Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Open thread on BC teachers strike

If you want to share your thoughts on the BC teachers strike or the CTF class action suit against the unions, fill your boots here.

UPDATE: Some good discussion over at SDA.

UPDATE Milke in today's National Post (no link, sorry):

"...Instead, organized labour now claims the illegal strike is about children and that the teacher's union is engaged in an epic battle. The public is told that it's akin to historic struggles by southern U.S. blacks for civil rights, for Indians and black South Africans to rule themselves, and for Polish workers in the 1970s and 1980s to form a union and vote for a political party other than the one mandated by Moscow. "


"The strike has brought out other rhetorical excesses. After a recent article that I wrote criticized the Ghandi-Walesa-striking teachers' comparison, one e-mail correspondent likened essential service legislation to laws enacted in Nazi-era Germany.

But if overwrought e-mailers overdo it, they and labour leaders miss the irony of their own contradictions. According to CUPE, the government should obey a UN-funded, pro-union secretariat when it issues a non-binding diktat. But apparently teachers are under no moral obligation to return to work despite clear violations of binding domestic law and binding orders from independent courts."

(...) Then Milke brings it home...

"B.C.'s labour movement consistently lobbies for monopoly control over public education and yet complains when governments give such dominance to them but without the right to strike. The BCTF has a long history of playing the martyr card, except that the teachers' union can't get along with anyone. The previous NDP government also ordered teachers back to work and imposed contracts. "


PA Grizzly said...

Oh this is rich from the BCTF web site...

"Further, BCPSEA could not agree to anything that related to the most fundamental concerns of teachers—conditions in the classroom."

They all start out striking about classroom conditions, but they fold like deck chairs for a raise. What a joke.

PA grizzly said...

And Melonface, the response was angry because I was angry. You pulled out the "you were taught by a teacher" demagoguery. That really pisses me off. I make no apologies for snapping. Make a coherent argument with out trying to tug at my non-existent heart strings.

It's a free country. Teachers can change professions if they want more money or more benefits. You don't have a "right" to be a teacher.

If they do leave, there will be a lineup of people waiting to take the job and get a crack at the seniority and pension and three months off.

If teachers have a right to seek a better wage, shouldn't taxpayers have the right to say no?

Shawn said...

Pa Grizzly you obviously haven't been getting your updates from our overlords at the Canadian Labour Congress. Things haven't functioned in the reasonable, sane fashion you describe in at least 40 years.

West Coaster said...

"Canadian Taxpayers Federation"

LOL what a joke! It's more like:

Canadian Anti-Tax Federation

Everybody should just accept every law handed out by government even when it contravenes International Law, even when it stands against International Agreements on human rights. They should just shutup and keep their place right? Correct me if I'm wrong but you are all probably the types to think that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist! I sympathize with Low-Income Families, but I don't think anyone here is below the poverty line are they? I suspect that most low-income families would probably be in favor of more spending on reducing class sizes and improving the state of our public education system so that their children have a better chance at succeeding in life where they might have not.

Oh and "pa grizzly" last time I checked BC Teachers forfitted a pay raise in favor of improving classroom conditions... So before you make a stupid comment like that, check your facts!

Oh but wait... He did it again! Yes, thats right! Students are going to come in droves to go through years of education racking up huge student loans only to find that they get to be Teachers on Call for an average at least 5 years earning on average a massive 10,000per year before getting a crack at even a semi-permanent postition. Right! Those der dam teacers eh? They are all getting such great wages why would they want more? Check your Facts man!

Don't get me wrong I'm no Big Labour Hack nor am I a Teacher. Hell, I've never even voted NDP in my life! But when a Government imposes a contract and takes away a fundamental right agreed upon which our Country is signatory, that gets personal. Bill 18 has been deemed to violate our International agreements and therefore has violated international and Canadian Law. The BC government is breaking the law by not allowing teachers the right to strike and bargain for class sizes.

Tommy Douglas said...

Ah...the "if you want your children educated better you pay us more and hire more of us" argument...a classic!

Jeez, I have so many teacher friends (in their first year or two) and none of them have had this $10,000 problem.

But you made the point. If more disgruntled teachers would leave their positions to find higher wages, there would be more full time jobs available for young teachers.

Tommy Douglas said...

Actually, and this is really going to shake your cage, Nelson Mandela WAS a terrorist. Mandela took part in bombings that targeted civilians and attempted to maximize the casualties.

Also, Mandela awarded Moamar Ghadafi with SAs highest military honour. And Ghadafi was involved in several terrorist attacks.

jazzdude said...

You cannot call yourself the Canadian Taxpayers Association, because that is what I am, and I do not share your beliefs, or surely your values. You're a bunch of right wing loonies.

I may have to sue you.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me sign this Anti Canadian, Anti Worker, Anti Union Garbage. Maybe they should contract the teachers jobs out to India or China then the government can save on their labour costs. After reading this class action baloney I just deleted this bookmark.

firefight16 said...

I agree with West Coaster how about The Canadian Taxpayers Federation start a lawsuit againest the BC government for breaking international law agreements which they signed!!!

"But when a Government imposes a contract and takes away a fundamental right agreed upon which our Country is signatory, that gets personal. Bill 18 has been deemed to violate our International agreements and therefore has violated international and Canadian Law. The BC government is breaking the law by not allowing teachers the right to strike and bargain for class sizes."

Anonymous said...

Those who don't create goods or services of value become lawyers, those too lazy to get a law degree become teachers.

Anonymous said...

There's some people on here who obviously were victims of poor teaching and a sad educational system. They use big words like "international law" and tug on heart strings with "low-income families" in an attempt to justify their incorrect opinions. My question to them is, where is the right to a childs education that the teachers took away when they went on this illegal strike? or, who will help the low-income families now that the teachers have forced them to put their children into day-care, which they can't afford?

I already know you're answer, the government right? But wait a second, the government did take action to help the people, it was called Bill 12.

All you're doing is justifying law-breaking. thats a very sad thing. You should be ashamed.

David MacLean said...

As Milke points out (I've updated the post), the unions seem to have a lot of faith in this myserious "international law" but they don't have any respect for our own Canadian laws.

And they are teaching my kid?

Shawn said...

Would that respect for other countries' laws now be expanded to allow deportation of criminals to the US to face the death penalty?

Chad Moats said...

Technically according to most speaker of legalise is that international laws and treaties supersede any domestic laws and according to the UN Declaration on Human Rights- the right to strike is protected and Canada is a signatory of the document. Therefore, the a union's right to strike is law and any law not permitting or curtailing it would be illegal.

Shawn said...

Then hate speech laws should not be alllowed to "curtail" free speech following the same train of thought. Does the legislation in question completely remove the right to strike, or merely place limits on it? There is a big difference.

Chad Moats said...

