Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 21: If you tell a lie, make it a big one..

...people are too smart to fall for the small ones.

New Brunswick's Liberal government wants to privatize more of our government services, like health care. The reason is the old one, privatization will make it cheaper and more efficient. Sure. That's why the US has such a wonderfully cheap and efficient health system. Our Florence Nightingale will, I suppose be one or more of the Irvings. Oh, those Irvings. They just give and give....

Just about all the developed world long ago came to the conclusion that government operation of medicare is the cheapest and most effective way to go. Private business is expensive; It's been proven expensive long, long ago. But the Irvings of this world keep trying - and they have a submissive government and a passive population to help them. Business does not exist to serve. It does not exist to save lives. It does not exist to prevent illness. It exists to make profit. Nothing else. And if it can make even more profit by spreading disease - that's good business.

Oh? Big business wouldn't hurt people? Tell that to the millions murdered in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Latin America, murdered to further the interests of big business.

And let's hear no more of this idiot talk about business and government being partners. We do not elect government to be partners with anybody. We elect them to govern as we want to be governed. Big business, despite Mr. Irving's foolish statement of several years ago, is in no sense a partner to government. He is subject to government, just all us peasants are. Democracy means we are governed by the people we vote for, not by people who think their wealth gives them special powers or abilities.

Now, watch for the Irving press to be beating the drums for more privatization of health care.

Oh, yeah, and I wish the Irving press would stop quoting phony experts who use misleading statistics.
The gem in here is that we have more doctors per capita than other provinces. Well, yeah. We also have more lobster fishermen than Manitoba has. So should we cut back on lobster fishermen?

The Gallant expert says we have more doctors that other provinces. Well, we also have more older people. And we have among the worst outcomes? Another phony statistic. How much  worse? - or how little.  We have less business investment than other provinces. So? What does that have to do with health care?

And why did nobody at the Irving press have the brains to ask some of those questions? A reporter is not just a stenographer. If that were true, we wouldn't need reporters. Recording machines would do just fine. (Now, I've given Jamie Irving an idea of how to make bigger profits.)

The only other news page worth looking at is A6. It's about the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. But skip the story. The real feature is three photos of assembled leaders of the province. The bottom photo is a veritable smorgasbord of Irvings. And, for no extra charge, each of the three photos features Jamie Irving who had a meteoric rise from cub reporter to top dog at Brunswick New;, to the best of my knowledge, the fastest such rise in the history of journalism. But, you know. He's an Irving. So he works longer and harder than us.
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The editorial uses the anger of seniors at a tax grab on their savings. It's solution, which is brief and almost at the end, it a pitch for privatization of more services. That, it says, would create a buoyant economy.(Wisely, it doesn't even attempt to show how taking money from government and handing over government jobs would boost the economy and save us all - especially in light of our knowledge that Canadian private corporations are escaping income tax by banking their money in tax havens.) The pitch for privatization of health care is on.

After having a great column yesterday, the Norbert we love is back. Largely, it's a bitter attack on the provincial government for talking about raising taxes on our oppressed and hungry corporation bosses. Save your tears, Norbie. They are currently getting some of the lowest tax rates in the world - and like other corporation bosses, they don't pay anywhere close to even those rates.

OO, OO says Norbert. If we tax them, they'll go away. Great. We could use a break from supporting them. And that's a serious statement I can defend.

Then he cites a hoary, old tale  that is quite untrue. He says that Henry Ford, back in the 1920s paid more than the minimum to his workers because he understood the value of good  pay that would benefit the economy and help him sell more cars.
1. Henry Ford knew nothing about economics. He was a good mechanic. And he knew how to sell. And he was obsessed with getting personally rich. But none of those give any insight into a national economy.
2. He hated unions because they would raise wages and cut his profits. So he did two things. He hired gangsters to beat up union leaders, and any employees who were heard talking about unions. AND HE RAISED WAGES JUST ENOUGH TO KEEP DOWN THE PRESSURE TO FORM A UNION.. His reasoning had nothing to do with the economy.
3. He hated the very idea of weakening any part of his distorted view of what capitalism is. That, plus the fact that he had an insane hatred of Jews, is why he was a major financial supporter for Hitler and a supplier for the German war machine right to the end of 1941. That's why Hitler kept a huge photo of Ford in his office. Fords factories in Germany, to the end of the war, were major producers of tanks and other vehicles for the Nazi armies.
You sure know how to pick your heroes, Norbert.

