Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29: painful...

Norbert, the master of saying nothing, outdoes himself today.

We have a provincial financial disaster looming. His answer? "If our politicians won't lead us, should other citizens step up?"

Norbert, in a democracy, it's other citizens who elect the politicians - based on the full information and informed opinion  spread by the news media. When other citizens step up to take over that role, it's called a revolution.

And those "other citizens" are likely, very likely, to be the people with money and clout and influence who don't give a damn about the economic survival of the province - but do give a damn about the state of their own finances.

As well, there is no reason to think these other citizens have any more brains or expertise than the government does.

Anyway, in a democracy, it's hard to imagine anything more thoughtless and irresponsible than encouraging "other citizens" to step up and take over from the government. If fact, it probably comes very close to being illegal.

Nor does Mr. Cunningham's contempt for democracy end there. He also feels all the parties should work together on a non-partisan plan to deal with this crisis.

Norbert - the whole idea  of a democracy is that the opposition parties are there to find weak points (or weak concepts) in the govenment's plans, not to clap hands for them. To do otherwise is to reject the right of large numbers of voters to have any opinion at all, and to deprive them of the right to have a voice in their own futures.

And that, I might add, is based on the simple-minded view that there is one, right way to solve this problem. So no others can even be discussed.

Of course, according to Norbert, there is no choice of what must be done. We must tax the poor, cut their services, and cut taxes to the rich - among other things.

For those of wisdom, he suggests that whose who step forward should be the city mayors. I can't even imagine why that would be a good idea. Or credible business leaders (as opposed to incredible ones). Or academics.

Has it not occurred to you, Norbert, that such a collection might disagree with each other? So - poof - there goes your revolution as the revolutionaries disagree with each other.

Fundamentally, what Norbert is saying in his strikingly simple-minded column is that the solution, the only possible solution to our economic problem is obvious. All we need are rebels to enforce it. Sounds like Russia in 1917.

Norbert - don't you know that big business has been running this province from the start. (read a little bit of history). Our politicians and academics never have run it. It's been our "credible" businessmen who have dictated spending and taxing policies. Mr. Irving even appointed the the government's economic advisors.

They use your newspaper (and you) for propaganda. They constantly interfere in government affairs. They constantly hold conferences to tell government what to do (with university presidents and other distinguished people present as potted plants.)

Mr. Irving has even declared himself a member of the government - something illegal, and something the Irving press never even noticed.

If this province is in economic trouble, it's big business that put it there. Those irresponsible looters are the last people I would choose to fix things. An   austerity programme will not create prosperity by firing people, closing services, raising taxes for the poor and middle class, lowering taxes for the rich, and encouraging people to drink more beer (which seem to be the main elements of NB political thinking so far.)

What we need is an honest and informed press to make us aware of the possibilities. Instead, we get an inarticulate cry to abandon democracy and call on our most distinguished citizens (who will be the usual suspects.)

If I were a suspicious person - and I am a suspicious person - I would guess that Norbert was told what to write. And I would guess that the distinguished citizens who are to step forward have already picked themselves.                                                                                                                                                  
Norbert's column today is crashingly ignorant. And dangerous.
Rod Allen once more tells his only joke (wife no. 1) - and that has to carry the burden of a boring and irrelevant column.

The columns for Jody Dallaire and Alec Bruce are stimulating breaks from the other bilge on the editorial and op ed pages.

By the way, I wonder how many noticed a letter to the edtior a couple of days ago in which a reader referred to the bombing of 9/11 as an act of infamy. 3,000 innocent people were killed.

The United States government, without legal reason and often without warning, has killed innocent people, including babies, children, whole hospitals full of the injured - uncounted millions of them. In that company, 9/11 wasn't even a side show.

But I have never seen a letter referring to Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya as "acts of infamy". Of course not. We're conditioned to think that way. Those "other" people are evil. Our side is good. To kill North Americans is infamy. To kill millions of  Asians and Africans is - well - they aren't real people, are they?
Good luck with the rest of the paper.

There's a good story on A5, "Drug plan is too costly". A 6 has a big story that a new beer is coming to New Brunswick.

In NewsToday, on C1, is a story about Romeo Dallaire that is well worth a read - if only to be reassured that this country still produces some very fine people - and infinitely superior to the "distinguished" citizens that Norbert calls forth.


  1. I was going to let it go, but this just happens to be an area of interest for me. While I agree that Norbert is a norbert at suggesting city mayors and business leaders 'step up', I'm not so down on the idea of 'revolution' as you are. The Occupy Movement didn't have much impact in New Brunswick, but it did exist. Those who lined the roads of Richibucto were, in effect, revolutionaries. They 'broke the law' in service to a higher calling.

    And you sort of even go there yourself, as you notice that 'business has ALWAYS run the province'. Now, if thats true, who WOULDN"T want a 'democratic revolution'?

    What amazes me is that you state that business leaders run the province, and yet you start your blog with an explanation of how our 'democracy' works, and then end it by admitting that we essentially live under fascism, which has been what corporate rule has been called since the sixties.

    A 'revolution' does not have to be violent, and it doesn't actually even have to upset the status quo that much. It often does, but it doesn't NEED to. In New Brunswick its quite clear people are beginning to figure out that the only real democratic action worth taking doesn't happen at the voting booth but rather in protests in from of the legislature or in the streets, or else through the media.

    My opinion, and people are free to reject it, is that 'democracy' has never existed in Canada. Canadians have gone to the polls I think TWICE to actually vote on something of substance. And thats in our entire history. Our government, by law, has an obligation to 'consult', but it has no obligation to listen to the population. Thats NOT democracy by any stretch of the imagination.

    Finally, I suspect EVERY New Brunswicker knows full well that there are five parties in New Brunswick. The press could talk and talk and talk about all the 'possibilities', but in the end it still comes down to a lousy electoral system where two parties are the only real possibilites. It certainly isn't the media's fault that we have a lousy outdated electoral system, although its true that they certainly don't help that cause either.

    1. We have no disagreement.

      But before we embrace a revolution of any sort - peaceful or violent - we need to do some long and serious discussion and thinking about what we want, and about the implications for those things we should leave alone.
      That takes time. We don't have much time. And New Brunswickers are mighty slow coming out of the starting gate.

  2. I suspect that most of us have always known just whose pen is on the paper when it come down to articles of consequence appearing in the not so hallowed columns of NB media's most prolific (non)news source. To have the editorial staff glaringly fingered out carries a weight of warranted justification. Lap dogs are obedient and well behaved. They're banking on always having that cushy lap assuring their security. I'm thinking the owner of that rag is hearing footfalls, i'm thinking that lap may disappear when the rush to cover tracks and divert disasters harries into pandemonium.

  3. Not necessarily 'long', but certainly 'serious'. Trouble is, outside government there are no forums for that discussion that makes it worthwhile, the occupy movement certainly showed that. Fortunately just the 'threat' of such things has at least a small effect.

    And so I don't start a new thread, on your latest blog I'd have to add that I know a lot of natives, and I don't know the demographics, but certainly plenty of natives are no longer 'worshippers of the land', and there are plenty of non natives who harbour more respect for the land than many natives. Those with respect for the land are currently ignored whether they are native or not.

  4. You're right. Just as plenty of Christians do not believe in Christian principles. I think we underestimate how shattering the conquest was. That any concept of respect for the land should survive at all is extraordinary.