Actually back to work legislation is an infringement of the international right to strike. Note our own government does not guarantee this right. It would be very difficult and arduous process to get an international ruling on this specific piece of legislation so de facto law is domestic, first, unless someone manages to win a challenge on the international stage. I did say technically.

Shawn said...

The same government doesn't guarantee the right to private property either(that's also in the UN Charter of Human Rights). This sudden reliance on "international laws and treaties" puzzles me a bit. All this fuss over back-to-work legislation makes me wonder if there shouldn't be right-to-work legislation introduced.

Tommy Douglas said...

If we had right to work legislation the teachers unions would lose most of their support.

Sure, you have the right to strike, but you don't have the right to strike forever until you get everything you want.

What the teachers are doing is hurting people.

Every time big unions go on strike, it strengthens the argument against union monopolies.

Shawn said...

What is supposed to be the perceived benefit(s) of allowing union monopolization of the public sector? Who the heck agreed to this insanity?

If unionized labor is so vastly superior, then it should have no fear of competition from non-unionized sources of labor.

Anonymous said...

Teachers belong in the classroom, if they want to change government policy,by all means run for office and do so.

As for unions, well, they belong somewhere else, somewhere dark and cramped and uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

Right to Work legislation ensures that we live in a truly free society. Forcing union membership as a work requirement obviously violates the principle of freedom of association. This is a power unions never should have been given. As far as this particular issue, I find it offensive that teachers pretend their job actions have anything to do with the helping the children. Bullshit. You want more money and more union jobs. Smaller class sizes equals more jobs, right? Right. To say this is for the children is so disingenuous it makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Those who don't create goods or services of value become lawyers, those too lazy to get a law degree become teachers."

And those who can't do anything worthwhile become right wing lobbyists at some think tank named after a dead Greek....

brian said...

Anonymous said...
Those who don't create goods or services of value become lawyers, those too lazy to get a law degree become teachers."

well considering that you, anonymous are proabably one of those lawyers, the ambulance chasing type, looking for the BIG payoff, it is too bad that you are too much of a coward to reveal your name, you hid behind "anonymous". Obviously you are easily led, have little thought processing skills, and too stupid to know when you are being taken in by the CTF!!!!

Anonymous said...

Brian, my name is Olaf, I'm a fisherman and I use worms like you for bait! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

David MacLean said...

Brian, you hack on anonymous for not using his name, yet you use only "Brian." Not exactly full disclosure, sir. I wonder how many brians there are in Canada? I wonder how many striking teachers named brian there are? You are the coward with your ad hominem attacks.

Josef said...

You win this lawsuit... and the BCTF will be broke. Bankrupt. Bye-bye!

Josef said...

Well, well some good pictures about the illegal strike and the CTF's stellar role are rounding the web tonight - go HERE, HERE and HERE

Gordon said...

Wow Josef, can you put up some Gordo mug shots for us.(real life is always funnier) Your law biding leader, I wonder if the CTF ever goes after the biggest law breakers in the province, The BC Fiberals

Josef said...

# posted by Gordon : 4:57 PM

No, becuz Premier Campbell is my hero.

As Premier, he has:

*Conducted a Core Services Review, prioritizing what is worth the taxpayer's nickel... and what's not.
*Finally took care of the PacifiCatastrophe
*Made BC Ferries rock
*Stood up to lefty thugs
*Made genuine election reforms like fixed election dates, open cabinet meetings, expanded question time, and so on.

This is a man who demands this Yank's respect. I would follow him into hell, for I would come back out beating the Satan within. He is a leader because he stands up and he fights - and isn't a mean person.

Good enough?

Anonymous said...

He fights all right - down and dirty. He is the enemy, no question.

All you right-wing, neo-cons are just enraged at the idea that any of your precious money should go to public education or anything else not for you and yours.

The working poor understand that their children benefit when the middle classes and the wealthy are taxed to give their kids the education and other benefits they could never afford for themselves.

This is an all-out, to the death political and legal war and it is not over yet. The political representatives of the wealthy, owning, managerial classes will be defeated, finally.

Meanwhile, I do agree that the best teachers should examine the continental free market and look for teaching positions that pay better in any of the more prosperous States or in Ontario. The best and brightest will leave for better positions elsewhere in the continental market -as with many doctors and nurses, who have also, in large numbers, shaken the dust of BC from their feet forever.

Anonymous said...

And next time, the BCTF needs to get its money, its office files and its leaders out of the country and beyond the reach of Canadian Law, so the courts cannot touch them, especially in civil matters where extradition treaties do not exist.

Meanwhile, they must avoid pitched battles they cannot win until they are stronger, so they should develop "guerilla war" methods, striking suddenly, at random, and without warning, and then melting back into the woodwork - short of actual violence, of course.

The idea, the message to the antediluvian BC government would be, essentially, "no justice, no peace".

En masse, as well, teachers should withdraw all economic support from any private business, such as a bank or newspaper, that worked or commented against them - hurt the profit-driven so-and-so's where it hurts them most, in their highest moral understanding, the god they worship: the all-might buck.

My name is J.R. Pattison, and I am retired, and do not assume it is from teaching, either.

Josef said...

# posted by Anonymous : 11:06 PM

Nice comments about the free market, but as to, "All you right-wing, neo-cons are just enraged at the idea that any of your precious money should go to public education or anything else not for you and yours. The working poor understand that their children benefit when the middle classes and the wealthy are taxed to give their kids the education and other benefits they could never afford for themselves." BULLS--T. If this were true, BC Schools would be privatized.

The CTF lawsuit is because a service was withheld... illegally.

Anonymous said...

Private schools ultimately benefit the relatively wealthy citizens - they can purchase, for their own children, the better teachers, smaller classes and better learning materials that, inevitably, give their kids a decided edge in adult life.

Failing, that, private schools isolate and reinforce minority religious or cultural groups, making smooth integration into our multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic society more difficult as adults.

A properly financed public system is nothing more than the wealthier classes paying for a first class education for the children of all the people, so the kids from less wealthy homes can actually start adult life at almost the same line as the children of the wealthy.

A lot of rich people don't like that. What they really want is to be able to use their money to buy themselves or their kids advantages in really important matters, such as law, health and education.

Of course, right-wing neo-cons will use bafflegab code words such as "choice" or "competition" to hide or obfuscate the real agenda.

A generally private school system would begin to create a semi-heriditary class structure in our society, or would divide adult society on religious or ethnic lines, in the end.
Some believe, and I am not sure I do, that the actual, real agenda of the BC government is to slowly starve the public system of cash, create crises after crises within it, and thus make private schools, AT WHICH THE BC GOVERNMENT HAS THROWN CONSIDERABLE AMOUNTS OF TAXPAYER MONEY, seem more attractive.

