Capitalism vs Socialism…the biggest lie

Socialism, whatever…Capitalism…(yawn…)…..who cares?  It is what it is!

I agree with your surrender of despair.  So, I am NOT writing about Cap vs Soc in the usual way.  The usual way has a huge degree of philosophy attached and discusses topics dryly at the macro/academic level – a level at which the Fed, banks, governments and large corporations operate. The big lie.

Most of us operate at the gas-pump, loose-change and credit card debt level.  BIG difference.

But first….do you think Canada is Socialist and the USA is Capitalist?  If you do, you would be wrong.  At the macro level, the USA is very elite-socialist.  More so than Canada.  Canada doesn’t have much macro level and what they have is corporately controlled and so – at that level – we are (eltist) Capitalist-controlled but in a psuedo-socialist environment.

Of course, most people don’t define Socialism and Capitalism as it really is or, rather, as it has morphed to become.  They simplistically think that socialism is free health care and a generous ‘safety net’ when you get old.  Capitalism is ‘going it alone, taking your chances and maybe getting rich’.  Neither is accurate.

The real essence of pure Capitalism is that the business, service, entrepreneur or company sinks or swims based on merit, market acceptance and competition.  ‘Let the market decide’.  Pure Socialism, on the other hand, proposes that the means of production and distribution be controlled by the state.  ‘There is no free market’.

So, in that ‘no-free-market’ system (Socialism), you might see farmers subsidized, petroleum companies and BIG corporations given grants, incentives and tax breaks.  Maybe some of the REAL corporate biggies will even be classed as too big to fail (so no risk to them anymore).  For them getting BIG is like tenure is to a professor.  And the SOCIALIST government can do that because the government owns them.  So, if you think about all that, and the tariffs, duties and regulatory efforts of the USA, they are all socialistic in nature and spirit.  But only for the BIG guys.  And, in the ‘big things’, there is no competition, there is no market and the little guy is a slave to the system.

Bluntly put: the US is very, very socialistic at the BIG money level.  The crime: they claim NOT to be socialistic and so ‘tenure’ and the grants and subsidies are given to the companies but they only go as far as the shareholders and CEOs because ‘we are the risk-taking Capitalists’….the big lie.

Are we talking opposites here?  Is Canada, then, NOT Socialistic or do we do that, too?

Well, we have a healthcare system but it is not measuring up on the meritocracy scale.  We have pensions and welfare but no one is doing well based on that.  So, in effect, Canada is socialistic in some categories but not so much on any REAL scale.  In fact, much of that which was intended to be part of the socialistic fabric has been ‘re-drafted’ to now act in a theoretically more Capitalistic way.  The BC Ferry Corporation, for instance is NOT a subsidized-for-the-people ferry system*.  It was reorganized to act as a real corporation and make a profit.  Same for BC Hydro.  It is even worse when it comes to our railways.  They were just sold off will-nilly.  As was our forests.  So was oil and gas (what Canadian benefits from our oil reserves except as shareholder?) 

But therein lies the rub.  We go so-called Capitalist only when the industry gets big.  Rich people then buy those monopolies.  The people don’t own it (CNRail) anymore – Bill Gates does.  Jimmy Pattison owns a lot of the fishery.  China owns a lot of the oil fields.  If the market is controlled and subsidized by the government (socialism), the capitalists then buy it.  Why not?  Too big to fail.  Grants and subsidized when asked.  Returns guaranteed.  NO risk.  NO competition.  “Get on the so-called socialism train! We’ll make a fortune!”

(* the NDP have recently ‘given back’ some of what the BC Ferry system was supposed to provide and they have done that keeping fares low or even lowering them.  BCF is an exception to some extent.  Recently).

If this is too contrarian-thinking for you, think of the marijuana/gambling industries.  They were small potatoes and then they got to be medium potatoes and bigger-but-criminal organizations took it over.  But then it all got bigger so then the government takes it over, regulates it, controls it and continues to use ‘law enforcement officers’ to limit small-guy competition.  And, like every industry before it, it will now be ‘handed over’ to the BIG corporations and stock will be traded and revenue taxed.  The biggies don’t mind the entry cost.  All that just makes the industry ‘harder-to-enter’. No competition.  Cost to produce is irrelevant.  Just make it and add profit.  The government will control it for the industry’s benefit.

Oooops….unless maybe, by accident or corruption, real market forces interfere BUT then the government steps in to bail out the shareholders a la more fake-socialism.  As in TransMountain.  The American bank debacle.  Or Bombardier.  Or GM (before they cheated Canada and broke the agreement).  If you are rich enough and can get to be too big to fail, you are protected by government and, as a surprise bonus, you get a bonus even if you test that failure clause.

