Sixty-four years ago, tobacco company stocks were the yellow brick road to wealth. Then, in 1950, Reader's Digest ran an article titled "Cancer by the Carton", warning of the dangers of smoking tobacco. The tobacco companies reacted quickly. They set up a foundation to do "research" proving that tobacco was harmless. (Some admitted the danger, but advertised its filter tips as sure protection.) Camel cigarettes ran ads for years that featured pictures of doctors in white coats saying that Camels were recommended by more doctors than any other cigarette. In fact, the ads said they protected the "T zone" of your mouth and throat.
The tobacco companies were lying - and they knew it. In the 1980s, (when I was a smoker), I knew the owner of Canada's largest tobacco company. She cautioned me about the dangers of tobacco. (She was a very heavy smoker). But she and all the other owners knew, and had known for many years, that they were killing people by the millions. But business is business; and they happily went on killing - while their "expert" scientists went on spinning out the studies showing tobacco is good for you.
Gee. Funny how that reminds me of shale gas and pipelines and climate changes. But that's what happens when you have an economic system based on the principle of pure greed and self-interest. But there's something even worse.
In our world, the rich and greedy have taken over control of the whole society and its government. That's true of New Brunswick, Canada, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France.... The people who have taken over are what are called an oligarchy, a handful of the very, very rich who take over the whole society. And, like the tobacco barons, they have their "research groups" like AIMS and the C.D.Howe institute who churn out propaganda, and they own most of the news media that spread that propaganda.
Democracy is over. Even at its best, it was always corrupted by the rich. John A. Macdonald, our first prime minister, was in politics to serve the rich. One of his favours for them was to deliberately starve native peoples on the prairies to death to make way for the railway and for land speculators. Of course, this is covered up in the popular stories of national histories. In the US, Davey Crockett with his coonskin cap is a symbol of American democracy and freedom.
In fact, he was a land speculator and slave trader who killed Mexicans to take their land. He also enthusiastically killed "them thar Injuns" to get them out of the way of land sales. L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was a newspaper editor in North Dakota in the 1880s and 90s. He wrote flaming editorials to rouse hatred of native peoples, and called for all of them to be killed. These articles sparked the hatreds that led to the massacre of Wounded Knee at which native men, women, and children, were simply slaughtered. And still he wanted more, a genocide of all native peoples. That was still a popular view in the 1920s. When the Thompson submachine gun went on the market in the 1920s, the ad showed a (presumably) democratic and free American rancher, shooting native peoples with it.
Anyway, here, where democracy has gone, we had a just pretend election. No party had a platform that even mentioned the major problems facing this province. The real power in this province is the very rich. They own the government, Liberal or Conservative. (Remember how J.D.Irving, the last time around, named himself a member of the government without getting elected? Nobody said poop then, and nobody did in the election.) The province is poor to make a handful of the very rich even richer. They've been getting richer for over ten years, now. Supposedly, it will now trickle down to us. But the very rich don't let their money trickle anywhere. Government exists to serve all the people. The very rich exist to serve only themselves. And we now live in a system controlled by the rich only to make themselves richer.
An unthinking and uninformed and heavily propagandized people cannot sustain a democracy, and the people in it cannot be free. But that is what New Brunswick voted for. Enjoy.
The Irving press has little news of the rest of the world. And what it has won't help much in understanding it. The whole North American press is on a hate building campaign aimed at Russians and Muslims. Read almost any news story about ISIS, and you will find it described as brutal and evil.. But I have never seen these words use to describe our side. Let's get real. Western armies have never been made up of choirboys. But most of the news makes sure to express its horror at beheadings - nicely ignoring that western killing of Muslims far exceeds Muslim killings of us.
No reporter I have read or heard has thought to answer what should be obvious questions. Why do we need a coalition to defeat the ISIS army? At 20,000 to 30,000, with limited equipment, and with no air force or navy at all, this is pretty small potatoes as armed forces go.
Worse, the decision of the coalition to rely on bombing means killing civilians, children, women on a large scale. (In fact, some have already been killed - but our news media don't seem to find that interesting. Is it nicer to kill people with a rocket than with beheading?)
Then there's the coalition. Saudi Arabia, the emirates.....really, if you're going to fight people who behead their enemies, why would you ask for the help of the world's most rigid dictatorships - and the ones that use beheading as a common punishment for even minor crimes? (Oh, yes. There's also France doing some bombing.France is a country notorious for its exploitation and its cruelty in the region. In fact, it's one of the reason why ISIS exists)
Then there's the issue about links between all these countries. Saudi Arabia, the emirates, and the US all have histories of supplying money and equipment to ISIS - as well as to other terrorist groups.
And we Canadians are being sucked into wars that are none of our business. Worse, they are so open-ended that no-one can guess how wide and destructive they will be. Harper's behaviour is very, very odd.No man has talked a tougher game than Harper. But his action - well, there hasn't been much. He has been extremely unwilling to take in refugees He claims to have limited our contribution to a non-combat role so far. Why so coy? Does he secretly disagree with this war?
It sort of makes you wonder. What is this war really about? And why doesn't the Irving press have a reporter or editor with enough wit to raise these questions. -not to mention the other big issue? Hatred campaigns in the press have two purposes. One is to convince people of the need to go to war. The other is to scare the general population so it will accept the loss of even more freedoms, the intrusivness of more domestic spies, and ever greater militarization of the police with armoured cars, heavier weapons, and more of those neat, camouflage pyjamas.
Meanwhile, the US daily kills "suspects" all over the world with rockets fired by drones. Many of those killed are quite innocent. But it's so much more genteel than beheading - so most of them aren't reported at all.
Even the Irving papers carry reports that not much is going to be done about climate change. Quelle surprise! There is not the slightest doubt that climate change is happening - though fuel industry sources regularly turn out studies showing that it's not happening, or that it's caused by poor disposal of kitty litter. But far, far more people will die from climate change than from tobacco.
That's because, as in the case of tobacco, there's money to be made from killing people. And the rich exist only to make money - and for themselves. They don't understand anything else. They don't understand how to run a society. They don't understand human needs - and they really aren't interested in trying to.
The winners of the New Brunswick election were greed and ignorance. Nor is there anywhere to hide. The world of 1945 in which we were told our soldiers died to protect freedom and democracy no longer exists. It's gone, long gone. Instead, we have a world of greed, arrogance, indifference and of unprecedented suffering, neglect, and brutality. It's a world sustained by news media like the Irving press.
As a postscript, the September issue of CCPA Monitor magazine has a good article on p.14, "Was willful blindness to blame in Lac-Megantic?" It asks the questions the police and the news media didn't ask about why 47 people were killed.
So far, the blame is being attached to the engine driver and two relatively unimportant railway employees No blame whatever was assigned to the owner of the railway. This account focuses on Transport Canada which, it appears, is completely controlled by the politicians. The result is a regulation body that has virtually no regulations, and approves what it's told to approve.
The story is frightening one of utter incompetence, imposed and encouraged by the Canadian government. It's a story of extreme neglect of safety in both trains and rails. Transport Canada was not really a regulator for the MMA railway, but an accomplice in its extreme neglect of basic safety needs. It permitted a notoriously dangerous company to be free of regulations. (Harper doesn't like regulation of private business). But investigators didn't bother with that.
It is not possible that Irving Oil did not know the severe dangers of using the MMA. Presumably, they used it because it was the cheapest. And somebody at Irving must have known about the false manifesto claiming the cargo to be less volatile than it was.
And that's why 47 people died.