In the end, the remnants of the debased public school system would resemble the "all black schools" of the old American south - inferior in every way, but "good enough for the poor and the working poor".

It should be understood that there are two basic issues at the bottom of the recent teacher strike:


when is it morally justified to knowingly break a law or defy the courts?


Is the right to free, collective bargaining, "high contracting party" to "high contracting party" of sufficient basic importance as to justify civil disobedience?

It should also be understood that the collective solidarity aimed for in any union is the only real "club" that can come anywhere near close to matching the power of money and management. Single workers, trying to bargain with money and management as individuals have no power at all. Under those conditions, all the cards are in the hands of the owners or managers, and that is absolutely wrong.

Remember, too, that the very word "employ" actually means "to use".

As to "right to work" laws, the question must be asked: if a person chooses not to belong to the union, and works despite the union strike or pickets, is that person then entitled to any contract, salary, working conditions or benefits that a union does negotiate for its members?

Often, management will offer a non-union employee "the union deal", or even better, in order to break the union. But, once the union is broken, watch what owners or management do then!

In the real world, a phrase right wing, neo-cons love to employ as a put down of anyone who does not live their way or play by their rules, any strike that does not cause pain is an expensive exercise in useless futility.

The essential balance of forces is thus: if you do not truly negotiate and bargain with us, as a group, then as a group, WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN. The flip side, of course, is that WE ARE NOT GETTING PAID while we shut you down.

At a certain point, one side of the other will "crack" and some sort of deal will, ultimately, be made. To listen to some of the comments on this post, one would think that striking employees are supposed to go without pay and yet no pain is caused to the business or service being struck! What fool would knowkingly strike under such conditions?

Another issue, beyond those two, is the role of government as an employer. The BC government seems to be under the impression, as an employer, that it does not have to negotiate or accept a strike! It seems to be operating on the odd belief that governments, as employers, can simply pass laws to set all terms and conditions of employment and, thus, avoid bargaining with employees, as other employers must do.

The government needs to learn the lesson it cannot abuse the law-making power to do this.

One defence the BCTF might employ in the pending class action suit, with a view to eventual appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada on the issue is that, if unions can be sued blind for the inconvenience or financial costs to individuals because of a strike, then the right to strike, itself, is theoretical only, both in the private and the public sectors, and, thus, such law suits cannot be allowed.

This would leave the plaintifs with only the argument that this particular strike was illegal, to which the response might well be: that has already been addressed by a half million dollar fine, and cannot be addressed further, or should not be, as a civil matter.

Mind you, the half million dollar fine seems relatively light in view of the fact that the union was prepared to spend two million dollars a day on strike pay, with a total "war chest" reported at around 14 million dollars.

I read into this that the judge felt some gut level sympathy with the union but had to uphold the law in a technical sense...

One final comment: anyone who actually believes teachers are an "essential service" in the sense that irreversible or substantial harm will be done TO CHILDREN by being out of school and out of class for relatively short periods, such as a few weeks or even a month or two, IS NOT LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD

Ayn said...

Please explain how we can have a "multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic society" without "isolating and reinforcing minority religious or cultural groups"?

Or is "smooth integration" just a euphemism for "assimilation"?

It's doubtful Canadians will ever really learn to appreciate a multi-cultural, -religious, -ethnic society. Canadians are as racist and bigoted as they ever were.

And if you check the history books, they always were. All Canadians have done recently is "pick favourites" amongst these groups and trot them out as evidence of the politically-correct Great Canadian Tolerance for Diversity.

They also make great red herrings for left-wing neo-communists bleating about "the rich" putting their kids in private schools. The neo-comms must absolutely hate homeschooling, which allows ordinary folk to protect their offspring from Marxist indoctrination in our education system.

By all means, pit the evil "rich" against the poor proles to obfuscate the real issue, which is that the "civil disobedience" in this strike was just a strategy the BCTF used in this well-orchestrated, high profile political power-struggle. The "kids" were just cannon-fodder. (Their parents, after all, are the bourgeousie that keep our evil capitalist economy going.)

Oh well. With any luck, classroom students will one day follow their teachers' example. Of course, the BCTF will find a way to blame the government for the resulting chaos. Unless, of course, they are the government. Then they will blame the "rich" no doubt ... presuming there are any left by then.

Josef said...

# posted by Ayn : 2:02 PM

Nice reply to the previous... ranter.

Methinks the BCTF wants the fruit... but not the consequences.

Methinks also if the BCTF can go on strike, when can taxpayers?

Try to answer that question, lefty-wingy-loonies?

Anonymous said...

The first question strikes me as a serious one, which I will accordingly attempt to answer.

In the public schools, which all kinds of children from all sorts of homes and backgrounds attend, young people of different financialo, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds must "rub shoulders" with each other as "equals" on a daily basis.

Thus, in this common environment, during the formative years of childhood and adolescence, they come to understand people not quite like themselves on a direct, personal basis. They are exposed, in this common environment, to all sorts of "others", and learn, in the give-and-take of informal as well as formal experience, the values of respect, acceptance and toleration which, as you correctly point out later in your response to me, are still visibly lacking in our society, although I do not believe Canadians, on the whole, are as racist or bigoted today as they were, say, in 1945 or 1950.

There is a real difference between socializing and having to "rub shoulders" in youth with people from different backgrounds or traditions than your own, and actually disocuraging particular cultural or religious traditions.

There is no logical or necessary conflict between preservation of a cultural heritage and learning about and even making friends with persons from differing traditions.

Private schools, with rare exceptions, isolate one tradition or religion from others, and thus TEND to produce adults who have little or no direct experience with fellow citizens from other traditions. My contention is, then, that such a condition is not good for the country as it has evolved since 1945 and that the universally attended public school is one of the "hidden glues" that make the Canadian multi-everything experiment a success.

Thus, by "smooth integration" I do not wish to suggest assimilation but, rather, genuine acceptance of diversity based on personal contacts, even friendships, formed in the public school ALL went to in youth.

The reason terms such as "choice", in this context, are truly a kind of Orwellian bafflegab, is that such choice essentially presumes the resources to make the choice, or to develop it.

It is almost always the wealthier middle classes and the truly rich who have, because of money, the most choices.

I do not suggest the rich are truly "evil" in wanting to use their money to get advantages or benefits for themselves that others cannot afford and, indeed, in certain relatively unimportant things, such as entertainment or "bragging rights" with respect to material things, such as homes, cars, boats, vacations and expensive clothing, to name but a few examples,it should probably be allowed.

But, when it comes to health care, education and legal choices or advantages, the wealthy should never, ever be permitted to use their private wealth to "jump the line", or "get a better deal" than the poorest amongst us.

O,J, Simpson, for example, should never have been allowed "the dream team of lawyers" if the poorest bum accused of murder could not have the same.

