Or is it their job to draw certain knee-jerk conclusions, and then
look for information to support those pre-determined conclusions,
working backwards; or worse, to manipulate the information, and if
required, confuse the flow of logic to reach those conclusions? This
is what the Council
of Canadians, an activist Canadian organization, does.
Having gone through much
of their published material, I can attest that almost nothing is
referenced, substantiated or proven, that meanings of terms are used
in mutually contradictory ways, and that just about every claim and
conclusion is questionable. This is especially the case when they
discuss health care and trade, as the following examples show.
In a passage of their book on Medicare, Profit is Not the Cure,
discussing the 1993 mergers in the US medical industry (p. 17), the
Council deplores the substantial rise in profits that these companies
went through, without either proving those figures or analyzing the
reasons for such a rise (increased efficiency, etc.). They then say,
"The annual profit of the corporate health care market in the US now
stands at almost one trillion dollars (US)." Well, the truth is that
the consolidated profits of all US companies stood at a lot
less than one trillion dollars (US), even in 2002(1).
Why exaggerate figures so
much that they have absolutely no value? If this denunciation of
profits in the US health care system is the basis for advocating the
continued exclusive public sector control of the Canadian health
sector, what should we conclude if the figures are so erroneous?
In their book to educate
people about international trade agreements (Making the Links: A
Citizen's Guide to the WTO and the FTAA, p. 7), the Council
claims that: "the powerful U.S.-based Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers Association spent US$197 million to elect Republicans to
office…" No source is provided for these figures. According to
information available on the Websites of the
Commission, and two other watchdogs (opensecrets.org,
Common Cause), total receipts by Republicans for the
2000 US presidential election was US$193 million. This included US$67
million in federal funding. The Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers Association donated a total of US$0.33 million.
Talking about trade
agreements (p. 9), the Council writes that, "family farms and small
agricultural operations all over the world have been destroyed by free
trade in agriculture." Just a bit earlier they say, "the U.S. and
Europe have [...] stepped up agricultural subsidies…" Indeed, the harm to
farmers in poor countries is due to subsidies in Europe and the USA,
not to free trade (as subsidized trade is not free).
Elsewhere (p. 21), they
claim that: "While the FTAA's investment rules establish and secure
the 'rights' of corporations, there are no labor clauses to ensure or
guarantee the rights of the workers." This is one of the most
oft-repeated statements. Investment rules are directly related to the
investors, i.e., corporations. It is true these rules do not
necessarily talk about space exploration, traffic system, the
educational system, environment, law and order, workers' rights, and
many other areas – nor should they. But the fact that they do not talk
about other laws does not mean that all other laws stand nullified.