Monday, September 7, 2015

Sept. 7 this is late because my paper was very, very late.

I made a deal for delivery my paper from Irving press to my door early in the morning. It hasn't happened since December. I wonder. If Mr. Irving had made such a deal with a contractor and the contractor later changed the terms on his own, would Mr. Irving forgive and forget?

The headline – golly, gee whiz – is “Moncton rocks out to AD/DC. Oh, I could die. I could just die. It's been the headline for days, now – and today there are two stories about it. That's almost two, full pages saying nothing about a concert. Oh, somebody came from Tennessee to see it. Gee, golly, whiz.

The real story about it is that the crowd was much smaller than last time, perhaps fifteen thousand smaller. Remember that next time somebody tells you the 'events centre' is sure to pay for itself.

The second biggest front page story is “Teachers excited for first day of school.” Gee. I hope nobody collapsed out of sheer ecstasy. B4 has a big photo of a fire that looks as though it could have been put out by spitting on it. And there's an exciting story that another rapper is coming to town.

A4 has one, worthwhile story. “One in ten New Brunswick households doesn't have adequate housing.” Essentially, it's a long and very informative statement by the executive director of New Brunswick Non Profit Housing Association. Certainly, there's a lot of sub-standard, jerry-built housing in Moncton.

Editorial page? Well, I don't see the point of the cartoon. It's about how Trudeau needs to jumpstart his campaign. In fact, Trudeau as been rising in the polls. As well, we're coming to the point in the campaign that both Trudeau and Harper like. There's a reason this is the longest election campaign in Canadian history. Harper has piles of campaign money. Trudeau has less, but still enough for the long campaign. The party that's feeling the strain is the NDP because billionaires don't give it money. Harper and Trudeau both hope to win on that.

The editorial is disgusting. It's all about how Labour Day is a salute to Canadian workers for their contribution. It even gives a nod to the unions for a decent living wage, but saves its greatest praise for unions that 'cooperate' with business.

Mr. or Ms. Editorial writer, you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

First, we don't have living wages. Have you taken a look lately at the minimum wages across this country and the U.S. Do you seriously think one can live on that?

Second, the wage gap in Canada and the U.S. is getting worse, not better.

Third, the reason we have Labour Day is not the puking reason this editorial gives. We have it because industrializing Canada had vile and dangerous working conditions at extremely low pay. The Canada of a century ago produced some very wealthy few – but millions who lived in a poverty almost unimaginable. In the cities, people lived in dilapidated shacks, often with no water, no toilets. Some of these existed well into the 1950s and later.

There were six working days a week. - and they were long days. Women could work only as laundresses or servants or factory hands for pennies a day. Children worked the same hours, and were subject to physical abuse daily in the factories. My mother became a household servant at age 11 in a great house. She never, ever spoke of it. And the only time off was an hour to go to church on Sunday.

In Toronto, a teen-age boy lost his arm to a machine that had no protection. He was fired immediately, with pay immediately stopped, and sent home – on his own.

People who tried to organize unions found themselves facing police and armed troops in Canada and the U.S. Many union organizers were murdered by order of company bosses. In the U.S., when state militia machine-gunned tents full of families of striking mine workers, Mackenzie-King stepped forward to manipulate the press to make the bosses (Rockefellers) look like sweethearts.

Unionizing was slow and dangerous – with editorial writers like the one at Irving press always on the side of the bosses. Teachers, slow to unionize, were getting paid $600 PER YEAR – and even less as late as the 1940s. Yes, prices were lower then; but not that low.

Big capitalists of the time were, to put it bluntly, thorough bastards. They still are. That's why they love free trade which gives them the right to fire North American workers, and hire cheap and dangerous and polluting labour, including children as young as five – and even to beat and murder on a large scale. And big Canadian capitalists are up to their ears in this.

Labour Day was founded to honour the contribution of Canadian workers. It was founded to remember those who risked and lost their lives to form the unions that made Canada more livable.

