In Alibi for Ignorance, I quoted Will McMartin, one of BC’s few political journalists worthy of respect:
“The paucity of comment [over increased public debt] is in stark contrast to the 1990s when the NDP was in government. Then, nearly every rise in the province’s debt sparked vitriolic diatribes by newspaper editorialists, open-line radio hosts, the business community, as well as the former legislative opposition, the B.C. Liberals.
This go-round nary a peep on the debt has emanated from the legislative press gallery. Newspaper editorial-writers have turned elsewhere to vent their spleens. Phone boards at talk-radio stations have been silent on the issue. Captains of industry are mute.
Mainstream media indeed operates with standards that favor a small segment of society, the same one served by Gordon Campbell’s colleagues in government. The root of this is financial and philosophical.
Elsewhere, the newspaper industry is troubled. In British Columbia, it remained profitable despite problems at overextended head offices. BC media is helped considerably by the government dole. Each year, tens of millions of public dollars flow directly through advertising purchases. Additional value is given in the form of background material prepared by the Political Affairs Bureau and sympathetic agencies. This reduces news gathering costs.
Additionally, and perhaps most insidious, the independence of media personalities is compromised by inducements and incentives paid by industries that desire favorable coverage.
|Geo Bush, Nancy Lazar, Ken Lay|
Earlier today, I posted The smartest guys in the room negotiate contracts, using the title of a book by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind. They wrote about Enron and the larcenous acts of fraud against the public by energy traders. Those were facilitated by a compliant media, unable or unwilling to report truthfully as fortunes were assembled by crooks with influence. Enron was led by Ken Lay, or “Kenny Boy” as friend George Bush called him. Lay died or disappeared while awaiting sentencing after conviction on ten counts related to the Enron failure.
Today, both the captains of industry and the media in British Columbia are silent on many issues that subvert public interests. And, why not? Industry is rewarded through tax reductions worth billions in HST and corporate income taxes. Media is fully compromised as noted above.
My analysis of false claims by Partnerships BC is not based on complicated research. For example, the Liberal government’s P3 promoters say this,
Risk Transfer: . . . Under public private partnerships – especially those in which the private sector commits to operate a new facility for a fixed period – the contractor, not government, is liable for those cost risks. . .
Today, we are reminded that government carries the risk on the Golden Ears Bridge. Accordingly, taxpayers pay the $63 million revenue shortfall experienced by the private operator, so far. When that P3 contract was written, government absorbed risk, the private contractor’s profits were guaranteed.
So where is the media outrage about the false claims made by Partnerships BC and its $500,000+ bonus earning CEO?
Even the CBC is completely tamed. They reported absolute nonsense from Translink’s Ken Hardie:
“By the end of 2011, we expect a $63 million gap, a deficit we will be able to cover through savings, through other capital programs and reserves. The key thing right now is that there is no exposure to the taxpayer. We’re not going to come looking for more money to cover the gap on the Golden Ears Bridge,” Hardie said.
CBC boldly states that taxpayers will not be on the hook for a revenue shortfall through tolls on the Golden Ears Bridge. That does not square with the facts; it is purposeful misinformation. Translink has one source that makes up its deficits and shortfalls: the taxpayer. Hardie is dishonest to pretend that shuffling money from one Translink fund to another Translink fund relieves taxpayers or in any way takes them off the hook.