Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 12: The Irving Press - Brains in Idle.

When the Panama Papers gave us some insight into the meaning of "tax haven", they revealed the greatest theft in history. And that's only one, small piece of a much larger story of tax havens and other avoidance schemes. But, for the Irving press (and many other newspaper chains), the big, world news story was Jian Gomeshi's apology for a sexual assault.

We've read many, many stories about Jian Gomeshi and other meaningless people. A man named Oland springs to mind. But, after the first announcement, not a word about this 'tip of the iceberg' story called the Panama Papers. It is now estimated that wealthy Canadians have over three hundred billion dollars hidden from taxation. And Canada's share in that is far, far below that of the whole world.

This is actually quite a bit more important than Gomeshi or even Oland. For all of us, it has meant severe restrictions on spending for education, for health.  For a great many, it has meant declining   income, declining opportunity, declining purchasing power.

You'ld think that the corporation world would be concerned about that decline in purchasing power. After all, if people don't have the money, they can't buy corporation goods. However, the corporate world has some compensation in the form of cheap labour and resources all over the world - though even those will prove to be of lessening value in a world of sharply decreasing incomes. Remembering that, this is one, short-sighted policy.

 I have a very wealthy friend (yes, I do). He sits on corporate boards, was a senior partner in Canada's largest law firm - all the good things. I once asked him about the short-sightedness of the very wealthy.

"Graeme," he said, "you have to understand. These people don't think long term. Their idea of long term is three months, from one quarterly report to the next. The long term, in any real sense, simply doesn't exist for them."

The failure has created the anger we now see in the U.S. as that anger has created the phenomenon of Donald Trump. Trump himself has shown not the slightest grasp of any long term plans for the U.S. Everything is now. Of course. Trump is a product of the business world. Though his supporters don't know it, Trump is part of what they're angry at.

And now Canada's wealthy are driving us into poverty by stealing our money. If this were a local woman shoplifting at Walmart, we'd be getting the whole story in detail - and she'd be in court. But, hey, steal billions and the Irving press and all the others just let it pass.
This business world with its short term views and it's lack of interest in anything but making money is what has taken over our universities. They call it making donations to encourage research. It's really turning the universities away from education and free research to convert them into  cheap research centres (and, sometimes, propaganda agencies) for corporations.

There's a recent book on this by Janice Newson and Claire Polster called "A Penny for your thoughts; How Corporatizations Undervalue Research, Teaching, and Public Service in Canada's Universities. In some cases, as with Enbridge and University of Calgary, it has gone so far as creating partnerships between corporations and universities. The terms of these partnerships, and sometimes even the existence of them, are kept secret from the public and from faculty members.

In the U.S., corporations are taking over the public schools from kindergarten to grade 12 with their offers of 'help'. The price for this help can involve the choice of school texts, the teaching methods of teachers, and the subtle peddling of a very right wing ideology. This is revealed in a book by Megan Erikson, "Class War: The Privatization of Childhood."

I had some experience of this.  In my university teaching years, I also did radio and some TV for CBC, and then for private networks. That's when I sometimes got approached by corporations to do talks that told the story of what a great bunch of guys oil billionaires were. And when I was approached to be president of my university, I dealt entirely with big business leaders and their many lawyers. Not a single academic was involved in the process. That's when it really hit home to me that big business ran the universities.

That may explain why tiny Cuba,  held down in poverty by fifty years of American dictators, then savagely kept poor by American trade embargoes for its next fifty years, was still able to do what the rich US could not do - provide excellent medicare for all its people, free education all the way through university for all (and to train 10,000 doctors for South America).

Don't worry about invasions by ISIS or Russia or China or even Iraq because they aren't going to happen. What has happened, what has long since destroyed democracy, what is now creating poverty in Canada and the U.S. is our corporation world - and the little robots it churns out of its university programmes in Business Administration.
Oh, there are two more books worth looking at. One is Gabriel Zucman, "The Hidden Wealth of Nations:The Scourge of Tax Havens". The author admits that his figures for tax evasion are very low. The real figure is something like $20 trillion. For Canada, just the tax havens have $300 billion of our money. And it is our money, just as surely as if it had been picked out of our pockets.
Then there's Yves Engler,  "Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation". It's a real eye-opener about the major role played by Canadian capitalism in looting and murder in that continent. One incident quite surprised me. In 1960, President Lumumba of Congo was murdered. It happened while Canada was in Congo as a UN peace mission. And the man who set up the murder was...

....a colonel in the Canadian peace mission.
I took the time to add this section because there's really no news in the Irvinig press to discuess. As well, news stories aren't much help without editorials and commentary columns to explain them. But few of the commentaries and none of the editorials in the Irving press explain anything. One of the commentaries is as usual, a right wing view, this time on the right of the people of Alberta to have a voice in their energy future. The people of Alberta do have such a voice. But, also, we all have a voice in what Alberta is doing to our environment, too. Nobody has ever questioned Alberta's right to have a voice.  But this commentator feels free to attack our right to have one. And the page editor was dumb enough to accept this political jabber as something that explains the news.
The Canada and World section, mostly Canada, has no news worth explaining.  And a full half of the section is made up of of ads and the regular, goofy picture page of grinning people holding up cheques.

So let's go to the real world.
Here's an excellent article on how we have made ISIS a winner in the middle east and beyond, on who most of the dead are, of how ISIS is not primarily a religious organization. And how our arrogance and killing created ISIS.  (No. It does not say that ISIS are nice guys. But it does show them as humans - and more like us than we might like to think.)
Then there's this one by a man who used to be good enough to write for the Irving press.
Theh, there's an amusing little piece, but quite true. Us humans believe in all sorts of things that were never true.These false things we believe come from history books, fake news stories, bigotry..

I was taught in elementary school in Quebec that the Catholic church was a central fact in the life of colonial Quebec. In fact, it wasn't. That wouldn't happen  until the early 19th century. Indeed, at least one Quebec bishop never even came to Quebec. He stayed in France where the cooking was much better.

Americans are smothered in stories of how they lead the world in freedom and libery - this in a country with a domestic spy system that listens in on phone calls, computer messages, that has the highest prison rate in the world... their revolution was NOT fought for freedom and democracy. The American constitution did NOT make all people equal; it didn't even make all white men equal. George Washington did NOT believe all people were equal. He regarded most of those who fought for him as scum of the earth.

Today, millions of Americans believe that the British seized men, women and children in one district, shoved them into a church, and set fire to it. In fact, that was invented for a movie scene, and copied from a Nazi act in World War Two.
We all have strong beliefs that are quite false. And almost all are used by propagandists to keep us obedient.
The following story also appeared in Financial Times; but the FT site was too dark to read.

Now, wouldn't it be interesting to see a similar study in Canada? Perhaps in the Irving press?

Of course, the middle class is shrinking. One can't steal money and hide it in  tax havens without somebody paying the price.
Brazil (on its way to becoming a major power) has been controlled for most of its modern history by British and American capitalists who like obedient governments - like the one of New Brunswick. However, in recent years, power has gone to a left wing party. Capitalists are not happy. So the big money seems to have organized her overthrow. Here's the story on it you won't see in the Irving press.

Almost all of Information Clearinig House is pretty good, today.
Here's an objective look at the Brazil situation - one we're not likely to get in the Irving press.
And here's a story about the Fort McMurray fire that you aren't going to read in any New Brunswick paper.
This is an old item I came across - but still worth a read.
And here's a story on what Germany is doing about renewable energy. So -  what's Canada doing?

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