Friday, September 18, 2015

Sept. 18: Let's start with China...

...because there isn't a whole lot to talk about in the Irving press.

China is the biggest country in the world, and it's (maybe) on track to have the most economic power and, with that, the most political and military power in the world within decades. That being so, it's odd to see it so rarely even mentioned in the Irving press. We've had far more news of a new hockey rink than on something that could shake our earth to its foundations. So, where to start?

Let's start with the word communism. Discussion of communism in China goes back well over a century. But it wasn't until the rise of Mao-Zedong to power after world war two that China had a government that called itself communist. - the CCP, Chinese Communist Party.

The jounalists around the world were upset about that because they understood that communism was evil. You know, like spitting on the sidewalk or enacting medicare.

In fact, communism is heavily based on Christian principles – like love thy neighbour, help the suffering – evil stuff like that. And that shouldn't be surprising because Karl Marx was a convert to Christianity. It's because it's so heavily based on Christian principles that I don't see it as being practical anywhere in the foreseeable future. There is no nation on earth I have ever heard of that is based on Christian principles.  Certainly, the western world has never been noted for its Christian behaviour.

And Chairman Mao had no religious principles of any sort. He called his party the Communist Party. But there was nothing communist about it. Mao was simply a dictator whose main contribution was to destroy all elements of the old, Chinese society, including Confucianism, That was essential because the old China had been too loosely organized and, despite its size, had, for over a century, routinely been beaten with ease by countries far, far smaller, and had been forced to open up its market to a series of murderous, greedy, and capitalist countries. It had been forced to accept the curse of opium. And forced to pay large sums if its sales were not up to the very high demands of the European conquerors.

Mao may be credited with laying the foundation of modern China. He made it a military power able to defend itself against all those nations – including Britain, Germany, the U.S. - who had exploited it through a century of what the Chinese still call “the great humiliation”.

His economic measures (which were neither capitalist nor communist) were a disaster, particularly in agriculture as some 30,000,000 people died of starvation. (But don't get smug about that. In proportion to the number of people available to die, we're way ahead of him, especially in the Middle East.)

His last years were largely wasted on showy but useless excitements like the cultural revolution. I remember older Chinese speaking to me of those years as a time they lived in fear of mobs, dictatorship, and survived on a diet of cabbage. In Guangchou, they took me to the river where, every day, they had watched the bodies floating downstream.

It wasn't until the late 1990s that China decided to copy the methods of western capitalism. It worked well, at first, with the greatest advancement of economic development ever seen. - but

-that was with a capitalism kept under control by a government that was still a 'communist' dictatorship (though the dictators referred to it as a socialist democracy. It was neither socialist nor democratic; but, economically the improvement for China was immense.)

Actually, it wasn't really capitalist, either. That short period of rapid growth was the result of a bureaucracy that kept a tight grip on the capitalists.  (Note that Norbert. The economic growth was created by very able bureaucrats.)

Then the disease of capitalism showed itself. Those who made money used it to corrupt and buy control of government leaders at all levels. Corruption became epidemic. And, as happens with capitalism, the emphasis shifted from the needs of the people to a single-minded desire for more wealth and power for the rich. The millions who had not profited from the brief economic boom were now left in permanent poverty. The wage gap, as happens in capitalism, grew to rival and even surpass that of the west. And now, it has the capitalist illness of a recession.

I have no idea where this will take us – or China. The country could break up – as it was doing a century ago. It could move into one of the most brutal civil wars this world has ever seen. Or it might go back to Mao's China with a government that stirs constant distractions and hysterias like 'the great leap forward' or the 'cultural revolution'.

Nor can we even guess what effect this will have on us – though, in this small world, it certainly will have an effect on us. We may be watching another step in the decline of the very idea of a nation. Already, the existence of nation states is becoming less useful in the eyes of the great corporations and the very rich. It's major purpose now is to provide them with military power whose use makes the rich richer, and using the news media to convince people this is patriotism. But, as the U.S. has shown in Syria, mercenaries can do this – and do it more cheaply.

