Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sept. 5: Some real news on p. 1

University "Tuition costs keep soaring: report". Even as universities grow, they are pricing themselves out of reach. In the US, it has reached the point at which pensioners are still paying down their university debts. And it's all quite unnecessary. Never very good teaching institutions (almost no university teachers have any training in teaching. Nor do they learn much on the job.) The result is that professors forever cry "The students are not ready for university study" when the reality is the professors are not ready for university teaching. And many of them have no wish to teach. Indeed, they scramble for research projects - some of value, many of no value - to justify reduced teaching duties. The result is courses and programme structures that frequently make no sense at all from a learning point of view. I can safely say that my three years of BA studies were the least useful years in my whole education. Add to that the fact that big business now runs the universities and, like everything else it does, runs them for its own profit. All of that adds up to one hell of an expensive education system for very little return. But change is almost impossible. Professorial reputation and egos get no gain from good teaching. Indeed, most have only the vaguest idea what good teaching means. And so we shall go on getting less and less value from our universities even as we get less and less from them. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Another front page story is that Via Rail is dying. That struck me as unfrortunate because I have just returned from a trip to Montreal, one way by bus, and the return by Via. Both cost about the same; but there the comparison ends. Via was in every way superior. There might be a column in this for Norbert. After all, Norbert delights in foaming at the mouth about how private business is superior to government ownership in all respects. Well... For many years, Via Rail was run as a government business. It had to because of massive failures of privately-owned railways about 1920. For many years, it provided superb service. Then along came Brian Mulroney. Since then, a privatized Via has, as the news story points out, been going downhill. Gee! I wonder if there's a connection. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ And then there's the more usual sort of TandT "news" - Casino gives back to city. It seems the casino gave a cheque for ten thousand dollars to the SPCA. Goodie. But, oh, the money didn't actually come from the casino. oh, no. The money came from a service fee added to tickets for casino shows. In other words, the TandT uses a whole page to slobber over the generosity of the casino "giving back" to the community when, in fact, the casino gave nothing. Neat. Trivia, lying, kissing up and wasted space - all in one story. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A9 has what might be an important story.NDP leader Cardy accuses the government of planning damaging cuts in education. I expect it is. But I have trouble with this story. Mr. Cardy gets the story from a book by Dr. Savoie of UdeM. Now, Dr. Savoie is not an authority on education; and the news story gives me the impression his book touts a line encouraged by Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, an Irving propaganda outfit. I'd want to read that book before jumping to any conclusions. Indeed, this book is a good example of why the TandT, like any good newspaper I have ever heard of, should have a book review section. (No. I do not want to see this book reviewed by any of the staff hacks for Brunswick News. I would want to see it written by a prominent - AND INDEPENDENT - person with extensive training in education.) Such a review might... 1. encourage people to read in this low liberacy province. 2. It would bring the issue, and some understanding of it, to a much wider audience. 3.It would also help to make Brunswick News in a chain at least a step above supermarket tabs with headlines like "Shocking confession by Pope---He doesn't like going to church." ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I also have another qualm about this story. New Brunswick's biggest problem, by far, is NOT its schools. The biggest problem is that the people of this province have no influence whatever on the government of it. That is true whether speaking of a Liberal government or a Conservative government. The reality is that New Brunswick is a dictatorship by big business - and especially by an arrogant and self-serving Irving clan. Until that issue is dealt with, New Brunswick is going nowhere. There is only one issue in the next provincial election. Break the power of big business and take back democracy. Fail to do that, and we fail everything. That means separate Green Party and NDP party make no sense. There needs to be a union of all those who are opposed to the arrogance, greed, and power of big business in the province. Such a party would have to have other planks in its platform, of course. But the great, overaching issue is to get our own province back. There is no point in piddling around with dozens of lesser issues.Irving should be told to get his highly improper hacks out of the Finance ministry. He should be told he is NOT in coalition with the government. Big business, in general, should be told that it has no right to set up "advisory" committees and then act as if government - at any level has to listen to them. (There are, for example, the appointees of Mr. Irving who are official advisors to the Minister of Finance, and the business committee that has announced it will advise Moncton city council on the "events" centre. They have no more right to impose themselves on government than a committee of bartenders does.) The people of New Brunswick have too long allowed themselves to be bullied, cheated, and exploited. The next election deals with that for it focal point - or we just go on spinning our wheels and destroying our own futures. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Norbert ends a trivial column with a quotation from Milton Friedman (who's now out of style, Norbert, ever since his disastrous leadup to the current economic crisis). Uncle Miltie says that in a free market no exchange takes place unless both sides benefit equally. Alas, no such free market exists - or ever has. Just about every major power in recorded history has used its power to steal from others by force, and leave the other impoverished. The Greeks did it. The Romans did it. The "capitalists" of all the western empires have done it for centures. Britain got rich by ripping of India, forcing opium on China, taking resources from Africa,dispossessing native people in the Americas. US business has done it in Central America as, for example, in Haiti which is the poorest country in the western world despite being a century under US control and producing huge profits for "free market capitalists". You will search long and wide to find both parties benefitting from such an exchange. You'll find it in small business. But for big business, free markets and fair exchanges don't exist. Think, Norbert. Think before you write. (Oh, yeah. When Britain conquered South Africa, British capitalists got billions of dollars in gold mines. Tell us all about the "equal exchange" the native people got.) Rod Allen is a delightful read for people who like to listen to really boring drunks telling long and pointless stories. Excellent columns again by Alec Bruce and Jody Dallaire. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________

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