Why should a wealthy man have better chances in court than a poor one? Simply because he can afford to pay from his private purse? Sorry, for me that is not and never has been good enough.

There will always be lots of relatively rich people.Don't you worry on that score. This is true for several reasons:

a) human greed, next to fear, is perhaps the most powerful of all emotions;

b) many wealthy people are wealthy almost as a side benefit to having certain emotional and character traits, such as a desire to win, a competitive value system and large egos that need a lot of feeding; many are true workaholics, who have actually made a kind of god out of money or the oower over others and status that money can bring or confer, often to the exclusion of other values or priorities in life.

c) many people are simply gifted by nature with more ability or more insight than others - in this sense, of course, ALL MEN are NOT created equal, as we all know from real world observation

d) and, in reference to history, let us not forget that Marx was surely talking about the real world when he observed, "every great fortune is founded on a crime".

As the American President, Theodore Roosevelt noted, and it is as true today as it was then, "the poor man will bum a ride in an empty railroad car and be thrown off, beaten up and jailed. The rich man will steal the entire railroad and be hailed as a captain of industry and invited to dinner at the White House."

It has been truly noted that "all the biggest crime stories are now found in the Business Section of the newspaper."

I would also like to comment on the tiresome idea that "the kids are just cannon fodder".

In fact, no real harm is done to any student who misses classes in school for even several weeks, or even a month or two. The only real harm done to THE KIDS, is if they are generally denied a first class education throughout childhood and adolesence, say for months or years on end.

Here again, we have either an inadvertant or a deliberate confusion. The MAJOR INCONVENIENCE, including financial costs not expected, is on the adult PARENTS - not on their children. The PAIN, and as I noted above there must be pain if the strike is to make any sense at all, is with the PARENTS, not their children.

The odd thing was that, despite the inconvenience, need to re-arrange domestic schedules, and extra temporary expense finding day-care and so on, so many parents actually supported the teachers. One must wonder at that and seriously ask, why?

Rightly, or wrongly, it may be because those parents were convinced, at some level of understanding, that their own kids stood, in the longer term, to benefit from what the teachers were trying to do or achieve.

I can think of no other reason why a parent, not being a teacher or closely related to a teacher, would support the teachers.

Ayn said...

All very well in theory, Anonymous. If everyone were altruists as you appear to be, it might work. But when push comes to shove, people will always look after their own interests first, capitalist or socialist. It may not be right, or nice, but it's how it is.

As for your comments re the wealthy, many of these people have worked darn hard for their "wealth" ... saving instead of spending foolishly, living frugally, ignoring the TV ads and making full use of their own resourcefulness. And you would begrudge them the rewards of their hard work and sacrifice? When wealth (as opposed to poverty) is what we all ultimately strive for?

Then again, that kind of individuality and independence is anathema to those who believe in the creed of "To each according to his need, from each according to his means."

If we all just shared equally, we'd all be so happy. Such a beautiful, utopian sentiment, but the stuff of nightmares in reality. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. And power respects no ideology. Suggested reading: Koba the Dread by Martin Amis, and Harvest of Sorrow by Robert Conquest.

Ayn said...

BTW, sure, most Canadians do not believe our society, on the whole, is as racist or bigoted today as say, in 1945 or 1915 for that matter. But it is. Just scratch beneath the surface a bit.

The worst kind of bigotry is hidden under a veneer of benign all-inclusiveness. That "one-size-fits-all" approach separates people from their family's traditions, values, and beliefs. Why shouldn't families who care about them be allowed to preserve them by sending their kids to private schools?

The notion that private schools produce adults who have little or no direct experience with fellow citizens from other traditions is pure hogwash. Especially in this century!

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is real truth in the claim that people will always look to their own interests first and, indeed, that can sometimes be very subtle, as when one gives to charity or performs some other seemingly altruistic act because of the good feeling one gets - an ultimately selfish motive beneath the surface!

That is why the natural desire to look after number one, and the hell with everyone else, needs to be curtailed in certain areas of life. Not all areas, or even most areas, but some.

My position is not to deny the wealthy or even the relatively well off the fruits of their work or savings in MOST things, but to force them, usually via taxation, to make sure enough gets re-assigned to the less fortunate so as to provide a level or net below which no one can sink - and also to restrict the wealthy from using their money to get special advantages in three critical areas - education, health care and law.

I tend to agree that there still exists racism and bigotry beneath the surface of a veneer of politeness and seeming cordiality. However, that veneer, in itself, is both hard won and a sign of hope that it may become, progressively, thicker.

As Martin Luther King correctly saw, one cannot indeed legislate attitudes and values, but one can legislate behavior, and if behavior becomes established, attitudes and values will, over time, tend to "fall in line" with the behavior.

As to the comment about private schools, perhaps an anecdote from personal experience will illustrate my concern:

I once attended a party where a relatively wealthy couple were talking about having enrolled their son in a rather exclusive private school . The man had been born in Canada, but his wife had come to Canada from England as a young adult.

When I asked why they were spending so much money to do this, as compared to the local public schools, I did not get the answer I expected...

What I had expected to hear was something like

-smaller classes
-better disicipline
-supervised study
-higher academic standards
-more parental influence
-better reporting

and so on.

Not at all. The lady, especially, was not convinced any of these things were significantly different than in the local public schools.

What she said was:

" Networking! He will have as buddies and class-mates and room mates the sons of wealthy, important families. Imagine his advantages, as an adult, if he can claim a bank president, or a cabinet minister or a wealthy industrialist as an old school chum."

This was her motive, or one of them. The other was also interesting. She pointed out to me that certain private schools put a "polish" on a person, and that while this was critical for young ladies, it was also important for young men. She noted that "you can see it; you can tell."

All this time, her husband sipped his drink and said nothing....which was also interesting.

The home schooling option was also mentioned in an earlier post, and that, to me, is a slightly different "kettle of fish".

The famous citation, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" is often attributed to Karl Marx, but it actually comes from the Anarchist Bukharin. I agree it is utopian but, as with many ideals, it does provide some sort of reference to measure our society, even admitting we may never, in the "real world" actually get there.

Of course, as the last comment by another poster suggests, school entirely forms only a fraction of the total human and social experience of modern human beings, especially in a society such as ours. Yes, there are many other influences, opportunities and experiences.

However, the public school still remains, over twelve or thirteen years, at a very impressionable time in the life of a person, childhood and the teens, an extended social institution where one, of necessity, must encounter all sorts of people and learn, then, to get along with them, understand them, and accept them.

This is part of what has been called "the hidden curriculum", the learning that takes place outside of class or particular subjects- in the halls, in the cafeteria, in extra-curricular activities, and so on.

There is also a difference, I believe, between the formal American vision of society and that we have here in Canada. The national motto of the USA, E Pluribus Unum, suggests a general philosophic vision of ultimate social and cultural uniformity, to assimilation into a large "melting pot", a common, national culture.