China should be prominent in our news. But it rarely is.
There's really not a whole lot to say about the Irving press. Section A has a big gob of sensationalism about the Oland trial. But little else. A story on B5 is intriguing, though. “New Brunswick sees New England's clean energy needs as an opportunity. That's nice. Clean energy is good. But linked to it is a deal to help New England set up pipelines for a mutlibillion dollar gas terminal to export gas from New England….
….but if you set up such a terminal, then surely the point of it is to burn more fossil fuel somewhere else. Forgive me if I don't see the point of using clean energy to help the world to use more dirty energy.

Justin Ray has a superb column on how we can help refugees. If Ray doesn't convince you, you might like a letter to the editor “NDP leader indulging in pointless opportunism.” The letter makes two, stunning points.
1. we did not create this refugee crisis.
2.Anyway, we are heavily invested in regaining the homelands of these refugees, so other countries should be the ones to help them.
I politely disagree. No, I'm damned if I'll be polite. This is a self-serving letter, and it shows no understanding whatever of what is happening.

1. We did create this crisis. Canada has gone every step of the way in following the U.S. and Britain into creating the chaos of the Middle East. We helped to create ISIS. The U.S. financed and equipped a phony rebellion against Syria long before there was an ISIS. It also created the 'terrorists' al Quaeda. That goes way back to before there was any problem in the region. We have supported the policies that have killed uncounted numbers in that region. We now support the mass murder going on in Yemen. And the US drone bombers have been murdering people there for over 20 years. We're in this up to our necks. We have created those refugees. We are responsible for the drowning of a young boy – and thousands of others. And we've done it all for oil billionaires.

2, We are heavily invested in regaining homelands? You count sending a handful of aircraft to machine gun and bomb helpless people in Libya as a heavy investment? You call sending six fighter-bombers to Iran a heavy investment? Macdonald's spends more than that every day to sell hambugers.

The U.S. with British help and some Canadian help are not fighting to save refugees. We're fighting to create refugees.

Now, go back and read Justin Ryan's column.

Alec Bruce is in top form with a column on the dark side of Harper's budget surplus. Well said.

But that's it for section A.

The only story in B section is on B5 “Ministers want universities to stop paying ex-presidents”. This is a very serious problem. University boards of governors are dominated by people with money. The only thing they know how to run is a business – and so they assume that everything is a business. But everything isn't a business. And universities are not a business.

About 20 years ago, I was surprised to be offered the presidency of my university by the chairman of the board. I didn't want to be an administrator of any sort. I was a teacher. That's when the chairman put his lawyers on me. They talked to me about the benefits of the job, and made me read a book on the application of business practices in universities.

I was stunned. My salary would be tripled – at least. With handsome increases every year. And, no matter what kind of a disaster I might prove to be, I would get that for the rest of my life – even if they fired me. (In fact, the president at the time was being fired for some irregular practices. And I expect he did keep his salary for life.)

I refused though, admittedly, at the same time kicking myself.

And that's only a small taste of the damage that is being done by university boards of governors that are way too deep in business methods (abuses), and quite ignorant of education.

Now, wash that Irving press taste out of your mounts, and read these sites.

The U.S., which just want to help people, has spent $500,000,000 dollars to recruit and train Syrian rebels. So, check this from the New York Times.

Karl Nerenberg, now retired, is still one of the best political commenators in Canada. Here is his take on the leaders' debate.

Despite the dodgy title of this next source, I've generally found it to be intelligent and truthful.

There's another report on the world getting warmer. But I scarcely need to tell that to anyone in Moncton You think you're seeing refugees now? Wait  (probably not long) until you see farmland turning to desert, sea life disappearing due to toxic waste and warming water. But don't worry. The New Brunswick government is looking out for you. It's selling renewable energy to New England so it can sell more fossil fuel to Europe.

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