And we honour the workers who hammered the rails for our trains? Like hell we do. It was a miserable and dangerous job. So we imported Chinese to do the most dangerous parts, like dynamiting, where the rate of fatality was very high. Then we stuck the Chinese workers into our vilest slums, confined them to those Chinatowns, and wouldn't let them bring their families over. Canada's racism against Chinese lasted at least into the 1970s.

The railways did much the same with Italian immigrants after World War Two.

This is a disgusting and ignorant editorial. It reminds me of the slimy role that Mackenzie-King played to kiss up to the Rockefellers.

Oh, and we now have a fair living wage? Does the editorial writer know what our minimum wage is?

Norbert, too, writes on a topic he knows nothing about. He says our education system is rooted in the nineteenth century. I doubt very much where Norbert has a clue about nineteenth century education. For that matter, he works for a news medium that has it roots in the eighteenth century, and has been going downhill since the 1890s.

And he blames the teachers and the teachers' union for our illiterate population, though he produces no evidence whatever. In fact, Norbert, as a teacher at all levels for fifty years, I can tell you why many children are illiterate. It's because their parents don't care and because their parents are illiterate.

That's not just a slam. I've taught students from a great many religions and countries. Jewish and Chinese students (possibly Dutch as well) commonly are excellent students. That's because their parents commonly place a high value on education. And it's because their parents read and think, and publicly discuss things like politics, art, world affairs. (In China, I taught students who never missed a class, were never late, always handed in papers on time and who, if I even casually mentioned an article, would have it read by the next class. (There was even a student I had to threaten to hospitalize if he didn't stop taking pills to stay awake all night studying.)

New Brunswick parents have the least interest in schools that I have ever seen. And a very, very high proportion don't read ( certainly nothing more than how to grow a bigger bust or what some Hollywood dimwit is doing.)

And they avoid public discussion of public issues as if it were poisonous. A very high proportion don't think, don't want to think and are, I would guess, afraid of having an opinion in public.

As to your 'brilliant' insight that we can fire teachers because the number of students has gone down – well, think hard Norbert – has it occurred to you that the province didn't have nearly enough teachers in the first place? And now, for the first time, it might have enough?

All you can think about is budgets. I see no concern about the students – not in you, and not in most of the adult population of this province.

Tell me, Norbert, if Irving were to take over the schools and privatize them – as he well might – would you have the guts to criticize him for weak results?

And, while we're talking about budgets, how about digging up the figures on how much of our money is wasted on public/private projects. And how much tax is it that the very rich don't pay in this province?

Norbert, you know nothing whatever about education. This province does have a serious education problem. But it's not the teachers. It's the whole social tone of a province of people who are afraid to think, afraid to learn, and afraid talk about anything except how hot the day is.

We need more teachers – and more school spaces – to educate the parents..

Good columns by Craig Babscock and guest columnist Ross Galbraith who is the business manager of a union.

But, much as I like both, I have to reserve the crown for Alec Bruce. His column is brilliant.

He thinks that universities should be teaching much more about thinking – and much less about job-training. He's quite right. And he's right that learning to think comes from such fields as math, science, history, literature and language. All my teaching experience tells me he's right – so right that I'm not sure business programmes should be taught in universities at all.

Most of the information pumped into students in all fields is memorized for the exam, and forgotten soon after it. But the skills and temperament of thinking will not be forgotten. And those skills are essential for a person in any career.

Alas! I have little hope of the universities. For a start, the boards are commonly dominated by the wealthy who really aren't interested in people who think, and who want money-making to have the prestige of a university degree. (And they also happily donate money in exchange for an honorary degree.)

As well, university teachers tend to the strong on ego, praise, recognition. But those don't come from being a good teacher. In fact, an interest in teaching is often looked down on as suggesting a feeble mind. No. Egos and reputation are built on publication. (You can read news stories in the Irving press for confirmation of that.)

In consequence, I suffered some nine years of really boring, forgettable, and useless lectures- - with only one or two exceptions. But that's what universities are like – and likely to stay that way.

There's only a little of importance in Canada&World.

The lead is quite a startling story about 43 students murdered in Mexico. I think it was about a year ago.

