Sunday, 27 October 2019

Where Are Our Journalists, Part 7 - The Death of the Fourth Estate in Canada

Buckle up. It's a meta-thread.
#cdnpoli #cdnmedia #WhereAreOurJournalists 
The first thing a conqueror does is take control of the means of mass communication. In modern times, this means mainstream media. The American right bought our broadcasters & newspapers. Because Harper changed the laws to let them in. Harper loaded the CBC with supporters. Even out of power, the right controls the message.  
This is why, throughout the recent federal election campaign and for a long time before, the CPC has only got softball questions from journalists and the Prime Minister has been put under a magnifying glass continuously.  
Political shows regularly have panels whose diversity includes the far-right, the centre-right, the Greens, and the NDP, and they all take turns saying what a terrible job Trudeau is doing and what a terrible person he is. 
The media does not do their job of explaining unfamiliar concepts to the public. Very little effort was made, for example, to explain what a Deferred Prosecution Agreement is. When Andrew Scheer and other CPC voices claimed that Trudeau was pressuring JWR to "let SNC off the hook" or "let SNC get away scot-free", no one corrected that by saying exactly why that was incorrect, and what a DPA actually is. 
When Andrew Scheer or CPC voices make outrageous claims, no one counters them. It is offensive to journalistic standards and to the Canadian people, that our media are not fulfilling their central and most basic duty: to present the facts. 
Canadians deserve truth, instead we get spin from our media. We are seeing an abject failure to provide anything but click-bait and right-wing ideology. 
The field is getting very murky, as well. Outlets such as Rebel Media and Buffalo Chronicles are treated as real news sources. They are not, in case you have any confusion about that.
Here is an expose on the Buffalo Chronicle:… 
And here is a discussion of what passes for journalism in the Rebel Media universe:

Unfortunately, mainstream media has been treating these sources as though they have something valuable to add to the political conversation in this country. 
And the thing is, Canadian media, including the CBC, report these and other, similar, organisations as valid news sources. This is doing a grave disservice to Canadians. Where is the fact-checking? 
How can a legitimate news agency simply repeat what a "think-tank" funded by Aurea and the Koch Foundation as some sort of gospel truth? 
And the CBC's own pollster, Eric Grenier, does not have a degree in math or statistics. I am shocked. Not that someone without proper credentials set themselves up as an expert but that our national broadcaster has given such a person the credence of being their official political statistician.
Canadians, many Canadians anyway, trust the CBC. Or, used to. It is the mandate of the CBC to provide fair and unbiased news. They are meant to operate outside the market pressures imposed upon corporately-owned and advertiser-controlled media. So, what gives here? 
It is not surprising that all the PostMedia papers, which is most of the newspapers in Canada, are following the dictates of their American owners. For example, the pre-election editions of all PostMedia papers across the country: 
So, where can we now turn to for legitimate news? Why has our national broadcaster become a stenographer for what Harper, Scheer, and other CPC voices refer to as "the conservative movement". The euphemism is important. This is not just about the CPC in Canada. 
It is a global organisation, shepherded by the IDU (International Democratic Union), the president of which is none other than Canada's former PM, Stephen Harper. The IDU co-ordinates right-wing parties world-wide, helping them to win.

There is a "movement". It is not pro-democracy. It is Orwellian. 
The IDU is working very hard to install right-wing, authoritarian governments everywhere.  
There is foreign interference in our elections. There is misrepresentation or outright lies in the statements in our media. There is a concerted effort to turn us against one another. 
The media we consume changes how we think. You might think you are in control of your own opinions. Unless you are employing high level critical thinking skills and are keenly aware of the techniques being used to influence you, you are not.

