Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 8: It's not the economy, stupid. It's the economic system.


The link above is a story that's two years old. It's just been revived. An offshore tax haven has been running a scheme for millionaires to avoid paying income tax. This is only one among many of such offerings all over the world. This one is relatively small time because Canadian involvement  amounts to just $30,000,000 or so. But there are many such banks, and  their holdings are in uncounted billions.

Nothing will  happen to any of the people involved in this. Nothing has happened so far because the Harper government preferred to ignore it. And nothing much is likely to happen under the Trudeau government. At present, the Trudeau government is requesting the defaulters to pay their taxes, with a modest interest charge for being late. There will be no  criminal charges for what is, really, robbery.

Nor does their seem to be any interest in getting the biggies, the billionaires who play the same game.

Remember Brian Mulroney? As I remember, he took some $200,000 thoughtfully packed in luggage from a lobbyist. He was prime minister at the time. (He said he realized in retrospect that he had 'erred in judgement'.

Like  hell he had.

He had broken the law. He knew that. He was a lawyer. He had broken the law twice, once by accepting the money, and then by not reporting it for taxation. And what happened to him?

Nothing.  And it is most unlikely this was the first time that Mulroney had stolen money in large bundles, either. His only punishment is that he has to live in a monster of a stone mansion in Westmount with a wife who just lives to shop at only the best stores.

Now check out section A of the Irving press for crime news - about two mothers who are being charged for fighting at a hockey game, and another about a panhandler who faced charges for being a panhandler. Notice the difference?
The Canadian government does nothing about tax-evaders, if they're wealthy. Where was the RCMP in the Mulroney case? And if you check the files for investigations of parliamentarians, perhaps the most spied on one was a Baptist clergyman. He was routinely spied on for years. The idea of him being dishonest was ludicrous. But, oh, he was watched.

That was Tommy Douglas, the father of medicare, and leader of the CCF and its later incarnation, the NDP.

In the U.S. government aid packages in billions of dollars commonly end up in the pockets of wealthy individuals. And no charges are ever laid.  Presidents routinely retire as muti-millionaires. The Clintons are wealthy beyond any government retirement packages.

The cost of this far exceeds the cost of penalized crime. It helps to explain the rate of  homelessness, the lack of money for education, the lack of money for medicare ...

This most recent story about the offshore tax scams has been known for two years. Funny how the Irving press has never mentioned it. The CBC ran the story again yesterday. But I guess nobody at Irving press  watches the CBC.
Humans, I guess have always acted this way. That's what empires have been, and are, about. Empires are crimes of murder and slavery and torture and theft. And historically, their major benefit has been to the rich. At the height of the British Empire, British capitalists rose high, often into the House of Lords. But most of the British people lived in poverty. The same pattern was true in Canada and the U.S.

Commonly, the poverty leads to violence. But the wealthy are ready for that with the full power of the law  behind them. That's why we see RCMP squads in camouflage. That's why Amercan police are militarized. That why large numbers of full-time service troops are kept in the U.S. And that's why Blackwater, the world's largest renter of mercenary troops has some of its killers rented out to the U.S. for service in the U.S.

But don't worry about it. Just read the Irving press.
As you might guess from the above, there isn't much to say about today's edition of the Irving press. The biggest news of the day is that pot growers are against their product being sold in liquor stores. The editorial is another panting one about a sure-fire way for NB to make money. Norbert tells a story about how he had eye surgery. (I don't care, Norbert.)

The commentary by Alan Cochrane is called 'City View'. But it's about forests and maple syrup.??? Anyway, we had a very similar  commentary, perhaps also by the same writer, just a few days ago.

Alec Bruce, again, doesn't say much. It's about the Trudeau visit to Washington. But what nobody has commented on yet is why Obama is making such a fuss over Trudeau. These things are done for a reason.
The big headline in Canada@World is about Oland who has convicted of murdering his father. And the story? There is none. He wants to get bail. But the court hasn't decided.  There's nothing to report.

American vice-president Biden said, in a speech in the United Arab Emirates that the U.S. and its allies will beat ISIS. Wow! Who woulda guessed he might  say that?

People are starving to death in their millions in Yemen. Half the population of Syria has been displaced and over a quarter million, mostly civilians, are dead. Turkey is edging close to getting us into a war with Russia while, at the same time,  continuing its free passage for the oil that ISIS sells to finance its wars.
Whole nations are being destroyed, and millions are suffering terribly and will suffer their whole lives as a result of this. And it's all being done to make a handful of billionaires richer. But not to worry. We're keeping an eye out for people who steal from ATMs or push each other in an argument. And panhandlers better watch their step.

The only item in this paper worth reading is by student columnist Jana Giles. She speaks of 'levelling' of  courses. In effect, it puts slow students  in toned down versions of the regular courses. It then puts them in smaller classes for better teacher attention. Level 2 are the regular courses for average student. Level three is for gifted students.

Actually, this has been used even back in the stone age when I was a student. It seems a good idea. Sometimes it is. But as I read this column, I thought of the day in grade 11 when the principal called me down and said, "Let's face it, Decarie, you have no brains at all. It's time to get out and look for a job."

I'm not sure it's always a good idea to brand children as slow, gifted or average because they can become what they have been branded to become. 'Slow' children often come from social backgrounds that lack stimulation. That, and not any mental deficiency, could be the problem. I grew up in a district that was poor and had a very high proportion of slow students.

