Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20: Philanthropy and Tax Avoidance.

How is it possible that the irving press missed this story? We have been robbed of uncounted billions of dollars. We have to make up for that every year out of our own pockets. We have to get along without the services that we and our children need. We have to listen to the Norberts of this world who tell us we are spoiled and wasteful, and the government has to reduce taxes.

The government has reduced taxes. It has reduced them for the wealthy. It has reduced them to nothing. As well, our governments have reduced even property taxes, almost  to nothing, for the wealthy.

If you or I shoplifted in a store, you can bet we'd be in the paper. "Decarie faces charge of theft". We'd probably get jail. But the billionaires who use these tax breaks (designed by our governments for them) get awards and places in halls of fame for their generosity.

And forget the crap about how they create jobs. We all create jobs every time we go shopping or get our driveways ploughed. Creating jobs is not a charitable act. Business creates as few jobs as it can, and at the cheapest possible prices. Nor does it create jobs out of a sense of love of humanity. By the standards of that thinking, the slave-owners of the old U.S. south should be thanked by their slaves for creating jobs.

The greatest threats to our future are the greed of the very wealthy and the streaming of all the world's money into their tax  havens. That can only lead to mass poverty and, very likely, to widespread violence. Perhaps professor Saillant will write a book on this.

Nobody at the irving press saw this story? Possible. Norbert sneers at CBC as a news source. How very inferior it is to irving press! But newspaper editors are supposed to follow other news sources to see what's happening in the field. Some people at irving press must have seen this story. But journalistic integrity could cost an irving press editor his job.
You thought it was warm,  yesterday? In Arizona, it hit 120 degrees fahrenheit, a record for Arizona. That's 49 celsius. Page A1 But, what the hell, we all know that climate change isn't happening. So let's build a pipeline for oil, get on with the fracking, and keep  killing Muslims until we get all the oil.
Page A1 reports on an expert who blasts a government report on education, saying it ignores all that's wrong with teaching methods in New Brunswick. Paul Bennet taught at a private school in Toronto, then was principal at a private school in Montreal. He knows his stuff. But I think he's wrong.

In all the years I taught in Quebec, Jewish students dominated the list of graduates almost every year. When I was in high school, I was in the top stream class. It was a least half Jewish, though the Jewish were a minority among English in the city, and though most Montreal Jews went to a school in another district. So how can we account for the academic dominance of Jews?
If you're a racist, you might say that Jews are born with better brains than Christians. But I have never seen any medical sign of that.

And it certainly wasn't anything to do with teaching methods. Jewish kids were in the same school system I was in, and had the same teachers. So why did they do better?

I had a similar experience teaching in China and The Netherlands where students performed above the Canadian average - in both cases while working in a foreign language. In neither did I see any difference in teaching methods exceptt that China seemed weaker than Canada in teaching methods.

The most important factor in learning is not teaching methods. Most important, by far, are social ones. Children of a society that respects learning will do better than children from a society that doesn't. My Jewish students were not smarter than others. They had grown up in a religion that respects learning and open debate. In China, the social pressure on students to do well was so great that failure could mean humiliation of a whole family, and even suicide for the student.

In my Canadian experience, working class children do worse (and less) that middle class and upper class. I learned this in my childhood when my schools from grade one to nine were in profoundly working class districts. There were about 30 children in my grade one class. Only one (not me) would finish high school. Most of the others dropped out from school between grades four and nine.

For us, the idea of higher education was in a class with space travel. We never even dreamed of such thing. For the upper and middle class, on the other hand, higher education was as natural as taking a shower (something else that us working class kids could experience only after a gymn  class at school.)

Jewish kids of the time in Montreal were mostly working class. But they had the advantage of a religion that encouraged learning.

Education is not a business. We won't make it better by adjusting schedules, cutting out snow days, or playing with gimmicks. If New Brunswick (and Canada) are going to improve their education systems, they're going to have to start with changing their social values.

A3 has something I have never seen before in a newspaper. It's a story about a man who is building a most impressive model of a tall ship. But the bulk of it is made up for five photos, all of them essentially the same. And the five captions beneath them are all EXACTLY the same. What editorial genius approved that?
From there, it's all downhill. A7 thrills us  with the word that a Pizza Delight VP is opening a new restaurant in Gagetown. Hold me back.
The editorial is another 'something must be done'. It talks about nursing homes and  how the government needs a plan. But that's all it does. Why not suggest a plan? Why not, for example, get our wealthy out of the habit of not paying taxes?
Norbert has a vigorous but intellectually flabby column on the direction the world is going in. We are, he says, witnessing a political revolution in the U.S.
No we aren't. Americans are choosing between two people who, like most presidents we have seen in our lives, represent big money. The only candidate who represented change is out of the race.

He sees a political revolution coming in New Brunswick. From whom, Norbert? Tell us the party you would vote for to bring a political revolution? Liberals or Conservatives?

The big question New Brunswick politicians have to face? Bringing beer across the Quebec border. And it's all the fault of politicians and bureaucrats. Oh, and we have to cut government spending.

Norbert, do you ever consider that the politicians and bureaucrats don't  control this province? That, perhaps, big money does? That's been true since 1867 and earlier. A 'revolution' of any useful sort     would mean taking back our control of the government we elect. it would mean the emergence of a party that would put an end to tax havens and other gifts to big business. It would mean a government of people concerned about the rest of us - and not about earning a quick buck - which usually means making more money for the already wealthy.

It would require newspapers which would tell us the news.  It would require a population not afraid to discuss political ideas openly.

