Monday, September 29, 2008

Move along – no media conspiracy here – just both national newspapers bashing federal NDP call to rescind massive corporate tax cuts

I don’t subscribe to many media conspiracy theories about how the MSM – Main Stream Media – work at the behest of their corporate masters to muzzle the New Democratic Party and keep Canada safe from social democracy.

It’s too convenient, too glib and too complicated to work.

But every now and then I do have to wonder.

Case in point – in Saturday’s Globe and Mail and Monday’s National Post key columnists go all out to trash NDP leader Jack Layton’s call to halt the Stephen Harper Conservatives’ plan to massively cut corporate income taxes and instead use the money for social programs.

And then today the Vancouver Sun's lead editorial - titled "Tax and spend 1: Jack Layton's economic fantasyland" - joins the chorus defending lower corporate taxes.

Note to many other media – Layton did NOT suggest INCREASING corporate taxes – he merely said he would rescind Tory promises to lower the existing 22.12% corporate income tax rate down to 15% by 2012 – at least get that part right!

The Globe’s Jeffrey Simpson
and his National Post twin John Ivison get downright apoplectic about this confiscation of the means of production.

“This is standard NDP boilerplate, and constitutes another flight from reality. Corporate tax rates are only one factor in profitability, location of investment, job creation - but they are a factor.”

“Governments all around the world understand that since capital is mobile in a global economy, corporate tax rates have to be competitive. One sure-fire way of killing jobs and stifling investment would be to raise corporate taxes, which is what Mr. Layton proposes.”

Ivison: “The problem is, if he [Layton] ever made it to 24 Sussex Drive, an almost pathological hostility toward the corporate sector would quickly turn Canada into a North American Zimbabwe .... There is near unanimity these days among economists and politicians that corporate tax cuts improve productivity, attract foreign investment and increase the national wealth.”

Yikes! Robert Mugabe in white-face and moustache, about to ruin our entire economy and then, no doubt, seize the land of farmers, outlaw the opposition and stash the ill-gotten gains of state socialism in his Zurich numbered bank account!

Lastly, the Sun joins in with a remarkably similar argument:

"Layton would hike the corporate tax rate back up to the 2007 rate of 22.12 per cent and not implement scheduled reductions that would have reduced it to 15 per cent by 2012."

"His plan ignores the reality that Canada's corporate tax rate has to be competitive with other jurisdictions to keep business here."

"He also ignores the fact that ordinary Canadians depend on healthy corporate profits not just for their jobs, but also as investors, either individually or through their pension plans. Those profits are already at risk in the turmoil now roiling the markets," the Sun editorialists write.

Unfortunately there are so many things wrong with Simpson’s and Ivison’s columns and the Sun editorial that I don’t have the time or stomach to list them all.

But let’s start with this – if the math or corporate taxes were so simple that even stupid socialists could figure it out, why would any developed nation even bother taxing corporations at all? Let’s be really, really competitive and do away with them!

Secondly, if the definition of a “flight from reality” is merely the modest idea that perhaps, just perhaps, corporations have had enough tax cuts already this decade – and they’ve had several – then maybe many Canadian voters are ready to buy a ticket on that flight.

Third, in a week when the world has seen how unbridled greed and unregulated corporations can devastate our economy, make a trillion dollars or more of stock value disappear in a single day and bring on unmitigated disaster for countless retirees, workers and poor people around the globe, why would anyone listen to a defence of corporate tax cuts?

Lastly, I absolutely favour free speech and the right of Simpson, Ivison and the Sun to publish strongly held views that I happen to disagree with profoundly.

But where is the diversity of opinion, the dissenting arguments that say not only is Jack Layton right on the money – but maybe even that he doesn’t go far enough?

Sadly, Canada’s national newspaper readers are only told that there is consensus about the need for corporate tax cuts, that those who do not agree are “pathologically hostile” towards business, that politicians who do anything to slow the inexorable reduction in corporate tax rates will “kill jobs”.