The Canadian ideal, less common, has been called "the mozaic", in which the over-all picture of harmony and common citizenship is actually composed of any number of visibly distinct cultures, ethnicities, religions and so on. Thus, Canada, if it ever was a nation-state, appears to be evolving into a State only. I very much doubt this pattern can now be reversed, even if some group wanted to.

A common experience in the compulsory public school is, therefore, an important support of this ideal of living together in peace and harmony despite all the differences.

There is, of course, another issue lurking there, just below the surface of the public school-vs-private school discussion - how much control over what a child learns SHOULD PARENTS HAVE?

Indeed, thus openly stated so bluntly, this issue may be the most controversial and emotionally challenging of all.

Certainly, we would not want Ernst Zundel to teach his children that Hitler was the greatest thing since sliced bread and that the Nazi ideology is the most noble understanding of history and humanity ever developed, even if he was home schooling them!

Indeed, most of us would, at that point, want something or someone to step in and stop him from thus exercising his "parental right to raise his kid with his values".

I cite such an extreme example to make the point only. Society, as well as parents, has a legitimate interest in the raising of the young. Society expresses that interest, partly, in the approved curriculum, text-books and courses of study in the public schools.

Some parents want a private school because they feel the socially approved, government mandated courses, or texts or curriculum are not in accord with their personal values, and they profess some inherent right over the mind of the child in this respect.

Now, I know we need to be very, very cautious and careful here - certainly parents do have important duties and rights in raising and educating children. I do not want to deny that.

And, yet - sometimes parents restrict children from experiencing or learning about things that society, as a whole, considers to be important for society.

Where this results in an intolerant, elitist, bigoted or critically ignorant adult, letting those parents have their "rights" does not serve either the person or society very well, does it?

By the way, I seem to have some kind of technological handicap in posting here with my name. As I indicated before, I am J.R. Pattison, a Canadian citizen born in and living in Canada, and a retired person in my sixties.

As to taxation, which is the issue the CTF care about, another story:

I once attended a house party-reception in the home of a very wealthy man, a kind of friend-of-a-friend kind of thing. The house had to be worth at least a million dollars, it was elegantly and expensively decorated and furnished, on a gorgeous, estate-type lot. Late model, expensive, foreign-import cars in the garage, and so on.

Mine host was complaining about high taxes, and how so much of his "hard earned dough" was being siphoned off by governments.

It was the standard litany one often hears from organizations such as the CTF - waste, punishment of wealth, and so on.

So, I said to mine host: "________, you have so much. This lovely home, these elegant furnishings, these expensive cars..how much more do you want? How many rooms can you live in? How many luxury cruises can you take? How many rare wines can you drink? Looking at the way you live,_________ , look at all you have, already more than 95% of your fellow citizens, even in this relatively wealthy land. I really find it hard to imagine you have been crushed by cruel and excessive taxation...perhaps you are just greedy and want to share nothing, or as little as possible..."

Needless to say, we have never been invited back, which bothers me not at all.

Taxation, my fellow citizens, is the price we pay for civilization.

Ayn said...

The veneer of tolerance you are content with is only political correctness. It will never develop beyond indifference. It used to be called "nativism" and led to a eugenics movement in Canada 100 or so years ago.

Taxation the price of civilization? What kind of civilization? One where we are all equal (i.e. poor) except those who are more equal than others (i.e. in power)?

It doesn't much matter who first coined the phrase, "From each according to his means, to each according to his needs." It's from two centuries ago (similar versions predate Bukharin) and it still forms the basis of the Left's value system.

Poverty is not a virtue, and just as all poor people are not nice and decent, so neither are all rich people mean and nasty. All this concern for "the poor" seems more like a coverup for envy of wealthy people. I have a cousin who grew up dirt poor and built up a very successful business through sheer hard work. I don't lust after his money, nor presume to tell him what to do with it. Neither should you. You and I didn't work for it, he did.

As for determining what fruits of their labour people get to keep, just *who* gets to decide, and using what criteria?

You seem like a sincere person, but you're on a very slippery slope, my friend. Please, balance your opinion with first-hand accounts of people who had socialist ideals imposed on them systemically. They've experienced the corruption of such power. Check out that reading list and start dealing with reality in this century. For your sake ... if not the childrens'.

Anonymous said...

Permit me to attempt to address some of the many points you have raised above.

Political correctness most often expresses itself in language and the point to that is that language, in itself, carries implicit values.

Although it was twentieth century feminists who first made the point, it has general applicability.

Again, if we change our language behavior (even using American spellings for such words!) then, in time, our values and beliefs begin to alter to accord with the behavior.

Say "server" long enough and often enough, instead of "waitress", and your thinking about who can or should do this or that kind of work also begins to change.

Do you have a problem with that?

To address another of your points: I suppose, at last, indifference is better than active hostility...but I think you are too pessimistic in this regard. (I almost said cynical, but that term may well be too strong)

In deciding how much privately inherited or earned wealth private persons are permitted to retain for their own use, the decision is usually made by relevant tax law, itself established by elected governments.

We should not be surprised, of course, if having privately earned wealth legally taken away to be used by others for others, without any further say by the original owner, is resented by said original owner.

However, the idea that this is wrong because "I earned that money myself, and it all belongs to me because of that" is, itself, an over-simplification and an economic myth. The false assumptions are related to the idea of the self-made man, which I deal with below.

For now, however, suffice it to say that no person could earn anything by his or her own efforts were it not for the prior existence of public roads, public health, police, the monetary system itself and so on - all of which were provided.

Thus, some of "your money" only became your money because of pre-existing contributions from others, including government and, thus, you must "pay back" some of it for that reason.

To over simplify to make the point: although you would pay no taxes at all in Mongolia,you would not have the money to pay them if you had attempted your business there!

The true relationship as between the private sector and the public sector is close to the relationship in biology we call symbiosis: each is different and each is vital to the continued healthy existence of the other. Neither is primary.

(And, yes, as a general principle of logic I am well aware that all analogy, pushed to the limits, ultimately breaks down. However, this does not mean, as a necessary consequence, that analogy is a poor device or not to be used.)

Exactly how much you "owe" to your "symbiotic partner", how often and under what conditions is, of course, established by our elected governments as public law. We should not be surprised, either, that those who owe are constantly seeking ways to lessen the debt, or excuse it, or avoid it. That is what debtors often do!

As with the the BC teachers, an individual taxpayer, or thousands of taxpayers acting in unison, might well decide to refuse to obey those laws and refuse to pay the taxes levied.

If so, as with the teachers, there would be financial and other consequences.

The teacher President, for example, stated publicly she was willing to go to jail rather than obey the law.

