Friday, October 23, 2015

Oct. 23: Raise taxes on the wealthy, say Liberals!

Now, there's a policy that just grabs you by the heartstrings. Do we have people who are homeless? Hungry? Do we have children who go to school hungry? It's too bad, I guess. But, what the hell; they're used to it. Right? Meanwhile, we are ignoring the suffering of those whose need is greater. Why, that poor Mr. Irving was actually forced to pay for our forest that he is now cutting down. And he's doing it all just to create jobs for us and to make us rich.

Anyway, the tax raise is the word from our very own Dominic Leblanc. He plans to stick it to the wealthiest for an increase of one percent. (In fairness, Mr. Leblanc may not know that the wealthiest in Canada don't pay taxes. They hide their money in tax havens. So now, they'll just hide another one percent.)

Oh, I know. You're going to say Mr. Leblanc should have announced a crackdown on tax havens. But if he did that, the Liberal party would get very, very little campaign money from the wealthiest. And we don't want any nastiness, do we?

No. If Leblanc and the Liberal party had any serious intention of dealing with the problem of the rich, they would now be conducting a massive search of tax havens to tell us how much tax money owing to us has been hidden there for years.

Section A news goes downhill from there.
The Opinion and Commentary pages are pretty light stuff. Norbert's column is worth reading – if you just read the second to last paragraph in which he talks about developing renewable, non-fossil fuel energy sources. I guess it's permitted now to admit in the Irving press that climate change is happening – just so long as you don't get aggressive about it.

The guest commentary is by a professor at UNB. The headline says it's about multiculturalism. But it's not. It's really a pitch for the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (which the professor hasn't seen because nobody has.) His only mention of multiculturalism is a couple of sentences of platitudes that are meaningless.

Frankly, this looks like propaganda.

The big story in World News? Of course. It's the Oland trial. Again.

B4 and B5 are worth reading. But I'll go on to news the Irving press didn't have, and cover the B4 and B 5 stories in that context.

First is a story from Iceland. Remember how how our recession started? It was caused when American bankers (with some help from the auto industry) found their history of illegal financial behaviour catching up to them. Remember the phrase “They were too big to fail?”

So they didn't fail. The U.S. Congress very graciously went to their help, giving them some one trillion dollars of taxpayers' money. Of course, none of this went to help the millions of Americans who had lost their jobs and their homes because of this illegal behaviour. It went to bank profits, and into the pockets of bank directors and senior officers who lavished multi-million dollar bonuses on each other.

And there was hardly a whisper of criticism in the North American press.

Iceland took a different direction with its bankers who had been players in this game. Iceland charged them with criminal offences, and sent them to court. And the courts have decided. Yesterday, 26 bankers were sent to prison for terms ranging from 2 to 5 years. And the government of Iceland is looking at amendments to the law so that future bankers will face longer prison terms.

Gee! Maybe Dominic Leblanc will read this, and consider criminal charges for hiding money in tax havens.
You will probably have noticed that our news media repeatedly give the impression that Syria's Al Assad is a murderer and dictator. And that has certainly been a theme in the Irving press. Well, the former British ambassador to Syria – who knew Assad even better than the editors at Irving press do – has a different opinion of him.

_________________________________________________________________arts of Canada) charter schools are, technically, public schools. That means much of their funding comes from government. But they are privately owned for profit, and charge additional fees from the parents – the sort of thing Norbert Cunningham would just love us to have – a Public Private Partnership.

Prestige of these schools is so high that for a middle class family they are virtually essential. Many kind words are said about them – mostly by the charter school owners and the state legislators they pay off. That's why we see glowing reports of how good they are, and how they are cheaper than public schools. (There's a column for you right there, Norbert.)

The truth is not so pretty. Creating these subsidized schools for the well off has meant governments feel free to cut spending in the public sector. Now, public schooling in the U.S. is often a disaster area with overcrowded classes, meagre facilities – and this destroys opportunity for the poor who most need it. (And the poor are a much larger part of the American population than you might think. Something like 40% of Americans earn salaries below the national poverty line.)

As well, corruption is rampant. Politicians are paid to boost the charter schools. “Think-tanks” produce glowing reviews of them. (Watch for Atlantic Institute of Marketing when it suggests this “Public Private Partnership.”)

Many schools receive government grants for years without having a single student.

The students of the charter schools do get higher marks than those in the public schools. But middle class kids always get higher marks than poor ones. It's social environment that does that, not brains or teaching. And the gap gets bigger when you cut school budgets for the poor ones.

The site below is something we rarely see in the North American press. It's a speech by Putin. The tone set by most of our news media is that Putin is evil, a pure villain, etc. I don't doubt he can do nasty things. I could say the same and more for both Obama and Bush and, for that matter, any American president in history, and for a great many British prime ministers – especially Tony Blair.

