Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Jan. 13: What kind of a world do you live in?

The story of the day is that New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are joining in a big sex-trade deal. It will give moose the right to cross provincial boundaries in order to – you know. That's the biggest story in Section A.

Then there's the breaking story of a restaurant that got big coverage when it was flooded. Now, it's getting big coverage for being repaired. In a similar note, we have our third story about an elderly woman in poverty who is struggling to live in a shack. And the sub-story is that her generous, New Brunswick neighbours are helping her. And there is still not a word about how many New Brunswickers have to live like this. Or about what they need.

A4 has the story that the Lieutenant-Governor is going to volunteer twenty hours of her time to helping young children with learning problems. It's a big story in this province of terrible literacy, and it suggests this is just the beginning of an attempt to involve many more adults in voluntarily helping young children.

I certainly applaud the Lieutenant-Governor for her action. But teaching children to read requires trained teachers. How typical for New Brunswick! When it comes to a new hockey rink, we slap a hundred million down without a thought. But when it comes to teaching our children, (or helping elderly women who are malnourished and living in desperate conditions), we gotta cut costs, and look for freebies.

Functional illiteracy, as well, is not simply a child or a school problem. Many children don't read because their parents don't read. We also have a library that is far too small for a city, and is one of the worst-funded in Canada. It is not a coincidence that this is also a province with a marked lack of interest in anything that requires thinking.

Anyway, I don't believe our schools need mentors. I have Norbert Cunningham's personal opinion on this when he wrote that we already have too many teachers.
The Opinion and Commentary pages are a wipe-out.

The editorial is about how we need more bomb-sniffing dogs. Tell you what, kid. Just take out one row of seats in the hockey rink – and there's your bomb-sniffing dogs.

Norbert writes yet another column on the theme that elected governments set the budget for this province. In Norbert's view, we live in a province in which the very rich can pay a minimum wage of ten bucks an hour, corporate execs can get a thousand dollars a day and more, much more, the rich can get an increasing share of the total income for the province, pay low taxes, and get loopholes to pay no taxes at all. And the governments of this province do take orders – but not from you and me.

Norbert, I'm so happy you read Richard Saillant's book on 'Over the Cliff'. Did you know there are other books, too?

Yes, there are.

The president and CEO of Horizon Health Network writes a long column to tell us we have to do the right thing. And, in that sentence, I have told you all he has to say. Brian Cormer has a bedtime story that he thinks if a commentary. Alec Bruce has a rant that we're too slow in developing shale gas. In that same column, he says it probably won't develop now because it can't compete with the cheap price of oil.

Well, Alec, leaving aside the issue of possible effects fracking (such as the massive spill that now afflicts southern California – you know, the one that the Irving press has never reported) the reality is that there is no market for the stuff – so we never had any possibility of making money out of it in the first place. Read about the falling price of oil.

Then he challenges us. Are we timorous or bold and forthcoming?

Well, I'll tell you, Alec. When it comes to challenging the wealthy, we (and especially our private news media and the staff of our private media and the Liberals and Conservatives) are the most drooling and timorous lot I've ever seen.

Wanna do something bold and forthcoming? Write a column challenging the Irvings.
There is really nothing at all in the Canada and World section. I give up on Latin America, China, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, most of Africa, because we never hear anything about them. I'm astonished they can ignore so much of the middle east when we could find ourselves locked into a war involving Syria, Russia, France, Britain, the U.S. and others in a war that could lead to a nuclear war – all through a war which has nothing to do with any Canadian interest.

Would Trudeau allow that to happen to us? I suspect he already has. How else to explain Canadian aircraft attacking Syria? We are playing with a November 11 which will have many people to remember – but none to attend.

As I suspected several days ago with Canada's $15 billion sale of armoured cars to Saudi Arabia, they are not for military purposes. They are police vehicles which will be used to kill Saudis who disagree with the government. I couldn't believe the military sale story because armoured cars are close to useless in battle, and have been for almost seventy-five years.

Canada is breaking a pledge not to supply weapons to countries with bad human rights records. They don't come worse than Saudi Arabia. It is also, along with Turkey, the major supplier of money and weapons to ISIS.

But, said a Canadian government spokesman, there's very high profit in this. Still glad you voted for Trudeau?

There's also a story that American police are scamming Canadians. Cars with Canadian plates are commonly stopped for no reason. Police then search the car and the driver and passengers, mostly for money which they take – and keep. Then they wave goodbye. But Canadians should not be offended. They commonly do that to Americans, too. And just imagine what they do to Mexicans.

