Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10: The paper took only a few minutes to read today.

Again, TandT reporting on the killings is almost pure sensationalism and emotionalism. We know nothing about how the killer got rifle designed specifically for killing people - and for no other purpose. Where did he make the connection? Are there other such guns in Moncton?

Why don't the police have access to weapons adequate to deal with such a case?

The stories of mourning and sympathy are there - as they should be. But a newspaper is not intended simply to stir emotions. It is there to explain events to us, to raise questions, to see what has to be done in future.
So, instead of talking about the TandT,  let's see if I can get through the connection between Ukraine and New Brunswick's budget problems. And yes, there is a connection.

Back in the days of President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher, all the  enthusiasm was for less regulation of business. Let the money fairy fly free, we were told. Let it wave it's magic wand over all of us.

Coupled with that was free trade. Companies could now get away from any regulations at all simply by shifting their work to countries that had no regulations - often, as in Latin America, these were countries under dictators appointed by the US.

One result was the wage gap. Of course. Company profits went wild. Executive salaries went up hundreds of percentage points. Vast amounts of money were shifted from us to the very, very rich. The very, very rich  also gained the benefits of much reduced taxes - and easier access to  hide their profits in foreign banks.

And, of course, they continued their access to corporate welfare payments and gifts from our taxes. Many  financial institutions also broke whatever regulations were left. That's what got not just the US economy into trouble as it borrowed to bail the banks out of their criminal and irresponsible behaviour.  So it's not surprising that our governments ran up deficits.

This is not just North America. The governments and the economies of Canada, the US, China, Russia, Britain, Spain...are all much the same.  That's why the press has to emphasize the natural  (and racist) idea that Russians are born evil. In fact, Russian capitalists are exactly like ours.

Small groups of very wealthy people own most of the "democratic governments". That's as true of Russia as it is of the US. And, oh, it's corrupt.

So now we have a crisis of government finances. It's not because of frills like public education or health care. It's because the very wealthy have been plundering us for generations.

Indeed, that's what empires were and are about. We don't get much of that story in our hero-worshiping history books.

The British Empire (God bless the royal family) was as murderous, enslaving and thieving   as any empire. It killed and tortured millions. And the wealth of the empire poured into only a few pockets. Very little reached the common people of Britain who suffered squalor and dreadful living conditions until the advent of social services ended some of the pain. (Land of hope and glory, Mother of the free.)

The same is true of the US empire which murdered its way across South America, then leaped to Asia, and is now active bringing  suffering and murder to Africa and the Middle East.

It's paid for by taxes, of course. The economic benefits go mostly the the very rich. We supply the cannon fodder and the money.

But what does this have to do with Ukraine?

It's not an accident that the coup in Ukraine produced an appointed president who is an international banker, then an elected billionaire. Ukraine is marked down for "austerity" - the severe cutting of services and salaries and pensions so the poor can pay for bills the rich ran up.

At the same time, services like schools, medical care will probably be privatized. The result will be massive poverty, suffering, low incomes, and high unemployment. That's not the whole story of Ukraine. But it's an important part of it.

"Austerity" has already happened to Spain, Ireland, Greece. British governments have been flirting with it for years, with schools and police early targets for privatization. In the US, "austerity" has meant cutting off food to the poor in order to offer scandalously corrupt contracts to the very rich, semi-privatizing education (with disastrous results), privatized jails which are much less effective than state ones -and much more expensive to operate.

In these privatizations, the very rich not only get more money into their pockets. They also get low (if any) taxes. This is the rule of plunder taken to its logical conclusion.

Despite what the Times and Transcript says, balancing the provincial budget is not what this is all about. If it were, it would be nonsense. You don't bring prosperity or any measure of security to a society by firing people, lowering wages, cutting pensions and social assistance.

A society is not a business enterprise; and you cannot run it as if it were.

