Friday, December 6, 2013

Dec. 6: Just briefly on the TandT - and then....

What's to say? It's the usual TandT. On the death of Nelson Mandela, Stephen Harper says, "World has lost one of 'its great moral leaders'..." So it has. But the irony is it's hard to imagine a man with less moral leadership than Stephen Harper. I'll be talking more about that later.)

Then there's page of page of an ad disguised as a news story, the Mazerolle thing on New York. Save the price of a TandT, and pick up a free brochure at any travel agency.

Except for Mandela, the rest of the world doesn't exist in the news section. I mean, who cares that the US and China are gearing up for a new cold war that could get very hot? Who cares that French troops have invaded yet another African country in the pretence of bringing law and order when they're really there to rip off its minerals?

The editorial writer says that civil service pension reforms are fair. Sure. It's not his pension that got reformed.

Alec Bruce has an interesting piece on New Brunswick's financial problems, and whether these are caused by a fear of failure. I rather think they're cause by lack of fear of failure. Capitalist is supposed to involve risk; that is supposed to be what makes it innovative. But not in the New Brunswick version. Here,  the Irvings and others can open projects with guaranteed success thanks to government loans and grants, tax breaks, etc. If fear of failure is a good thing, maybe we should give a shot of it to the Irvings.

Norbert is off on another anti-CBC rant. Someday, very soon, I'll have to do a long column on his towering ignorance of broadcasting both public and private. He also reveals a complete ignorance of how radio and TV work, and the effect they have. He also has a line that in news, the CBC just picks up and repackages what others have reported. Norbert, you can't be that ignorant on the state of news-gathering in Canada. CBC has far the best news-gathering in Canada. Private radio can't do it because its news staffs are too small and inexpert. Private radio and newspapers won't because they are owned by people who don't want us to know what's going on. This whole column is just ignorant, ranting crap.

Suzuki, as always,  has a good column.  There's also a good letter to the editor "Climate change warning to all" about Suzuki's talk in Moncton (which I don't remember seeing reported in the TandT) Finally, the Letter of the Day is an excellent one by the assistant commissioner for the RCMP in Fredericton.



Back in the days when I was doing some volunteer work with convicts, I met one fellow with an extraordinary background. He was a young and handsome guy, so he had several girlfriends - all at the same time - and all of them knew about it. And they all worked for him - on the streets, in bars...

One day, he killed one of the girls, a teenager. Then, with the help of another of the girls, he cut up the body and put it in garbage bags.

We used to talk about all sorts of things, him and me and the other 25 or so. Once, morality came up. They all had strong feelings on the subject, and all pronounced at some length. As the young and handsome guy listened, I could  see his eyes getting hard and angry. At last, he interrupted a speaker.

"If there's one thing I can't stand, it's to see a woman paying for her own drink."

Some day, I should like to have a similar discussion with 25 corporation executives.

The corporation exists for no moral purpose at all. It doesn't exist to make people's lives better. It may do so by accident. But that's not its purpose. It doesn't exist to create jobs. Quite the contrary. The fewer the jobs it has, the better for its profit margin. It doesn't exist to maintain law and order. Indeed, the world's biggest killers and thieves are corporations. And it's all done not even for their countries - but for the corporation.

At the height of the British Empire,  as British corporations looted the farmlands of India, the gold of South Africa, the minerals of the rest of Africa, British workers lived in vile conditions. In the Scottish industrial cities of 1900, it was common for fifty people to share one bathroom, and for drinking water for hundreds to be available only at faucets on the streets. Even in London, it was common at that time for the homes of the poor to have no bathroom at all. Many places in London, up to the 1950s at least, had outhouses. Others just used whatever open space there was in the filth of the cities.

Corporations subjected China to a century of robbery, drug addiction and civil wars. The Canadian  government in the late nineteenth century deliberately starved thousands of native people to death in order the make railway execs and land sales agents happy.

I have pictures of unspeakably vile living conditions that were common in Canada. Readers might also be surprised by conditions in Canada ,(using Montreal as an example), in Terry Copp, The Anatomy of Poverty.

In the US, and it's coming here, private companies operate prisons (at very high cost). They bribe judges to deliver longer sentences, spend virtually nothing on rehabilitation,and often operate the prisons as compulsory factories at extremely low wages. Harper  has expressed interest.

