Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14: Z-Z-Z-Z-...

It must take very special minds to produce, year after year, a newspaper that says nothing at all. Today, I read the paper through breakfast, with nothing to do on most pages but look at the pictures. We had our second or third story with pictures of the Speed Car Show, all three stories and the pictures pretty much the same.

We must be at - oh - our thirtieth or fortieth story on the Malaysian flight, all of them saying the same thing - nothing.

I'm sure that Jim Flaherty was a nice guy, and everybody liked him. But do we really need all those obituaries disguised as news and columns?

It came as a shock to me to realize I  had come to the last page, and seen only two items worth reading - the column by Norbert on our debt, and the one by Steve Malloy on the coming death of Archie.

I'll come back to those. But there's really nothing else in this paper.
Instead, I'll go back to Saturday's editorial in which the editor wrote of resource development in NB like a moose in heat.

Oh, such wonders would happen. Wealth for all. The end of our debt problems. It was, in fact, an echo of a speech by former premier Lord to a business group.

Look, kiddies. Do you know what country has greater resource wealth than any other in the world? Congo.  Do you know what the poorest, large country in the world is? Congo. Do you know how long resource extraction has been going on in Congo? Getting close to one hundred and fifty years. Thanks to resource extraction, it will never be known how many millions of people of the Congo have been tortured, enslaved, murdered, worked to death.

You can say the same for much of Central America, South Africa (indeed all of Africa). Capitalists do not exist to spread wealth. They exist to take it for themselves.

(The editorial said an N.B. government would be tough in getting top dollar from any company that wanted to get our resources. Yeah. I've seen the New Brunswick  government get tough. Boy, they made Irving squirm over that forestry deal.)

And it's going to get worse. Even now, in Europe, big business is working on a free trade deal to be shared with North America. Expect to see lots of cute stunts - like water becoming privately owned by corporations, energy production being privatized, private companies being permitted to pollute. Typically, in such free trade deals, we give up a wide range of rights to give business a freer hand. And, once signed, we can't change those things.

With private ownership, we're going to see very, very little of the money from resource extraction. Never confuse big business with Santa Claus and his reindeer.

The reality is that capitalism may be past its best days. It may be that capitalism has taken us as far as it can go. In fact, real capitalism may always have been a bit of a delusion - except at the level of small business. But business has never operated on its own. It has always lived off the corruption and tax dollars of the corporate welfare state.

We are now selling ourselves cheaply to the corporate welfare state. And it is destroying itself in pure greed as it tries to take over complete control of all human society. Even if people are craven enough to let them get away with it, we still get destroyed simply because capitalism has long since passed its "best before" date.

As samples of what wasn't in this dreary issue of the TandT,

In the story of the Nevada rancher who had been ordered to move his cattle off public land, who had defied the government, and then had a  hundred armed gun enthusiasts come to his ranch to face the police, the government backed down. Very wise given the violence a showdown would have triggered across the country. But this will be a big boost for the gun movement in the US.

In fairness, I suspect the rancher was legally in the right - but this surfacing of the gun crowd could have consequences. Incidentally, I saw a video of the gun men gathered in a meeting hall. Every face was white.

Also incidentally, this was sparked, it seems, because a shale gas company wanted that grazing land for exploration.
The Guardian of August 12 has the story that someone got hold of a Senate committee report on CIA torture, and released part of it.  The part says that the CIA has lied to senate about the extent of its torture, that the torture is also much more brutal than has been reported, and that it has been ineffective. But not to worry.

Obama has decreed that the CIA has the right to edit the report before its official release in order to clear up any confusion, and to delete sections crucial to national security. So the final report will say nothing. And that's when papers like the TandT will cover it.
State regulators in eastern Ohio have found that earthquakes in the region were caused by fracking operations. They have demanded far more elaborate safety measures, including an extensive set of detectors. Funny the TandT didn't mention it since it has been so keen on telling us the whole truth about the industry. As well, the story was carried on Nov.11 by The Associated Press, a favourite source for the TandT.

El Haaretz is an Israeli newspaper that recently carried a report about a Canadian physics professor named  Lovejoy in Montreal - at McGill University - who has recently completely a study that shows 99.9 % of global warming is caused by human activity. - most of it by burning fossil fuels.

But here we are getting all excited about much greater development of fossil fuels in Alberta, all over Canada and the US.    There's not the slightest sign of any activity to develop safer energy.

Nor is there gong to be. The oil industry will simply not permit it. And we are all going to pay one hell of a price.

Anyway, I'm sure the TandT would have printed that story if it had known about it. So, hey guys, do you want the phone number for McGill?

I'm sure Norbert  has his heart in the right place. But when he discusses provincial budgets, he does it as if he were talking about his lunch money. Norbert, how can you mumble about our provincial debt without saying a word about the wealthy who are the ones taking money out, and thus creating the debt?

Cutting services will do nothing to ease the debt. It will just create misery and backwardness across the province.

