Monday, January 20, 2014

Jan. 20: Hallelujah!

They've  done it. An Irving paper with real editorial and op ed pages, with well-written opinion columns that actually have something to say. And there's not a stinker in the bunch. (And a good, if worrisome, cartoon by de Adder.) Norbert and Alec Bruce hit gold. Craig Babstock is a must read.

Babstock attacks the idea of group prayer before city council meetings. In so doing, he is not being critical of any religion. (Indeed, my own experience of meetings that begin with a group prayer are that they are gatherings of hypocrites.  And,  yes, I am aware that includes church services.)

Anyone who wishes to pray is always free to do so. God, I am sure, hears the individual prayer. But nobody has the right to force his or her religious practices on anybody.

Steve Malloy, bless his little heart, deals with  topic I had been thinking of, activities that give children a chance for intellectual development. In this respect, there isn't much in Moncton for either children or adults.

My fondest memories of high school are days  (a great many, I'm afraid) when I skipped school in Montreal. I'd head for - oh - McGill where they had a wonderful museum with a dinosaur, a stuffed gorilla, Egyptian mummies, and just about everything.

Then there was the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with vast halls of paintings and statuary and, oh, just everything.

Was I hurting my education? Well, if you mean hurting it by not finishing high school, yes. But to this day, I have powerful memories of that dinosaur, and a painting of a medieval fish market, and the suit of armour that stood in the hall..... I remember nothing of trigonometry or mechanical drawing....

Moncton is slow,very slow, to realize that children (and adults) have brains, and can enjoy using them. It's a city that would happily contribute ice skates to poor kids - but wouldn't dream of holding discussion groups for them though poor kids have brains that can be just as smart as those of rich kids.

There's also a new columnist, Joseph Quesnel, on the back page who seems worth watching for.

The big story on p. 1 is "Education minister plans changes". The reporter does a good job covering the story. The problem is there's no story to report. That's not the reporters fault. It's editors who decide which stories to cover. It's also editors who write the headlines and sub-heads.

In this case, the sub-head is "Marie-Claude Blais says officials spend too much time running schools when they should be  focussing on education."


I spent my life teaching at every level of education - and I don't have the faintest idea what that statement means.

In a continuation of the story on p. A4, the headline is "minister wants a solid system". Well, yeah, I suppose a solid system is better than an unsolid one. Uh...what the hell is a 'solid system'?

There is no story here. Marie-Claude Blais really had nothing to say. To assign a good reporter to this is like putting lipstick on a pig. This is the typically abysmal editing of the TandT.
The university strike is still in the news. A few days ago, I wrote that the universities have profound problems that won't be solved with better pay. I still think  so. But that has nothing to do with the strike or my support of the teachers. That's something I am reminded of when people tell me the profs are already overpaid - and I hear talk of them pulling down a hundred thousand a year.  Look.......

First, the ones getting a hundred thousand are the ones with experience and rank. You start off at a lower wage, one that is even lower than it seems. And, at that, NB universities are not among the better paid in Canada.

Second, it is a bloody expensive business to get into university teaching - even more expensive than one might expect.

First, it takes eight or more years of your life to qualify. These are eight or more years when you still have to eat and wear clothes. And maybe get married and even have children. But you have no income. So you borrow.

I well remember the very cold day my first daughter was born. I got up early, got into my ancient car (which I had bought before returning to school). It ran for perhaps a hundred metres, coming to its final stop in front of the gates of Kingston penitentiary.

I sat there, stunned. I didn't have a penny in the world. I couldn't afford even a transit ticket to get to the hospital. And I would have a wife and a baby daughter coming home within a few days.

Oh, yes, ther is money in scholarships. But not nearly enough to live on in addition to paying fees. So I borrowed. And I borrowed. When I got my first job (at a very small fraction of a hundred thousand; in fact, I started at less than I would have earned if I had remained a high school teacher). Worse, I was so heavily in debt it took me almost twenty years to get out. I

That meant, really, that for twenty years, I was making much less than government statistics showed.

Funny thing. We have university faculties of business education that teach their students that greed is good, that it encourages enterpreneurship. We have business leaders who assure us that their work is so valuable to society it is worth millions a year, sometimes tens of millions and sometimes more. I have known more than a few of those people.

They had mediocre educations, and no special,  innate intellectual qualities that I could determine. But they were paid in millions of dollars - millions of dollars that came from all of us, just as university salaries come from all of us. But when have you ever read a newspaper column questioning that?

We get lots of indignant information on what university teachers earn, along with some information about their training. When was the last time you got information about how much corporation heads rake in? When was the last time you got information about what their qualifications were?

We are running short of money. But it's not because of university salaries or 'entitlements' for the poor. It's happening because for the last twenty years we have been systematically pillaged by the very rich who have effectively taken over government, who then tuck the money away overseas, just for themselves.

Of course, it's much easier for people to take their indignation out on the professors. They can't hurt anybody. Take it out on the corporate bosses of this province, and you could end up with no job.

Not much happening in the world today. The Tand T has only one page of world news. The big story is that Harper has landed in Israel with an entourage of 300 people (your tax dollars at work.)

Prime Minister Nethanyahu said. "(Harper)... is a great friend of Israel..."

He said Harper has shown "great moral leadership in fighting terrorism" and in taking a stand against Iran." In a frenzy of praise, he spoke highly of Harper's morality and conviction and leadership.

What morality? What conviction? What leadership?

Harper has never done anything but talk. He did send troops to Afghanistan - but then pulled them out in the middle of the war. Harper has never extended any financial or military aid to Israel.. He has, in fact,  never done anything for Israel except talk - and now to visit Israel with this bizarre entourage of 300 people as if he were being crowned shah of Israel.

The country which has poured billions in Israel, which has protected it in the UN, which has given it it's formidable armed forces is not Canada. It's the US. So why this extravagant praise of Harper?

Netanyahu is praising Harper to humiliate Obama. Obama doesn't want a war with Iran. Iran, after all, is no threat to Israel. Intelligence services and the UN agree that Iran has no nuclear weapons programme. In fact, the country that illegally has nuclear weapons is Israel.

Obama doesn't want a war because it would be a very bloody one with consequences that could well include a world, nuclear war.

Netanyahu is using Harper to pressure Obama and to humiliate him. That overblown entourage is perhaps the greatest embarrassment in Canada's history. It may also be the biggest and most tragic blunder.

Canada, you can be sure, has isolated itself in almost all the world with this one.

And all so Harper can get the Jewish vote in the next election.

1 comment:

  1. " it is a bloody expensive business to get into university teaching"

    But; if you take sub standard courses, at sub standard places of education, and make sure every second reference is an outright lie on your application, then it's not so bad, in fact maybe you can become the "go to guy" is a backwoods province!