As well, cutting the taxes of the very rich in order to encourage investment in the economy is pure hogwash. It doesn't work, and it never has. If it did work, all of Latin America and Haiti (one of the poorest countries in the world) would be rolling in prosperity. If it were true, we would be rolling in prosperity after these recession years of the rich making their biggest profits in history.

Norbert, please forget your cancerous ideology. Look around you. Look at the real world.

And get a real job.

There's a good letter to the editor about how our government intends to make it illegal to criticize Israel. The letter says such criticism is spreading hate and anti-Semitism. So - I'd like to lay the first charge under that heading - against the Conservative government of Canada.

All arabs are semites. Semitism is not a race. (That was Hitler's idea, Stevie.) Semites are a group who claim descent from Adam and Eve. (Christian fundamentalists would say we're all descended from Adam and Eve; if that's true, then we can't criticize anybody.)

Anyway, Arab Muslims are semites under the meaning of that word. And our government, therefore, has been spreading anti-Semitism with its anti-terror bill. Some Israelis are semites under that definition. Most European and North American Jews, though, have no connection with Israel. They are descended from European converts to Judaism many centuries ago.

And many of those, who are old friends of mine, are VERY critical of Israel. So am I. So there it is, baby. Charge me.

Harper's idea of charging people for being what he calls anti-Semitic, is not only profoundly anti-democratic, but stunningly ignorant of what Judaism is and what a Semite is.

Come to think of it - if Norbert praises Henry Ford who was not only anti-Jewish, but financed Hitler, and owned a profoundly anti-Jewish newspaper, Wouldn't that make Norbert an anti-Semite?.

Ted Allen again has a personal story. But this time it has a point to it. It's about the importance and relative cheapness of bookmobile service in rural New Brunswick - and as he listed the books he had read (and implied, without saying) how they had changed his life, I actually warmed to this column.
I grew up in a pretty shabby district of Montreal where anyone who read a book, any book, was creepy.  My father helped me through that because he was a avid reader. Every weekend he hit the used book stores to bring me books from the Bobbsey Twins to pirate stories to westerns and the poems of Robert Service and Rudyard Kipling and "With Morgan on the Main". Then, in high school, I met kids who came from areas where everybody read, and I was introduced to Decline and Fall of the Roman American, George Bernard Shaw, Sean O'Casey, Churchill's History of the English-speaking People....

I would later learn that there were criticisms  to made of all of these. But, I am eternally grateful to all those books that opened my eyes to the possibilities in life.

I liked this column. It's one worth taking very seriously. (I also like it because I knew Andy MacDonald. I liked him, too.)

Then there's a column on pipelines as the safest way to transport oil. This comes, from The Fraser Institute, a propaganda scam to benefit billionaires. But the Irving press doesn't tell us that part.
For a balanced view, go to the story hidden on that back of section B. It's about an oil pipeline in California. It spilled. In the biggest pipeline spill in twenty years. It destroyed not only a beach, but also a wide spread of Pacific Ocean with lots of endangered species.

There's an excellent column by Alec Bruce on the growing potential of tides to provide energy. Alas! No New Brunswick government I have seen would encourage such development unless it were used purely to produce oil for Irving.

B5 has quite a good story  on President Obama's warning that climate change is real. And that it brings with it a high probability of violence all over the world - including in the US itself. But the oil barons are still pumping out propaganda that it's not happening. That means the Republican party is opposed to doing anything. Nope. Can't disturb profits. That's why we're still planning pipelines and oil exploration projects in sensitive areas - like the Arctic. And these are projects which will take decades to complete, and decades more to make money out of. And then it will be too late.