Steve Malloy does a column on the death of Archie - and one that has a surprising depth to it.

The Ukraine is getting worse. Here's a quick summary of what seems to have happend.

It seems almost certain that US money and agents staged a government coup in Ukraine to do  two things:
1. To cut social services to the bone so money can be drained out of that already poor country to satisfy bankers.
2. To draw Ukraine into NATO, thus pressing NATO nuclear sites and troops right up the the Russian border.

The North American press almost never mentions the above because they want to make Putin the villain.

I looks now as though Putin has decided, not without reason, it would be dangerous to have NATO on his border. Accordingly, he is encouraging parts of Ukraine to break away.

Obviously, both sides should have defused what was, years ago, obviously going to be a dangerous situation. Both sides didn't.  Now----I wouldn't place any bets......
Letters to the editor has a disturbing one from a supporter of the People's Alliance. In brief, the letter doesn't like all this French people all over, and wants to do away with the province's duality. I can speak with some experience of this. I was many years on the board, then vice-president, and then chairman of Alliance Quebec, the English rights group of Quebec.

But we were not fighting against the French. We were fighting about the intolerance and bigotry displayed by some French toward the English. It wasn't the French people or the French language. It was intolerance and bigotry. And, for exactly the same reason, I would oppose the People's Alliance in this province.

NB has arrived at an excellent balance in language. Instead of criticizing it, we should be proud of it as a model for others.              


  1. We cannot be considered a bilingual province when less than 53% of NB citizens are functionality illiterate.

    In fact, less than 40% of us is this province are bilingual.

  2. How many people are bilingual has nothing to do with the province being bilingual. The latter simply means that people both French and English have guaranteed language rights.

    In Quebec, I'd have given a lot to have that. And I'm sorry to see NB anglos talking like Quebec separatists.
    Similarly, literacy has nothing to do with it. If we were all illiterate, we would still speak - and take turns being premier.
    Similarly, how many individuals are bilingual has nothing to do with it. We could all be unilingual, and still have a bilingual province.

    Bilingual is not supposed to indicate the language skills of the people. It gives everyone the right to use whichever language he or she chooses. That's no the same thing at all.

    you have a working system. It would be extremely unwise to tinker with it.

    Personally, I find it very civilized to live in a province in which people respect each other's fundamental rights.

  3. I am in favor of language rights. But we still live in a province where English is the language of choice in the private sector. For example, I visited two repair shops today where I was served in english only. My supervisor speaks english only. All meetings at my workplace are conducted in english. At all the businesses I have worked in NB, only one conducted business in french.

    Only in the public sector are French language rights protected. In the private sector, language rights don't exist because it is a necessity for French Acadians to speak and write in english. It is a reality. French Acadians need to be bilingual to work in this province. Not so for for unilingual anglophones.

    So, yes.....language rights exist in NB, but outside the public sector, only the bilingual person survives, except for the unilingual anglophone. The reverse is true in the public sector -- if you are an unilingual anglophone applying for a position with the government, you wish you were bilingual.

  4. I heard some people speculate that the Asian flight dissappearing is just a planned distraction from what's going on with Russia. I laugh and say Harper better be ready to go over and fight himself . Clowns and their games

  5. Actually, a lot of people arguing against language rights would say the same thing as you. Some argue against the 'cost', but that may be just a euphemism for bigotry, however, many argue about how it is IMPLEMENTED, and are not railing against the french.

    In fact I rarely see arguments 'against the french', and I've read a LOT of anti bilingual comments over the years, particularly at the CBC. If you ask the average person in NB whether somebody interacting with government should be accomodated in their own language, you get pretty universal affirmation-unless its a case where a drunk driver gets off because the officer who pulled him over couldn't debate him in his chosen language (which is a pretty valid criticism).

    I grew up in Fredericton, and sadly a lot of people in New Brunswick confuse nepotism with bilingualism. I know LOTS of government employees who are not bilingual, but Fredericton is a pretty closed in society, the wealthier people send their kids to Ecole ste. Anne, so they are all bilingual-but they didnt' get the jobs because they were bilingual, but because of who they knew. But all the 'anglos' know is that they didn't get the job.

    But that and the cost issue are the two biggest mistakes that people who argue against bilingualism offer. Their criticisms however, are pretty valid-the number of bilinguals is actually going down, not up. If you want everyone bilingual, its simple, have one bilingual school system. Instead, the province has three systems, a french, english, and immersion.

    But very little of the anti bilingual rhetoric I've read in NB has been 'against the french'. There is one french guy in particular who seems to sue the government at the drop of a hat, and one french organization I remember had a proposal that was so crazy that it was mostly french people who were criticizing it-and when those stories are featured, then you hear some railing. But apart from that, its not nearly as 'race based' as you would think. Its more the "I'm tired of getting screwed over by the government", which happens in all walks of life, but for whatever reason that person has decided to choose 'bilingualism' to take their rage out on.