Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21: Something your will not see in the Irving papers.....

,,,And maybe not here, either. I am late because my computer is acting strangely. I have, for hours, been attempting to send a book review to you. It's called Irving vs. Irving. But every attempt fouls up my computer........

No use. It won't copy the text in any readable form.  So, here's the scoop.

The book is by CBC journalist Jacques Poitras. The full title is "Irving vs. Irving: Feuding Billionaires and the Stories they Won't Tell", You can get it through Viking Press. Good luck in looking for it in a New Brunswick bookstore or a New Brunswick library. The reviewer is sociology Professor Erin Steuting of Mount A.

This would be a superb book for Norbert to read. I mean, he reads stuff, big stuff like Atlantic Monthly all the time. And he could do a column on this. He could even lend his copy to his distinguished expert on policy planning, Dr. Don Savoie of U de Moncton - and his little circle of people who tell us all about the world we're not smart enough to figure out. (U de Moncton should be ashamed of its association with these people.)

For example, it's fascinating to read of the tax free haven in Bermuda where the Irvings can store away all their money  without paying any tax on it. Gee, professor Savoie, I wonder if that has anything to do with our provincial budget problems.

The book also goes into tales of lying and propaganda in the Irving press. It seems the Irvings also meddle in the news business to run it just like any other big business. One of their bright ideas was to have all reporters and editorial staff to be dressed like gas station attendants as a team spirit builder. It's a crackpot idea that has never been used by any news medium I have ever heard of in the whole world.

Another imposed bit of brilliancy is that writers must produce at least 1,500 words a day in order to get their full salaries. That means that if all you know is that the world will end at noon tomorrow, you need a Brent Mazerolle who can fluff out that sentence to get a full 1,500 words. (Not that it would matter at that point.)

The reality is not just that the Irving s abuse us with the drivel they publish. More than that, it shows they don't have a clue about how to run a newspaper. They live in a world in which everything should be run like a big business., The trouble is that many things can't be. A newspaper is one. A health system is another. There are many social needs to be met - and business methods of operation don't work for them.

(Gosh,, give a copy of this book to the Irving clique at U de Moncton). Hey! Assign a copy for the JDIrving Reading Race in the schools.

The reality is the Irvings seem to have no insight to anything except greed. They (and the business community in general) have no idea how to run a newspaper, schools, hospitals or - pay attention, Dr. Savoie - a provincial budget. They are worse than incompetent. They are destructive.

But that has not prevented them from sticking their noses into education, hospitals, and provincial budgets and policies. It also does not prevent them from using Atlantic Institute of Market Studies to generate propaganda on topics they know nothing about and, often, don't really care about. And it didn't prevent J.D. in Alward's term from naming himself a member of the government, and appointing advisors to the Minister of Finance.

Understand this clearly. The Irvings are not just abusive and manipulative. They are also and utterly incompetent outside their narrow field of business. They show no understanding of what a society is and, indeed, they show every sign of not giving a damn what it means.

And I would dearly love to find an honest accountant to figure out how much they cost us every year, and how much taxation they avoid.

The big news in section A - well, some Moncton businessmen are being inducted into the Hall of Fame for being businessmen who, as we know, as the only people in this world who can be called leaders. Then there's the usual story about the JDIrving reading race in the schools - which is not just a waste of time; it's actually destructive. Reading is not about racing through books. It's about understanding. It's about making judgements. It's about thinking. And none of these is encouraged by racing.

 In graduate school, I had so many books to read, I had to read very, very quickly. I would force the pace, running my hand down the page, going through quite advanced books in an hour or less. I remember vividly going through a history of French rebellions by a Russian author (Porchnev). It was written in French and was over 700 pages. I did it in a little over an hour. I remembered it well enough to take a leading part in class discussion the next day. Now, I don't remember a word of it.

A few weeks ago, I read a book of some 400 pages about what's wrong with the way we teach history. I read it slowly. And I frequently went back to re-read some parts. And for several days, I would pick it up just to open pages at random. It had a profound impact on my thinking; and I'll never forget it.

Education, Mr. Irving, is not a business.

The editorial is a prize sample of using business thinking in dealing with the civil service. And, of course, it quotes "public policy expert" Dr. Don Savoie.

Good cartoon by de Adder. It could use a little more edge. In Montreal, I knew the political cartoonist for The Gazette, Aislin. (In fact, he once featured me in his daily cartoon.) I was then teaching for a few years in a Catholic University. Aislin did a cartoon of the president - who was a priest. In the cartoon, the priest was using his crucifix as a slingshot.

Norbert has a rant whose main point seems to be that the civil service is too big, and doesn't run enough like a big business. Norbert, course, knows nothing about either the civil service or big business. Here's a tip, Norbie, grow the guts to do a column on Irving vs. Irving.

Brent Mazerolle has a column about something foolish said by a Toronto columnist,  Lysiane Gagnon. I've read enough of Gagnon's stuff to know she writes a lot of foolish things. I don't understand why Mazerolle would write a column about her saying something foolish when few in NB have ever heard of her, and what she said  makes no difference, anyway.

Then they have a commentary column by Premier Gallant!!!  I don't think I've ever seen that before. If Gallant wants to make a publicity statement, and that's all this is, he should spend his party's money on an ad.

Then, at last, Bill Belliveau is dynamite. He's on A13 with a well-written, take-no-prisoners column on Harper and his anti-terrorism bill. This is what an opinion column should be. Well done.
Canada&World  has nothing useful to say about anything. However, there is a very, very suggestive story hidden away on B5. Irving Oil will be paying $75 million to the city of Lac Megantic to help is recover from its railway disaster.Isn't that sweet of Irving Oil?

Now, read paragraph two. It's a statement by an Irving spokesman.

"We fully support the establishment of the fund as an industry-wide response to the tragedy, which will provide substantial payments without further lengthy legal proceedings." What a fascinating bit of double-talk.

..we fully support..industry-wide..." Gee. Just like Rotary Club, all those industries getting together like the splendid chaps they are. Exactly what industry is he talking about - and with how many companies?

...................without proceedings."

What legal proceedings? We haven't heard about any. It was certainly odd when there was no follow-up on the story about Irving Oil offices being investigated  at the time. It was odd we never heard anything about how somebody at Irving Oil signed the manifesto certifying the oil being carried was much less dangerous than it really was. And I wonder how all that is connected with the Irving use of oil cars that were fragile, and the use of railway with a a bad record, and with only one crewman for that whole trip. I'm sure all that saved money.

So - this isn't just good-hearted fellows passing the hat. There's the "further legal proceedings." In other words, it seems that Irving Oil is paying its way out of what could be serious charges and lawsuits.

Good for Mr. Irving of our Philanthropic Hall of Fame fame. I'm sure the 50 or so dead and their surviving relatives will be suitably grateful.

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