This may seem anecdotal, but there are a number of longitudinal, large sample studies that demonstrate that the media you consume influences your world-view. The research confirms the premise of this film. 
Personally, I am not content to let this global conservative movement usurp Canadian values, identity, or sovereignty. 
So, what is the solution? We call upon the government to bring in laws to limit foreign ownership of our media. We give the CRTC real teeth to combat the overwhelming tsunami of American media influences in Canada. We put a cap on American programming available in Canada.  
Don't panic. There is brilliant programming from other parts of the world we could access. 
We fully fund the CBC and, at the same time, demand journalistic accountability. The current "ombudsman" complaint process is a joke. I have complained to the ombudsman many times about what I felt to be misleading headlines (which often echo the CPC attack lines). 
The response is always some variation of this: 
To summarise: "The issues are too complex to reflect accurately in a headline. We know most people only read the headline. We're going to use the CPC interpretation of the issue as our headline. It's easier for people to understand." Not good enough. Not by a long chalk. 
We demand that the CBC, our national broadcaster, fulfill their mandate to educate and inform to the highest standards of journalistic integrity. If they are fully funded and not dependent on advertiser dollars they cannot claim to be beholding to any external party. 
We crack down on rogue misinformation sites. We demand fact-checking of ALL political parties' statements. The media is supposed to hold the politicians to account. It appears we must hold the media to account to do this job. 
For long term success, we empower our schools to teach media literacy, critical thinking and Canadian civics from K-12. 
A misinformed, deluded, and ignorant citizenry is fertile ground for the end of democracy and the freedoms and privileges we enjoy as Canadians. We must stop it now. We must DEMAND better from our elected representative, and we must DEMAND better from our media.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

“You don’t boost growth by cutting taxes, you do that by giving money to people”

This year’s winner of the Nobel prize for economics says, “You don’t boost growth by cutting taxes, you do that by giving money to people”
Guaranteed Minimum Income, folks. That's how you jump-start an economy. The problem is that wealthier people don't generally trust less wealthy people. And right-wing people especially don't trust poorer people. It ties in with the notion that wealthy people are wealthy because they are morally superior.. It follows, then, in their minds, that poor people must be morally inferior. This is the argument that is put forth again and again against social programs. Those on the right caution that "hand-outs" will make people dependent. Or worse, that these poor people are somehow taking advantage of the wealthier/society. (Think "welfare queens")
If you put money in the pockets of people who have very little they will spend it in their communities. They have a huge deficit of needed items. The explosion in localised spending leads to job creation. More people move up the income ladder. It's a self-perpetuating economic engine.People who have little or nothing don't want to sit around all day and watch tv and do drugs. They want to live meaningful lives. They may want to further their education, but can't afford either the tuition or the time required because they are working multiple gigs to keep themselves fed and housed. They may have a dream of starting a business, a good idea but no time to do the planning and prototyping.
And some people may be accepting poverty because they have to be a care-giver for a parent, child, or other family member.
The Mincome experiment in Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s found that many people went back to school. Mothers took more time to spend with their newborns and young children. Domestic violence and workplace accidents decreased. Suicide rates went down. People started home businesses. It was a very positive outcome.
But, of course we can't have that, because then who would the wealthy look down on? How would they make themselves feel superior and important, if everyone had opportunities to live reasonably well and follow their dreams? All those contented and fulfilled people who used to be poor and desperate... What a nightmare!
It is common sense. If you give people a chance to quit a soul-crushing job and go back to school, or start their own business, they will be much happier, they will contribute more to the economy, they will fight less with their spouse or partner, they will have less need to numb themselves. The economy will grow because people at the lower end of the scale don't hoard their money in tax shelters and off-shore accounts. They spend it locally.
The resistance to this idea comes from those who cannot bear to see the playing field leveled, even slightly. But this is how we combat a culture where now people working 2 or 3 jobs still have trouble paying their rent. Where minimum wage is not a living wage. Where big companies keep employees on part-time hours to avoid paying benefits. Where the working poor is a growing segment. Where people are trapped on a treadmill they can't get off because they have no room to consider what else they might do with their lives.
Guaranteed minimum income offends the sensibilities of those who have more than they could ever need because they don't like to share. It's one thing to make a big flashy donation and get a university faculty building or hospital wing or sporting venue named after you. There's no glory in just paying your fair share of taxes.And, if people are given the opportunity to climb up out of poverty and subsistence living, who can the wealthy compare themselves to to make themselves feel good about their own life choices?
So they say, "How on earth could we afford that? Do you have any idea how much a program like that would cost?" Strangely, these same people never say "How can afford tax cuts for corporations? How can we afford tax cuts to the rich? How can we afford oil & gas subsidies? How can we afford to go to war?" It's not the spending that freaks them out. Do not be fooled. They only start screeching when it's spending money on people who are in the lower socio-economic segments.
Think about it. Talk to your local MP about it. We are starting a new session of Parliament. It's a good time for us all to up our phone-calling, petitioning, and letter-writing game. And here we have Nobel-winning research to back a solid economy-building initiative. We need to make our elected representative take a look.

Read the article here.