The first story is one that should come as no surprise. Big business behaved in the same way - and worse - during the great depression of the 1930s. As markets soured, the wealthy gave themselves monster bonuses while cutting staff, brutally cutting pay, ending holidays, and generally abusing workers.
Today, in the Sears and Liberal government version of the dirty thirties, the government has been busily stealing the little bit of money that workers got from a failing Sears while senior executives were getting bonuses of five million or more. And the execs can always hide their millions from taxation by banking them overseas.
The big player in making it possible for millionaires to hide their money from taxation was Canada's sleaziest prime minister, Brian Mulroney who, when caught in other cheating and corruption, got a free ticket to walk off with hundreds of thousands of dollars he had illegally accepted. That's why he lives today in a monstrous mansion in Montreal's most expensive district. It was, of course, another Conservative government that let him off the hook for that.
As for the next story, the Liberal government is the one that has shown it doesn't give a damn. It has made no attempt to deal with tax havens, leaving the very wealthy free to steal what should be our money. And, in this case, it has shown indifference to human suffering.
Madagascar is the poorest country in the world with the average person living on $1.90 a day. So it is no coincidence that its people also live with the highest rate of bubonic plague in the world. (This is the horror that Europeans called the Black Death.)
Madagascar is also a very capitalist country. So it's strange because, as we all know from reading the irving press and its columnists that capitalism is just wonderful for spreading prosperity to all. (Just read Norbert Cunningham's column or economics professor de Savoie who is much admired by the irving press.)
And does Canadian business have anything to with all this? You bet it does. And why not? It happily rips off Canadians, so why shouldn't it do the same to the people of Madagascar - and South America and Asia.......?
What started me in this vein was reading the awful bilge that appears in the irving press every Saturday in the form of a sermonette by some local clergyman. These are usually wimpy little columns that have nothing to say. Why are the churches so silent on the issues that face us?
Oh, yes, they will protest against abortion. But they don't even whimper when the U.S. conducts wars that are aimed primarily at murdering civilians, including at least hundreds of thousands of babies. The U.S. is now deliberately starving huge numbers of Yemeni, mostly civilians and a large number of them babies. That has been a standard method of war since it was pioneered by Winston Churchill in 1920. The U.S. followed that lead with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those cities were chosen BECAUSE they were almost entirely civilian. The same was true of the intense bombing of North Korea in the Korean war when the civilian dead far outnumbered the military dead.
And I'm sure there were prayer services when New York was hit by the Muslim terrorist attack or 9/11. But where were the prayers during a century of western murder and pillage of Muslims when Christian business leaders were plundering ( and murdering) to steal the oil of Muslim countries?
We have far out-terrorized the Muslim terrorists. Perhaps the silliest part is that we then send missionaries to convert the people of Africa and South America that we have, for a century, been murdering and plundering. If we really want to make this a Christian world, shouldn't we be sending missionaries to convert our business leaders to Christianity?
It may well be that we go to church primarily to be accepted and socially respectable. So it is that the strongest supporters of Donald Trump are the church-goers of the so-called Bible belt. They are the lustiest supporters of "obliterating" the men, women and children of North Korea. They are the ones most eager for war against Iran so that oil billionaires can take it over again to set a dictator who will allow them to loot that country.
The Maritime provinces, incidentally, are Canada's equivalent of a Bible belt.
Jesus loved the poor. Many of our clergy and our church-goers love the rich a lot more. That's why one can always get a pricey rent-a-preacher (complete with special music) for the irving chapel, and then have a guaranteed uncontroversial sermon with guaranteed uncontroversial coffee and socializing in the barn.
The desire to be accepted (and, therefore, very, very conventional) seems strong in the maritme provinces. That's why New Brunswickers may very well vote out the Liberals for spraying our forests (and our wildlfe and us) with poison, and then vote in the Conservatives - who will do exactly the same thing.
Conform. Conform. Conform.Don't be different. By all means go to church where you just have to obey, not think. We have been murdering and plundering all over the world from centuries. The Middle East is a chaos precisely because we have been murdering and plundering for so long.
And, with rare exceptions, the Christian churches have ignored that. We poison our forests, sell them at clearance prices to a billonaire, and fire our chief medical officer for doing her job - and few even whimper.
Here's a rare exception that arrived in my e mail.
Of our political parties, only one was founded on Christian principles. That was the CCF; and clergy were prominent in the party as long as it existed. But, not surprisingly, the party could not get enough financing to have much impact. So, in the late 1960s, it had to look to the unions for financial support. But the unions didn't much like Chistian principles, so they insisted the CCF drop most of them, and become the NDP.