In the Excited States, a reporter recently spent 85 days in jail rather than answer questions in court about where she got her info and who her source was - and said she would have done more except the source,himself, personally phoned her and released her from her private pledge of confidentiality.

Any taxpayer has the same option, any time, provided he or she is willing to accept the consequences. Saying no, and meaning it, is a very strong weapon indeed, but its use does not come free.

Thus far, as a mass movement by taxpayers, this has not happened and, again, one must ask, why not?

One of my concerns in this regard has always been that our tax laws have two fundamental faults:

a) they are far too complex, and thus provide all kinds of dodges and loop-holes for clever accountants to legally avoid paying, on behalf of their wealthy clients, what they were intended to pay

b) our government attempts to use the taxation system to influence or control individual or corporate behavior in certain directions, rather than simply as a source of necessary revenue

As to your point or complaint about people having socialist ideas or values forced on them:

In the end, everyone will have some other ideas, derived from some "ism" or other imposed on them, to use your term. The only real question is "which ideas?" or "which ism?"

For a very long time, the ideals and values of free market, laissez-faire capitalism were imposed on people, whether they liked it or not. Before that, for an even longer time, values and beliefs grounded in religious theology were imposed.

In some cases, values or practices that are or were part of socialism have been imposed on some people who would prefer something else.

It seems to me, in our time, in this country, we have a balanced mix - there appears to be lots of room for individual initiative and capitalist wealth-accumulation and, at the same time, an insistence that government must and will provide for the less fortunate, less aggressive, less advantaged among us.

The BC teachers appear to have called their strike and engaged in civil disobedience because, to phrase it one way, they believed that the BC government was attempting to alter the "balanced mix" too far in one direction, in this case protecting private wealth by refusing to raise the additional money from taxes seemingly required properly to support the public sector in general and the public schools in particular.

In pursuit of this concern, it appears, they were willing to go so far as to engage in civil disobedience, and pay the consequent financial or personal price of doing so.

(As it happens, the matter never did proceed to a question of criminal level defiance.)

In that sense, what the teachers were about did, indeed, go far beyond actual salary, class size or any other specific issue of employment.

Indeed, unless one adheres to certain religious teachings or sects, poverty certainly is not a virtue. But it is a reality, and we often forget, as well, those who are only just above the poverty line, however that may be defined: the so-called "working poor", who do work as long and as hard, often, as the rich but who never get to enjoy some of the benefits and advantages our society offers.

The fact that anyone, in this country in our time, should live in true poverty, without adequate shelter, clothing, food or opportunity for their children is a disgrace, both politically and morally.

I remain convinced as well that old Marx's idea that all, or at least MOST crime actually had its deepest roots in poverty, social inequality and exploitationi still essentially correct, even in the 21st. century.

Now, to be clear: not all crime and not all kinds of crime, because the white collar, business criminal is very real and all too common.

But crimes of violence, petty robberies, drug and sex related crimes, vanadlism and such-like: all these have their roots in poverty, alienation and anger at exclusion.


In this sense, Education is, economically speaking, "the best bang for the buck".

Ten thousand dollars spent NOW on the education of a child from a poor or dysfunctional home may well save the taxpayers, over the whole eventual adult life of that child, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs, welfare bills, property damages and the $50,000 a year it costs in total to keep an adult in prison for one year! Indeed, that child thus invested in may well become a taxpayer himself or herself, thus "saving" the rest of us even more!

Spend money on education, and spend lots and lots of money on the education, recreation and travel of the children from the poorest and most dysfunctional families - you will save untold sums over time as a result!

"The future of civilization is a race between education and catastrophe."

I do not suggest, as you appear to have interpreted, that all wealth should be spread equally in a kind of economic entropy, and I believe that is neither necessary or achievable.

Indeed, it would not be, to use a Martha Stewart-ism, " a good thing."

It is important that, while no one falls below a certain level of living, we must and should permit others to rise to different levels. In that respect, I am not, I believe, some doctrinaire nineteenth century socialist.

The wealthy man I mentioned in my earlier post was certainly not "mean and nasty". He belonged to a service club, was an good father and husband, and was usually affable. He was honest, reliable and believed in hard work as a positive virtue.

Certainly, he did not look or sound like the "capitalist villain" of the old Marxist morality plays!

Typically, however, he was very much the control person in his marriage and family, as his adult children would be quick to testify. He did not react well to being challenged, by anyone, on anything - this too, is typical, I have found, as below...

It is not a question of mean and nasty - it is a question of using the power of law and government to ensure that a sufficient amount of private wealth is siphoned off for the benefit of society as a whole. This should NOT be taken personally.

Some have suggested that this should be left to individual choice through established private charities, the objection being not that wealth should be distributed to support the less fortunate, but that the owners of wealth should have the decision-making power as to where their wealth goes, how much, when and to whom.

The problem with this is that private charity is erratic, unequally applied and usually not adequate to the needs involved.

You mention envy. Yes, a strong human emotion, very close to jealousy. I agree, the very wealthy are often envied, and that envy can, in turn, sometimes turn to anger or hatred. This is unfortunate but admittedly real.

I think that vandelism, especially among older teens or young adults, can often be traced to envy and jealousy as the real motive, although the vandal may not recognize it in himself or herself at all.

But, the fact that some people envy the rich, or
at least persons better off materially than themselves, is no reason to invalidate any of what I have previously posted.
It is true, but so what?

The important thing, from my "socialist" viewpoint, is to BREAK THE CYCLE of poverty - and one way to start to try to do that is to make sure the children of the poor have first-class, tax-paid access to the finest schools, teachers and other opportunities, not forgetting as well travel and recreation.

It is also important that poor families, which tend to have more health issues than wealthier families, have tax-funded access to the finest health care our society has available.

Just as there is nothing admirable or virtuous about poverty, or near-poverty, equally there is nothing morally shameful or sinful about it.

The idea that those who are poor, or nearly so, are, somehow, morally deficient or have been "bad" in some way is one of those now out-dated nineteenth century ideas you have said you don't like to hear about.

As to your cousin.

When I was young, my grandfather once said to me, "______, you will never, ever be really, really rich UNTIL YOU HAVE LOTS OF OTHER PEOPLE WORKING FOR YOU.

Now, my grandfather had a grade 6 education, and had gone to work in a factory at age 13 or 14, in 1896, to help support his family.

In his own words, in his own way he explained to me how having other people working for you would make one richer than one could usually ever be simply working for one self.

Years and years later, when at university and taking an economics course (Introduction to Classic Marxist Economic Theory), I recognized in what he had said a basic explanation of Marx's Theory of Surplus Value!

Remember, to "employ" means to "use".

In this case, one "rakes off" a small % of the economic value of whatever the employee's work creates after having paid wages and other employee costs.