(How is it even possible to rant about the provincial debt when the wealthy are allowed to hide the money they should be paying taxes on?)

Norbert, the revolution happened over a hundred and fifty years ago. That's when the wealthy took over this province. And you don't even mention them.
Yeah, New Brunswick will revolt. It'll vote Conservative nest time. That'll show 'em. That's why they call him revoluting Norbert.

Craig Babstock has quite a good column on the control of firearms in Canada. But the reality is that guns very similar to the one used in Orlando are easily available in Canada. One such weapon was used in the killing of three police in Moncton. It could well have been bought in Moncton. But the only response of the people of Moncton has been to put up statues. That's typical of Moncton.  In a crisis, always do something that nobody will criticize you for. Conform.
Steve Malloy has a good column, if a painful one, on registering his son in total immersion so he becomes fluently biligual. I won't pretend to have an answer to this. But - in The Netherlands, all of my students spoke English as a second language. Many also spoke German, French, Italian... And they did all of them well.

In China, all my students spoke and wrote English fluently. (They had to. The only Chinese I knew was "Excuse me, foreign devil..."  roughly, that's ng'goy. Here, in New Brunswick, most francophones seem quite fluent in English - without taking English immersion.

Again, I'm not sure the problem is so much educational as social.

Alec Bruce, as usual, has an interesting and well-written column.
At least ten shousand refugees from the middle east have drowned. Uncounted (probably thousands) of children have died of starvation and exposure in their flight. But the U.S. is determined in its effort to destroy Syria. The U.S. continues to act aggressively against China, with close patrol of its shores. It is also leading in giant war games close to Russia, has planted nuclear weapons on Russia's borders, and patrols just off its waters. And Canada, without parliamentary debate, has committed its troops to what could become a world war.

None of this made the "Canada and World" section of the irving press. The lead story is about the Orlando shooting, yet again. And it really has nothing new to say about it.

Then there's "Ontario woman could possible become Iceland's first lady if husband wins election," Who could possibly care?

At last, the irving press has noticed that the British are soon to vote on leaving the European Union. But it doesn't say much about it. This is an issue we need analysis of if we're to  understand it. All we get here is vague information.
The whole section is pretty much trivia.
I am not sure just who are the people who call themselves True Torah Jews. They appear to be at least conservative, possibly Orthodox. In any case, they seem to be people who support israel, but can be highly critical of its behaviour. Jewish friends tell me they are people who place literal reading of the scriptures over doing anything to help others.   Still, they produce a thought-provoking page on the web.
Haaretz writes that Trump has spoken of racial profiling - that is using the law and the police in a manner based on the skin colour or religion of people. Haaretz also implies, correctly, that this is precisely what Hitler did with Jews.
The following might not be news.  But it's interesting - and it offers some background to help in understanding the news.
The story below is of South Africa. But it's typical of the mining industry (and not just mining) all over the world.
Compare this  to what Canada is doing.
Here's one view of the EU exit debate in Britain. This one is from a writer opposed to the exit.
As often revealed by irving press editorials and commentaries, words no longer have real meanings, just emotional ones. "Terrorist" means Muslim, now. Just 'Muslim". The invasion of Iraq which killed over a million people was, therefore, not terrorism. The bombing of people, hospitals and schools in Yemen is carried out by Muslims from Saudi Arabia. But it isn't terror before the Muslims of Saudi Arabia are on our side.
It's not just Britain that is dissatisfied with the European Union. There is plenty of discontent across Europe. That discontent is blending into the discontent with a NATO  that has been turned into a puppet group controlled by the U.S. with its desire to turn Europe into a battleground.

I would not even attempt to guess at the consequences of that. But they promise to be very severe, indeed. And Canada has committed itself to be a part of the consequences.
The following comes from a socialist web site. But it's far superior to anything I have seen in the capitalist irving press. In fact, with other news, things are worse than this suggests. U.S. oil money wants Syria destroyed. It want Assad out - not because he's a dictator or brutal. The U.S. has lots of brutal, dictator friends. We can take Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and The Phillipines as examples. And the U.S. almost never establishes democracies. What it does, as in Egypt and Iraq and Guatemala, is to set up puppet regimes.

No. This war , this mass murder, this creation of the misery of refugees is for just one reason - to establish U.S. control of Syrian oil.

Even in economic terms, it makes no sense at all. U.S. taxpayers are spending trillions to fight wars that will never produce that much in profits. Of course, the oil billionaires don't care about that because they don't pay taxes, anyway.
Sometimes, Norbert Cunningham is right - and the CBC can do some pretty weak reporting. (The difference between CBC and the irving press is that the irving press does almost nothing but bad reporting.) NATO has become an American tool. And that tool is controlled by the wants of American big business.

And Justin Trudeau buys into this every step of the way.
Here's a heart-warming story about philanthropists.  Members of our Chamber of Commerce should read this.
And here's a story on the record-breaking heat  wave in the  south western U.S. - which will spread to the East coast. The article says it's due to climate change.  But we know that's not true. There is no climate change. If there were, Mr.  Irving would tell us.
The story below is about university tuition costs in the U.S., and how the business world is cashing in on them. It's pretty much the same in Canada. And it wouldn't be happening in either country if the wealthy were paying their taxes.  The average student debt in Canada is $28,000. (Student debt in the U.S. now stands at $1.7 TRILLION.) And if you stay on for graduate school, the debt gets much, much higher. (Tell me about it.)
There's more, much more in the news. But it's getting late.

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