It was Christian principles that had led to the creation of medicare for Canada. The existence of a CCF party committed to Christian principles led to other improvements in Canadian life, too. But principles didn't count much in drawing in money. So the NDP remained a party of honesty, perhaps, but no longer a party of justice for people of all levels in our society.
The Greens, too, shied away from any real confrontation with the billionaires who were destroying our environment.
The Liberals and Conservatives have, of course, continued as the servants of the rich that they always were. That's why, all this time after the Lac Megantic disaster which killed almost as many people as the recent Las Vegas massacre, no high level capitalists have been charged despite evidence they should have been.
I'm not sure where to turn from here. It's obvious the NDP has to go back to its founding, Christian principles which, luckily, are very similar to the principles of most religions.
The Greens have to combine with the NDP. The two parties cannot afford to weaken themselves by not uniting. And there is not the slightest hope of getting any change by voting Liberal or Conservative. Those two parties have served only the wealthy since they first appeared.
Then the CCF and the Greens have to address maritime audiences. That won't be easy in a province in which people are afraid to have an opinion. But it has to be done because there is not the slightest chance of any serious treatment of either of those parties by the irving press.
To make it even more difficult, the most convenient sites for such audiences are the Christian churches which have, so far, been part of the problem, and not of the solutions. (I am reminded of my speaking days in Montreal when, if I was speaking to a Jewish audience, I knew I had better have something substantial to say. But if I were speaking to Christian audience, I knew I had better have a few jokes in there.)
All of this will be difficult. But the alternative is a world made terminally destructive by the greed, brutality, and poor judgement of big business.
And we shall all live as do the people in Madagascar.
Truth dig is a site I have neglected, perhaps frightened off by its stark view of the world situation. But I have to admit it makes sense. And it has a superb analyst in Chris Hedges who has a strong history as a journalist, scholar, linguist - and independent thinker.
His view of the future is a grim one - but realistic, honest, and well-informed one. I would add only one point to it. He writes of the rise of the billionaire class to be above governments, in effect creating their own world governments through such organizations as Bilderberg ( in which a former premier of New Brunswick has been a participant - his name is Frank McKenna. As a mere millionaire he would only be a gofer at the conference.)
But he does miss one point. Billionaires who aspire to world rule are certainly an arrogant and greedy lot. But like all the aristocracies by inheritance in world history, they become decreasingly intelligent as the years go by. They are certainly arrogant and amoral but also, generation by generation, more stupid.
Ultimately, such aristocracies, throughout history, have destroyed themselves as well as the people they ruled.
The American use of torture in Afghanistan is a story that disappeared from the news pages very quickly. We never heard much about it after it was revealed to have happened. We certainly didn't learn that the U.S. had been using torture for a century and more. We didn't learned that it almost certainly is still using torture. And we didn't learn that many, many countries throughout history have used torture - and Canada has been complicit.
Here's a look back at one of the cases.
Despite a rash of national apologies and, now, a large payment to families whose children were forced into residential schools, Canada is still nowhere close to dealing with its destruction of native societies. Nor will I pretend to have a solution. We cannot simply slap patches onto societies we have destroyed.
A biased, propagandistic and lying press is not just a North American problem. It happens all over the world.
God want's us to kill. Yes, he does. That's why God wants Trump to obliterate North Korea - men, women, children, babies....kill, kill.
This guy could become a star, faith page commentator for the irving press.
Despite the numbers, American military power is seriously on the decline. It is, for example, by no means certain that the U.S. could militarily defeat North Vietnam. Any such attempt would almost certainly provoke reaction from China and Russia. And the U.S. conventional military could not beat that reaction.
Nor would nuclear weapons help since all sides have enough of them to destroy the whole world many times over. (As well, the U.S. public is in no mood for a major war of any sort. That was the lesson of the Vietnam War. And that's why over half of the American army is now made up of 'mercenaries' (hired thugs and killers.) For all the talk of 'heroes' who fight for 'their country', the number of Americans willing to do so has sharply declined. Thus the reliance on mercenaries.
Alas, the other side is also dominated by billionaires intellectually very similar to our own.
One of the obstacles to dealing with climate change is that the people who own major corporations that threaten our lives also own most of the news media we rely on to tell us what's happening. And they can even own some (not many, but some) of the scientific scholars in our universities.
I include the next item simply as a matter of interest. I don't think the U.S. problem is Donald Trump. No. The problem is a collapsing empire and a collapsing society - that produced a Trump. The problem is a society in which greed was allowed to run wild in the form of a capitalism with no morals, and little intelligence.
But it's always interesting to read about Trump.
Here is a story that has never appeared in the irving press. And never will appear in it.
Forest spraying is good for New Brunswick. Yes, it is. (if you're in the soft wood lumber business. It's great for toilet paper and for printing bad newspapers.)
