Monday, November 30, 2015

Nov. 30: "The Face on the Barrroom Floor"

If you really want to read the poem of this title, the site is below. But there's no cause to read it. I thought of this poem only because of a word association with today's editorial in the Irving Times and Transcript.  Barroom.   The editorial reminded me of an ignorant and drunken rant in a barroom, of a bunch of drunks sitting around and listening to their leader's rant, and saying, "Right on, man. Yeah."                  

The editorial is all about how we have too many civil servants, too many teachers, we gotta cut down, fire 'em. "Right on, Charlie. Yeah."

Times are tough. We got too much government. Get rid of it. And kill all these social servics for loafers. And get rid of all this regulation so that honest entrepreneurs can make some money.

"You tell 'em, Charlie. (burp)"

This is obnoxious. And it's crashingly ignorant. It focusses on the economic crash of 1908 as something we must still recover from. There's no   doubt that's true. But the crash was not caused by teachers or civil servants or government. And, no, it wasn't caused by doctors or nurses or even hospital laundries.

It was caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an international banking house. And the collapse was caused by improper behaviour by Lehman Brothers and by other financial institutions. In sensible countries, like Iceland, such people went to jail for their crimes - because they HAD committed crimes. (But the Irving press never reported that.

Nor did it tell us why the U.S., with the biggest prison system in the world, didn't arrest a single financier. Harper, while tripping over himself to lengthen jail terms for even petty crimes, never even mentioned what our financial leaders had done.

It was worst in the U.S. where guilty billionaires were handed bail-outs amounting to a trillion dollars of tax-payer's money, and where guilty corporation directors used it to vote themselves multi-million dollar bonusses. Lesser people lost jobs or suffered pay cuts or tax increases.

That's an important part of why at least 82,000 people in Los Angeles county are now homeless each night. One-half are African-American. 5,000 to 10,000 are children on their own. 20% are veterans.

On the whole, they're educated at the national average, including a high proportion of university graduates. But what you will not find there is a single corporate boss or director who caused this tragedy and has made money out of it.

Dear editor: you twit. How can you say we have too much government when it's so obvious we have too little? And  how dare you demand that we all pay for a crisis caused by the very rich, and for which they have received enormous profit?

Dear editor: do  you read? If so, I suggest you read about the great depression of the 1930s.  Ordinary people were made to pay the price for that one, too. That's why millions of Canadians suffered huge pay cuts, loss of jobs, hunger, lack of health care, early death, hopelessness....

Dear editor: If you can read, may I suggest you read the federal report called "Royal Commission on Price Spreads and Mass Buying". It's in book form, and you should be able to find it in any good library.  (So you'll have to send to Ontario for it.)

It tells why that suffering of economic depression happened. And it shows how the rich actually did very, very well out of those years that were so very awful for everyone else.

Either this country will be a democracy run by us or we will all be owned and abused by the very rich. Either we will be run by governments selected by us, or one used by the very rich against us. Right now, the latter is happening, and happening very quickly.

Meanwhile, to catch up on who caused the crash of 1908, I suggest  you read The Economist (below).

For hundreds of  years, capitalists (sorry, entrepreneurs) have been looting their empires. Now that they can operate almost anywhere they please in the world, and with no regulations, they are looting us. Hint - the wage gap in Canada  has been growing since 1908. Ever wonder why?

Firing civil servants and teachers, and privatizing social services will not make things better. All of our history tells us that. We don't need less government. As was proven in the 1940s, we need more government to keep down the vultures among us.

My, that was a hateful and ignorant editorial.
Norbert was a pleasant contrast with a column based on research and sound reasoning.

Alec Bruce makes much the same comment I did above; but he does it with style and grace.

Pay special attention to the big photo of the wall around the Moncton Law Courts at the top of the comments page. It tells us nothing. But it saves paying for another columnist to fill the space.
There is virtually no news in any section of the paper.
It's not as if there's no news out there. For a start, there's lots of military news that we should have been aware of. The old world of nuclear bombs is rapidly fading, even as the U.S. rushes to place anti-missile missiles as close to Russia as possible - and even right on its borders. It seems that Russia may have countered with missiles so fast that anti-missile missiles can't touch them.

