Everywhere we turn, our minds are being inundated with information. People, business, government and media are trying to get us to hear what it is they have to say, buy what it is they are selling or offer us their ‘Point of View’ on what s happening in the world or needs to happen. The struggle is trying to work through all these messages to determine what is Truth, Propaganda, Misinformation or just an outright lie. This is not an easy task because it seems harder and harder to get the actual facts on any given situation. If you are presented with facts it is often altered or spun or presented from only one Point of View rather than a range of perspectives.
It appears that our media is at risk of losing its ability to report issues in an unbiased way. Information and perspective can be controlled or limited. It is often only those in power or with influence whose voices are heard. The information or perspective those people provide are tainted by their experience and offer simply one point of view. Growing-up I believed the news, be it on television or in the paper, was filled with truth. It is only when you examine the stories that are reported, the information sources provided you discover that the news we are getting is often very one-sided and is not necessarily the truth. The effort to add comments to the news stories has only enhanced the perpetuation of societal political myths as these opinions by the readers are often filled with messages of intolerance and anger. Is the purpose of the information provided to inform, manipulate or control? Can we tell?
In the news recently was Stephan Poloz’s statement that unemployed, well-educated youth needed to volunteer or intern for free rather than sit in their parent’s basements looking for work. This work for free statement has caught the public eye and has put a much-needed issue into the media. One can ask with the depth of unemployment of our youth: Why it isn’t already a hot button issue? If we don’t solve the problem of youth unemployment, wasted talent, the long-term human costs will be enormous. This issue like many is filled with truths, propaganda, misinformation or outright lies.
The politicians or at least the politicians in power and media report a stat as simple as 43, 000 new jobs created. They won’t tell us what the jobs are, how much they pay or who got them. We have been told by Stats Canada that youth unemployment is twice that of every one else. We are not told how many are not reporting or actively looking for work? How many youth are not working and not part of the stats as they have part-time, low paying jobs? We are not told how many youth decide to go back to school, despite already having at least one degree because they can’t find work which only increases their debt and forces their financial independence and ability to contribute to our society to be delayed or lost. We are not told the costs to families to support their children who can not find employment.
We are told in order to get people back to work we must create a business friendly environment in Canada. We are not told what that means? We are not told that Canada’s business tax is less than that of the United States. We are not told that businesses can increase profits but still cut jobs. We are not told how many jobs are lost as we provide free-labour through intern programs. What’s wrong with paid Intern Programs?
We are often told we can not afford to pay for health, education, job training, infrastructure or to create a more sustainable planet. We are not told that are deficit Federally is increasing. We are not told that decreased taxes to business has not resulted in more well-paying jobs for Canadians but rather increased profits for the lucky 1% who seem to benefit financially as well as control policy and media. The propaganda, misinformation and outright lies associated with the ‘Urban Myth’ that ‘Trickle Down’ economics works for everyone has resulted in many Canadians blaming each other or the poor for our country’s economic woes. Do we examine and report on the data that indicate whether this policy works or doesn’t work? Do we report on the evidence? Do we even know what is truth, propaganda, misinformation or lies?
We are told that the Tar Sands are essential to saving the Canadian economy and putting people back to work. We are not told about the environmental implications surrounding our reliance on oil and gas. We are not told of the pollution seeping into Lake Winnipeg. We are not told the high personal debt of all Canadians, except those living in Alberta. Does this government policy help all Canadians? What are the actual costs to our current oil and gas policies? Where is the evidence? The research? Is oil and gas where future jobs for Canadians are?
From poverty, to crime, to how we live is guided by the information we receive. We are told creating a sustainable country, a sustainable world is impossible. We are told it will put people out of work. We must ask ourselves who is giving us this message? What is the truth? History tells us that when we don’t adapt to the world around us we risk extinction. If times and systems change and we use the same policies and believes we always have they are doomed to failure.
Our country is diverse and requires more than just a narrow one size fits all approach. We need to find our way through all the propaganda, misinformation and lies to the truth for our country, our communities and our people. We must demand more from our media. We must demand unbiased reporting. We must stop having our hot news item of the day. We must as individuals demand the answers and demand the evidence to support what we are being told. We must demand the truth.