Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30: We're a world leader...

....The CBC has the story. Most of the world has it, I suspect. But you won't find it anywhere in the Irving press, not even in that bowl of intellectual pabulum it calls a Business page.

Recent figures show the US leads the world in the income gap between 1% and everybody else. 47% of all wealth generated in the last twenty years has gone to the top 1%. Result? In addition to high unemployment, average income in the US has slipped back to where it was 40 years ago.

But (sing a chorus of O Canada.) we're number two at 37%. So much for the crapola we hear about how shale gas will make us rich. Oh, yes, it'll make some people rich. But you won't be one of them. Nor will their money stay long in this province.

As well, 85 people, just 85, have as much money as the poorer half of the world. That's more money than some 3.5 billion people have.  Anybody of any intelligence not crushed by greed will understand this is not a sustainable situation.

One of the regional sufferers from this imbalance is New Brunswick. So Liberal leader Gallant delivers his answers on P. A3, in a report of what must have been a stunningly vapid speech.

Given the state of the world under capitalism, it is not at all clear to me how playing around the edges of it is going to solve anything.  (In fact, his speech doesn't seem to have said much even about how he would play around the edges.)

Will capitalism work at all? I don't know.  I've never seen real capitalism, and I don't know anybody who has. For centuries, what we call capitalism has been a welfare state for the rich -and in ways we rarely think of.

How did Britain develop a super-wealthy class in the 18th and 19th centuries? It wasn't developed by capitalism. It was developed by armed robbery. That's what all the wars and empire-building were about. It was armed theft to steal the human and natural resources of India, North America, Africa, the Middle East....

The rise of the US was simply a case of a branch office outgrowing the head office. The US stole, by force, all the land that is now the US. In the same way, it took control of Central America, looted it, and is still looting it.

And who paid for this? Who raised and maintained the armies and navies that made this possible? Well, the poor did. They paid for it by being poor. They paid for it by staying poor even as the rich built estates and palaces. They paid for it by risking their lives in the imperial armies for pennies a day. They paid for it by being ignored in their best days, and abandoned when those days were over.

The rich get rich, and always have, by creating poverty. That's why 37% of all the wealth created in any year in Canada goes to that tiny one percent.

When Winston Churchill was a very young boy, he spent his summers on the magnificent grounds of his family's Blenheim Palace. It has rooms with ceilings three or four stories high, rooms bigger than most churches. And Young Winston was gently awakened every morning by servants who dressed him, and looked out for his every need all day.

When Winston was a very young boy, my grandmother lived in what was regarded as the vilest, most dangerous, and filthiest district in Europe. It was a place called The Gorbels in Glascow, Scotland. The row houses, built on unspeakably filthy streets and lanes, had no indoor plumbing. Drinking water was in taps on the street.

Many of the apartments had toilets in outhouses behind the buildings (quite common in British working class districts even after World War 2). Some had toilets indoors. But in all cases, the ratio for toilets was one per 50 tenants. So most people just went in bushes or in secluded parts of the street after dark.

By the age of eight, she wasn't enjoying the vast rooms and grounds of a Blenheim Palace. She was working for pennies.

Poverty, filth, and sickness has always been a part of what we call capitalism. It isn't real capitalism, of course. Real capitalism involves risk (which means not bailing out banks that go broke out of their own criminal behaviour, and not giving away huge forests to friends of the government.) Real capitalism also would mean the rich paying their share to spread the benefits they created - with the help and work of the whole population.

I don't know whether real capitalism would work. I've never seen real capitalism.

But I do know that Mr. Gallant's bowl of mush won't solve anything. He's not even close to knowing what the problem is.
Ukraine gets a quarter of a page on C3. Again, it gives a mush of information which tells us almost nothing about what is going one. Again, most of the information comes to us from the "good' guys (our side). Putin gets in only a few lines - and at the end. Interestingly, they are the only statements that are moderate.

The most intriguing statement is by a woman who is running for President of Ukraine (a member of the governing party and former prime minister), Yulia Tymoshcnko. She says they need to build a country that is moving ahead led by "...all the elites and the people".

What are those elites? Why are they and the people separated in her statement? She doesn't sound to me like a person much devoted to equality and democracy.

The editorial, (which is supposed to be the result of discussion among all the editors) is about how the events centre needs lots of seats. I always thought the editors must have something they're experts on.  So it's theatre seats. Fascinating.

But why do they spend an editorial demanding more theatre seats? You figure somebody told them to? Maybe?

Norbert Cunningham is, I think, largely right in his view of the Liberal election programme. But Norbert, himself, doesn't seem to know much about what the real issues are.

Alec Bruce writes on much the same topic, but with no fresher insight. Essentially, he says  (quoting heavily from a new book) we need to cut back  on public services, especially in health care, and pay higher taxes to balance the budget.

Well, that might work. But it almost certainly won't. (it does not have much of a success record). And even if it does work, you will have a balanced budget, but one hell of a miserable society. (It's easy to talk austerity when you have a steady job at good pay - like the author Bruce quotes.)

Look. The Irvings and other large corporations run this province. They give themselves light taxes and lush, government contracts. They control our access to news, and they control the news we get. The Liberals and Conservatives are errand boys - no more than that.

If we don't deal with that problem, then nothing will happen. We need open, honest, and informed discussion. We aren't getting it.

The book Alec Bruce quotes is praised by Professor Donald Savoie. I'm not surprised. Have you ever heard him criticize anything connected with the very wealthy?

Eric Lewis has a column on Riverview and its business community which indicates that Eric Lewis understands nothing about democracy or capitalism.

Brian Cormier demonstrates once again that he does not know the difference between an opinion column and a kiddy's bedtime story.


  1. Good stuff, but I would dispute the comments about capitalism. There actually is no such thing as capitalism. The only enlightenment thinker who even used the term was Karl Marx in Das Kapital. The Wealth of Nations is commonly trumped up to try to give it 'legs' as a political philosophy, by people who obviously have never even read the book.

    I'd say that England in the 19th century was as close to capitalism, and of course it led to all those horrible environmental conditions you mentioned. That's why Adam Smith said that two business men talking to one another were probably talking about ripping off the public.

    Ironically, the 'invisible hand' so often touted about, was GOVERNMENT in one of the few places where Smith actually used the term. There WAS no 'market', so there certainly wasn't any invisible hand of the marketplace.

    But there's a common mistake on BOTH sides of the political economy debate-one side says 'capitalism has failed', while the other claims capitalism triumphed. Both are mistakes when the system has never worked as it was intended.

  2. Oh, I agree with you. that's why I did not blame capitalism for our economic problems. It seemed unfair to blame something that doesn't exist.
    I particularly agree with your final paragraph.

  3. Thats too bad. There's no good debates when people agree!