Saturday, June 25, 2016

June 25: Bah! Humbug!

We often use words which, though they have a meaning to us, have no such meaning in reality. The result  is that much of our political debate is carried on with words whose real meanings we don't understand at all. And we miss the point of the whole discussion.

Norbert Cunningham adores business executives, and always speaks well of them.  But he has contempt for civil servants, so he calls them 'bureaucrats', a word which, to him, means incompetent and nit-picking.

"Bureacracy" began as a French word - "la bureaucratie". Before Louis XIV came to power in the 17th century, the king's advisors were chosen from the aristocracy and the higher clergy. Louis had no high opinion of either group. So he began choosing advisors who were educated, talented, and intelligent. These were la bureaucratie.

These were also the people he sent to govern his colonies, like New France. This spared New France the often doltish counts and barons who would have been appointed in earlier days. He continued to appoint Bishops to New France.  But most had little influence. Indeed, some never even came here.

As capitalism developed, it copied the example of  the king in choosing people of ability. Those under the king worked according to purposes and by rules established by the king. Those under the capitalists worked according to purposes and by rule established by the capitalists.

In other words, Norbert, both government and private business are served by bureaucracies. And both bureaucracies are the same.

Norbert, it's SO important to know what words mean.
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In a related case, I wonder about our varying treatment of tragedies. While shopping for my staple food of   hoofprints frozen yogurt at the supermarket, I noticed a magazine whose cover was photos of those murdered at Orlando - all 49 of them. And this sort of thing has been the universal response we have given to those killings.

All over the world uncounted millions have been killed with bombs, bullets, gasses, flames, drowning,, starvation, exposure - but with nothing like the treatment given to Orlando. In the U.S., itself, far, far more than 49 people are dying of malnutrition, homelessness, neglect - and all this in the nation that thinks nothing of spending a trillion dollars on 'defence'.

Why is that we mourn the sufferings of a few, but couldn't care less about the millions?
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The headline for A1 in the irving press is  that an infrastructure deal between the province and Ottawa is "imminent". (The "  " on imminent suggest that it may not be.) So here's a   headline that says something might happen soon - (or it might not.)

That's not a headline story. That's not a story of any kind.

The really important irving stories are inside. "Barking dog foils bicycle thief" - "Drunk Driver lands in ditch". Yep. Section A1 has all you Monctonians need to know about your city. What's the state of homelessness in Moncton? What's the rate of malnutrition? What's the condition of housing? Any  information about climate change or what we're doing to prepare for it?  Hey, don't worry. Go to A3 for "Man to stand trial for lying to police about shooting himself". And to give your brain a complete rest, be sure to visit the Irving chapel which will have a preacher with a doctorate in theology. There's also 'special' music (perhaps the minister blows hymns through a comb and tissue paper.)
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The editorial writer has nothing to say.

As for Norbert, the fix is in. He writes a hearty approval of fracking in Sussex. This follows a recent big story on a business group in Sussex which supports fracking, a story which was pure propaganda to support the idea. And there's a subtle touch here.

The government has justified its delays in approving fracking by saying it needs   'social licence'. But now, Norbert roots for an escape hatch. The escape is that if people in any one district approve it, then that's social licence. it doesn't need majority support in the province.  Get ready for the ride, folks. The push is on, and premier Gallant has found (been told) how he can break his promise while still seeming to keep it.

And the disposal of fracking water? Hey! Don't worry about it.

Norbert, compared to you, any bureaucrat,  private or public, is an angel of truth and light.

Brian Murphy is his usual self - friend to all, offensive to none, and generally useless. People, he says, want vistas in a library. I have spent much of my life in libraries all over the world, including the great ones. I never saw one with a vista. (People don't go to libraries to look out the window.)                                                
And it should have a world class art gallery? That, alone, would cost more than a dozen new events centres.

And it should be connected to waterfront trails. Right. Everbody knows that people go to  libraries so they can walk on waterfront trails. (I often walk on the waterfront trails. And I rarely see another person there. Gee! If only they had a library next to them.)

Crowning all this pointless blather is a photo of the current library with its statue of Northrop Frye. It refers to him as a bard. However......

A bard is a person who writes plays about great heroes and epic events. Frye was a magnificent literary critic and and thinker. But he was not a bard - or a ballet dancer or an Olympic medalist or even a lawyer.

Below Murphy is the usual propaganda piece of the The Fraser insitute.

Alec Bruce writes a column that is somewhat critical of a new report on the future of the NB economy. I think the problem with the report is, that like every debate I have seen about the future of this province, it is about money. Almost never is it about the people of this province and their needs. Nor is there ever any consideration of the possibility that we might be loslng billions of dollars every year to tax havens and gifts to business.
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In Canada&World, you will find the expected headline on Brexit (markets reel). Yeah. As I wrote yesterday, markets always reel.