And that's just a small taste of the world's progress in weaponry. There are a great many weapons out there, and no major power can be sure of how its weapons will perform against other major powers. An informed column or two on that would be useful.

We also, while we're worried about the economy, might give a thought to spending on war. The world is in its fifteenth year of continuous war - with nothing to show for it. Oh, we claim to be taking out "bad men". But as I look at the record, I don't see how they're badder than then ones on our side. And these wars, plus the weaponry and the research on more weaponry, and the corruption have cost trillions of dollars.

What do we have to show for all that money  and all that killing, and the destruction of whole nations? How are we better off with Hussein dead? How are we better off with tens of millions of refugees and more to come? What have you gained by these wars?

The reality is that most of them have been fought at our expense, and for the profit of the oil industry and the war industry - both of which have gained handsomely from our donations.

That money could have ended poverty over most of the world. It could have been devoted to research and remedies for climate change. Instead, it has gone solely to make the filthy rich even, well, filthier.

Why don't our news media look at the economic effects of all this?

We have an astonishing gap between rich and everybody else. In fact, it may be the biggest in history. Why don't we see stories about that?

Where's the analysis of the trade deals that are happening now which will have a tremendous impact on our society? What we're seeing are giant versions of deals that began with NAFTA, deals that deliberately impoverished whole nations. We've had no reporting at all of most of those deals.

All of this is going to come home to us. The very wealthy are determined to get richer whatever the damage is to us. At best, that means many western countries are facing social and political breakdown and, probably, severe violence. We had a small taste of it with the showdown on fracking when our native people faced police, and the chances of killing by somebody were getting strong.

Arguably, the native people were in the right. But the law, as often happens when big business runs governments, was against them. We have seen what happens when such social breakdowns occur. We saw it for over a century in China. We've seen it in Iraq. We've been watching it for several hundred years among our own native peoples. We're watching strong signs of it in the U.S.

Big money and its owners are the biggest threat to our survival all over the world. That's why the Middle East is in chaos. That's why the world has made almost no progress on dealing with climate change. That's why so many millions have been killed in the last century. But we get no news on that.
And, just for a change of pace. I spotted a story that I think was on TV news; but I've lost the source. Anyway, it was an interview with a professor who said that Hitler was like Donald Trump because both can be labelled fascist.

Actually, they can't. For a start, Hitler wasn't a fascist. He was a Nazi, which meant national socialist. But he actually wasn't a socialist, either. (If he had been, wealthy Americans would never have supported him.)

The words Nazi and Fascist have been misused for so long that they no longer mean anything.

Hitler created hysteria in Germany using Jews to stir it up. That sort of racism was never a part of Mussolini's fascism.

Both fascism and naziism were supportive of big business. Mussolini did it by legally giving the right for the rich to be in government simply because they were rich. (Such a right was also available to certain professional groups - though I'm not familiar with the extent of it.)

HItler never did that. He did what we do. He simply allowed the very wealthy to do whatever they wanted to do. Just like us. That's why the western powers were so slow to react.

Both could rouse large audiences. So can Trump. But it's not fair to say Trump is a Mussolini. Unlike Mussolini, his political proposals have never been to give special interest groups positions in government; and Mussolin rarely, if ever, used racism

Hitler had nothing original to offer in government. He had no changes to propose. Neither does Trump. Hitler exploited racism and fear to gain power. So does Trump.

Trump is not Mussolini. He's Hitler.

And many a western leader is Hitler. As Conservatives reflect on the defeat they have suffered, they would be wise to consider the resemblance between Harper and Hitler.


  1. Great article. I did notice that 1908 was written at least three times, rather than 2008. Is this a typo or a stylistic choice?

  2. I think it's a nervous breakdown I'm having. My computer is going crazy with problems. Today, Dec,2, it took me a good six hours to get the blog done because, for some reason, it's opening with my April blog, and it's very, very hard to get it to go anywhere from there.