Friday, April 8, 2016

April 8: Not a happy day.

This may be shorter than usual. Yesterday, at a coffee gathering, a woman asked me what I thought of a column in the day's Irving press. I replied that I thought it was pretty awful, but typical of the Irving papers as the worst I had ever seen.
She look at me disapprovingly. "Some people wouldn't agree with that."

She could have pointed out that there were parts of it she agreed with. She could have suggested I was too hard on it. She could have suggested I was an agent for ISIS who was here to destroy the province.

But no. This was New Brunswick. And I had committed the ultimate sin in New Brunswick eyes.So she wasted no time on whether my statement was right or wrong.  My sin was in saying something that some people would not agree with.
In New Brunswick, we have to conform. That's why the Faith page is usually so boring. It's usually not about Faith. It's about the churches avoiding saying anything that "some people might not agree with." In a world in  which we sent aircraft to kill people we know nothing about in Libya, Iraq, and Syria, people who are no threat to us, I saw no sermonette column headed "Thou shalt not kill." And I know I won't see one headed, "Thou shalt not steal" that considers the Canadian role in the tax haven scandal. At least, we won't see such a headline unless some kid is caught shoplifting cookies.

The tax haven scandal has already disappeared from the pages of the Irving press. It's the biggest theft in human history. It costs every person in this province thousands of dollars every year. It means poverty and hunger for millions. It means cuts to medical care and education. It means young people in university starting their lives with a heavy debt - all so billionaires can hide their money all for themselves.

But we won't talk about it because some people might disagree with us. And then we wouldn't fit in any more.

Did the Liberals know about these tax  havens? Did the Conservatives?  Of course, they did. The tax havens have been common knowledge in the news media - except for the Irving press - for years. And on top of that, the Liberals and the Conservatives have, for years, been taking the tax money we pay, and giving large parts of it as  gifts to the wealthy.

As I write this, Bombardier wants a gift of two billion dollars from taxpayers. (So much for capitalists taking risks and sometimes losing.)

But, sh'h,   some people might not agree with that.

If New Brunswick ever hopes to make this province a place young people will want to stay in, a place where even the hungry are fed and even the homeless have a place to live, it is going to have to stop giving a damn what some people might not agree with.

And, may I point out to most of the clergy who write the Faith page that Jesus was a person many people did not agree with. And I'm pretty sure that there would be little ground for agreement between Jesus and the political and corporate leaders of this province and this country if He were to visit.

Yes, I'm in a bad mood.
Section A news is section A news. A2 has the big stories of two more people running for councils on what I can only call vague qualifications. Most of such candidates refer to unexplained 'visions' they have. (It could be a drinking problem.)

A footbridge in the marshland along the river is going to be fixed up for $200,000. Take a good look at the picture. Repairing that bridge will cost more than building most new houses.

And we're going to have a beer festival. Talk about high culture!

The editorial is decent, but scarely one of the great issues facing us. Ditto for Norbert. The tax haven scandal has hit all of us. It's a worldwide theft of trillions of dollars. It's just one sign of the collapse of democratic government in the world, just one sign of the rise of an economic aristocracy that dominates and plunders the world. We have never seen anything as greedy and destructive as this in all of history.

But, of course, some people might not agree with that.

Cole Hobson's idea of an important commentary is about a ball and cup game, and the tremendous impact that will have on our lives. Evidently, people will agree with that.

There are two columns that deal with real issues, a guest column on corporate buying of politicians, and Alec Bruce on the hypocrisy of the Gallant government in its claimed desire for 'transparency'.
Section B, Canada &World, is too small to give a sense of anything - and what there is here is usually trivial.  B5, for example, has a story with 4 pictures of a man in a hat who might be a bombing suspect. Two of the pictures show just his back. Two - sort of almost - a bit - show his face. But they're blurred. So, it's important to cut this out, and watch for a man in a hat whose backs like - well - a man's back.

What's missing is any story of any North American political leader saying anything more than tut-tut about this massive display of greed that we call tax havens. Trudeau and Obama have each mumbled something vague. (And it's not possible to imagine that they're just too surprised by what's going on.)