Apparently, nothing worth reporting has happened in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Eastern Europe,,,, What the hell....it doesn't matter. The world ends at the Quebec border. especially for those unsung heroes who try to bring extra beer over that border.

And there is not a single story related in any way to the defining characteristic of our age. Greed. The race, on a scale unkown in history,  is on to acquire wealth no matter what  the damage to life, what the suffering might be.  It doesn't even make economic sense because once the wealthy nail down all the money there is, then they, too, are destroyed.

We commonly blame this on the U.S. But that's an oversimplification. Most Americans are, themselves, losers as this game plays out. It will make the Koch brothers wealthier. But the average American will see a catastrophic decline in living conditions. (It's already well begun.) The American people, including their military heroes, are simply pawns for the like of the Koch brothers.

The revolution of the rich is well under way, and its been gatheriing speed for a good, 50 years. That has a great deal to do with the formation of NATO, of the European Union and, I suspect, with the British vote to leave the EU. It has everything to do with the drive to continue developing fossil fuels, and with our very plodding steps to replace them.

In the end, the greed of the wealthy will destroy them as well as us - but greed, as it so often does, is trumping logic.
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The Faith Page has two sermonettes, one by a local preacher, the other by the Pope. Notice that the Pope spoke of  real world decisions and human need. The local preacher avoided both to write a "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" column.
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As expected, Scotland is preparing negotiations to stay in the EU. That would almost certainly mean a separation from England. When I was in grade one, there was a British flag at the head of the class. Every morning, we stood, saluted, and said. "I pledge allegiance to this   (pointing) flag; and to the Empire for which it stands." Before I was a teen, the empire which once was 20% of the world, had disappeared, and most of Ireland had broken away. Now, it is likely that Scotland will go. All that will be left of the empire that once ruled (and pillaged) so much of the world will be Wales and part of Ireland.

Massive fortunes were made out of that empire. But most of the fortunes stayed in the pockets of Britain's wealthy. Very little filtered down to the British people. That, too, I suspect. is why the vote to quit the EU won. The EU is effectively controlled by a wealthy elite representing international banking and its friends.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/25/sturgeon-seeks-urgent-brussels-talks-to-protect-scotlands-eu-membership
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This next is a long one. But it's about why people voted to leave the EU. And that's a side we haven't heard much about in North America.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/25/meet-10-britons-who-voted-to-leave-the-eu
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This one is on a theme I began with, the quantity of our news devoted to relatively unimportant news. It is followed by a second story about U.S. bomber command in Africa. That is a larger story than is told here,  and I'm watching for a fuller version of it.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176156/tomgram:_nick_turse,_lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics..._and_u.s._africa_command
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Here's one with a list of countries the U.S. has bombed since 1945. Quite apart from the millions of innocent people killed is the fact that almost all of these bombings were illegal under international war. Indeed, many were questionable under the U.S. constitution.

The poor, little U.S. All those little countries are always picking on it.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44962.htm
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Here's a story that the situation in Venezuela, while bad, is not so bad as the North American news media are telling us. (Of course, the irving press is innocent beause it hasn't told us anything.)

I can't pretend to have a full understanding of what is happening there. But I do know the dangers of imposing a solution.  If the U.S. uses this as an excuse to intervene,  it will put Venezuela completely under the thumb of U.S. big business - as it has with so many Latin American countries who now suffer under an imposed poverty to make the wealthy wealthier.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44963.htm
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Here are two items by Paul C raig Roberts that are excellent on the British vote against the EU.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44969.htm
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The U.N.'s top legal expert says the TTIP trade deal is illegal. Don't expect to see this story in the irving press.

http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/06/25/u-n-s-legal-expert-calls-proposed-trade-deals-illegal/
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It's still way too early to pronounce on the wisdom or lack of wisdom in Britain's decision to quit the EU. And we can't rely on our North American news media to  explain anything because they're almost all owned by the kind of people who like organization such as the EU. Even its failure wouldn't tell us much. For example, most of our new media will tell us it failed because  leaving was a bad idea. It's at least as likely that the failure would be something engineered by big money. But our news media would never say that.

Whatever happens, this issue touches many problems that Britain suffers -  the excessive power of the wealthy, the decline of democracy, the sense that Britain (like Canada) has become an errand boy for big, U.S. money....  Expect lots of confusion in Britain, lots of political divisions, with neither the Conservatives nor Labour survivng in their present forms.

And watch the reactions to the U.S. challenge to Russia in placing troops in aggressive moves along the Russian border. Russia has, logically enough, responded with nuclear-armed subs in waters close to the region.  It may dawn on eastern Europe that making itself the battlefield for World War Three might not be a really good idea. Not really good.

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