Saturday, August 10, 2013

August 10: Letters....

I won't spend much time on the TandT news today because most of it reads like a tabloid, a really, really boring and trivial tabloid. It doesn't even have the story about how Camilla killed Prince Charles a year ago, and sold him for snacks at a church tea.

Section D (p. 1) is interesting because Baird condemns Russia for being anti-gay. Very courageous. I wonder why he and Goguen never spoke of Moncton Baptists in that way. He invokes the memory of Hitler and how he was allowed to stage the Olympics despite his behaviour toward Jews. Well, yeah. Could we have the names of all the Olympic hosts who have not been persecutors and killers of innocent people? The US? Wasn't there something about murdering people by the million in Vietnam? about overthrowing elected governments in Central America and installing dictators? Britain? France? The nations that murdered all over the world for profit?

More revealing is section D5 "Drones taking growing toll on Yemen militants".  These are American, remote-control fighter bombers which have been attacking people in several countries. And, apparently, the US says seven militants have been killed in recent strikes.  Or -----oops---

The story says "suspected" militants. That's not quite the same, is it? In fact, if you read a better range of news sources, the US has been illegally invading many countries with its drones, and killing, perhaps, thousands of people who are "suspected". Many of the suspects have turned out to be quite innocent people, many of them children. For children in some countries, the walk home from school can be a terror. Can you imagine the Christian indignation if   Pakistan drones were to attack the US in that way?

When newspapers present stories in the way this one is presented, it's called propaganda. And when robot bombers attack anybody who is down below, it's properly called terrorism.

Norbert loves to end his columns with a quotation from some notable. Today's is about how fear is a disease and inhuman. I yield to no-one in my respect for Marian Anderson; but she was a singer, not a philosopher. I might well quote something she said about music. But not about human psychology. In fact, fear is very human. It's been a major factor in keeping our species out of trouble and helping it to survive.

Then there's the letters. I was struck by two of them, "Anti-development movement hurts" in the paper for August 9, and "Pipeline will be a game-changer" for August 10. Both are well-written - but just a little bit too well. Both show a considerable skill in using loaded words; and both praise shale gas and the pipeline. Both do it with skilful use of insinuation and suggestive words. They are, in short, written in the style of professional propaganda.

Yesterday's letter, for example, characterizes the critics of shale gas and the pipeline as "anti-development". Isn't that awful? I mean, who could be anti-development? That sets the tone for the letter.

In fact, I don't know of anyone who's anti-development. Certainly, I'm not. But I am anti destruction of the soil, the water and human health through the use of dangerous chemicals. In that sense, I suppose, the whole medical profession in Canada is anti-development. (and I note that neither writer mentions the unanimity of medical opinion. Cute dodge, that.)

As to the pipeline, virtually the whole scientific world has warned us in the strongest possible terms of what will happen - and happen soon - if we continue to rely on fossil fuels for energy. So what will we do? Well, we'll show them. We'll encourage this country and others to burn even more of the stuff. Hell, we ain't scared.

Then the writer turns to the question of the provincial budget, again showing a very clever use of words to make a simple-minded analysis. If we don't accept shale gas and the pipeline, why, we'll have to cut off all social programmes, schools, everything.

Actually, the budgeting process is somewhat more complex than that. You see, part of the reason that our budget is so out of kilter is that we tax the wealthy and corporations so very little. Another reason is that we give lavish gifts of forgivable loans, sweetheart contracts, and tracts of land to those same people who pay so little in taxes.

The solution is to "grow the economy"? You must tell that to the people in Guatemala. Their economy has been growing like crazy thanks to mining companies which pay almost no taxes, and which have poisoned fresh water and land to a degree we can scarcely imagine. But Guatemalans remain among the most poverty-stricken people in the world, and the worst served for education and social programmes.

Congo, again largely with mining, has been growing like crazy for almost a century and a half. Billions have been made by the developers. But the people of Congo remain in poverty, fear and hunger - not to mention slaughter in the tens (at least) of millions. It's still going on today.

No country on earth has been so development happy as the US. And after several centuries of development, poverty is at the worst level it has ever been. Social services are among the worst in the developed world. The budget debt is is a world record. Wealth is so badly distributed that a handful of people at the top have hogged more money than the hundreds of millions below them.

Developers don't come to deliver money. Mr. Irving is not a fairy godmother. Developers come to take money. And they don't give a damn what kind of a mess they leave behind.