Nor would I expect any better from the Democrats. Hillary Clinton's run for leadership - just for the party leadership, not for the presidency - will cost 2.5 billion dollars. The same is true for other candidates of both parties  You don't get that kind of money from church yard sales, not even with the attraction of a gospel hootenanny. No, it comes from the very wealthy, and largely from the oil and arms industry wealthy.

There's just a tiny story at the bottom of the page about the Vatican giving a similar warning about climate change.  Pope France is, all by himself, a revolution in the church. I have read from him more thoughtful, compassionate, intelligent and honest attitudes than I have of any leading world politician, and certainly more than any leading businessman. I wonder why the news media so seldom mentions him.

(No. I'm not a Roman Catholic.)
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The CBC has a story about the CEO of a mill in Nickawak, NB, who got tried in the US dodging taxes.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/ex-nackawic-mill-ceo-gets-2-months-in-jail-for-hiding-8-4m-from-irs-1.3080276

Yep. George Landegger got two months in jail (probably with time off), has to pay tax on the 8,4 million, and a whopping, 75 thousand dollar fine. So he'll probably only have five million or so left.
Well, maybe more. The employees' pension fund of some 46,000,000 seems to have vanished, too. But no government seems to give a damn about that.

This reminds me of Brian Mulroney who admitted (some of) his acceptance of bribes, and got no penalty at all.

So, Landegger got two months and a fine of 75,.000. Heck. I knew people who got more than that for car theft. And will our government raise the issue of the 46,000.000 in pension funds. Don't bet on it.
By the way, the much respected government of Bernard Lord gave this man 10 million in loans and guarantees in 2009. Hey, Norbert. Way to keep the economy growing!

Funny the editors at Irving press missed this story.

Another "missed" story is that four, major world banks have been cheating their customers by artificially rigging the foreign exchange market. And they are big ones - Citygroup, JPMorgan and Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland - and couple of smaller ones.

They got fined six billion. Sounds like a lot but
 1.We don't know how much they stole.
 2. It's certainly in the many billions since that market deals with over a trillion a day.
 3. If you stole billions of dollars, do you think you would get off with a fine? I met plenty of guys in my prison visit days who were in there for many, many years for stealing much, much less.

 Such international banks are the ones who are now bleeding Ukraine and Greece dry, with no thought of the human suffering they're causing.

Some of these were also among the banks who couldn't be allowed to fail at the start of the recession - even though they were major causes of the recession. So they got huge bail-outs, with billions in bonuses for their top execs.

I'm so glad to live in a province where this sort of thing never happens.

And watch for Norbert's column tomorrow when he tell us how bank profits help to build our economy.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/20/us-banks-forex-settlement-idUSKBN0O50CQ20150520

Sorry to neglect foreign affairs. I just had too much stuff. Watch for big news about the US, China, Russia and, just possibly, India. The US is building a major air base for bombers in Australia. Why? Are they planning a war with New Zealand? Or is it possible that it has something to do with the US dispute with China over who has rights to the South China Sea?

Watch for trouble as Iran is sending shipments of food and medicine to Yemen. There's a reason the US has so many powerful warships in those waters. And the king of all the Saudis is not likely to appreciate food and medicine in Yemen, especially coming from Iran.

Watch for action by the Saudis or Israelis against Iran. They don't want any peace with Iran. They want it destroyed.

Chinese and Russian warship are preparing for war games in the Mediterranean. How strange they should be in those waters at this time! There is also another, small aid ship heading to challenge the Israeli blockade of Israel.

And why watch India? It's a rapidly growing power that suffered centuries of poverty and exploitation under the British. It may very well feel some discomfort at the US trying to be the British Empire of our time. And it may also decide that the future lies not with a declining US, but with a rising Asia.

And forget what you hear about some nations being friends with each other. There are no such things as friends between nations. (I might write a bit about this on Sunday.) The people of nations might like each other. I have known and liked many Americans; I have relatives there; my father was born in Oregon. But me and my friends don't make the big decisions. Those are made by governments who are commonly controlled by big money. And there is no room for friendship where big money is involved.













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