In any case, unregulated business does NOT create wealth. All you need to figure that is common sense and eyes. China was under the control of European big business for a century. It did not become wealthy. On the contrary, the China was not only impoverished; it was forcibly addicted to opium, and the society was shattered.

Take a long at the Congo after more than a century of western capitalism. Untold millions have been killed or died of starvation and disease. Oh, the wealth is there. It's still being extracted. But none of it gets to the people of Congo.

New Brunswick has been plundered from the start. Now, we are entering a new phase so the very rich can get whatever wealth we have left.

Would they kill to get it? Do you have to ask? They've been killing by uncountable millions for centuries to get rich. They happily kill, starve, humiliate and steal. They'll do it to us as happily to us as to foreigners.

Business is not designed to run a society. It's designed to feed off it. So when business becomes the government, we're in serious trouble.

A government is what is designed to run a society. Alas, governments at all levels in New Brunswick can think only as if they were running a factory.

The polls show that the Liberals and Conservatives lead in the polls. Remember the Liberals? They're the ones we voted against because they were so treacherous. So now, we'll  vote for them because the Conservatives have been treacherous.

Grow up! For the sake of your children, for your own sake, grow up! Neither party has a policy that even resembles what we want a society to be. And both parties kiss the feet of big business.

If not?

Then the world is facing its final violence as very big business consolidates its political and economic power for the last push to dominance.

Oh, are we intervening in Ukraine to save democracy? Come off it. Canada has never gone to war to protect democracy. The last time the US did so was in 1776. In both world wars, our democracy was not threatened. It was not the issue. That's why the US didn't join either war for some time. And, in fact, since World War Two, the world's greatest destroyer of democracies has been the US.

A vote for either the Liberals or the Conservatives would be disaster. Any further expansion of business into the public sector would be a disaster.

A reader suggested that my references to morality in business and government reflect a perhaps fanatical Christianity. In fact, though I do have religious beliefs, I am quite out of step with Christian churches. I have no interest whatever in whether Jesus was the son of God or whether Mary was a virgin. In fact, I rather think the stress on that virginity so often in the Bible leads me to suspect that mysogyny has an even longer history than we might think.  I leave Hell to Biblical literalists, and hope they enjoy it.

I  have no interest in worship or in prayer or people rising from the dead or having a father who can produce a child in a woman without sex.

I am interested in the moral advice of Jesus, and its meaning for our daily lives. Similar ideas can be found in most major religions from Islam to Confucianism. They are common sense ideas; but we live in a world without much common sense.

Morality, with or without a god, virgins and all the rest, is essential to create and maintain a human society. Our country, our world, is now in danger because so many of the very, very rich have no morality of any sort. Their only purpose in life is to make more money - and for themselves.

They have thoroughly corrupted politics all over the world. It can be very hard to find a political party that represents any form of morality at all.

That has brought us to a crisis which could be the final crisis.

Voting against the Liberals or Conservatives in New Brunswick won't solve the world's problems. But it would give the world some reason to hope.


  1. That was an excellent minor discourse on your personal take on religion, and the need for morals.

    We are now in the age of believing in nothing, and it shows.

    People are not recognizing the evil deeds their 'leaders' are up to, like Obama and Harper.

  2. Dude, I love your blog, I feel absolutely 'moderate' after reading it!:) For corruption though, there is definitely a distinction between russia and canada. Your naive if you think there is no difference. There is a reason why you can go to youtube and watch video's of russians beating each other with clubs in traffic, while even a highway like the 401 sees people wasting a good deal of their life in traffic with hardly an incident of road rage.

    And Putin has certainly robbed people blind, and again, the EX president of Ukraine was very likely a billionaire by the time he left, we've all seen pictures of his 'palace' which makes Sussex drive look like, well, my house.

    And certainly Canada has some better deals than most other countries, not many countries have deals where money from one area flows freely to the budgets of others. Just imagine what NB would look like without equalization.

