US News of the Week

Everyone Hates the US Media:
Nicholas Kristof in the NYT covers a pair of new reports that indicates that Americans of all political stripes deeply distrust the mainstream media. Maybe the time for reconsidering the job of the media has come.

Mad Cow in the US: There is growing evidence that the US has covered up incidents of Mad Cow disease. Is anyone really surprised?

US Income Disparity Balloons Again: Pay increases for US CEOs last year again reached double-digit levels, with salary increases compensating for the drop in stock options. meanwhile pay increases for the average US wage-earned declined in real terms last year. The differential between the income of the elite and the average worker is now the highest anywhere since such statistics were first collected.

Meanwhile, nothing of significance happened up here in Canada. We might have another election soon as a result of continuing revelations about our small-potatoes government fraud, which will almost assuredly (a) produce another, even more splintered, minority government, and (b) embolden the separatists in Quebec to make a last gasp effort to win a separation referendum.

And last but not least, a bunch of people have sent me links to James Kunstler’s essays. They’re very entertaining and well-written, but they add no new information and are sure to further polarize the US population. What is it going to take for us to get past insane partisan politics and start working together to find real and lasting solutions to the crises we’re ignoring and the crises we’re precipitating?

UPDATE: Two erroneous links fixed.

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7 Responses to US News of the Week

  1. The ‘growing evidence’ link is either broken or misleading…

  2. Sometimes I wonder if on a purely “how to save the world” level (lets forget about other factors for no) an independnet Quebec wouldn’t be a good thing. We’re more progressive than the rest of Canada, more in favour of Kyoto and strict environmental laws (we’re actually going to include a right to a clean environment into our human right charter, and our environmental ministry is now the ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, which, when a new bill comes to law, would have power over other ministries to impose sustainable development norms), we have more ties with Europe, are more anti-war, more in favour of a social-democracy measures, etc… Yet a lot of these traits are prevented from having their full impact since on the federal level they get somewhat evened out because Quebec is only 1 of 10, and on the provincial level they are sometimes hard to realized because the money is in Ottawa (huge surpluses, mostly because of all the cuts they made in education and healthcare in the 90s – cuts which have to be absorbed by the provinces) and is a very powerful force for centralization in the country. But we’ll see what will happen.

  3. Jon Husband says:

    Mikhail makes some good points … and to extrapolate a bit .. each region of Canada, if not each province, is demonstrating interesting ways of grappling with the rapidly-approaching *future* … unfortunately, a systemic societal approach is less evident, although the fact that our country continues to value some collectivist notions and at least continues to seek dialogue on important core values – issues of the common good – other than money, religion and power, offers some small degree of hope. But Canada is still just a small prop in the background on the world stage.

  4. Dave Pollard says:

    Stephen: Fixed, thanks.Lugon: Wow, great link. I wonder if we in the West would handle a disease outbreak that horrifically and quickly killed 93% of its infected, and required complete quarantine of the affected areas, as calmly and stoically as the Angolans. I also note that neither Canada nor the US has contributed any funds to the soaring cost of managing this outbreak.Mikhail/Jon: I think it’s inevitable, but my concern is that it will accelerate the balkanization of Canada, by allowing the Harper-Mulroney pro-Bush pro-States’ Rights faction to win power long enough to reintroduce Charlottown Accord and effectively end Canadian federalism forever, which would make continental ‘merger’ (to use a euphemism for the political takeover of Canada by the US) inevitable. I’m a great believer in decentralization, but devolving power from one huge central insensitive government to ten huge central insensitive governments is a step backwards. You don’t get from nation-based to community-based politics & economy top down, it has to be bottom uo.

  5. Dave, good point. Personally I see no problem with Anglo-Canada being a strong country, it’s just that Quebec’s cultural differences will always make it the odd one out, always trying to go in a slightly different direction, and always causing conflicts. These problems can’t be eternal, they keep things from happening and everybody loses. Just imagine if France and England, or Germany and Italy, were parts of the same country. There would always be problems, and not just political problems, but cultural ones, and that would be quite unproductive; it’s not bad faith, it’s just two cultures, with different ways of thinking and of seeing life, with different societal goals and traditions (f.ex. Right now people in Quebec are pissed off because the Charest government wants to lower taxes – where else would you see that?). I have studied law in Ottawa, and have utmost respect for anglo-canadians; having received a license in both legal systems (Civil Law for Quebec and Common Law for the rest of Canada), it’s OBVIOUS that both nations think radically differently. In their purest forms, both legal systems are almost mirror images of each other (but right now the Common Law is using many things from Civil Law). Nobody can expect that a political solution will banish these kind of differences.

  6. One more thing, Dave. As for the Harper conservative government, I don’t believe that it’s what people really want (esp. not in Quebec where they wouldn’t get even one seat); if he gets in, it will be as a minority government. I doubt that he’d be able to do too much damage, and if he tries, people will get so scared that the polls will show it, we’ll go to elections and people will re-elect liberals at the next election (hoping that they have cleaned up their act). The only reason why the conservatives have a chance of winning right now is because the liberals have been there for a zillion years and the scandals. Not because people really like Harper (except in the west).

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