Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jan. 8: The column I never expected to see....

....but let's start with the small stuff.

The cheap shot of the year  can be found among letters to the editor.  "Mrs. Crocker, hang your head in shame" (headline written by the editor) is a letter responding to a ranting editorial that attacked the cutback in the use of incandescent light bulbs.

The letter correctly points out several errors that not only refute the editorial, but also points out that the editorial writer doesn't even understand basic terms relating to light bulbs.

In a forty line letter, one line refers to the use of light bulbs in the Better Crocker Easy Bake Oven - an item to editorial had mentioned for some reason that is not clear to me.

At the bottom of the letter, the editor has added a note in bold print. In my years of following the TandT I have never seen such a editorial note used. Indeed, it is rare to see it in any newspaper. So I figured this has to be a major point.

In fact, it is a ten-line response made to the one line about the Betty Crocker Oven which, for all its virtues, is hardly a major factor in New Brunswick's power consumption. The editor's ungracious note says, "It turns out that the author is right that the editor is wrong about the Better Crocker Easy Bake Oven, but for the wrong reasons. The original version used two 100-Watt incandescent bulbs. but modern models use an actual heating element instead of bulbs."

What the editor has done is to ignore almost all of the letter's valid and important points in order to announce his error on a point that couldn't matter less. That is petty, misleading, and very bad journalism.

As I suggested yesterday, the  story about the mayor of Fredericton's clownish and illegal behaviour with regard to the Occupy group didn't make it into today's paper. I guess they needed the space for a big story about plans to tear down a former strip club. (For those who get feelings of excitement at that, check out p. A3.)

Those with a taste for the bizarre will love the lead story in Your Business. It's about the Canadian Federation of Independent Business having a meeting with the premier. (Anybody can meet with the premier any time. Just give him a call.) The federation is looking for tax breaks.  Well, of course. It's terrible the way those people suffer.

You can just see the suffering in the face of the big photo the article features of the president of the federation. It's obvious he needs a loving mother to take him home for a meal. Just looking at him makes one think of all those who live below the poverty line in this province.

By contrast, page A3 has an excellent report by reporter Allison Toogood. The headline is "Poverty reduction moving slowly: annual review".

The story is about the Common Front for Social Justice's annual review of what the provincial government has done to honour its pledges to help the poor. The bottom line is that it's doing as little as it can get away with. To quote the report, "David Alward's government is dealing with poverty at a snail's pace."

This is solid, non-partisan reporting. It should have been front-page. But they needed that space for a doggie story.

The editorial ....sigh.....

It's a combination of ignorance and propaganda. It seems the editor read a book (always a danger signal) by a "researcher" for a propaganda outfit called The Fraser Institute. ( a leading light among big business sponsored "think-tanks".)

The theme is that as government grows, it hinders the economy by overtaxing business.


In the US, for example, government is so big with its spending (for weapons and wars and spies) that taxes on big business and the wealthy.....well....actually they don't exist.

And in both Canada (which is also pretty limp on taxing the rich) and the US, government is so big that poor little big business is making its biggest profits in history.

The biggest US government expense is for wars - wars which are fought to make the rich even richer. And why to you think we joined the US war on Afghanistan?

In fact, with our "big" government, big business taxes have never been lower. Only an Irving editor could take a book by the Fraser Institute seriously.

The rest of the opinion pages is the usual trivia and trash - except.......


Alec Bruce has a column I never expected to see in an Irving paper, "A war for the wages:Canada's CEO greed". This is one you have to read for yourself. If you refuse to buy or steal one, you can usually find a free copy at your local Macdonald's.

In Canada, the upper level of CEOs in pay, bonuses, extra goodies, make 205 times the minimum wage. In the US, it's worse at 354 to 1. And the difference is growing at an accelerating pace. In the last four years, the average Canadian income rose 6%.  The average increase for the top dogs was 73%.

Where does this take us? In the short run, it takes us to where the US is with its extraordinary level of poverty, of hunger, of illness - and with its hordes of spies and militarized police to keep an eye on anybody who objects. And Canada is already far deeper into that than most Canadians realize.

In the longer run, it takes us to a complete collapse of the economy - and we're well on the way to that.

But won't that hurt the very rich, too?  Yes. It will. But they're so greedy - and made so immoral and unthinking by their greed - that they can't stop themselves.

They do know, though, that they are our enemies. Too bad so few of us realize that they are the enemies of all of us.

It also raises another issue. Does it make any sense to put price tags on people?

Our starting point in deciding that is the rich. They decide what price tags should be hung on all of us. They decide the highest price tags  should be on themselves. They decide there is no limit on what they are worth.

And so we create a society which destroys democracy and opportunity to most of the population, effectively creating a ruling class which considers itself an elite but more closely resembles a line of hogs at the trough.

An intelligent society would not begin with what the rich want. There is nothing especially intelligent about the rich.

An intelligent society would begin with what everybody needs. In that way, an intelligent society would not throw away the potential of so many of our children by raising them in the suffering and low opportunity that deny their fullest potential. And intelligent society would not throw its elderly on the scrap heap.

No society can possibly survive when the bulk of its wealth is handed over every year to a small class of the very rich. (Forget the crap about how their wealth trickles down. It doesn't. The proof of that is all over the world.)

It's quite clear that the Liberals and the Conservatives are both toadies for that small class of very rich. Vote for those parties - and they and their masters will destroy all of us. It's not their fault. They are too stupid and too greedy to do otherwise.

For a start, read Alec Bruce's column for today.

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