Here’s the number for the nearest food bank. Can’t afford a phone? Use mine.


Karen Ludwig posted one of those helpful meme posters on Facebook listing all the phone numbers of all the food banks in and around Charlotte County. That seems kind and empathetic on the face of it. So why do I find it so outrageous?

Because Karen (and our other fine representatives) have been elected to help reduce and eliminate problems like local poverty and hunger—not to become the cheerleaders for private sector donation-and-volunteer groups. Karen and Co. need to use our hard-earned tax dollars to redistribute wealth and resolve at least some of our growing social inequality.

Meanwhile, back in reality, the Irving family has stashed millions, perhaps even billions of tax free dollars in Bermuda since the 1970s, while building a conglomerate empire that employs almost twice as many people as the province’s civil service. Everyone living here knows this story. They know the Irvings own most of the mainstream media, with the exception of CBC and a couple of others. They know that the Irvings pressure the government to write legislation that favours their interests—like spraying glyphosate over our Irving-managed forests. They know that the Irving family has a history of punishing upstarts that challenge them. They know that it doesn’t pay to speak out against them. They know it’s about power, and the Irvings have it and they don’t. It’s all out there. CBC reporter Jacques Poitras even wrote a book about it.

Predictably, the Irving family lodged a complaint with the CBC’s ombudsman in an attempt to have Poitras banned from reporting on the family in the media. And they were serious. They hired Lenczner Slaght LLC, a high-powered Toronto litigation firm to draft the complaint.

The question becomes, “who’s afraid of the Irvings?” We all know the answer. But this is not a rant against the Irving family. It’s a rant against power and hoarding wealth. And it’s a rant against us and the way we govern ourselves.

Over the decades we grew complacent while local jobs disappeared. In their place we got a single fibreglass sports car factory and call centre jobs—all from well-connected politicians who would ‘save us’. We got a few corporations that got bigger with government’s help to “create jobs”.  It was all “create jobs”, no matter what the environmental or social costs. Along the way we got toxic forests and polluted oceans. We got a large and permanent poverty class in cities like Saint John. And powerful corporate conglomerates that simply absorbed successful startups and muscled out the competition. We didn't complain, we didn’t protest, for fear of losing our jobs. We sucked it up.

But as the corporate sector knows, New Brunswick isn’t lacking in natural resources. It doesn’t lack innovative people either. So why is it suffering? The answer is, things aren’t bad enough yet. Most of us are still anxiously getting by.

And it’s not only New Brunswick. Politics and business have become handmaidens around the world. The resulting income inequality has reached epidemic proportions almost everywhere. To the extent that even the high-flying Davos elites are getting worried about it.

What we need to do is what was done centuries ago. Like the earlier separation of Church and State, we now need a radical separation of Corporation and State. We need to reclaim our own finances, taking back the control of own currency that Pierre Trudeau gave over to private bankers back in 1974, when he stopped borrowing from the publicly-owned Bank of Canada, ballooning the national debt from $18 billion to over $100 billion in a few short years.

Along with the rest of the world, Canadians have become debt slaves. Today, there are only three nationally-controlled central banks in the world: Cuba, North Korea and Iran. Tellingly, every country that has resisted transferring their public banking systems to the private sector have been coerced, overthrown or invaded.

Who should I blame for this food bank vs. wealth disparity? The spinelessly polite politicians who toady to corporate interests? The celebrity politicians from influential families with their wide telegenic smiles? The rapacious businesses and their leaders? The bankers fuelling the economy with our debt? Or the rest of us who are so willing to accept it?

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