Sorry. I can't help it. When I see a letter so well written with loaded words, but also so simple-minded and ignorant of how economies work, well, I just get suspicious. I wonder if SWN and friends intend to treat us to a whole series of these.

The other letter "Pipeline will be a game-changer" is not as skillfully written. So it could be an honest one.  It also shows a considerable ignorance of events.

Detroit, for example, and despite what the writer says, is not dying because of a brain drain. It's dying because the "capitalistic individuals" who controlled the industry moved its work out to cheap labour countries. "Capitalistic individuals" do not get rich by making your rich. They get rich by exploiting the vulnerability of the poor and the weak. That's why jobs have disappeared all over the US and, to a degree, in Canada.

And please don't call them "capitalistic individuals". Either they are capitalist or they aren't. "Capitalistic" implies they look capitalist but really aren't.

Well, okay, we could call them capitalistic. The small players are genuinely capitalist entrepreneurs. They survive by competing; and they survive on their own merits.  The big boys don't. The big boys, like SWN, Irving, etc. survive on special deals with government, on laws tailored for them - like the change that allowed MMandA Rwy. to operate a large, tanker train with only one engineer. The big boys survive on tax gifts, special breaks and favours. They survive on our taxes and, often, our lives that we lay out to kill people for the good capitalistic types like oil companies and mining companies.  That is why a million and a half people were murdered in Iraq, a quarter million in Guatemala. That's why we sent "peacekeepers" to Haiti. They were really there to help US "capitalistic" types to get back control of the government that had been elected. That's why drones are killing "suspects" in Yemen.

The goal, contrary to what the writer says should not simply be growth. Some of the world's most rapidly growing economies are among the world's poorest. The goal is to serve the best interests of the people of New Brunswick.  Poisoning the province and its people is not the best way to do that.  We have very clear warning on that point from the medical profession. And neither writer addresses that.

Of course,  people who think like these two would, if one had a heart attack and the other appendicitis, would promptly go to a "capitalistic individual' for treatment.

I think we're in for a long and sophisticated bout of propaganda.
The sermonette on the faith page, as usually, avoids anything that has to do with real life. What's our problem? Do we join in on the world-wide killing to benefit private business? Is there anything wrong about poisoning the land and, possibly, its people? Is there anything wrong with a very few people stuffing themselves with huge sums of money while others have to work harder for minimum wage at Walmart? Is there anything wrong with drones sent to kill "suspects"?

Hey! Don't worry about it. Just accept Jesus into your heart. Problem solved - and nobody who is anybody is offended. And if that is your path to spiritual peace - avoiding reality and responsibility - then you'll probably just love the Irving Chapel.


1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the contest between Conservative Ministers such as Baird and the Reform base. The Reform base is overtly fascist and have been spewing their bigotry and hatred openly, in all directions and on a wide variety of issues, in media discussion blogs for quite some time, nurtured by the Conservative Party leaders, and now the rabid attack dogs have slipped their leashes and are attacking their masters when, for once, they are attempting to do the right thing with respect to human rights abuses in Russia, as opposed to the usual practice of covering up their various crimes and misdeeds.

    And there are some very vicious types among the Reform base, in addition to our homegrown racists, bigots and hatemongers there appear to be a number of fascist imports from Russia, Romania and other East European countries spewing their hatred of gays and minorities in media discussions.

    This cult of police and military worshippers, of imperialist adventurers who advocated intervention in Afghanistan on the basis of upholding Western values against the backward beliefs of "primitive" cultures now argue for the cultural and religious sovereignty of Uganda, Kenya and Russia and argue we have no business criticizing their laws and practices and alleged human rights abuses.

    Keep in mind that Baird was not proposing "imperialist intervention" in Russia, merely criticizing their laws and human rights abuses.

    I offered the following comment to one Reformer who was spewing his hatred of gays in a recent media discussion, claiming gay protests in Russia amounted to an attempt "to implant their values to the rest of the world" which he equated with Nazism :

    "Typical Reform bigotry. In actual fact groups like Real Women of Canada and the Reform base echo fascist sympathies when they cheer on police and fascist thugs in Russia beating, clubbing and kicking gay protesters in Russia who are committing no crime other than advocating their civil rights. We know that Reform is there in spirit with these fascist thugs, wishing they themselves could be participating in such beatings " .....