Happily however, it appears that many Canadian voters are prepared to resist and reject this alleged economic orthodoxy – because they’ve already seen the results of similar wrong-headed approaches to date.

Now if only we could a real national debate in our media on this and other important public policy issues – instead of one-sided pontificating that only gives comfort to those who preach a media conspiracy in this country – and brings new converts to that perspective.


Some more headlines from our balanced media across the country:

Calgary Herald - "Jack Layton's plan would kill Canadian productivity"

Ottawa Sun - "Jack Layton and the real world"

National Post - "Layton says money will make poverty go poof"


Anonymous said...

BILL . . .
Maybe you and your lawyers don't believe that CanWest is out to screw anyone to the left of BC President Richard Milhouse Campbell, but for me having witnessed the fat-hand of Dennis Skulsky a few times over the years . . . if it walks like a country club despot it is.


Gary E said...

Some of us in the blogosphere have been complaining about perceived minor situations where the media has slanted their columns and editorials Bill. And you have come to their defense. Probably rightly so as you are a professional journalist yourself and know far more about these things than we do. But like anything else in life if they are allowed to get away with (I allege) slanted journalism on the small items that affect us every day, and they see they can get away with it, then one day, such as now, they will try to get away with the big one. As you say the people are wising up.

Anonymous said...

These blatant biases fed on a continueing basis has resulted in decreased readership. If they keep on this track, they might just implode! Thankfully, we have the internet to offset this misinterpetation of reality.

You just need to look down south at what has happened to the coporate puppets of all these investment banks. They all lost their jobs! The coporation never acts out of the goodness of their little hearts, only out of greed. That is why they are always asking for more and more tax cuts and deregulation.

BC Mary said...

A very good piece of work, Bill. Very useful and much appreciated.

Those on the dark side do best when they can take a word or an image, demonize it, and let it cue people into knowing what's "good", what's "bad". Truth can be turned to lies (budget) and lies can be turned into ... well, something else.

Liberal = bad.
Lefties - bad.
Unions = bad.
Socialism = bad.
NDP = ba-a-ad.

Ask a sensible question: conspiracy theory. Bad.

Show a little sympathy for others. Lefty. Bad.

Fast Ferries. Bad.

A.L.R. Bad.

Saves a lot of thinking. Which, I gotta say, is ba-a-a-ad.

Btw, I've been using the Google Alert tool which is a handy way of finding news reports on any topic. I've listed Basi & Virk, BC Rail, Paul Battershill, Premier Goddam Campbell, and Carole James.

Anyone who doubts the rightwing bias of Canadian newspapers should try asking for stories on 1) Campbell and 2) Carole James. Compare and be amazed by the flood of stuff coming in under #1 and the rare item Google can find under #2.


macadavy said...

Boyce Richardson, in his autobiography: 'Memoirs of a Media Maverick' said it all:
"I had also come to some conclusions about my profession. I had a strong distaste for the myths that most journalists seemed to believe about their importance. I had found journalists motivated more by vanity than by a lust for public service, and they tended to be childishly susceptible to flattery from men of power. So far as they believed they were free to write what they wanted, and that they were the first line among defenders of freedom of expression, I thought they were suffering from a massive occupational delusion. I had concluded that freedom lies only with the rich men who own the media, who hire sycophants to do their bidding.
The idea of journalists being better informed than your average citizen is a big part of the myth. A daily newspaper, written by these supposedly super-informed people, gives at best a sketchy view of what is really happening; and that view is fatally deformed by the interests of the media owners, and by the intimate relationship that journalists maintain with men of power. In addition, I knew that journalists do not have the influence they pretend to have. The media at large do have a huge influence in setting the political and social agenda, and they form one of the main barriers to improvements in the quality of human life. But individual workers within the media have limited influence on anything, in my experience. My opinion of the profession I practiced had become, then, slightly anarchistic."
'Nuff said!