Similarly, private corporation operate government-subsidized private schools that are in no way superior to the public schools they replace - except that they cost parents more money, thereby forcing the majority of children to remain in public schools which have been dstroyed by withdrawal of funds in order to subsidize the schools for richer kids.

And American education in general, has now dropped into the world's educational toilet.

Even the seemingly generous offer of business groups to establish and operate an entrepreneur programme in the schools is not the generous one it appears to be.

There is no possibility that entrepreneurship offers a future for most children. The proportion of entrepreneurs in our society has been declining for well over a century. It's declining even faster now as big and wealthy entrepreneurs (Walmart, Target, grocery and pharmacy chains, etc.) swallow up the small ones.

A compulsory, 13 year programme to teach entrepreneurship makes no sense at all - unless----unless these businessmen aren't doing it for the children at all, but for themselves...unless the real purpose of this programme is to indoctrinate childen into an almost religious belief that private ownershhip is always good and public ownership always bad.

That, certainly, is the message of Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, C.D.Howe Institute and a swarm of similar insects financed by wealthy individual and large corporations. This isn't being done for the children. It's being done for the benefit of the businessmen who set up this scam.

And I would be very surprised if the scheme was not begun farther up the food chain by very big business in this province.

Capitalism is entirely self-seeking, greedy, and indifferent to the needs of others. And that is what is called a lack of morality.

But there's a reason for morality. I'm not going to preach about this. I'm not going to suggest that morality comes from churches. (In fact, damn little comes out of churches these days.)

But us humans need a code of standards, of values, of morals to live by. Without that, no society can survive. We've seen it so many times. The self-serving, the greed, the indifference to the needs of others have been destroying societies and civilizations for millenia.

The western world imposed the immorality of its capitalism on Asia and Africa and Central America for centuries. The record of it was so terrible that Britain, for one, destroyed tons of government accounts of imperial brutalities and savageries as it got chased out of its empire about 1950.

Societies have been so damaged that in most of Africa, for example, no government by anybody is possible. (It takes people a long, long time to recover from the trauma of conquest and impoverization by a completely alien society.)

And we face decades of unending war, unending and often undeclared and unreported by our servile press.

Corporations have no standards for their behaviour toward others. They exist only for themselves, only to make profit, nothing else. And the people who own them can build chapels across New Brunswick and name all of them for themselves - and they will still have no standards, no values and no morals.

There are churches who seem to believe that morality is all about oneself, about keeping oneself pure so that one can go to heaven and spend eternity clapping hands for Jesus and shouting Halleluya for eternity. (on a personal note, I think I would find that pretty boring after the first million years or so.)

But that's not what morality is all about. It's not about us. It's about others. It's about how we treat others, how we care for them. And it's directly opposite to the big business creed of thinking only of profit and self-interest with no concern whatever for others.

Think of it as religious or think of it as common sense. The essential point is that a sense of moral values is the glue that holds a society together. And there is no sense of moral values in capitalism. That's why capitalism will work only if it is subject to control by us to make sure it stays within our moral values.

The Liberals and the Conservatives are a dead loss for this purpose. Both have long since become agents of big business. We have to turn to parties that are not owned by big business.

We also have to turn to ourselves to think through what our moral values are. And central to that is not whether we are pure or good or virtuous or something equally boring. We are not alone. We are part of a society. We need to think of things in terms of how we feel other people should be treated. And what we decide will also decide how long our society - and we - will survive.

An election is not about programmes or neat ideas. Essentially, an election is about our sense of morality. We need to think and to talk about that well before election day.

As a footnote, I have always found it strange that a family should build a church, then name it after itself. It's a bit, well, self-centred, don't you think? Offhand, it's very hard to think of another church named after its builder. I mean, if you're moral, you think of others in society. You think of honouring others who have done great things, not just yourself.

Or, one could get cutesie as so many of our churches do with their billboards. For example, one could rename the Irving chapel as The Wee Kirk in the Dingle by the Dell: courtesy of the Philanthropic Irvngs.



  1. The mainstream does not want to tackle the ethical and legal lapses of the Harperites. There are too many dollars in play for them to do that.

    But ordinary Canadians will, eventually, find out what it's all about.

  2. Breaking news: Oil Giant SWN Is Suspending Its Work in New Brunswick After Nationwide Protests.