Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sept. 26" An apology to Rod Allen...

For a long time I have thought and written that Rod Allen is a hugely self-satisfed writer of meager talent as displayed in some of the most trivial columns I have ever seen. But I was wrong. I admit it.

If you read his column for today, (a defence of Professor Lapierre), the truth is obvious. There is no Rod Allen. No. Something like Kermit the Frog, Rod Allen is the press name for a sock puppet with Mr. Irving's hand in it to make its lips move.

If you read today's column, it is simply a longer version of Mr. Irving's Letter to the Editor of yesterday. Like Mr. Irving, Kermit Allen sees no point to all this criticism of Lapierre lacking the credentials to teach ecology or to advise governments on little things like environment regulations, or  to publicly discredt Dr. Cleary's warnings about the health dangers of fracking. (I mean, okay, if she had a degree in education, we might listen to her. But her degree is only in medecine.)

Sock puppet Rod Allen cuts right through the crap. pointing out that Professor Lapierre has done wonderful things for the province - (like, I guess, raising the limit for timber harvesting so that Mr. Irving can cut down more of those ugly, old trees we have all over the place. I mean, we've all been blessed by that. Though it's strange that of all those who point with pride to Professor Lapierre's many contributions, none appear to know exactly what they are.).

Tell you what, Rod the sock puppet, I have an MA and a PhD in history. So, obviously, I'd be the ideal person to be your family doctor. Next time you have those terrible chest pains, just give me a call. Fifty bucks flat per call, and ten percent discount if your illness is fatal.

Or we can face reality. Big business corrupts. It's corruption has long been obvious in our politics. It's long been clear in the the lying and manipulation by our newspapers. Its obvious now it reaches deep into our universities. We have become a society of sock puppets.

The editorial is a (perhaps) deserved attack on private companies that do road work, claiming that these companies are trying to charge us for unnecessary work. I'm inclined to believe they are. But did it not occur to the editors of the Irving press when they were pimping for "Public/Private Partnerships" that this was bound to happen?

As I remember it, the TandT pitch was that private contractors would be cheaper than using our public work force. That was nonsense, of course. It isn't cheaper - and it opens us up to the kind of behaviour the editorial now complains about.

Actually, there's something wrong with the positions of the editor and the private contractors on this one - and it's the same something wrong that shows up in today's column by Norbert - and also in almost any story or government spending.

Instead of starting with what is needed, they always start with what is "sustainable" - and sustainable is never defined. As well, the magic word "sustainable" is never applied to the tax breaks and gifts we give to big business in this province.

Is it really sustainable to go on forever handing out large chunks of our provincial resources tobillionaires - and then collecting minimal taxes from them? Doesn't there come a point when that cannot be sustained?

Have you noticed we have never read a summing up of all we have given these people - and of how much we get back in taxes? Have you ever noticed that when the Irving Press says we must cut back on services and we must raise taxes, it NEVER suggests cutting back on the welfare we hand out to billionaires, and it NEVER suggests raising their taxes. NEVER.

Across Canada and the US, the major corporations whose illegal behaviour created this recession, throwing millions into poverty,  are now reaping the biggest profits and paying the lowest taxes in history. Indeed, many of the largest and most profitable corporations in the US paid no taxes whatever last year. (We don't know the situation in Canada because newspaper chains like the Irving press won't tell us.)

The message hammered out in private news media across North America is that there is a recession which has impoverished millions - and that the impoverished must be the ones to pay the price for it.

That's what the editorial writer means when he uses the word "sustainable".

The real queston for a   government that is not corrupt is - what our are needs? The only question for big business is not what does our society need.  The only question is what do we want? Those are two very different views of what a society is about. And that's why it's one hell of a mistake to run a goverment as though it were a business.

A Mr. Irving is very good at moving the lips of a sock puppet. He knows nothing about maintaining a society. What is not sustainable in this province is the grasping and greedy behaviour of its business leaders.

I'm not sure what to think of Alec Bruce's column. He seems too ready to jump on the bandwagon of those who claim climate change is not happening. He's too ready because that is not what the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says. It's rather more complicated than that. He also quotes a Globe columnist, Margaret Wente, who is one of those columnists I wouldn't  trust to make a sound judgement about the flavour of a bubble gum. She's highly prejudiced, leaps to unsound conclusions - and always with boundless confidence.

There's not much news in the paper. The front page has a big story of presentations by all of the provincial party leaders. Alas! If the story was at all accurate, then no party has a coherent policy on education. Indeed, none of them seem to know what it's about. That's one hell of a bad start for an election year.

The headline quotes them all as saying eduction deserves priority status. If this is their idea of priority status, then God help us all on those things that are not priorities.

This province has one, crashing priority. It has to break the power of big business to interfere in government. It has to restore democracy. If it votes Liberal or Conservative, then it's a gone goose; and it won't matter what promises were made by anybody. That's why I could wish the other parties would show a little more fire.

And please, please give a little more thought to education. I can quite agree that univeristy tuition should be free. It's not impossible. It is free and has been for years in some countries that aren't as rich as us. I taught for a term in the Netherlands; and it works very well there.

But it's not simply a matter of cutting or even of holding tuition fees. Our universities are designed on an extremely expensive, wasteful and educationally unsound model. But it is a model that appeals to the arrogances and pretences of university teachers and administrators. It is also encouraged by ignorant interferers like the editors of the MacLean's annual rating of universities. Changing all that is going to be a tough job.


And then there's the news that didn't make it into the Irving press.


The US, Britain, and Canada have put environmentalists and critics of the use of drones on their terrorist lists.

Nelson Mandela, one of the world's most admired men for ending apartheid in South Africa was officially listed as a terrorist by the US until four years ago. This goes back to President Ronald Reagan who was an ardent supporter of white supremacy in South Africa. He is the one who put Mandela on the list. And presidents right up to Obama knowingly kept him on the list.

Saddam Hussein of Iraq was on tne terrorist list until the US needed him to invade Iran. Then he was taken off the terrorist list so the the US could supply him with weapons - including poison gas. Once the war was over, he was put back on the terrorist list.

It cost American taxpayers 5.25 million dollars last year to provide hair styling for their senators. These are the same senators who just cut $40 billion dollars off the food stamp programme.

The US government will run out of money on Oct. 17.

Libya, the country we bombed into chaos so that oil companies could grab control of the oil fields (and, of course, so Libya could enjoy democracy and freedom and Miley Cyrus on Youtube) is now in such a state that no real government exists, and armed bands control the country. This has been going on ever since we bombed them. But it has now reached a crisis because the armed bands are now attacking the oil field. So we may have to kill more Libyans to bring back freedom and democracy and Miley Cyrus on Youtube.  Of course, we don't have to kill people all over the place this time - just the ones who are messing with the oil fields.

Terrorists all over the world have huge supplies of weapons because weapons manufacturers in    Russia, the US, Britain, Canada among others have made them so easily available. That's why all countries that are significant exporters of weapons have agreed to sign a convention that would control the trade. They have all agreed - except Canada.


Harper says he's afraid it might intefere with the rights of Canadians who legally own guns.

Gee. Funny the US signed without a complaint - not even from the NRA. In fact, the agreement has no effect whatever on domestic gun ownership. So why is Harper holding out?

It's probably because Harper figures this won't cost him any votes - and it will win votes from people dumb enough and fanatical enough to believe he is protecting their essential right to have guns.

Harper has no ideology. All that interests him is getting elected - and so he always goes for the cheap and easy issues that appeal to the intellectually differently advantaged.

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