    But more important, the electoral system is pretty stacked, that can't be helped. There is a reason votes go back and forth, and I don't think NOT voting liberal will give ANYBODY, what was the word, 'hope'. For inspiration I don't even look at politicians. I find it in the young women who are actively protesting to get abortion funding, and in a weird way, even in those protesting against it. And while there was no real 'occupy' movement in NB, seeing all those people in Richibucto gives me the same feeling as seeing those thousands of people in Egypt and all over arabia looking for actual democracy.

    If marking a different box on election day is the hallmark of political protest, it has failed already. For those IN New Brunswick, much as I think Gallant is an idiot, I'd recommend voting for him because he IS an idiot, and idiots are usually easier to have some control over. Alward is a stubborn idiot, which is far worse. And if you seriously think the NDP would be any different, I recommend you talk to some people in Nova Scotia.

    1. Pretty vague stuff. you've seen a video of road rage in Russia - therefore Russians are corrupt.

      I don't doubt there is heavy corruption in the Russian government. That was my point. Do you have any evidence that it is worse that here? Do you even know h ow extensive it is in the US and Britain. Notice how many western politicians step out with vast fortunes?

      I doubt whether there is any significant difference in that between Russia and the US. The Bush family has some of the biggest fortunes in the world, all of it gained from politics. Tony Blair has his very own private jet.

      You would vote for Gallant because he's an idiot? Wanna think about that?

      The NDP, in its search for votes. has become too moderate. The reality is that no party is going to solve all of NB's problems. You need popular support and understanding of the stakes to do that. And New Brunswickers are still enjoying the sleep they began some times in the early 1800s.

      You're a moderate? No, you aren't. you're just another sleepy time voter.

  3. And PS, on religion, the earliest moral criticisms of capitalism did NOT come from christians or jews, but from communists, who expounded morality in economics WITHOUT religion, which is why communists even went out of their way to destroy religions. I don't even pay attention to moral teachings from christians because as Kirkegaard said, the last christian died on the cross.

    1. That would certainly be true of the earlier communist theorists like Marx. But from Lenin to Stalin - and a bit later - there isn't a trace of morality. And, in fact, they weren't communists at all.

  4. Good morning Mr. Decarie,

    Check the cbc article (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/cn-upgrades-railway-between-saint-john-and-petitcodiac-1.2673156). CN is footing the bill to fix the track to St. John. We needed a stay of execution from Lisa Raitt for the passenger line to be saved. Just an observation that's all...

  5. I didn't say russians were corrupt, I said their society is SO dysfunctional and its the kind of dysfunction that starts with corruption at the top. When you are putting musicians in jail for criticizing you, it definitely sets the tone. Again, I'm not an american so I am not talking about them as 'us'. Frank McKenna is 'well off', but he doesn't have a palace. If you REALLY think the level of corruption is the same here as in Russia, thats fine, but don't expect people to believe it without some evidence. But again, when you look at Russia, much of that also falls on the back of the US, there have been several excellent books on the looting of Russia when the US 'helped' them adopt a 'capitalist' system.

    And I said you make me FEEL like a moderate, not that I am one, but unlike you I don't resort to calling people names because they express an opinion. As for Gallant, I stand by that and urge New Brunswickers to do that same. Like I said, if a person thinks they can make a political change just by marking a ballot then they are as crazy as the electoral system.

    There is a two party system in NB. A vote for any other party accomplishes the same thing as not voting at all. Ironically if NBers could be bothered at all, simply by joining a party they could have a huge effect because as coverage of the riding nominations shows, even the two main parties have hardly any members at all.

    And I said EARLIEST criticisms, although just like capitalism, virtually everybody has their own definition of what 'communist' means, but in either case, thats splitting hairs.

  6. I have no way of knowing how much corruption there is in Russia, the US, or Canada, or anywhere else. Neither do you. But, certainly, looking at a video of traffic rage in Russia tells us nothing about corruption there.
    The idea that Gallant would be more receptive to the voters' wishes is absurd. Very, very big money is involved. And lots of power.

