11 Nov 2013

Globe's article on income gap
really propaganda

McKenna - My sacrificial lamb.
Journalist Barrie McKenna, writing in the main hyped-up article in the Globe’s Focus section on November 9.13, talks about how the gap in income between the rich and the rest of us is a serious problem that will hurt Canada for generations to come. True.

However, McKenna presented the issue as though we had just learned about the income gap. The frustrating truth is that we have known for years that the changes the Conservatives and the Liberals before them were making to the tax system, plus other adjustments, was resulting in much greater income disparity and the hollowing out of the middle class.

In fact, even the conservative Conference Board of Canada recognized this as a problem 20 years ago!

The article’s weaknesses are glaring. This is particularly significant because McKenna’s article launched a two-week-long series under the topic, Canada’s Wealth Paradox series.

McKenna makes no effort to explain WHY the wage gap is still increasing. He throws around terms such as globalization as being part of the problem, but he does not explain WHY we have such serious incomes gaps.

Income disparity doesn’t just happen

McKenna leaves readers with the impression that, well, a problem such as income disparity just happens. But serious problems, such as massive income disparities, don’t just happen. These problems occur when governments choose certain economic policies over others.

You would never know from this story that Stephen Harper’s neo-liberal economic policies, which are discredited as a failure in many countries now, are to blame.

It is puzzling to see the Globe launch such an important – in its own mind – series with such a misleading, dishonest article.

McKenna makes no mention of the fact that Harper, and the Liberals before him, created trickle-down financial policies on purpose to make the already wealthy and giant corporations even more wealthy. This is done based on the false assumption that those rich folks re-invest their wealth in the economy. It’s not happening – it never happens!

McKenna failed to point out that these policies are a total failure. His so-called “journalism” is unbalanced and, considering his own knowledge in this area, dishonest. This article is little more than propaganda for those who espouse right-wing economic policies.

One of the reasons why this article is glaringly flawed is that McKenna’s work normally appears in the Globe’s Report on Business (RoB) where, most of the time, journalists present only the pro-business side of issues. Sometimes an opposing view is dropped in at the bottom of a story.

When an RoB journalist writes for the regular news or features section of the Globe – as in this case – the lack of balance is often obvious.

Economic term ‘neo-liberal’ taboo at the Globe
Interestingly, even though Harper has been governing Canada with extremely damaging neo-liberal policies for seven years, the term is taboo at the Globe. If the mainstream corporate media alerted the public to all of the evil elements in Harper’s neo-liberal package, I can’t imagine the CONS. getting elected again.

While McKenna briefly states that the Scandinavian countries are much better compared to Canada in controlling income gaps, he does not explain why this is the case. Simply put, those countries have economic policies that reflect their commitment to the well-being of the general population.

In addition to holding specific media outlets responsible for the integrity of their journalism, perhaps it’s time we held individual journalists responsible for their work. If we started doing this, Barrie McKenna would easily win the award for “Best Propaganda Article of the Week!”

Of course there are lots of journalists putting their bylines on misleading and dishonest stories. In this situation, McKenna is my sacrificial lamb.

Note: I imagine some of you are going to beat me up for singling out an individual journalist – oops, propagandist – for criticism. Well, going after faceless organizations like the Globe doesn’t bring change. So, as an alternative, we need to hold individual journalists responsible for their half-baked, misleading stories.

The little “crimes” that Barrie McKenna committed in the income gap story are, in fact, more serious than we might think. The large volume of such misleading journalism creates a propaganda-riddled “false reality.”

If the so called “reporting” and commentary in mainstream media continues to create the kind of imaginary world our elites want to see, can 1984 be far behind?

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  1. For those of us with short memories or too many distractions, I would have liked to see examples of the policies you refer to, examples of the trickle down policies.

  2. Media $

    For Canada 2013

    population 35 million
    GDP 2 trillion
    percent of GDP spent on advertising in the media 2%

    2% of the GDP = $40 billion is spent on advertising in the media. That means that $40 billion is advertising's annual contribution to sustaining the media in Canada.

    For the average Canadian If you got paid the average Canadian wage for all the time you spent watching or reading ads all year you would make over $12,000

    Time is money. For each Canadian, advertising wastes on average $12,000 worth of time each year. (for the average Canadian making the average Canadian wage of $20/hour)

    If instead of relying on ads to pay for $40 billion worth of media, we equally shared the $40 billion cost, it would cost us each $1,140 a year or $2.75 a day

    one persons share of funding should equal 2% of GDP(2 trillion) / population (35 million) = $1,140

    Deal? or Rip off? Canadians pay on average $12,000 worth of time each year for media that would cost us $1,140 each if we chose to equally share the cost.

    thank you
    Breezy Brian Gregg
    no ads Canada | http://no-ads.ca

  3. We bought Mulroney's NAFTA knowing in the back of our minds that somehow this was going to do us in. At the time I and a number of others remember saying that corporations were trying to get cheap labour with no regulations as a way of countering unions and Canadian labour. The result is income disparity. Now we have another Con. in the name of Harper doing the same thing. Mind you, this is occurring across the world. Economist state it has been good because our GDP has risen. So the real story is that corporate profits has risen, GDP has risen but Canadian wages have dropped. Of what benefit has this been to the average Canadian? None whatsoever. This at a time when labour has been more productive while corporate R&D and investment has diminished. I's a shame that people don't recognize the issues. Instead, they prefer to watch organized reality TV.

  4. Posted for Michaele Kustudic

    Thanks for this article, and your excellent critique, Nick. I'm sure you've already read Raj Patal's book, 'The Value of Nothing' (which I am just reading now), but in case you haven't, it's really an excellent and clear (and not too heavy or too long) explanation of the evils of capitalism, and how we got to be in the mess we find ourselves in. Well worth a read, if you haven't already.

  5. Dear Mr. Fillmore,
    I read your mail this AM and therefore paid special attention to the McKenna story. I think that your analysis is unfair.

    McKenna highlighted inequality as a problem. It is a well known thing that the first step to solving problems is to recognize them. He described the better examples (Scandanavia) and the worse ones (US). He detailed historical trends and the dangers of not doing something. This is all useful.

    His sin, by you, appears to have not single-mindedly attacked Stephen Harper. Lord knows Mr. Harper deserves much criticism for many things, but as Mr. McKenna made clear, the inequality indices have been rising for 30 years or more. These are very long term phenomena, far beyond the short-term influences of any one Prime Minister. In fact, Canada has been doing rather better lately - again, not because of a PM but because of other factors, aka our resources.

    I don't understand this attack unless it was driven by partisan sentiment. It was disappointing. Better by far to have congratulated the author on a new series on inequality. Your usefulness as a media critic rests on a necessary perception of fairness, a perception not earned here.
    Regards, Gordon Gibson.