That small % of surplus value produced by one employee after all the costs of the employee have been met, multiplied five or ten or ten thousand times, is the real source of the employer (the user) wealth.

How many people did your cousin use, that is, employ?

Once, in my late teens, I was offered work for wages in a small business operation. I answered that I would work for the owner but not for wages. Rather, I wanted to be paid by shares of ownership in the business itself, whatever the final size of the accumulating "reward for work" might be. I offered to negotiate that before starting work...

Needless to say, we could not agree and I did not agree to be thus used. The owner always wants to keep control and will always prefer wages to paying the employee with a real "slice of the action", so to speak.

What the owner wants, of course, is that surplus value over wages and costs.

Of course, the answer is often made that the owner-manager is entitled to his profits because it was him, or her (gotta be politically correct, here) who assembled and co-ordinated all the various factors of production - raw materials, machinery, labor, capital and so on.

To which, in the endless debate, two answers are made:

a) you had public help in doing this - anyone who looks in detail at all the various tax breaks, write-offs, grants and so on available to said entrepreneur will understand how much taxpayer money is or could be available

b) while your service is necessary to actually create production, there is no obligation to reward it without limit or ceiling.

The argument that the manager or arranger or entrepreneur should be rewarded is valid, but so is the argument that said reward should not be without limit.

Public policy and tax law, in Canada, has accepted this "saw-off" by taxing greater and greater wealth more and more heavily. And, rightly so.

This idea of the "self-made man" is another one of those myths that cannot stand up to close analysis or scrutiny.

Take your cousin, for example. Let us assume he never hired anyone else for wages and did it all himself.

But, did he?

Whence came the roads he used? What about the police who prevented him from being broken into a robbed? What about the banking system without which he may not have been able either get credit or manage his money. What about the values and beliefs that drove him? Where did they come from, nowhere? And, yes, how about his ability to read and write and so on. Surely he did not educate himself?

As the English poet John Donne noted, and I will not even attempt the original, seventeenth century spelling, "No man is an island unto himself...every man is a piece of the whole, a part of the main."

In reality, then, there is no such thing as a truly "self-made man".

Now, having said that, it is important to maintain a balance and note that individual hard work and individual effort and creativiy does exist, and individuals should be given credit for it.

Once, at a public meeting where candidates for local municipal office were speaking in an attempt to garner votes, the issue of local taxation came up.

One person, very much a "diamond in the rough", got to his feet and loudly stated, by way of introduction to whatever he was going to say, "I am a self-made man!", to which another citizen, over on the other side of the room, responded, "Yes, and the workmanship shows!"

The place erupted in laughter. The "self made man" stasrted to move towards his heckler, but was "laughingly restrained" by those closest to him!

Part of the deeper issue related to the above discussion is the ultimate nature of human society. In this sense, there have always been two basic analogies:

a) society is essentially organic, like a biological entity, and every part is directly dependent on every other for its actual existence

b) society is essentially atomistic, like individual atoms bouncing around at random in a gas, with no particular individual having any direct responsibility for the existence or welfare of any other, although the gas,taken as a whole, is a coherent, understandable entity.

Most laissez-fair or neo-con theorists essentially ground themselves on one variation or another of the "atoms in a gas" analogy.

Thus, Edmund Birke, author of THE WEALTH OF NATIONS and the modern father of all laissez-faire economic theorists, took the "free atoms" analogy, even though the atomic theory of matter was not yet quite known, when he stated that, as each individual energetically pursues his own private, personal advantage, society as a whole benefits collectively.

I have never believed that, really, or its modern corollary, the infamous "trickle down" theory.

In the course of my life, now well into my sixth decade, I have encountered both professionally and socially many members of the group we call
" successful small business men".

These citizens have gone well beyond the "mom and pop store" level but have not "gone public" in the sense of being at the head of a large corporation trading shares in the market place. They tend to be relatively wealthy but not among the super-rich, and to keep close control of whatever business they have created, pershaps allowing a minority share to a close family member, such as a wife or child.

Although there are exceptions, these men, and they do tend to be males most often, tend to share identifiable character features:

a) they tend to state their opinions as established, un-challenged fact

b) they do not like to be "argued back" or challenged

c) they tend to be, to some degree, "control freaks", and are often uncomfortable in any situation of any kind which they cannot, personally manage or control

d) they tend to be the decision maker and policy maker in their marriages

e) while very proud of their own skills and achievements, they tend to put down or disparage skills or achievements not related to their own

f) they tend to be suspicious of or even hostile to theory or to persons with advanced, formal education.

g) they frequently have bad memories of their own school days

I have sensed some of that in other posts, not necessarily yours, on this board.

Anonymous said...

My apologies! I have a good memory, but lately it seems to take time off without telling me about it!

of course, it was Adam Smith, not Edmund Burke, who wrote the WEALTH OF NATIONS!!!

ayn said...

My cousin worked with his brother and a partner and it was many years before they hired anyone. I recently ran into a former employee who now works elsewhere but was happy for the opportunity (he himself made a lot of money there). That sentiment of gratitude however, is generally incomprehensible to those with a sense of entitlement.

I repeat, just who decides how to redistribute the wealth others create?

That, friend, is the the crux of the matter. It is well-meaning idealists such as yourself who serve as "useful idiots" for power-mongers who will hijack any ideology as long as it gets them in power.

A free market is impersonal and has checks and balances built in, however imperfect. So it's a lot harder to morph into totalitarianism than is a socialist system, with its self-appointed do-gooders in charge of everyone's money.

I notice you ignored my suggested list of books to read. Just as well. They'd just shatter the utopian dream you so tenaciously cling to. Well, enjoy it while you can.

Anonymous said...

I am making arrangements to get the two books you mentioned, but was waiting until they arrived and I had read them before commenting.

I intend to access them via the tax-supported, public servants who work at the public library.

Being retired, I do have the time. Being who I am, I also have the inclination.

Now, if I read your two books, perhaps I could suggest a couple for you?

Or, maybe not being retired, you don't (yet) have the time...

The phrase "useful idiots" originates, I believe, with Lenin (Vladimir Illyich Ullyanov), and referred to non-Bolsheviks, such as the Mensheviks or the Utopian Socialists of those days.

I have not suggested that your thoughts and opinions are in any way those of an idiot or fool, and I can only observe that, when one starts into name-calling and personal denigration, it is a sure sign that one has run out of arguments or answers.

(To be fair, perhaps all you have run out of is patience!)

Do yourself and your position a favour and try to avoid that sort of thing. At last, it hurts you more than your opponent.

Your contention that socialist views and values more easily morph into totalitarian regimes, as compared to capitalist or free market values, which I assume you feel are more resistant to being changed into dictatorial forms, is interesting.

It is not, specifically, a claim I can recall encountering before.

Looking around the world in modern times, I am not sure you could sustain the claim by examples.

