Friday, November 6, 2015

Nov. 6: (almost) the bottom of the bucket...

There really is almost nothing to say about today's Irving press. Even the letters to the editor were pretty...unpretty. What was worth reading was, at most, the continuing story of the vanishing of our salmon, and the columns of Norbert Cunningham and Alec Bruce. (And even Alec Bruce had little to say - and too much of that little was made up of cheap shots at people he doesn't agree with.)

And that's it. This is pretty much what we might expect of a village monthly. So we have to look for our own news.
A very big story is that in having troops on the ground and in bombing Syria, the U.S.  is breaking both international and national law. To attack a country that is not attacking you is against international law. To do so without declaring war and without the vote of congress is against American law.

Russia is there legally. The government of Syria asked it to be there. The US is not, and this is no small matter.

American governments now routinely break the law, both national and international, and they break the Constitution itself. In recent  years, it has invaded countries by drone, by special ops, with troops on the ground. It has detained thousands of people illegally. It has tortured them. It has never prosecuted anyone for committing torture. The only people who face long prison terms and even murder are the ones who told the American people what was going one.

Police and domestic spies have made mockery of the very idea of freedom. American police kill American citizens at rate that would make any dictator jealous. Some of those police killings are investigated, but very few. Still fewer police are convicted. And those have received almost no punishment worse than firing.

We are watching a collapse of American society at the highest level, and a collapse of almost all the American revolution was supposedly about. We're also watching a collapse throughout the whole  society as a result of racism, and of pseudo racism encouraged by the government and the news media.

The U.S. should not be worrying about its enemies. It should be worrying about itself.    

Then, there isTurkey's new president, Erdogan, who is proposing consititional reforms that would, in effect, make him a dictator. But that's okay because he's on our side. And he's been approved by our side as Britain is now treating him as an honoured guest with a ride in the coronation coach.

The latest statistics on death rates in rich countries  (about thirty of them) is that life expectancy has risen by ten years, just in very recent history.  The U.S. did not do so well. In fact, it was close to the bottom of the list. Odd. After all, the U.S. is lucky enough to have a private  health system, and the most expensive one in the world.
China is dropping its policy of one-child per family. Some girl babies were adopted (giving me a lovely, Chinese granddaughter). But it also meant millions of Chinese baby girls who were killed. And that has resulted in millions of men who will never find wives.

Any western news I have read about it is full of words like cruel, ruthless, barbaric. And, of course, there's always a mention of the brutality of Mao. But Mao, though he could be brutal - like any national leader I have ever heard of - didn't enact the one-child law because he was evil. There is a terrible problem here  (and in many other countries), and  a two-child solution is no help.

The Guardian missed the problem. But the letters to the editor didn't.

You've never been in a crowd until you've stood on a beach in China.

You trust big, oil (and fracking) companies to obey regulations and to act responsibly? Check out the story below.
Things worth watching for.

The war in Yemen is expensive, even for Saudi Arabia. The king has also been spending heavily to buy the support of the people of Saudi Arabia. This could mean chaos on the oil market.

Many parts of the world are rethinking who they want to be friends with. A notable example is Iraq which has been seeking closer relations with Russia. And some European countries are rethinking their dependence on the U.S. Even Saudi Arabia has been moving to better terms with Russia.

All of this  is going to get worse with the increase in refugees to Europe. The number of refugees now is causing strife; and estimates are there will be at least four times as many of them in coming year. And it is most unlikely that either Canada or the U.S. will do anything significant.

There is no telling who friends and enemies will be in the coming year.
And back to the rise of capitalism.

In early days, the exploitation by the European empire-builders was controlled by the monarchs to enrich themselves. The common people gained little, very little.  (And that would remain true to this day.) But the kings were  able to enhance their powers, building armies and navies and personal wealth out of their empires.

But they couldn't forever do it by themselves. And the aristocracy, accustomed to trivial pleasures, was no help. That created an opening for the small middle class to get involved in the trade, a trade that soon made some of them very wealthy, indeed.

Meanwhile, the aristocracy, very noticeably by the 19th century, were declining in wealth. Their solution was to seek out the daughters of the rising capitalists, and marry them. Winston Churchill's father lived in magnificent palace on  a huge estate, but had only a small income. So he married the daughter of a very wealthy miner from the U.S. (Usually, both man and wife knew the marriage was all about money. So both commonly had many. many affairs. It was a distinguishing mark of the Victorian age. Churchill's mother is said to have had at least 200 affairs. His father died of venereal disease.)

With all this, there was created a new class of wealth and aristocratic connections with all the sense of privilege and sense of social superiority of the aristocracy. That led to political power. And it was picked up in the U.S. in the form of a social class which felt that wealth implied personal superiority to the common folk. In fact, most of the fathers of the American constitution were people of that sort. The rise of democracy would simply, in time, open the way for the very rich to see themselves as a privileged class even without the necessity of marrying into it.  And they produced dynasties just as the older monarchies and aristocracies did.

George Bush Jr. became president because his father had been, and was also very rich. Young George could avoid Vietnam service because his father could fix it. The only two jobs he ever had were jobs arranged by his father. (His first job was as president of an oil company;  It went broke under his leadership.) Then daddy got him a similar job which required him to do nothing. So, when that ended, he naturally went into politics. Canada has plenty of business families like that.

It was a great situation because capitalists soon became the de facto leaders of countries. They could build empires with all the ships and soldiers and sailors to conquer it provided by the tax payer. They could create countries to broaden their wealth. The British colonies of 1867 were not joined because of mutual love. A prime factor was that British capitalists needed a large union to give them a guarantee of the money they would have to borrow to build  a railway across the colonies.

Why does the U.S. require such a massive defence budget with at least a thousand bases all over the world?  That's so American capitalists can dominate economies all over the world. This makes huge profits for them - but it's others who do the dying and the paying for it. It's a great arrangement.

But is it fair to say the very wealthy have inflated opinions of themselves and their importance? And a sense of privilege that comes with being wealthy?

The quick answer is the one I learned from every date I ever had with a daughter of a  wealthy family. And it's something they learn from their parents, and their private schools. But let's suffer through a longer answer that I'll give tomorrow.

It may seem off the point. But it isn't. It's about the modern Olympic Games, early hockey in Canada, why football is such a major sport in universities. It's about why women were allowed to golf only once a year, and why the Stanley Cup and  the Grey Cup are "for amateur sport only.."


1 comment:

  1. With the expansion of the American Empire, they have created a world having wars without end. I fear that they will be able to continue. No one including Americans is calling them to account. A really good website, if you haven't seen it is VoltaireNetwork.
    I spent all afternoon reading the various articles. thanks for writing.