    New Brunswick is poor because it is controlled by corporations. A Gallant, no matter how idiotic you might think of is not going to to anything about that.

    And not voting would have no impact whatever.

    Frankly, I don't think NBers will ever get their act together to do anything useful. The capitalist system will destroy itself by its own excesses - probably helped by a good deal of violence all over the world.

    And knowing the right meaning of words is not splitting hairs. If it were, I could just write dimnaoc ds;lcjd ceklnd! It's because people don't know the meanings of words that they say we are capitalist and Russia was communist. We aren't capitalist. And Russia was never communist.

    The Russian government is dysfunctional because it puts people in jail for political reasons? Then we're dysfunctional because Harper puts landed immigrants in jail for years with no charge, no trial. Until today, I didn't even know that could happen in Canada.

    And dysfunction starts with corruption at the top? I don't even know what that means.

  7. You don't? You should really read something besides Irving rags then. There are lots of international organizations doing studies on these things, and there is lots of reporting on it. In Quebec the construction industry is currently having its laundry aired, in ontario the Air Orange ambulance scandal is showing the extent of corruption in that field. But that pales to what goes on in Russia.

    I'm NOT arguing that Canada doesn't have corruption or injustice, I'm saying that its not culturally relative. I have no problem saying that Hitler was much worse than McKenzie King even though there was injustice in Canada as well as in Germany. Like I said, there are numerous excellent books on Russia during the nineties which show just how that dysfunctional society was created.

    There's no doubt we're 'dysfunctional', but not to the extent which it exists in Russia, not even close. There also hasn't been a public inquiry on the missing aboriginal women, but you can't say 'well bad stuff happened here.

    As for communism and capitalism, you know as well as I do that both are political theories, which BY DEFINITION mean they have a variety of meanings. As more than one commenter has said, there are in fact so many different definitions that its not even possible to have a discussion about them. YOU obviously have your own defition, and by that definition you claim that we are not capitalist and russia was not communist. That's fine, but just because you have your own definition doesn't mean everybody else has to ascribe to them.

    Dysfunction starts with corruption at the top means that corruption at the top level of society creates the conditions which makes the society dysfunctional. Thats why people have such low opinions of political scandals. That's why things like the abortion or panhandling issue in NB are so important, if young people see that the province can simply ignore federal laws and regulations whenever it feels like it, then the social contract begins to unravel-"if they can do it, not only can I do it, but I'm placing myself in a morally ambiguous position simply by accepting the validity of the government". That's what leads to Tiennamen and Tahrir Squares.

    As for NB, nobody knows anything for sure, but I suspect you are right. But 'not voting' has only a little less impact than voting. I'm more optimistic because I've seen NBers when the NBPower sale went up, and when shale gas began. I've seen the forestry protests, and I've seen people get pretty involved even when they get slapped in the face.

    But people do 'useful' things all the time. They shop at their Co-op, they START their co op, they buy local, they get involved, they get their churches involved. All kinds of things which have nothing to do with elections. And it actually doesn't take much of a spark to get a whole lot accomplished. What we know is that Gallant is not quite as much an Irving toadie as Alward. So at least there is a 'chance' that public protest and pressure will have some kind of an impact, at least more than now, and at least more than voting a third fourth or fifth party which is essentially the same as not voting.

    But I suspect protests on the ground will have far more impact than any election will.

  8. theories do not 'by definition' have no meanings. They are wildly misused. But by no possible definition of communism was Stalin a communist.
    The corruption that you hear of in the news is only a tiny part. The US, for example, spends billions every year on foreign aid. Most it goes for corruption. Rather little actually reaches those who need aid.
    examples- billions promised to Haiti for earthquake aid - but almost none got there. Ditto for rebuilding promised (and spent) for Iraq. medical aid for the third world is grossly overpriced. Ditto for weapons given as 'aid' to other countries.
    We investigate the mob. But we don't investigate big business. That huge and wasteful spending is a large part of what has the world economy on the ropes - and the US debt so high it can never be paid.

