Lots of work to do

I have to admit living in a somewhat cloistered reality. I work 9-10 hours a day, write columns and blogs and listen to podcasts/read stuff maybe 15-20 hours a week. Then I make a conscientious effort to spend quality time with my family. All this to say there is not much time just hanging out with folks in Tim Hortons, et. al.

I miss this aspect because that is where ideas are transmitted virally – person to person – in an impactful way. A few people read blogs, columns, news, etc. but ideas are really shaped in informal settings within trustworthy relationships – not preachers from on high or pundits from down below. I am not, however; limiting the broad influence of media, just that ultimately validation and verification comes over coffee and in the hockey rink on Saturday morning.

I was at a funeral on Thursday in the Miramichi and among the topics was the temporary shutdown of the mill in Doaktown. This is said to be temporary but everyone is skiddish after Blackville, UPM, etc. Of course, the funeral of my uncle is no time to get on a soapbox so I spend most of my time eating sandwiches and listening.

My 88 year old aunt cornered me at this event and intoned that she reads my column every week. Then, just as a broad grin emerged on my face, she told me “I have no idea what you are talking about” which turned the aforementioned grin into a puzzled look. Then, as a capper, she said “Are you saying you want me to pay to heat my house?”

She was obviously referring to my column on power rates. I mumbled something about “just trying to talk about ways to get jobs back in the ‘Chi” and then excused myself and gulped down some weak tea.

How do you have a conversation with an 88 year old about economic development?

As New Brunswick ages (we are now I think the third oldest population in Canada), people will be less inclined to think about the ‘future’.

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0 Responses to Lots of work to do

  1. Trevor says:

    If communities were more proactive on infrastructure for the 21st century, you would be able to access free wifi from any Tim Hortons and blog as you get the latest gossip. Only every Starbucks on every street corner in the US has WIFI, why should we…sigh!

    But you are right David, having an aging population who are focused on maintaining the status quo or improve their retirement situation is taking away from the vision to take NB into the 21st century.

    If you are retired and have planned your golden age, why should they accept the risks associated with change?

  2. mikel says:

    I disagree, I would INformal settings are NOT the place where new ideas are transmitted for exactly the reasons you mention. I had a debate/argument with a young jewish friend about atheism, and another lady was there who said we should be ‘good canadians’ and ‘not talk about religion or politics’.

    In ‘in’formal settings there is TONS of pressure to avoid contentious issues. Just take a look at how much effort people make to avoid talking about afghanistan.

    People in their home is something else altogether-thats why there is so much effort on the internet and regulating it.

    The simple answer to your problem is mentioned above-get your aunt onto the internet and rather than read your Irving article every week, read your BLOG-EVERY DAY.

    THEN you will some real debate. But its not just age, old people are not as recalcitrant as you think-or at least not ALL of them are.

    I used to be like Charles and think New Brunswickers were docile and deferential to authority-not anymore. It’s just they aren’t STUPID-they want to see proposals that work-for them. And here we have a difference of opinion because a data centre in Doaktown may bring in some young people, but it does nothing to those out of work who know nothing about computers.

    Thanks to Charles Leblanc now I know better. In the summertime hardly a week goes by there isn’t a protest. Its freezing out and there are at least two going on right now.

    If you haven’t seen it, I heartily recommend you get to your library and watch “The Forbidden Forest”, a documentary on New Brunswick’s forests. The main protests are led by two old guys (guys that thanks to Irving you’ve never heard of). The documentary has footage of protests and meetings in the north- ALL of them with a specific focus on a solution-namely community based forestry.

    Again, though, those two old guys or people in the north may read THIS and state exactly the same thing as you-that you are tied to the status quo, tied to policies that were pushed hard by McKenna and still did nothing for the province over the long term.

    So I think THAT is the problem, and its a problem because New Brunswickers don’t KNOW about all this stuff, because the media doesn’t tell them, or at most reports on it quickly and then moves on.

    Listening to small talk at a get together says nothing about what people actually think-social gatherings are DESIGNED to avoid confrontation and contentious issues. At least one on one has that opportunity, and it isn’t done quickly. I may have said this before but it took about six conversations with my father (who is a senior) until he came around to seeing what proportional representation was all about and why it was necessary. Some of those were brutal arguments, some was sitting at a table with a pencil and paper and counting out ridings and percentages.

