Monday, September 12, 2016

Sept. 12: Not quite back in form yet.

Many years ago, while doing research on the Women's Christian Temperance Union in Canada, I came across a speech by its leader. It was delivered during World War One; and its message was, "We shall win this war because the Lord Jesus Christ is our commander-in-chief."
That's the way us humans think. And so we have had days of media reporting on the recent anniversary of  9/11. It is a day to remember because 3,000 innocent Americans died. No doubt, there were prayers in the churches for their souls
But few, if any churches, offered up prayers for the souls of the millions of innocent men, women and children murdered, crippled, orphaned,  tortured, made refugees by our side. Of course not. After all, if  you think about it, the Lord Jesus Christ is stil our commander-in-chief. So it's okay.
In the same way, we sympathize with France for its suffering of Muslim attacks. But nobody seems to remember the record of France's brutality and butchery in Vietnam, North Africa, and the middle east.
It's important to understand the religious basis for this distinction because it assures us that whatever we do, no matter how brutal is may seem, is ordered by God.  And there's a hint of that understanding in our news media.
Recently, the CBC carried a story about Syrian rebel forces fighting against Assad. Now, these 'rebel'  forces are largely made up of mercenaries, hired killers who will fight for anybody for a price. Commonly, they are particularly brutal because - well, they choose to hire themselves out to anybody. They like killing as a career. Many of them collect body parts of their victims as souvenirs. Women's breasts, for example, make excellent tobacco pouches.
Uusually, people like this are called terrorists. But the CBC didn't call them terrorists. It didn't even call them rebels. No, they were - get this - activists.
Activists. That's a nice word. It reminds us of charity workers, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, of  environmentalists.  But what an odd word to describe hired killers. Why not call them what they are? Or why not at least call them rebels?
But our news media don't like words that convey a sense of anger, violence, murder.... not when the killers  are on our side. So we need a nice word. Activists is a nice word. (Those Syrians fighting on Assad's side are activists, too. But they are never called that. That's because they're not nice people like the ones on our side.)
This use of words to convey hidden meanings is common in our news media. That's why an American Muslim who kills is a terrorist. But Americans who kill millions of Muslims and make refugees of tens of millions are heros.
____________________________________________________________________
In the ten days I've been away, the irving press has not improved.Nothing in section A news is worth reading unless you really, really care about a soap box derby or anecdotes about who is living a happy life. There are, however, three items worth a read on the Commentary page.
One is on the very high cost of university education in New Brunswick, and across Canada. The problem is getting much, much worse as incomes rise steadily for the   very wealthy while declining for everybody else. And much, much, much worse as the very wealthy escape paying their share of taxation.
Then there's the effect of running universities as if they were businesses - a practice that has gone wild as university boards of governors are dominated by business leaders who know nothing of education. One result of that is the sky-rocketing cost of university administrators, a scandalous waste that reflects the effect of this same phenomenon in private business. (I know a good deal about this because I was once offered such a position. I realized as I read the terms that they were so high, I was not being offered anything; I was being bought. So I turned it down.)
The universities also have to learn how to teach. They have to learn that students are paying to learn, not simply to sit in the sunshine of pompous asses who think it a privilege for students just to see them. They need to learn how to design courses that make educational sense. Professors also need, at the undergraduate level, to put more time into teaching. That would save a lot of money.
There's a good column on the virtues of having two, official languages in New Brunswick. I spent twenty years on a committee to preserve two, official languages in Quebec. Both sides lost. The result was that hundreds of thousands of anglos simply left Quebec. The francophones who supported separatism said they did so to preserve their culture. But the most notable feature of Quebec that I noticed on a recent visit is that their traditional culture has largely ceased to exist.
New Brunswick has system to be pleased with.
Alec Bruce has an excellent point to make in his column but, In New Brunswick fashion, the point is almost hidden until the last, few sentences. So I'll put it a little more bluntly.
New Brunswick is being robbed blind by a handful of its wealthiest citizens. Everybody else is suffering as a result. And the process  has been getting worse. This, and not kiss-up books from academics about how we need to cut back, is the crisis facing New Brunswick. And we're not alone.
The big push is on for world domination by the very, very wealthy. The war isn't just against the middle east or China or Russia. It's against us. And, no,  voting Conservative next time won't help.
And world news in the Irving press? Get real.
______________________________________________________________________
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/12/teens-america-hunger-food-poverty
Norbert Cunningham's columns are full of praise for big business, and full of contempt for government. Now, it's certainly true that New Brunswick governments generally deserve contempt. That's the fault of voters - and it's the fault of  newspaper chain that never tells the truth about what is going on in this province. And it's the fault of all of us for tolerating the above.
Despite Norbert's ranting columns, big business does NOT create prosperity - except for its owners. And giving those owners bigger profits and tax relief just makes it worse.
For centuries, the British Empire produced monster profits for the very wealthy. Meanwhile, most of the British people lived in filth and poverty. Much the same has been true of Canada and the U.S.
Contrary to myth, the bulk of immigrants to Canada and the U.S. did not walk into suburban bungalows and lives of ease. They were horribly exploited by our wealthier ancestors with low pay, filthy living conditions, and dangerous working conditions.
The Montreal district I grew up in was abysmally poor. And it was no accident that most of my classmates were the children of immigrants from Italy, Poland, Syria....  The same was true of blacks, Chinese, Jews - who suffered the added punishment of being forced to live in racial ghettos. and were discriminated against in jobs.
The closest we ever came to wider prosperity and opportunity was in the second world war and a few decades after it. And that was not due to anything done by big business. It was the result of strong government controls over business, especially big business.
It was also the result of government social services - like health, being made available to all of us. (I come from a generation which still remembers the impossibility of getting medical care, no matter how great the need. That came from government. But it had to be forced on the federal Liberals by public demand, a demand forced by the example of the NDP government of Saskatchewan.
You won't find much about this in history books. But both Canada and the U.S. were marked by dreadful slums, dangerous working conditions, lack of opportunity, inferior health until the benefits of government action began to be felt after the war.
For what improvment we have now, we owe nothing to big business or to capitalism.
But that has been changing.     Big business has been fighting back with its owndership of news media and of politicians. The result has been a steady growth of poverty even as the wealthy get obscenely wealthier. Worse is yet to come as governments make up for unpaid taxes from the rich  by closing down health and schools.
As well, capitalist-controlled governments are murdering people by the millions all over the world.   They are, to put it gently, destroying the stability of whole nations - as in Syria and Iraq and the whole middle east.
We are well into an age of murderous and unlimited greed. That is really what the world news is about every day. Uncontrolled capitalism is doing what it has done before - creating terror and poverty and hopelessness.
Discuss that over coffee in the  barn of the Irving Chapel.
_________________________________________________________________________________
Meanhile, our good friends in big business who only want to help us all are being harrassed in some countries by pesky environmentalists.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/02/environmental-activists-still-under-threat-in-honduras-six-months-after-berta-caceres-killing
Does the U.S. government know about these killings? Well, yes.  Its hero special ops troops carried out at least one of them - probably many more. The mine and land owners who must be behind such a scale of killings are largely American and Canadian. But I''ve yet to see our RCMP special camouflaged and combat rifle-armed troops surrounding the home of any mining company owner.
______________________________________________________________________________
This next one illustrates the key issue of our time - the ability ot big business to dictate our priorities.
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/09/wolf-blitzer-is-worried-defense-contractors-will-lose-jobs-if-u-s-stops-arming-saudi-arabia/
_____________________________________________________________________________
The American government has, for some years, been spying on the phone conversations of anyone it chooses.  More correctly, anybody who wants to spy on anybody for any reason can do it through friends in government, local or federal, or police forces.
This doesn't keep people safe. It simply controls them. The U.S. is a police state. You cannot have a country that is both a police state and a democracy. I should think it very likely that Canada has a similar system.
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/12/long-secret-stingray-manuals-detail-how-police-can-spy-on-phones/
____________________________________________________________________________
North American companies have been financing elections for a very long time. That's a major way they control who gets elected. Now, in the U.S., we're learning that foreign companies have a share in buying American politicians. That's part of larger trend of international corporations acting as though they, not governments of any sort, control the world.
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/12/foreign-spending-on-u-s-elections-threatens-national-security-fec-commissioner-says/
_____________________________________________________________________________
This next one is similar. It's about the TTP, a huge trade deal that would allow companies to sue any government which interfered with its profits in any way. For example, any attempt to deny a company permission to open a mine, even it is proven that opening it would be a serious healthy hazard for the region, would lead to a lawsuit against the government denying that permission.
And, just to make sure, the suit would be tried by an 'international tribunal' composed of flunkies of the wealthy.  (Our news media  have been very silent about this. though Justin has informally approved it.) What it means is that we would no longer control our own countries, and big business would effectively take over government.
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/08/obama-promises-lame-duck-tpp-push-despite-uproar-over-pro-corporate-provisions/
__________________________________________________________________________________I'm nowhere close to finished with all the material I have. But I'm already very late in finishing this one. I guess it takes time to get back to the schedule after a break.
So here's a summary.
Capitalism, like any other human concept, cannot be allowed to operate without controls. Even Norbert Cunningham should be able to figure that out.
A prime reason it cannot be allowed to operate without controls is that it is based on greed. (Call it competition. Call it entrepreneurship. Call it ambition. Call it whatever you like. The reality is that the core of capitalism is greed. Left to itself, greed will destroy itself and us.)