    The fact is neither you nor I has the faintest idea which country is most corrupt.

    Yes, some people get things done with voluntary groups. But they don't come close to dealing with the problems of our society. Our schools, our medical system are under serious attack. And power to control that is bought.

    I don't know whether Gallant is an idiot - as you put it. I do know he stands for nothing of any substance. He looks like yet another lawyer on the make

    And to say that he's not quite as much an Irving toadie as Alward is very faint praise indeed.

    Protests on the ground have an impact in making people see where the problems lie. They don't have much impact on government action because the people who buy governments have no reluctance to use force.

    The US and Canada are both arming police and special forces with heavier weapons to keep people in line. That's why we have both have secret police; it has nothing to do with terrorism. That's where the violence will come from - the command of the very rich.

    Nobody is going to make any significant change in New Brunswick by buying local or going to church bazaars. The problem is that democracy is close to non-existent. It has been pushed aside by corporations. And it's made worse by lack of information in most of the media - and by the placidity of New Brunswick voters.

    As to corruption, I don't know whether the US is worst or Russia is. I do know that both systems are wildly corrupt, undemocratic, and destructive.

  9. That's not really true. Stalinism was made up of lots of facets, some not communist, but some part of what many communist thinkers have maintained are integral to communism. Things like 'state terror' certainly isn't 'communist', but collective agriculture is. So thats not really a 'stretch'.

    Thats true about corruption, however, you missed a lot in that the main thing about foreign aid during disasters is that promised money virtually never gets there. However, many of these things we DO know. So its really not logical to say "well we don't know how corrupt X is, so we should assume its as corrupt as the other". But like I said, there are umpteen books on modern russia, the newer ones gloss over US involvement, but the more accurate ones don't.

    The best summation of that I can find is Chomsky's claim that corporations don't like corruption any more than the public-they just want all the benefits to go to them. But anyway...

    But back to New Brunswick, like much of the modern world, New Brunswick has more opportunities than ever before. This is the main disagreement I have with you, the claim that corporations have DECREASED democracy, whereas I think democracy has increased. Forty years ago nobody would have blinked twice if a group wanted to come in and drill for gas, in fact, for over a hundred years they did exactly that....and nobody blinked.

    That MAY be true about 'significant change', but it depends what is meant by that term and whether that even is necessary. Our current system works pretty well for an awful lot of people. As for corporations, they are much more accountable than any time in the past. Its true that NB is particularly messed up because of Irving, but like Mister Boffo once said, it only takes a little bit of greed to get a whole lot of stuff!

    True, its 'faint praise', but like I said, the outcome of an election is not what democracy is about, its not even close. We KNOW how Alward reacts to massive protest, we don't know yet how Gallant does. But we know he's at least stalled off the day of doom by announcing a moratorium, which gives time to accomplish a lot.

    And to sing an old tune of mine, my biggest beef with Alward is what a lying hypocrite he is. His 'toughest regulations' are NOT regulations, they are permit conditions which have no legal standing. So even if Gallant were to simply make those into ACTUAL regulations and enforce them, then thats better than the status quo.

    But as to your last point, I'm almost NEVER talking about 'us' as being american. We don't run the world, so we are not as bad as the US, however, we also aren't nearly as democratic. And I disagree about the impact of 'buying local'. That has had an HUGE impact both economically and socially. However, the media never talks about these things so we simply never SEE the impacts. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that just because you ONLY read bad news, that all the news is bad. Heck, it looks like euthanasia is being opened up, prostitution is being looked at, all under a CONSERVATIVE government. Yes, there's bad in the world, but remember there is also a forest in them there trees.