    That is true of ALL policy issues, this is a very complicated world, thats why media monopolies are so important. You can’t expect people to understand labour issues if the paper NEVER talks about them. Ironically, while politicians constantly talk about ‘change’ and how we ‘can’t stick with the status quo’ THEY are the most reticient towards change. In other words THEY are the problem.

    But back to your dinner party, what else would you expect, the reasons YOU were keeping your mouth shut and mumbling pleasantries and asides to get out of the conversation is the same reason EVERYBODY does the same. Because that is no place for it.

    THE place for it is the legislature, where all of these people have no access. It is SUPPOSED to at the very least be during elections, the ONLY place ‘we’ have a voice. Again, go watch Forbidden Forest, it is a real eye opener. Not only does the government not support the publics interest, they actually THWART it. In order to even get heard these two guys had to fly to Norway to the UPM shareholders meeting, where the PRESIDENT of the company had lunch with them.

    It was a pointless lunch (maybe, we did see UPM shut down the mill), but can you imagine these two guys getting a meeting with the Premier? THis one old guy who was an old forestry worker was just trying to get information on what the 25 year plan for nearby crown forests was and couldn’t get the information, couldn’t even get a low level bureaucrat to meet with him.

    You hate to admit it, but you see stuff like that and you start to think that Charles Leblanc isn’t as crazy as you think. Again though, don’t listen to CHarles or me, get your hands on Forbidden Forest, probably THE most important film EVER made in New Brunswick.

    It’s not surprising that people keep their own interests in mind first, thats the nature of humanity. However, it is exactly that self interest that can be used-you think old people LIKE having their kids and grandkids spread across the globe? My younger sister just got married, and the FIRST time all our family has been together in about fifteen years took place HERE, in Ontario.

    Thats the people. My dad worked in forestry all his life, and probably would have said the same at a funeral or party, but privately its far different. He’s not stupid, the last years with his company had him going to Indonesia and asia as much as to Nova Scotia or Quebec. And its perfectly obvious to ALL these people-just ask anybody in a forestry town how many USED to work in the woods compared to today. NOBODY works in the woods on crown land anymore, they have ONE guy in a giant machine that trawls through the forest-and people know it.

    Don’t confuse social pleasantries for reality. Go look at Charles blog or head down to the legislature and you’ll see that ‘the people’ are not nearly so blind as you think-they may not have the same issues as you, their interests may be ‘closer to home’, but that doesn’t mean anything. THere’s a reason why Irving wanted control of the media, just take a look at the internet. If that aging population were ALL on the internet then you’d see a much different province-and quickly.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “As New Brunswick ages (we are now I think the third oldest population in Canada), people will be less inclined to think about the ‘future’.”

    While most do not realize it, our Canadian seniors have done plenty to influence our future. They committed us to hundreds of billions of debt, and introduced expensive social programs.

    While our seniors often talk about all the great things they did for Canada (and for the most part they did but they forget we are the ones paying for it), the current working class struggles to balance interest payments on their debt with paying the costs of social programs they introduced.

    With these bills to pay, we have limited choices with our future. One choice we should make, is to not saddle our children with even bigger debt challenges.

  4. mikel says:

    Horseshit. Excuse the language but that’s pretty mild for what the above post actually is.

    That’s a disgrace that somebody would actually even hold such an opinion let alone broadcast it.

    First, lets deal with the facts. Canada’s national debt exists for the exact same reason EVERY country’s national debt exists-interest rates and private borrowing.

    Prior to the seventies, the country borrowed ‘from itself’, namely the Bank of Canada.

    Then in the seventies, borrowing on the private market began. Even that was fine, until the massive interest rate increases of the eighties. Virtually all of Canadas debt now is interest. THat’s universal. In Indonesia its no coincidence that the ‘debt’ of the country is almost to the penny the exact same as the wealth of its richest family.

    That is plainly obvious by one simple fact-its been ten years now since the federal government even had a deficit, yet the debt is still in the hundreds of billions.