This story would almost certainly hold true if it were about New Brunswick. New Brunswickers would just die if they expressed any opinion different from the people who really run this province.
We have to think very seriously about how we treat our environment - and about how we are going to feed a growing population. Instead, the deeper thought for some of our world leaders has been either bigger profits or enforced starvation as the U.S. is doing in Yemen. Much of the real power to decide the above is in the hands of the major agricultural capitalists who share a common amorality and lack of intelligence with their other, capitalist brethren.
(And they may explain why the irving press never told us what the Bilderberg group is about.)
In fairness, these people are not capitalists. Capitalists are people who take risks with their money. But these are a more recent breed. The resemble capitalists in that they put money up. This new breed uses its clout to buy politicians - notably Liberal, Conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. So they have no need to risk their money.
They simply pay off politicians to give them tax payer's money if their investments don't go well - as happened when American banks brought the world close to economic ruin as a result of their illegal operation of those banks. But they paid off the American politicians who promptly restored their fortunes using tax-payer's money. And the executives who had brought the world so class to disaster took billions of dollars personally as reward s for their incompetent and illegal behaviour.
The same is true in Canada. Small business owners are getting hit with heavy taxes - but for the biggies, it's roses, roses all the way with tax write-offs, tax havens, outright gifts and sweetheart contracts.
American and Canadian ordinary citizens are getting hit hard by the cost of all this; but they aren't getting the news reporting they need to understand it. And a result of that is that Americans have just voted for a president who is a disaster. They did it because, being ignorant of why they are suffering, large numbers voted out of anger. It was a vote against rather than a vote for. And, to that degree, it was very similar to the rise of Hitler.
The Greens and the NDP need to give more thought to the threat we are facing, and to how we must deal with it.
And our churches need less thinking about what we should pack for heaven, and more thinking about how we could live more Christian lives. (And other religions, too, might find that useful.)
In another newspaper, I would have found the wording of this report objectionable since it implies that Jews are greedy. (I have, most of my life, had a great number of Jewish friends. And I have not found them to be greedy. Some - yes. But the some were also common in Christian society.) However, in this case the story is in a Jewish newspaper, so I guess we can accept it - and deal with the real topic it discusses.)
Donald Trump has been refusing adequate help to Puerto Rico - though it is American territory, and is suffering dreadfully from it's recent hurricane. The reality is that Puerto Rico needs more than reconstruction. It has been a region held down in poverty by American capitalists. One of them owns over a billion dollars of the debt that has been thrust on Puerto Rico. There is no way Puerto Rico can recover from the hurricane no matter how much is spent on the cleanup. It needs that impossible debt to be forgiven.
But the only people who can be forgiven debts and given monster financial gifts are billionaires.
Gee! I wonder why the irving press didn't carry this story.
That last one touches on the fundamental problem facing the world. It is not the collapse of the American empire. (Empires come and go, and damn few miss them.)
It is not the rise of China or Russia. (Both are more similar to the U.S. than either they or the U.S. would admit.)
No. The fundamental problem is the rise of an aristocracy of wealth. It is, like the older aristocracies largely due to inheritance rather than ability. (The Rockefellers dynasty, for example, goes way back well over a century.)
Like the old aristocracies, they see their wealth and power as rights rather than as responsibilities. Indeed, they see themselves as superior to other humans, perhaps almost divinely so. inevitably, they become, like the old British aristocracy, unspeakably arrogant, contemptuous of others, and, over the generations, not very bright. This has been well characterized in the amusing novels and short stories about Bertie Wooster and his servant Jeeves, by P.G.Wodehouse.
These people, with their money, have subverted democracy to buy control of our traditional political parties. Through organization like the Bilderberg Group, they plan to subvert governments all over the world - quite unnoticed by most of our news media, even when a former politician like Frank McKenna becomes prominent in it.
Generally, these are not bright people, and they have no respect for the needs of any people but themselves. Such people played major roles (THE major roles) in both World Wars - and on both sides. They played key roles in the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. And they very much want a war on Iran. They have no nationality, only greed.
For the NDP and the Greens, these are the people you have to deal with. And I don't think the platform of either party is up to what is needed.
What is needed is to get serious about informing people of what we face. It's also important to avoid violence since the only ones who have ever benefited from violence over the last century and more have been the super wealthy.
(Remember when native peoples protested against the oil industry not far from Moncton? There was some violence as the situation developed. But the first side to send in guns and the threat of violence was our 'government of the people.' Some government of the people that was!)
There is an immediate need to get out and talk to people. It won't be easy in this population that is afraid to have an opinion. But that fear is the first barrier that has to be broken.
A final thought.
Lots and lots of people say that Trump is crazy, immature, self-loving, mentally ill, arrogant, contemptuous of most people, and stupid.
He's also a billionaire.
Think about it.