Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Mike Duffy Forced me to Listen to Noam Chomsky

"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it." Mohandas Gandhi
In March of this year, patronage appointed senator, Mike Duffy, went on a rant, attacking Canadian journalism schools for promoting critical thinking, singling out the University of King’s College.
“When I went to the school of hard knocks, we were told to be fair and balanced,” Duffy was quoted from his speech in yesterday’s issue of the Amherst Daily News. “That school doesn’t exist any more. Kids who go to King’s, or the other schools across the country, are taught from two main texts.” ... those two texts are Manufacturing Consent, Chomsky’s book on mainstream media, and books about the theory of critical thinking.

“When you put critical thinking together with Noam Chomsky, what you’ve got is a group of people who are taught from the ages of 18, 19 and 20 that what we stand for, private enterprise, a system that has generated more wealth for more people because people take risks and build businesses, is bad,” ... Duffy then told Conservatives they have nothing to apologize for because most Canadians are not “on the fringe where these other people are.”
On the fringe of where these people are?

Since when does an unelected government mouthpiece get to decide what is taught in journalism schools? It's not bad enough that they've swung our media to the right, but they are clearly trying to make sure that they stay that way.

Do they now have spies taping lectures?

The Hitler youth were encouraged to report teachers who were critical of Hitler's Germany and those teachers were immediately sacked, and textbooks the government disapproved of, were withdrawn and rewritten.

"Fair and balanced" media Mr. Duffy? Really? Since when?

Rich coming from a man charged with ethics violations for election tampering. His senate seat was bought and paid for.

So who would Duffy prefer that Canadian journalism students listen to? Rush Limbaugh? Glen Beck? Bill O'Reilly?

Noam Chomsky was interviewed on Democracy Now after the American mid-term elections (video below) and he makes some very valid points. Our democracy is in trouble, in large part because we are no longer participating in it. We are allowing those with the loudest voices to drown out all others, and no matter how ridiculous or off the wall, they are permeating the public psyche.

"Less government". "No taxes".

And yet polls consistently show that the general population want things like healthcare, access to education, public transportation and the eradication of poverty. But they can't have those things if they don't pay taxes. What we need is a fairer taxation system, so that those who take the most, must give the most back. But as Chomsky says, public money is going into fewer pockets.

Wealth is now illusive and democracy only in the abstract. Middle class wages have stagnated while big business has money coming out of their ears.

Should it surprise anyone that industry and oil execs get the most access to our prime minister, while health and environment lobby groups get markedly less? Or that Stephen Harper completely ignored a senate report on addressing poverty? Or sabotaged the climate bill?

Who Now Represents the Left?

Chomsky points out that both the Republicans and Democrats have swung to the right, mainly due to corporate propaganda. And the Tea Party is further to the right of them. So who now speaks for the left?

In Canada the Liberals represent the centre, controlled in part by big business though not monopolized by it, while the NDP were the closest thing we had to left leaning politics. But even the NDP have caved. Jack Layton sabotaged Kyoto for political leverage and recently attacked Libby Davies for supporting Palestine.

Not that the corporate sector would ever allow the NDP to govern. The Fraser Institute was created to destroy the NDP government in British Columbia, and in Ontario, the National Citizens Coalition, refused to allow Bob Rae's then NDP government to function.

Public access to public money is dwindling, and we are told that the priorities are now war to keep us safe, military hardware for war, and providing welfare to corporations because as Mike Duffy claims, it is : "a system that has generated more wealth for more people because people take risks and build businesses."

Since when?

The gap between rich and poor is at it's highest level. We are generating more wealth for fewer people, while creating a culture of greed.

And families now no longer just require two incomes to survive, but often demand that both parents work more than one job.

Foodbank use is on the rise and our healthcare system is in peril. Corporations don't need more money, they need less.

But nothing will change unless we get more involved in the democratic process, before we lose our democracy for good.
"If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in government to the utmost." - Aristotle


  1. These two British academics argue that almost every social problem, from crime to obesity, stems from one root cause: inequality.

    And, they say, it's not just the deprived underclass that loses out in an unequal society: everyone does, even the better off.

    Because it's not absolute levels of poverty that create the social problems, but the differentials in income between rich and poor.

    The US is wealthier and spends more on health care than any other country, yet a baby born in Greece, where average income levels are about half that of the US, has a lower risk of infant mortality and longer life expectancy than an American baby.

    "It became clear," Wilkinson says, "that countries such as the US, the UK and Portugal, where the top 20% earn seven, eight or nine times more than the lowest 20%, scored noticeably higher on all social problems at every level of society than in countries such as Sweden and Japan, where the differential is only two or three times higher at the top."

    What is it about unequal societies that causes the damage? Wilkinson believes the answer lies in the psycho-social areas of hierarchy and status. The greater the differential between the haves and have-nots, the greater importance everyone places on the material aspects of consumption; what brand of car you drive carries far more meaning in a more hierarchical society than in a flatter one. It's the knock-on effects of this status anxiety that finds socially corrosive expression in crime, ill-health and mistrust.

    Reducing inequality fits in with the environmental agenda; it benefits the developing world, as more equal societies give more in overseas aid; and most significantly, everyone is fed up with the corporate greed and bonus culture that have caused the current financial crisis, so if ever a government had the electorate's goodwill to act, it's now."