Friday, August 9, 2013

August 9: Good news...

...after only a week of requests, Bell-Aliant is at last going to hook up my computer (but it will take another week.) What an age of electronic miracles!

Today's issue of the TandT will be a joy for lovers of pictures of Harper talking about nothing in particular while having one political groupie on each side of him, and four behind him. Could this have been a staged photo? Nah. Harper would never do that.

Below the picture are two stories of Harper saying nothing but blather. He assures us that fossil fuel development will not cause any environmental damage. Just about every scientist in the world would disagree with that. But what do they know?

A3 has the exciting news that our streets will be full of motorcycles for over a weekend, with Moncton's cultural elite gathering on Main St. to see how a motorcycle can be chained in place with its rear wheels resting on some logs, then the engine put in gear and revved up to make black smoke come from the rear tire. Life doesn't get any better than that.

For those less intellectually inclined, there's another "all are welcome" service at the Irving Chapel in Buctouche. Come listen to a reverend doctor who will no doubt preach on the evils of greed and indifference to the condition of others. Then you can go smell God's beautiful flowers. (Thinking it over, I'd choose the tire smoke, instead. The motor cyclists at least don't make the claim that their smoke has anything to do with God.)

On p. C1, read all about how Harper and Alward discussed the rail line that is falling apart in northern New Brunswick.  Neither of them said anything, of course. But, what the hell, it's important to report they discussed it.

The editorial is about, guess what..."Moncton welcomes motorcycle crowd." Yep. That's the most important thing to think about.  Oh, there could be other topics. But they're pretty trivial. For example...
1. The MMandA railway won't be hauling any oil for Irving. It's bankrupt. And the oil pipeline is still some distance off. So - How is St. John going to get oil for its refineries?

Truck? Hardly practical for such quantities and distances. Will Irving Oil generously shut down its refining now that rail transport has proved so risky? Not bloody likely. Indeed, they must have known the risk from the start, and they went ahead anyway. So -  how are they going to ship it?

By rail, of course. So, tell us again, Mr. Alward, how safe our trackage is. And, Mr. Harper, have you taken any steps to ensure that oil carriers of that unsafe design that created disaster in Megantic will be prohibited?

Will anybody at the Irving Press even bother to ask these questions?

2. Or the editorial could have been about the scale of the Senate scandal - and the involvement of the PM's office. The pm's man who gave Mike Duffy a loan has left the employ of the government. Why? Doesn't that usually suggest something improper was done? Was the p.m. involved?

Then there's the case of Mike Duffy's residence. Duffy has been based in Toronto and Ottawa for decades, and that was very public knowledge. Kids watching TV knew it. Didn't the prime minister know that? And Harper surely knows that senators represent provinces. When he appointed Duffy, did it not occur to Harper to ask what his address was? Doesn't the pm know he can get addresses and phone numbers for all across Canada on his computer? Did the pm actually appoint a man as senator for PEI without at least asking a flunky if Duffy lived in PEI? Why didn't the TandT raise that obvious point? Is there nobody at the TandT who knows that senators are supposed to represent provinces? Didn't any ace editor pick up a phone book for PEI to look up M. Duffy?

3. When are we going to get more follow-up on the investigation into why 47 people died in Lac Megantic?  They died under highly suspicious circumstances. There are lots of questions to be asked. Why haven't we heard any questions from the TandT?

4. Why doesn't Irving press have or at least share a reporter in Ottawa, someone who's in touch with the politicians on a daily basis. The whole Irving press represents a substantial reading public. Most papers of that size have somebody in Ottawa. It makes a big difference for readers who want to know what's going on in their country. Instead, we get a paper put together by people with their noses firmly stuck in their own bellybuttons.
I saw only one interesting item in today's paper. It was an opinion column discussing a topic I was already familiar with. What surprised me was the source of it.

"Corporate welfare payments can be traced back to 1962". Well, yes, there was a book on the subject about 1962. It was put together by David Lewis, then of the CCF party. It was called, as I remember,  Corporate Welfare Bums.

So I wasn't surprised at the column's mention of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money given away over the years to private companies, and given away for no good reason. What surprised me was who wrote the column - he is a member of the Fraser Institute.

Now, the Fraser Institute, like our very own Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, is really a front to produce propaganda for big business. So I was surprised to see it report on corporations that sponge off the government. Then I saw the catch.

It far, very far understated the extent of the corporate fraud that goes on. The column mentions just loans and grants - but that's only a tiny fraction. There are much bigger sums in 'sweetheart' contracts that way overstate the costs of private services offered to the government. On one of its bigger government deals of some twenty years ago, Irving Shipyards made a profit huge enough to pay for making its yards among the most modern in the world. The same thing happens with military contracts on a regular basis. (That's what Eisenhower was talking about when he warned of "the military-industrial complex".) Yessir, we're catching up fast to corruption in the US awarding of contracts.

Then there's the cost of absurdly low taxes we let corporations off with. And there is a cost - and we, you and me,  have to pay it. And there are the government creation of tax loopholes so that corporations and wealthy individuals can hide money where governments won't know about it - as in offshore bank accounts and false, offshore "head offices".

As the columnist writes, he examined only one, federal department and that, he says, is only the tip of the iceberg. That's why he finds only $22 billion of graft and fraud in the last fifty years. A more realistic estimate would be, at the least, in the many hundreds of billions. And, believe it or not, this also affects provincial governments which build schools, for example, and may be considering handing over road building and maintenance to private companies.   Then we have municipal governments that are engaged in matters like building events centres.

All of that is a major reason why, in the western world, that very very rich have been getting very, very, very rich in the past 30 years or so while most of the rest of us have been getting poorer.

That last column was a pretty mild statement about how private corporations have grown rich and fat by creating widespread poverty. (And then they have the nerve to demand applause for being "wealth creators".  It's a pretty mild column. But it's probably the only piece worth reading in the whole paper.


  1. "And then they have the nerve to demand applause for being "wealth creators"."

    That's funny, because wealth cannot be created. Wealth can only be stolen from others.

    And we want our wealth back.

    1. okay then, from whom did we steal ours? o.0