    The reasons ‘we have limited choices’ is because of one very specific policy decision-letting the wealthy keep their money. Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, far wealthier than Norway, which has full employment, free tuition, and almost no povery or illiteracy. Where everybody has a guaranteed living wage, even down to manual labourers.

    It’s no surprise that when Chretien hacked 50% off the Health Transfer to provinces they also cut the taxes on the wealthiest canadians.

    There is TONS of wealth around, politicians (who are among the wealthiest) simply make the choice that private people (and corporations) keep all their wealth. Contrary to the gibberish that NBT spouts, we aren’t even talking about middle class canadians, we are talking about the wealthiest.

    It wasn’t ‘seniors’ who elected to increase the gap between rich and poor, underfund the worlds best health care system til it hit crisis proportions, massively increase tuition, decrease the taxes on billionaires, allow wealth to be illegally transported to tax havens, what senior would support such a move?

    It was they who fought in the last war, then came home to fight another against their own government-for adequate services. The countries fastest growth was from 1948 to 1973, far greater than now, and that was with NO debt or deficits. It was a time of the fastest growth in public spending and the greatest increase in services.

    Sorry that sounds strident, but that is simply the most aggregious view I’ve seen in ages on the net, and I regularly read NBT and Spinks blogs! The country exists (existed) as an actual country and not a fiefdom because of the ‘work’ that current seniors did. Seniors who are now rewarded for it with substandard healthcare, stuffed faceless into often substandard nursing homes, or just plain ignored while they vainly hope for a little something as they line up to buy lottery tickets.

    And those policy programs exist because WE refuse to do what they had the balls to do, which was get together and fight whoever needed to be fought-either germans or private power. Now, the biggest arguments are who can grovel the best in front of the wealthy for the luxury of having them locate in our backyards while we work 60 hour workweeks and they stuff their cash in the cayman islands.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi David,

    (this comment is intended as private, but you’re free to post it if you like).

    Your censorship on this blog will be its downfall. If people wanted comments that fit entirely within your spectrum of beliefs, they could go read a newspaper (which they won’t).

    If you’re so dead-set that a person’s point of view is wrong (i.e. capitalist excess, fiat / partial-reserve banking sustainability) then I respect you for your point of view – and it would even be fine if you banned all mentioning of this topic…

    But what’s the big deal?

    If this idea is so fanciful, why not let people laugh it away like the aliens, black panthers and other superstitions?

    I think it’s because people know inherently that Ron-Paul type truthers are correct. There’s no way a 100+ year old finagled petro-war economy can survive if we’re to maintain any human dignity.

    I even hope the backers of our system are correct in that it will not suffer the violent corrections we may be facing. To endlessly stretch out the printing, borrowing and manipulation of prices to continue unfettered market growth would indeed give our world a few more years before dramatic collapse.

    But as we (and the Americans, especially) sink further into the miasma of social bankruptcy. Presaged by endemic corruption (S&L scandals, Iran-Contra, the war on terror) and outright financial fraud, then I’ve got little hope for the mid-term prospects of any globalised economy.

    The money is being sucked in and out like the tide, smothering the people in debt, backed by wooden houses and taxes.

    How has the money been distributed among a province roughly twice the size, but only 1/20th the population or economy of countries like Belgium and the Netherlands?

    Certainly not to the Natives we stole it from; Anyway – I sort of went off on a tangent there…

    My point is – if you want censored media, don’t run a blog – you’ll drive yourself crazy patrolling it, and it really does take away from what people like about the internet.

    I’ll try to post a couple more times, but after that I’m done – you’re not the only one around who works off certain principles.

    One is freedom of information – you can flame it, but don’t stamp it out just because it doesn’t mesh with your preconceptions.

    Best wishes in your blogging either way.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Is there anything that Mikel doesn’t disagree with???

  7. David Campbell says:

    Your censorship on this blog will be its downfall. If people wanted comments that fit entirely within your spectrum of beliefs, they could go read a newspaper (which they won’t).

    Huh? Let me reiterate. The only comments that are not posted here are those that are profane (cursing, etc.) and/or those that attack an ethnic or linguistic group in a personal way. I have no problem with debate. Just ask Mikel.

    Just to put it into perspective. I have ‘censored’ as far as I know only one person in the past six month. And him and I have a little tango going on. I think he cleans it up and then his stuff gets posted.