What struck me about this speech is, though I don't agree with all of it, it's intelligent, reasonable, not loaded down with hate and propaganda. That makes it quite different from speeches I've been accustomed to hearing on this side. It would be very foolish to underrate Putin. He has played Obama off the stage in the Middle East. The American Empire has suffered the greatest defeat in its history.

Harper, who routinely talked tough and did nothing, made fools of himself and us in dealing with Putin.

Obama tried to scare Putin with threats over Ukraine and the Middle East. Putin didn't waste time with threats. He made himself a major force in Middle East. This is not a man who gets bluffed.

Page B5 has a story about refugees from the Middle East. So let's consider that.Most of our news sources have have little to say about that situation. That's odd, considering that this is shaping up to be the greatest disaster in history. 

On our side, it's about economic control of the region – nothing else. Our leaders couldn't care less about democracy. In fact, we've led the way in destroying democracy in that region. Nor do we care about the people. We've randomly killed two million, almost certainly more, in that region since 9/11. We've created cripples and orphans and widows in the millions. We've effectively destroyed any social structure at all for uncounted millions more. In the process, we have created millions of what we like to call extremists – as if extremists were a race. In fact, most of this 'extremism' didn't exist until American interference (to please the oil industry) destroyed all normal forms of life.

We have destroyed homes, created starvation, lack of medical care, destroyed education. We have created millions, tens of millions, of terrified people who struggle with all they can carry, including babies, over rough terrain and dangerous waters so they can run up against barbed wire fences in Europe.
Read the story on B5, and add this. From babies to the elderly they have had no change of clothing for weeks, perhaps months. And imagine being in that great mass of people forever trudging, forever sleeping without shelter all this time – and with winter closing in on Europe. And how, in that great, trudging, miserable mass can they find anything to eat or drink? How can they feed their children? How many have died, and been left to be trudged over by the millions come behind?
There is no possibility that Europe will or can give shelter to more than a tiny fraction. And North America is worse. Even the most generous of the helpers, Germany, is starting to see anti-Muslim violence. So has Britain. So has Sweden. And we can almost be certain to see a revival of Naziism in Europe. (Ukraine never left Naziism.) And that's true in many other parts of Europe. There's a horror here so profound that we can't imagine it. And the millions keep coming.

As I read the story in the Irving press, I thought of Eli Wiesel's book, “Night”, the story of his childhood in a Nazi death camp. He writes of starvation, of forced marches on cold, winter nights. And the weak and the sick and elderly in that mass of people who would fall in their places to be tramped on by the thousands behind them.

We have created that for Muslims – with millions more to come. And we have not done it because they are threats to us. We have done it to satisfy the unsatisfiable – the greed of the big oil companies. We are the Naziis.

And it gets worse. I can't even pretend to have any profound knowledge of middle east rivalries. But I can say that the instability and chaos we have caused in that region has sparked wars so complex that I cannot follow them. Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen. Why? Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey are threatening to join the already complex war in Syria. Israel still dreams of a greater Israel to take in much of Lebanon and Syria. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are supporting a rebel army in Syria that doesn't exist. It's made up almost entirely of foreign mercenaries – often members of “terrorist” groups. And many, when they get supplies or money or training from the Saudis and the U.S., promptly desert to the other side. In some situations, it's hard to tell exactly who is fighting for or against who.

Obama tried to bluff Putin. It didn't work. So now we have wars within wars, a situation in which any slip could be disastrous for all. This all began with a lobby group in which Jeb Bush was prominent, The New American Century. It was a clear statement of the American intention to rule the world. It was obeyed by George Bush, Tony Blair, and Barrack Obama. And it had one, clear purpose – to make unimaginable wealth for the large players in the oil industry.
Could it start a nuclear war?
Of course it could. Any intelligent person must realize that the U.S. probably cannot win a conventional war against Russia or China. It seems astonishing but it's true. With far the biggest defence budget in the world, far the most potent navy, with a massive air force, the U.S. has been unable to beat a divided Afghanistan. The reason, I suspect, is that the biggest defence budget in the world is spent on a corrupt defence industry and on corrupt politicians from president down to novice congressmen.

Putin knows all that. That's why he ignored Obama's bluff and moved on Syria.

If this did become a major war, then the losing side might (probably would) use nuclear weapons. And that would be suicidal for all of us. And there are a lot of nuclear weapons in this world - Pakistan, India, Britain, Israel, China, Russia, the U.S., North Korea. Any of those countries is capable of producing a fanatical leader. I can think of several eminent U.S. political leaders who fit that description.

Ideally, Russia and the U.S. would combine to end the fighting and to restore some measure of health to the region. But that would be political difficult for both Putin and Obama, both of whom have big oil capitalists at home. However, Putin has at least spoken of it.

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