Certainly, Marxism was perverted into a long-running and truly horrible tyranny by Lenin and, even more so, by Stalin. On the other hand, the evil Pinochet regime in Chile was ideologically committed to laissez-fair capitalism and free markets- and slaughtered and tortured tens of thousands and so on to the limits of its ability to do so.

I think for every real socialist government that actually did "morph" into real tyranny, one could find a matching example of free-market captialism regimes that did the same.

Many of the Scandinavian countries have had long experience with left-wing, socialist regimes over many, many years. Those nations have very, very high standards of living, very, very few poor or truly alientated, and yet they are generally recognized as being fully and entirely democratic.

Of course, many times a government that is really NATIONALIST presents itself, for one reason or another, as being socialist or even communist. The relationship between good old-fashioned territorial nationalism and left or right wing economic ideas in relatively primitive, poor or under-developed third world countries ( the actual phrase, "third world" is from Marx)
is complex, and one the Americans, especially, have never seemed to grasp.

The idea that the free market is a marvellous, self-correcting mechanism, running automatically along the lines of natural law in physics, is another myth, however honestly believed.

Marx was correct in this: in an unregulated free market, capital tends to combine and merge until virtual monopolies are created and real competition is eliminated, usually as a result of mergers, savage price wars or buy-outs.

Often, the emergent monopoly capitalist will seek to gain complete control of all the critical factors of production, such as John D. Rockefeller did with oil: the raw material itself, the transportation (railroads), the refineries, the retail outlets, and so on.

We forget, because our free markets here and in the USA have been so heavily regulated for so long, that a truly free market literally "devours itself".

The ultimate end of an unregulated, free-market economy is monopoly capitalism, as in the famous game!

(In the old Soviet Union the arguments raged about Monopoly! On the one hand, it was forbidden because of the "bad values" it was believed in inculcate in impressionable youth. On the other hand, some young adults identified for leadership were encouraged to play it under supervision because it illustrated so well the Marxist critique of free markets and un-restricted competition.)

This process of the self-destruction of free market competition because of the nature of the free-market itself, was well under way in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States.

Remember the "coal trust", the "oil monopoly", "the steel trust" and so on?

In modern times, look how a modern figure such as Bill gates seeks to strangle and prohibit competition whenever and wherever he can. Without anti-trust laws and government control and intervention, he would create the "computer trust", and end the free market in that general area of production, distribution, developemt and sales. Using his vast resources, he would "crush" anyone, anywhere trying to give him competition or in any way undermine his absolute monopoly.

That, too, is the real world without government intervention and control.

Perhaps I should yield to temptation and suggest that you actually read DAS KAPITAL (On Capital), probably in English translation, of course).

However, I cannot assume you have not. But, your posts thus far lead me to believe that you probably have not.

This is not to say, of course, that there should be no free markets, or that competition is always and everywhere bad, or that individuals should not be rewarded economically for their efforts, brains and risk-taking.

But, it is to say that unregulated, laissez-faire, free markets do, at last, destroy themselves.

Anonymous said...

As to your repeat of the question, "Who gets to decide how to redistribute the wealth that other create", I have already answered that in a previous post, rather directly I thought.

However, I must repeat that the "wealth others create" can only be created because of many, many others, both living and dead, and because of the many, many public services and government activities that create the possibility.

The other term that needs close attention is the word "create". Often very wealthy people do not actually create new wealth at all - they simply manipulate existing resources or operations and skim off fat fees or profits from so doing.

We are al familiar, are we not, with the leveraged take-over artists, who use other people's money to buy up a vulnerable but basically sound company, and then systematically drain it of all its real assets, leaving the poor shareholders to pay the ultimate cost. These wealthy people have created no wealth at all. They are free-market parasites.

This, too, is the real world.

ayn said...

Actually, I haven't read Das Capital although I have studied the Communist Manifesto and "socialism" in the FSU. And I do agree with your analysis of the evils of the free market vis a vis running into monopoly situations. But then, that isn't a free market anymore is it?

I actually shared your views on socialism and the market economy. ... until I got out of the union and went into business for myself. That changed my whole perspective. Now I'm finding the socialists/unionists are shutting out small operators like me, especially for government contracts. Oddly enough, they're teaming up with large firms, creating a monopoly of their own.

So yes, in the end either system can get hijacked by a Stalin or a Pinochet. That was my initial point. I think the BCTF is too power-hungry ... come on, they couldn't even get along with the NDP! That kind of intractability smacks of despotism.

What I'm trying to say is that just because despots have chosen to speak for teachers by creating a closed-shop union, don't get sucked in and let them slowly destroy the public goodwill that good teachers have built up over the past 100 years.

We're really not all that far apart in our vision of a fair and just society. Just worlds apart in which system is the best one to achieve it... but most likely, there really isn't any.

And no, I regret I am not retired yet. And I really have to get back to the real world now and hustle for more work! Good luck with your reading.

Anonymous said...

Over all, an excellent discussion.

Josef said...

Maybe this thread should be bumped...

Mark Milke said some really good stuff HERE.

Steven Heywood says some good stuff HERE. Best part:

At one time, unions could claim to represent the average worker. Spiralling, greed-driven demands now place most public-sector employees so far beyond the normal wage level as to trigger cries of "greed" from those who are the rank-and-file worker. Most private-sector employees realize they cannot expand their lot if they foster a climate of conflict with their employer. This is the world awaiting Generation Y, and their ways are far removed from the conflict of the Baby Boom generation and, to some degree, removed from the me-first Generation X.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note that the union leaders and political leaders, both of which are to some extent complained of, both emerged from internal democratic processes within their respective organizations.

It really does make one wonder....

On the other hand, evolving disconnects between these leaders and the majority of those led should resolve themselves, in time, through those same democratic processes.

The only other question I would ask of the above post relates to the claim that public sector workers are far beyond something called " the normal wage".

Without some sort of definition of that term, the statement is essentially without meaning.

Anonymous said...

Hey! For highly educated people, the teachers don't seem too smart.

They should ALL join the taxpayer federation asap, and then use their member votes to elect its leaders and, thus, control it!

Remember, Michael Moore got direct access to Charleton Heston because he was a paid-up, card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association!

C'mon teachers - smarten up!

Tiffany said...

I personally think that the teachers deserve a fair settlement. I mean they went on strike to help student education due to the humungeous class sizes.
I think that the goverment should make the class sizes a lot smaller and also make more time fro ESL and make more resourses. They are the ones who deserve a lot, they teach our kids and help them get to university, i mean why would you be agenst them? (P.S. I am NOT a teacher!) If there were no teachers what would you do? You would not have a job right now and we would all be dumbt! Be with them, not like all the quots that i read, which are all agenst them, BE WITH ThEM!! teachers deserve this, so do your kids!!

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