All my friends were put into slow classes. By some fluke, I was put into the gifted stream. But, socially, I really didn't belong there. And it showed in my grades.

The sense of social class is a powerful one, especially for children. Indeed, it can affect their sense of ambition all their lives.  But must schools don't recognize that. They simply classify such children as slow.

The prince  is fighting against terror? This is the man who is starving civilians to death in Yemen. This is a man from the royal family that executes (by beheading) on a more than daily basis.

And he's fighting extremism? His branch of Islam is the most extreme one in the world.

But he has two things going for him. He's on the same, criminal side that we're on. And he's very, very rich. And we don't prosecute very, very rich criminals. (Go back to top of page to review.)
Europe is not looking impressive. Racial hatred, always just under the surface in us humans,  is causing Europe to back away from the refugee crisis it helped to create. Every war does this. We think of the people we are fighting as racial inferiors. That helps us to justify killing them.

And the news media are a powerful force is building racism. Follow the American media on Muslims. It has the whole nation so terrified that it doesn't question the U.S. mass murder of Muslims that's been going on for 15 years. Nor does it occur to them that more innocent Americans will be killed in any given year by their own police than by Muslims. Nor is there any Muslim country with the capacity to invade the U.S. Nor could it be done by all of them put together.
We were taught in World War Two that Germans were inferior - not just evil, but inferior. That justified the deliberate bombing of German civilians. And it justified Eisenhower's mass murder of German prisoners after World War Two.
We were taught that Japanese were an inferior race. That justified Canada in taking their homes and belongings from them, and moving the Japanese-Canadians of BC into concentrations camps.

We are all vulnerable to racism. It's a very human condition. We've murdered Muslims by the million. We have no more remorse for that than Hitler had for killing Jews. And now we're blaming Muslims for what we've done to their countries.

And we've done it because of the pure greed of a small number of us who can make big money out of destroying lives. And they own most of our news media.

Here's an intriguing story about greed and its role in capitalism.

About a year ago, VW got caught cheating on emissions standards. The president of VW was 'retired' with  a pat on the head, and some 60 or 90 million in severance pay. No charges. No court appearance.

But now VW has told its workers that large numbers of them might have to be fired to pay the fine.

Does that remind you of New Brunswick? Think Richard Saillant's book on our economic crisis, and how  we have to make sacrifices to solve it. Think of the Irving papers who think that's a great idea, and who also think we should not raise taxes on the very wealthy.

 (Well, why bother? They probably won't pay them, anyway.)


I was very, very young. But I have vivid memories of the suffering and even death as a result of the depression. So you can imagine my reaction in graduate school when I learned of how the wealthy had lived high all the way through the depression on the suffering and dying of family and friends that I knew.
Our news media have taken North Korea's threat to launch a nuclear war pretty lightly. And understandably so. North Korea's leaders have often made pretty potty statements. But below is an opinion that seems more realistic. It doesn't think that North Korea will launch a nuclear war; but we could be in for some tricky times.


At last, some good news. Cruz, candidate for Republican leadership, is being heavily financed by the oil industry. I guess that means we're going to see some real action - to prove that climate change is not happening, and carbon dioxide is good for the air.
The next is a long, long, but quite readable story about corruption in Afghanistan. But it could as well be about corruption in the middle east, the U.S., or Canada.

This last article,  by Paul Craig Roberts sums up all the above. We are in trouble because we run our province and our lives as if they were businesses. And that is the constant tone of the Irving press. It is heavily about business and money-making, with very little about people and what societies need.

Commentators like Norbert Cunnigham endlessly repeat the story that businesspeople have special insights, are more efficient, more gifted. So big government is bad because it get in the way of their superior minds.

That's drivel. I know of no evidence that our super-wealthy have superior or even average minds. To make it worse, they and their imitation capitalism have created monstrous suffering, mass murder, - and financial chaos all over the world. These are not the creations of superior minds. They are the creations of people consumed by grreed and a lust for power. They are also with no moral foundation whatever. It's bizarre that after 2000 years of Christianity, and more of Judaism and many other religions, we still follow the dictates of people who understand only their own greed.

We won't get anywhere by continuing on this path. The cost of big business in death and suffering is enormous, and getting worse. Millions live in dreadful conditions -not just in the third world but in Canada and the US. And instead of money going to those people - who could all be housed and fed on the trillions the world squanders on killing, we get war industries and wars which benefit only the wealthy, and corruption.

We are now into an even more dangerous phase of it as the wage gap almost everywhere is getting wider. There are capitalists all over the world who spend millions, each of them, on ocean cruising yachts with large crews. And those are millions that cannot be spent on children who  are malnourished or who need education. The money hidden in tax havens is money that cannot be spent on human needs.

Uncontrolled capitalism has become a system we cannot afford. In fact, we never could afford it. But the last forty years or so have been the wildest spree in history. A prince Charles is so lacking in education, he would have a hard time getting a minimum wage job. But he sits on a mountain of wealth that cannot be used for human needs, only for making more money for the prince.

We have a capitalist class (also inherited, by the way) that can make $10,000 over a coffee break. But we have more, many, many more people who work long days, and can't earn enough to live on.

Government is not a business. And human lives are not poker chips. We have to learn that - soon.



  1. Don't know if you've seen this ...


  2. I haven't. And I look forward to reading it. Thank you. I shall remember you in my will - unless you already have a cat.