Anonymous said...

Even Norman Spector - once Mulroney's main man - says in the Globe that the NDP is getting screwed:

The Orange Shaft
Norman Spector, 29/09/08

So, here's my question.

If the media went to battle to secure equal time for Elizabeth May in the leaders' debate, how come we don't see Jack Layton on the front page of all of this morning's papers?

The most egregious example of the orange shaft?

The Vancouver Sun, hands down. In a province where, according to most observers, the battle is between the Conservatives and the NDP, what Jack Layton is proposing to Canadians [the NDP platform was released Sunday] is buried on Page 4.


It gets worse: The Victoria Times-Colonist deep-sixes the NDP platform on Page B-2

Anonymous said...

Mary, it's not just the amount, but the tone of what's written. Can you imagine any columnist anywhere penning a love letter to Carole James like he did to Campbell in the Sun this morning. That kind of thing is normally unseemly, but I guess ol' Vaughn couldn't help himself.

Anonymous said...

Tielman complaining about media bias ? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Tielman is the most blatantly partisan political hack masquerading as a so called journalist that BC has ever produced.

Tell you what Tielman if you are looking for some legitimate non partisan and balanced reporting why not lead by example and start here on your own ego blog ?

Of all the people to bitch about bias you are the biggest offender there is. You give legitimate media a bad name with your blatant partisanship. I don’t have an issue with you being a leftie, but trying to call out others when you are the worst offender ? How lame is that.

BC Mary said...

Anon 8:03,

I went to Vancouver Sun after reading your comment, and looked up what Vaughn Palmer wrote about Goddam Campbell.

Godamighty, that's disgusting! And disappointing! Recently I thought Vaughn Palmer was leveling out, giving credit where it was due to the Opposition, even upbraiding government for its shortcomings.

Huh. He's reverted to type.

Anon, 10:23, the back o'my hand to ya. You'll never find a more fair, professional, or courteous journalist than Bill Tieleman. I can't imagine why he let you mess up his web-site with your ugly remarks.


Anonymous said...

Yesterday the Sun and Province (both CanWest), published a mediocre letter about the 'Coke', tolls, and Campbell.

"Abracadabra! No more Coquihalla Highway tolls

Vancouver Sun

Published: Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The announcement regarding the Coquihalla Highway should serve as a sign to you naysayers out there: The premier and the B.C. Liberal party listen. When we said taxes were high, they dropped them; when we said we were concerned about the environment, they acted; when local governments asked for tax relief, they delivered.

When our government recognizes there is a problem, it does something about it. While the Opposition rants and complains, the Liberals get things done.

Geoff Sharpe

Now I bet that not only Mr. Sharpe is a good Liberal, I'll wager he is connected to the party. That CanWest published this drivel is telling! Is this the best letter they could find to support the tolls coming off the 'Coke', or as I suspect, an Asper plant.

This sort of garbage is one of my main reasons for cancelling my subscription to the Sun and until the Aspers sell the paper, I will never buy one.

Anonymous said...

BC Mary, I have dealt with Vaughn for some years, but recently he has become very limp indeed. I am afraid that our corrupted media is getting to him.

- Print what we want you to print or you will work for the Tyee!

And Baldry, God Almighty, he nothing more than a pitchman for the Liberals. Hearing both on Bill Boring's show want to make me upchuck. Actually - note to advertisers - I seldom tune in on 'NW' anymore. I find BC media inept and childish.

On the whole, the Seattle PI is a far better read.

BC Mary said...

From The Globe and Mail, a good summary of the cowpat the Aspers have stepped into:

Asper considers taking CanWest private


Anonymous said...

I see the same mediocre Geoff Sharpe Letter is in all of the Can
West/VanNet papers as well! I just has to be from a Campbell shill, via the Aspers!

Geoff Sharpe said...

Well you can talk about me behind my back but here's what I have to say to this post and all of your comments

Geoff Sharpe said...

Forgot to post the link -