There's a big photo of a gathering at Vancouver, highlighted by the release of whlte balloons over the harbour. It's in memory of two Syrian boys, refugees, who were drowned. I would be more touched if they also flew them for the million or so children killed in Vietnam, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghjanistan, Libya, Guatemala…
I'm not crazy about selective grief.

The NDP is calling on Harper to accept many more refugees immediately. But Harper has never shown interest in refugees. He knows it could cost him votes. Case closed.

B2 has “Vatican to shelter refugees fleeing war, hunger; pope wants other to do the same.” I'm not a Catholic. But sometimes I wish the pope were prime minister of Canada.

On B3, the Conservatives are giving $15,000,000 to museums. Well, that's the way elections work. Many, perhaps most, voters decide who to vote for based on relatively minor matters like this. Big mistake. We have to learn to look at the real issues.

But don't worry about the Conservatives. It's not their money. They're buying us with our money.

The same page has a story about Elizabeth surpassing Queen Victoria in years as ruler. I'm no admirer of royalty. But Elizabeth (and her father, George VI) played their roles to perfection. They have been, without doubt, the outstanding British monarchs of at least 3 centuries.

The story says Elizabeth and Victoria had much in common. Nonsense. Victoria was an unpleasant woman interested only in herself, did nothing for anybody, and who only rarely appeared in public for fifty years.

Egypt has confirmed its decision, finding three journalists (including on Canadian) guilty of belonging to a terrorist organization. The evidence Egypt has presented is absurd. Egypt was, briefly, a democracy. But the U.S. didn't like that. So it overthrew the elected government and installed a military dictatorship. The U.S. is, you know, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Will Harper demand the Canadian be deported to Canada to face a real trial? Not likely. Not unless Obama tells him to do it.

Section B, Canada&World, has only 4, lousy pages. Most of them are taken up by trivia – like the story about a policeman in Texas who pasted a sign “In God we trust” on his squad car. There isn't a single story of any great importance.

If people in New Brunswick are, as Norbert suggests, suffering from illiteracy and general lack of knowledge, he doesn't have to examine to schools to find out why. He just has to look in a mirror.


  1. I thought Mackenzie-King was referred to Rockerfeller, because he wrote one of the first papers on Industrial relation when he was at University. I also thought he helped Rockerfeller bring in the first company union. Sometimes it's hard to know if what you are reading is true.

  2. King's master's thesis was on inidustrial relations, later published as "Industry and Humanity". Rockefeller liked it because it gave lobour no power at all. King worked for some years for the Rockefellers beforre and during World War One. In that period, he sent an autographed copy of his book to one of the Rockefeller daughters.

    That was King's standard warning to a woman that he wanted to marry her. His demands were simple. He wanted a wife who was beautiful, rich, and acceptable to his mother. Untortunately, he never found such a woman who wanted to marry a short, fat, fussy, balding man.

    What he proposed in his book was not a union. If he ever even thought of that, Rockefeller would never have touched him. He proposed the Company Association which was like a union, sort of. But it had to no power to strike or to do anything else, and no money to do the necessary research in negotiating. I belonged to a company association when I worked at Bell. It was useless. But big business just loved it.

    King also handled press relations for Rockefeller. In other words, he covered up for them. When a mining company he owned in the U.S. went on strike, Rockefeller fired them all, and kicked them out of their homes. (Rockefeller owned all the houses. He also owned all the stores.)

    The strikers and there families could only shelter in tents that were in a valley. (I believe it was winter, but I'm not sure.) State militia were posted on the hill. One day, they opened fire, then went through the tent settlement smashing and burning everything.

    Enter King to cover up for th e press. He convinced Rockefeller to send his sons to visit the strikers. And he set up a social evening attended by the Rockefeller boys to dance with miner's daughters. And he arranged for press photographers galore. To this day, many Americans believe that the Rockefeller sons all married miners' daughters.

    In his whole life, King never did anything for anybody but himself. And he certainly did nothing for unions.

    His political instincts were amazing. Like a mouse in a h ouseful of cats, he always sensed how to avoid trouble, and make himself look good.

    The best teacher I ever had was Fred Gibson of Queen's University who had been King's secretary for some years, and who was, without question, Canada's leading historian of Mackenzie-King.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to explain.