In fact, few political leaders in the whole world show any sign of doing anything. They, like the Irving press, are just going to allow this to die. Capitalism is running out of control around the world. It's responsible for wars, refugees, millions of deaths by starvation, weapons, disease, brutal work and living tell me what the politicians say they're going to do. What has Trump said about it, Cruz, Clinton, Trudeau,..?  What have they said about the plundering of Latin America, Europe, Africa, the middle east - yes - and Canada and the U.S. Can we even begin the understand the world crisis that this has created?

Perhaps 90 trillion dollars, perhaps more - and not a word. And all the governments have known about this from the start. And where's the action on the involvement of our banks in this-, just as they were involved in the plundering of Ukraine and Greece and so many other countries?

U. de Moncton students were kicked out of the legislature in Fredricton just for wearing T shirts protesting the cost of education. When did the legislature last kick out a billionaire?

The major corporations have taken over the world. They can ignore governments. They can steal the money that we need to survive on. That is a recipe for international disaster.

And I really don't give a damn if there are some people who do not agree with that.
World news is suprisingly thin, today - apart from the theft of trillions of dollars. It seems that climate change may be happening more   quickly and more serioustly than we had realized. That's largely due to those same people who have been stealing our money.

Then there's this one on tax havens.

And Honduras gives us another example of capitalism running wild, this time in murdering native peoples who complain about capitalists illegally taking and then destroying their land. But, again, this is a very, very old story that our news media has played dumb on - as it has on the murder of Raoul Leger of Bouctouche.

Look, all you journalists. It should be easy to get the names and countries of the mining and other countries who are carrying out all this destruction in Honduras and other countries. And it should be easy to get the names of major shareholders, directors, etc. Then you could print it. Wouldn't that be nice?

And here's a very sensible one about Canada's rush to develop oil pipelines and other   "job creators".

A story that hasn't surfaced is that many Canadian veterans are angry at cuts to their government services. I don't think many people realize that one of the greatest costs of war is the treatment of veterans when they return home. There are lost limbs, very widespread PTSD which can be lifelong. PTSD seems to have grown enormously from World War 1 days when it was called battle fatigue.. I suspect much of that growth has been the result of training after World War 2 that was designed to make them more eager to kill - and thus after the war, more prone to PTSD. Soldiers have also become far, far more expensive because we are beginning to take their treatment and their needs more seriously. The greatest, single cost of the Irag war for the U.S. may well be to provide care its veterans need. In fact, this 'aftercost' of war is so great, it is a major reason why the U.S. uses so many mercenaries. We can ruin their lives, but not pay a cent to help them.

Every Nov. 11, we hear the same speech of how we must remember our veterans. And every year, we have forgotten that by Nov. 12. And Canada has been cutting back.
Yes. I'm in a bad mood. And please wake up, New Brunswick. Tax havens are not just a tut-tut story. They may well be the biggest story in all of recorded history.


  1. In WW1 it was called shell shock, not battle fatigue which was the Yanks in WW2 using the usual euphenisms. The old fellow who lived next door to us where I grew up in rural NS had shell shock from the Battle of Mons. By 1962 he could talk about it a bit, the stupid tactics when he wasn't in a funk However, the leg injuries kept coming back and he died a few years later a crippled and depressed man.

    That's why I voted for Stoffer in my riding, again and again. He was on the veterans' side. Lives ruined for all the reasons you daily enumerate and for which few politicians seem to care deep down.

  2. Thanks. I felt uneasy when I used the term 'battle fatigue'. Then, as I read your comment, I remember my parents always called it 'shell shock'.
    And I remembered a family friend. He had a voice that seemed to come from a sewer. He had been gassed in WW1n and gad to speak through a metal tube in his throat.

    We don't begin to realize what an obligation we're undertaking when wew sent troops to war. The medical and support funding they need commonly costs more than the war does. Or they could cost more - if we were funding them properly. And even with the best of care, the suffering goes on.