As a result of this greed, we have been fighting wars since 1945, almost without a break. While millions of Americans go hungry, the war industries are having a great time. And all the wars, while pimped as being battles for freedom and democracy, have been mass murders to enhance profits. They are capitalist wars.
And the result of all this has been a steady destabilization of societies all over the world.
There is no point in telling the world's billionaires that they have killed millions, destroyed nations, created an overwhelming  and destructive flood of refugees. The billionaires don't care. And, like all the obsessively greedy, they cannot understand (or refuse to understand) that their greed will ultimately destroy them, too.
There is no political party of any reputation in Canada that is ready to head this off. Both Liberals and Conservatives have proven themselves since 1867 to be the agents of the wealthy. The Green's programme is too narrow to deal with the central issue - the power of capitalism. And the NDP has wasted over 45 years in telling people what it thinks they want to hear instead of telling them what they need to hear.
And New Brunswickers have wasted generations in fearing open discussion and challenging the way things are. And we really don't have much time left.
The biggest problem the world faces is uncontrolled capitalism. That is the major cause of wars. And, as the greedy have proven over the years, they are not a very bright bunch.
Nor, incidentally, are the Christian clergy. How else to explain that they have never noticed that greed, capitalism, and mass murder are not Chistian concepts?

No comments:

Post a Comment