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We will never have better than we demand

in Letters by

Now that the Newfoundland off-shore oil boom has stalled, and revenues are shrinking, government is poised to impose austerities and greater taxes upon us, as if we ever had any power over, or responsibility for, this or any other big industry past or present.

Now even retiring government bureaucrats are panicky about their pensions and activists are raising their voices again for seniors, for those on fixed incomes, and of course for the poor.

And so too, the City of St. John’s will be demanding higher annual property taxes from us after it has jacked up the value of our properties. (Like the fella said, extortion doth never prosper, for when it doth, none dare call it extortion.) You can’t fight City Hall, they say. No you can’t. But if enough of you get angry enough, City Hall will not want to fight you.

So, why don’t we stand up to bullying and extorting governments? Why do we do little more than whine? What will it take? Why are we so obedient and fatalistic before them? We have our catechism backwards: Government did not make us to know, love and serve it in this world. We made government to know, love and serve us in this world.

I think obedience and fatalism training starts in the schools. Then major media and politicians take over the job. Politicians, like cops, like gangsters, like profiteering industrialists, like all powerful cliques and institutions, will never reform themselves voluntarily from within.

 Government did not make us to know, love and serve it in this world. We made government to know, love and serve us in this world.

Yes, our major media claims to be the guardian of the public good, the defender of free speech, the people’s watchdog and soapbox — although major media in the most totalitarian places claims the same of itself.

However, our major media, in what it reports and criticizes, omits and commits, (allegedly on our behalf) clearly propagandizes for rapacious profiteers or what it more politely calls “the business world”, just as those other guys over there propagandize for the “people’s revolution”.

Anyone who thinks western media is any more truthful and trustworthy than Pravda or The People’s Daily ought to compare Huxley’s Brave New World to Orwell’s 1984 and meditate on the question: Do you get more flies with honey or with vinegar? Those with a higher education might inquire what is taught as “political science” or “economics” at the University of North Korea, and then compare it with what we are taught.

All is well for western profiteers when their media and politicians can get us quibbling among ourselves over jobs and who gets a better pension. In the U.S. they quibble just like this over jobs and who has a better health plan.

They should all have the best universal health care and guaranteed income in the U.S., as we should in Canada — which by the way, has resources equal to China but about one fortieth of the population. (Somebody has been getting very wealthy in Canada. The numbers are worse for Newfoundland, and most Newfoundlanders haven’t been getting very rich very fast either.)

If government would do its real job of commanding all resources for the greatest, longest and healthiest welfare of people and ecology instead of commanding all resources for the fun and profit of profiteers, we wouldn’t suddenly have deficits when those profiteers abandon us. Private citizens wouldn’t have to speak up for the welfare of seniors, of pensioners and the poor. We wouldn’t have media and politicians of all levels blarneying at us one year about a prosperity that only a few enjoy and the next year about deficits that the many must bear.

If the media would do its real job and criticize politicians and our phony democracy; if it would criticize the St. John’s Board of Trade and all lobbyists for profiteers; if the public, the people, would demand that politicians and media act in the public interest, we’d have as healthy, as equal, as prosperous a Newfoundland and as prosperous a Canada as we could want.

Any time now would be a good time for us to start demanding this of government, of media, of schools. Be certain that we will never have better than we demand.

Frank Holden (St. John’s)

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