  10. Yes, and Stalin also operated state-owned industries. (That is NOT socialism. The people had no voice in control of it.) And Stalin wore clothes in public, just like a pope. Does that mean there were elements of capitalism and Catholicism in his philosophy?
    And where do you get evidence that we are not as democratic as the US? Buying local has a huge impact? Oh? Do you see a huge drain on the farmer's market driving Sobey's out of business?

    Prostitution is being looked at under a Conservative government? Well, all governments have looked at it. And, like the Conservatives, they usually mess it up more. And the euthenasis debate was NOT opened by the federal government or a conservative government of any province..

    And even if they had, it would scarcely make up for the enormous damage Harper has inflicted on the environment, his profoundly anti-democractic attitudes, and he give away of tax money to the wealthy. He hasn't lifted a finger to deal with the wage gap.

    Sheesh. Next, you'll be telling me that at least he always flushes the toilet.

    And it's absurd to suggest I read only bad news. In any case, you have not the faintest idea what I read.

    As for corporations being more accountable that ever before, are you at all familiar with the changes introduced by Reagan and Thatcher? In fact, corporations have become wildly out of control. in many international trade cases, we now cannot even take them to court. Such cases go to a court whose judges are appointed by corporations.

    you have a fondness for exaggerated claims and sweeping statements utterly without evidence or rational argument.

  11. geez dude, relax, you'll burst a vein!
    1. There WERE elements of catholicism and capitalism-you JUST SAID IT. However, its not true that workers had no control in state owned enterprises. Much of the soviet production was done by local industrial collectives, usually the ones further off from the capital, but still. However, in cases where Stalin (or the state) held control, well, like you said, thats a staple of capitalism AND catholicism that the guy at the top dictates policy. Thanks for that.

    2. The evidence that canada is not as democratic as the states is all over the place. The founding fathers brought in numerous democratic principles that canada has never had. The US votes for dozens of positions which in canada are nominated. We don't even elect our own Senate. Virtually every high ranking position in the US is at least held up to all party nomination committee's, Canada doesn't have that remotely.

    Ever notice that virtually every scandal that is discovered in the US is then discovered in Canada about two years later? Thats because the US government is actually far more open and accessible than in Canada, where much information isn't even available.

    That doesn't even get into representation. In New Brunswick there are 58 representatives, right next door in Maine there are over 400 representatives-who interestingly enough cost less to pay and pension than the mere 58 in Canada.

    That doesn't even get into the fact that almost HALF of US states allow citizen initiatives, where people can directly formulate policy, something only available in British Columbia.

    But at the federal level there is less distinction, however, americans can at least separately choose their President in addition to their local representative. Virtually NOBODY voted for Harper, you can only do that in his riding.

    3. Buying local HAS had a huge impact. The distinction here is that the only impact you see as being 'huge' is that IF it puts Sobeys out of business (which seems kind of an 'exagerrated claim don't you think?). In fact the buy local movement has had such an impact that most grocery stores are making an effort to carry the local produce. That makes them more money, Sobeys is a distributor, not a producer, so it works for everybody.

    4. I didn't WRITE that it was the federal government which was bringing up euthanasia and prostitution, what I said was that the latter is being addressed, and the former is being discussed much more, all while we HAVE a conservative government (I'd be perfectly happy to NOT have a conservative government, that wasn't my point). I wasn't defending the government, I'm the last that would do that, again, there are positive things happening DESPITE that, thats my point.

    5. As for corporations, I didn't mention accountability. What I said was that democratic opportunities have INCREASED at the same time corporate power has. As for lawsuits, go find me ONE lawsuit against Irving prior to Thatcher and Reagan (more importantly Mulroney).

    In New Brunswick workers have NEVER been able to sue their corporate employers, thats since the WSIB from at least the seventies. Meanwhile, Irving has never faced more lawsuits than it currently is.

    Those are pretty standard claims.