him. I didn't. Understanding words is important.

But it doesn't matter. My correspondent probably feels he has scored the killing hit. And plenty of semi-literates will agree with him.
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Words...take a look at a story on P. 1, "SWN praised in the US". Now, the headline is supposed to tell us what the story is about. Okay. Now look at the sub head "Despite assurances of safety and good practices, industry is still controversial and divisive south of the border". The head and the subhead contradict each other. (Don't blame the reporter. An editor writes the head and sub-head; and this editor must be a gem.)

The opening paragraphs give us a mild "some say this, some say that". But most of the story is about those who approve of SWN. Significantly, there is no quotation from anyone who's an authority on the long term damage that can be expected.

The big, lead story on the same page, is that the Alberta premier is in favour of a pipeline for her province's oil, the dirtiest in the world, to go through New Brunswick. Well, yeah. She's gotta move that stuff that most of the world won't touch. BC has turned her down for a line to the West coast which could export the stuff to China - a country that couldn't care less what happens to the environment. And she's run into heavy opposition all through the US all the way down to Texas.

Actually, piplines do spill oil - and they can spill an awful lot because the oil moves through them at very high speed. But they don't have to worry about government opposition in New Brunswick, or about newspapers that tell the truth.

Also on the front page, Donald Savoie opens his column with the usual words that look impressive but say nothing. Then he gets to his real point. We should develop shale gas. What a surprse!

Now, people will say Donald Savoie is an authority. And, within his limits, I'm sure he is. However, studying public policy does not make one an authority on medical or environmental issues. People who are authorities in those fields say that shale gas is harmful. Isn't it just a trifle arrogant of young Donald to ignore the opinions of those people?

That willingness to ignore the opinions of people who have expertise he doesn't have is why I wrote yesterday that he is a pimp for the shale gas industry. Today's column confirms that.
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Today's Faith column is beneath contempt. No wonder church attendance is going down if this is the sort of pablum people are forced to listen to. The message is that we shouldn't worry if the world is going to hell. It's all part of God's great plan.

Yep. We killed over a hundred million people in Iraq just to steal their oil. Don't sweat it. It's all part of God's great plan. I cannot believe that anyone who could write such drivel can have understood or even read the message of Jesus.
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In the youth section, Jana Giles writes about a book she enjoyed, and recommends people read it. that is the sort of thing that encourages literacy. This is the sort of thing that should be a regular feature of the TandT for adults - but isn't. The only book I have seen seen even mentioned in any deal was about a book they were trying to dump on an unsuspecting public. It was the autobiography of a retired editor. 

 (There's quite a bit of good stuff in the Whatever section. Too bad the rest of the paper doesn't meet those standards.)
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There's a story on a shale gas protest yesterday. What causes these protests?

Well, you can start with a lying press that has made no attempt to give both sides of the shale gas debate. You can blame shale gas companies who manipulate a press and a government to favour them. You can blame a government that claims to listen, but never hears. They are the ones who have provoked this situation.

The protesters are not forcing themselves onto people's property. They are not pumping toxic chemicals into the ground. They are not refusing to listen to the advice of the chief medical officer. They are not planning to pump billions of gallons of heavily polluted water into the Bay of Fundy. They are not doing it to make a pile of money for themselves, and then skip the mess.

All of that is being done by shale gas companies, and by a government - and opposition - that is submissive (even cowardly), ignorant and morally corrupt to an almost unimaginable degree. Those are our troublemakers. Unfortunately, they are also the ones who will decide who the police will be used against - and it won't be them.
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The editorial, as always, deals with the great questions of our age. This time it's the compelling question of whether streets should be repaired at night.

Bill Belliveau has nothing new, original, or thought-provoking to say about the "events" centre. But he says it anyway.

Norbert argues that politicians always pander to the public. Get real, Norbert. They will pander on small points to the most ignorant and bigoted of the electorate. (See Harper, for example.) But if you read any Canadian history at all from 1867 and even earlier, every national government we have ever had pandered mostly to big business. Harper does. Apart from the sops he throws to racists, and monomaniacs, all of his decisions are effectively made by the Canadian Council of CEOs. Alward is even worse.

Brent Mazerolle tells a pointless story.

Gwynne Dyer is the only one who has something intelligent and informed to say.
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Then there's all the news that didn't appear.

 Pamela Wallin has made over three million dollars as a board member of various companies since being appointed to the Senate. The fuss is that she charged trips to many of those meetings to the Senate. The bigger fuss should be is that there are surely conflicts of interest here. Forget separation of church and state. What about separation of big business and state? Reading the story of Pamela Wallin might help Norbert to understand that the real pandering of government is not to the people - but to big business.

According to a CBC report, NB's general income tax for corporations, rising from 10% to 12% , will generate 17 million additional dollars for the province in 2013-2014.

Huh?

That means 17 million is a fifth of what they have been paying. So that would be a total of $85 million in taxes they have been paying to now.

The provincial budget is  8.5 BILLION. The tobacco tax alone is far more than all of the corporation taxes collected in all of this province. Considering all the money corporations make out of this province, considering the gifts and loans and grants and other favours they expect from us, corporations must be paying far below their share. And there must be stunning loopholes in our tax laws. And corporate bosses must be laughing all the way to their (offshore) banks.

Could the TandT spare a reporter to tell us how much major corporations make out of us? And how that compares with these ludicrous budget figures?

So much for Norbert's dream that politicians pander to the voters. In fact, we seem to be getting robbed blind.

Then there is the scandal sweeping the US. The National Security Agency has, illegally and without warrant, been checking the private phone calls, computer messages, credit card spending of uncounted millions of Americans. The idea is to compile massive files of information on everybody. And that's not just in the land of the free and the home of the brave. They are also doing it to foreign nationals (read British and Canadian.) That means British and Canadian companies and the British government and the Canadian government have been complicit.

This is the biggest domestic spying operation in history, far biggert than anything undertaken by Hitler, Stalin or Mao. This is an agency of government giving itself enormous powers of blackmail, coercion and threats to political opponents. And doing it all illegally.

This is what a police state looks like. This is what the end of democracy looks like. Now you can understand why countries like Germany, Italy, Spain accepted this sort of behaviour in the 1930s. They accepted it because they never even noticed what has happening. And even the nicest people went fascist. And why didn't they notice?

Because they had news media just like the Irving press.
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2 comments:

  1. Mr. Decarie,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts in regards to the political turmoil in NB.

    As for the shale gas controversy, what are the strategies the citizens can exercise to force the closure of shale gas exploration? Protests are good, but not sufficient to stop the wheels of SWN from rolling over us.

    I look forward to reading your next blog and I (and many other individuals, I am sure) would appreciate your input regarding ways to stop the shale gas bully in its tracks.

    We need to act.....but what can we do to win this fight....that's the ultimate question.

    Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Masterful. Beautifully conceived and articulated. Thank you Mr. Decarie for telling the truth. We deserve it from time to time!

    ReplyDelete