The source for this is not one I automatically trust. It's biased. It's really propaganda. But my experience is it uses truth as propaganda. That's quite a contrast with the sort of propaganda we get in our private news media.

This next site is an interesting one. I chose one of its stories at random, the American use of drone strikes in Pakistan (a US 'friend'), and the hundreds of children killed by them. And this is just Pakistan. Drones are also used in Yemen, in Africa, in unnamed places all over the world.

'Friend' Pakistan, by the way, is also a major supporter of the Taliban in Afghanistan – just as our good friend, Turkey, is a major supporter of ISIS.

Private companies (which seem to be mainly Canadian) are suing the U.S. government for blocking their oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas. They're looking for billions to make up for the future profits they might (or might not) have lost.

In this new world, a government which forbids, say, a pipeline because it constitutes a severe environmental risk can be sued. It will endanger our water supply? Tough. It poses a serious risk to human life? Them's the breaks.

The court this goes to is not like other courts. They are designed to handle cases like this. The design is built into free trade agreements. In these, unusual courts, the judges and lawyers rotate, perhaps one month a judge, the next a lawyer. And all the judges and lawyers become billionaires in a very short time.

Many free trade deals have done massive damage to societies. These free-trade 'courts' are the final step in destroying democracy and allowing the very rich to rule the world.

Think hard about the meaning of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership. And don't kid yourself that we are partners of any sort. The biggest enemy facing us and the whole world is the greed of unregulated capitalism. That's why writers for the Irving press tell us nothing in their newspapers.


Experts at the UN are urging Obama to close Guantanamo, to stop using torture, and to punish those responsible for carrying it out.

I'm surprised The Legion didn' t say that on Nov. 11. Isn't that what so many Canadian died for in world war two? How can we remember so well what they died for, and then completely forget to do it?

In the years since 1945, the world has abandoned virtually all the principles we said we fought for. Democracy is about done for. And we have led the way in the abandonment. We are moving back to a world like the middle ages in Europe – only much more brutal. Greed is not only acceptable, it is regarded as a right of those who have the wealth to be greedy while others starve. We don't even notice the daily contradictions. An elderly woman gets press coverage because she lives in horrible conditions…..

Could this have anything to do with living in a society in which some people can earn thousands of dollars a day? And pay very low taxes (if any) while that woman depends on the kind hearts to of our neighbours to survive?

You think ISIS is evil? I agree. We torture, starve and kill far more people than ISIS ever can. We have become a society almost without morality (except for those devout souls who hold up signs saying we should not kill babies by abortion. Apparently, it's okay to kill them with bombs and starvation.)

We have some who claim to have various religions. But I see no trace of anybody in political power or anybody in big business who represents any morality whatever. And we accept that.

I thought the NDP was wrong, dead wrong, in its approach to the last, federal election. Its approach abandoned the principles the NDP arose from. Instead, it went for where the voters were. Yes, I can see how that would win an election. But where most of the voters are is dead wrong. Where they are is making us progressively poorer, increasingly subordinate to the rich, and largely ignorant of what is happening – even here in New Brunswick. Win an election in those circumstances, and you have won the power to do nothing at all.

If we want to make New Brunswick a place that has concern for its people, it's not as simple as changing parties. New Brunswick has been changing parties for over a century and half with no sign of improvement. If, in this year of 2016, it is still possible for a population to care so little about poverty, education, health care, homelessness, (and a decent news service),if it is still possible to take pride in leaving the needs of people up to charities – usually sponsored by companies that use their cheques as cheap ads – we're not going to changes things simply by changing political parties.

We have to change the people of New Brunswick. We have to change them to expect more of government, to be more critical and more openly critical of the wealthy who control the province.
We have to give them the opportunity to be better informed than they are by the private news media.

This is a problem with a dreadful imbalance of wealth and power in the hands of the wealthy. But it's an imbalance that the people of New Brunswick have regarded as normal for many lifetimes. If we want to change that, it's not enough to change the parties. We have to change the people.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely correct. We, the people, are the ones that need to stand and bar the path the greedy have taken. That path which led them to politicians which would clear the channels, the policies, which enable their immoral manipulations. We can point fingers at the dissasociative, perhaps sociopathic greeds of those such as JDI, but the ones that opened the barn doors came with names such as Lord and McKenna. THEY knew what riff- raff would avail themselves of the opportunity. We need the people of NB to get their heads out of the gutter while there's something to salvage. We need to change and change now, not in four years.
    According to climatologists which the IPCC deem radical (perhaps because they don't pull their punches) four years from now may be too far into the tipping point for our meager efforts to have any effect on the end result.