Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Feb. 15: Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes.

(Bow, bow,ye tradesmen
Bow ye masses..

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

When I worked in Hong Kong, it was ruled with absolute power by a governor appointed by the British. I never met him. But I did know his secretary, also an Englishman, and also with enormous power. One day, he decided that the people of Hong Kong would not be permitted to see the film "Shampoo". I asked the secretary why.

His answer was simply that he disapproved of it. So nobody was allowed to see it. So that was it. An Englishman with a high school education had the power to decide what millions of Chinese could see - or not see. He was, after all, an Englishman.

I thought of that as I walked along the evening streets of Hong Kong. Thousands of Chinese lived on those streets, whole families down to babies sleeping on bits of  cardboard. There were no English among them. They were at their pricey clubs.

Months later, I would have supper with an immensely wealthy couple.And for two hours, the wife, born rich and married rich, poured out her contempt and hatred for those who weren't rich - a category that included me. (Her husband had the decency to be embarrassed.)

Years later, I met her daughter who never did a thing in her life, but who inherited a pile, and who became a senator  because she was rich, and prime minister Harper liked rich people. Her brother became a speech writer for George Bush Jr., speeches full of contempt for the foreign poor that Bush was murdering and starving.

Us humans are like that. We're programmed to hate those we abuse. That's why so many Americans (and Canadians) blame Muslims for getting killed or drowned fleeing from homes that the U.S. is bombing.

That's why the rich hate the poor, the almost rich (like the Chamber of Commerce) love the rich but blame the unrich for not being rich.  And that's why even the poor commonly have contempt for the destitute.

Power is justified by contempt and hatred for those who don't have wealth. But if Mexicans were rich, Trump would have taxiis at the border for them.   And if we had not impoverished Muslims by destroying their lands and stealing their resources, we would now be scrambling to house refugees families instead leaving them to suffer the winter in tents or, as many refugee children must , under bushes and on streets. Yesterday, France began piling boulders under bridges to stop refugees from taking shelter under them. (Aren't the churches of France lovely?)

But no, we don't blame our billionaires for creating refugees. We blame the refugees. That's because we are a superior people.
The irving press continues to beat the drums for privatization of health care. After all, private ownership costs less. Right. That's why it can cost a million dollars to have a baby in the U.S. (Yes, it did in a recent case). The rich and their propaganda newspapers won't be satisfied until our health system is destroyed.    
And we accept it because we are daily reminded of how useless we are in comparison to the rich.  

Let's hear it for the chamber of commerce for honouring the rich who, deservedly, keep us ordinary slobs poor.    
Why post this story of Russia violating an arms treaty? I pose it because the U.S. has already violated it many, many times with nuclear missiles and other weapons. But I've seen precious little criticism of it in our news media when the U.S. does it.
Here's a background to the Ukraine crisis that I know is true because I've already read most of it from reliable sources. But I sure haven't seen it in the private news media.
Is there a danger in getting only news that is propaganda? Well,  yes.

Of course, the U.S. is the biggest danger to world peace.  It has the largest and most expensive armed forces. It has them deployed all over the world, and right up to the borders of Russia and China. Neither Russia nor China has shown anything close to that sort of aggression.

Neither China nor Russia is in any position to gain from a world war. The U.S. has everything to gain because in a decade or two it may well fall behind Russia and China.
We are into a period of the greatest and most rapid change in world history. If we allow the wealthy to control that change (and we are allowing that) we face catastrophe. It's catastrophe with many faces, and with one that I have not seen much discussion of. We are on the edge of extensive automation of industry, for example
That could, and probably will, mean tremendous layoffs and suffering. Instead, what it could mean is a shorter work week - but big business, in all its history, has never shown the brains to recognize that. About 1900, we worked a long, long day, and a week that was commonly six days and even seven. Wages were low, and lay-offs frequent.

That didn't change until World War Two as unions gradually forced shorter hours, benefits, and the five day week on a reluctant business world. (And please don't feed me that lying crap that Ford pioneered high salaries out of his business sense. That story is pure myth that should make no sense to any thinking person. In fact, the unions forced those salaries on Ford who was as greedy and grasping as anybody else with financial power.)

Automation is here. What are we going to do? Don't wait for the billionaires to decide that.

But planning for social benefit has never been a strong point for the wealthy.
******This is  important**********
Some stories take a long time to get out. And even then, you won't find them in the NY Times or even the irving press.  The reality is that we, in the west, have been thorough bastards, liars and killers for several centuries.

The seven million murdered in Vietnam should not come as a surprise. It's been known to scholars for many years. It reminds us that Hitler was a natural product of a capitalist society. And he certainly wasn't the last one.
And Trudeau has betrayed us on climate change - as has our provincial premier Gallant, and our irving press.
Don'ts expect Trudeau to do much about protecting Canadian rights. And don't expect our news media to notice it at all.

Welcome to the American Empire (northern division).
Here's an account of the dangers we are facing - not just from Trump but from the corporate bosses who control our society.

A sample of the opinion of corporate bosses can be found every day in the editorial column of our irving press. Today's editorial wants to save money  by cutting funding to our universities.

Funny thing. A country like Cuba, made poor by U.S. interference in its economy, can not only fund excellent universities, but can make them free of fees. But relatively wealthy Canada and the U.S. can't. (I well remember the long and bare years of paying off my student loans for seven years of university.)
Maybe its time for the irving press to do an editorial on why rich Canada cannot do what poor Cuba can do.

Or maybe we could have an editorial on who isn't paying taxes, and how much that costs us.

Meanwhile, Trump is cutting taxes for corporations. Not that it matters since so many of them are not paying taxes in the first place.
Here's a reminder of what happens when you privatize  health care. The pharmaceutical industry has a long history of gross overpricing. That's true in both Canada and the U.S.
Here's a reaction of Trudeau to the killing of Muslims that you won't find in any Canadian newspaper.
I enclose this copy of Russia Today not for any story in particular but for any of the sort of lies you can find every day in western, privately-owned news services.
I don't think you'll find any.


  1. "Years later, I met her daughter who never did a thing in her life, but who inherited a pile, and who became a senator because she was rich, and prime minister Harper liked rich people. Her brother became a speech writer for George Bush Jr., speeches full of contempt for the foreign poor that Bush was murdering and starving."

    Linda Frum??

  2. Gee. There are similarities, aren't there?