But what about the little guy?  Can he open a restaurant freely?  Where he wants to?  As he wants?  No.  Can he log trees and cut ’em into lumber and sell it?  No.  Can he freely fish and sell fish?  No.  Can he raise chickens and sell the eggs?  No.  Milk?  No.  All those activities are controlled with laws, legislation, permits, zoning, regulations and too-high costs-of-entry.  The little guy can rarely get off the ground.

So, to wrap up: socialism is at a ‘token’ fake-level for the people but is HUGE for the corporations.  Capitalism doesn’t truly exist anymore – instead it is just the morphed predatory gene in the new corporate socialism.  Free markets and meritocracy and competition are myths.

Any hope?  Read Regenerative Capitalism by John Fullerton. Read Natural Capitalism by Lovins and Hawken.

34 thoughts on “Capitalism vs Socialism…the biggest lie

  1. I recommend the following title, “ Capital in the Twenty-first Century,” by Thomas Piketty. According to the Americans, Canada is in the top ten of all Socislist counties and if I’m to understand the assertion in your blog Canada…”has no free enterprise.’


    • That’s right. Free enterprise is (amongst the people) dead. We have created too many ‘barriers to entry’ for small enterprise and sold our natural resources (the commons) to the monopolists. And the medium-sized business goal is ‘to get bought by a bigger competitor’. It is all as much a hindering mind-set as it is a systemic plot. But, for a current example, when you hear of the SNC Lavalin back-room finagling, you can see how the big boys play and and how the little guy cannot. The system is rigged.


    • The two words do not mix (like oil and water). Rigged markets and Socialism is as close as you can get. EXEMPTED market socialism also works. They both refer to the incidence of a ‘market’ taken OUT of the ‘market forces’ environment. Either by regulation, or by monopolization, a whole industry is made special (too big to fail or ‘socialized’ like our health care system. And, because all our industries are so inter-related, everything is ‘rigged’.


      • I guess the next step is to correct Wikipedia because it defines the term non-market Socislism and the term market Socialism. It’s a thing. In America much of its capitalistic health system has no competition and that is why hospitals can set their own prices and sick people have little choice but to pay the $35, charge per ASA tablet. So what are you saying about milk marketing boards. Shall we as a country import the cheapest milk and make local milk produces go broke because of cut throat competition. Shall we hand our medical system over to big for profit health service companies? Not sure what you want for Canada. Let us lay waste to social services?


      • everything is rigged,,? not gonna argue that, regenerative capital,, cannot find that in the library or in amazon books for that matter
        As far as the gov bailing out shareholders ie GM that saved some workers jobs it did not rescue the shareholders.
        Since Xerox did not think I would make a good technician, I with my significant other bootstrapped our own business starting in 73 or so, that was hard but doable, but 23% per annum on 2 million of operating,/property debt took almost 10 years to crawl out of.
        Been there done that, try to make easier money for the last 30 years largely looking after our own stock portfolios, davidicus I sense you have not tried that, surely you must know that this route is no cakewalk.

        There is only one cakewalk I know but I would have puked every morning on the way to work.
        That would have been to sign on to the civil service and get on board for a defined benefit, indexed pension plan.
        Since this is my age cohort I mix with these folks a lot, there are ex ministerial assistant folks I mix with that are clueless about all things economic. To say nothing of all the warriors on disability.
        Even California with a GDP almost double Canadas has a really bad bond rating due to unfunded retirement benefits, yeah sour grapes but it pains my psyche so see these freeloaders flying and cruising around the world with their game of thrones libraries.
        Today is the 3rd no school day here and natutrally Friday is a prod D cuz Monday is Family day, there is no shame anywhere in these parts.
        On the topic of wounded warriors they are supposedly running down the island for handouts.
        Maybe your followers should read the wounded warriors of USA scandalous backstory.
        Yep Canada got our own WW franchise, you know like Dragons Den, and the great bakeoff, if it works somewhere else we better have our own, that’s why B school folks are targeting non profits right behind Wall Street ops, sorry I still fell like puking too often.
        Sid and any other teachers pls forgive the writing form


      • See: John Fullerton. Capital Institute. His ‘new’ philosophy is called Regenerative Capitalism, a kissing cousin to Natural Capitalism. He even credits the Lovins and Hawkens for part of it.
        As for entrepreneur ism…if you scratched and clawed from back in the 70’s, you were fighting on a more even playing field than today. STILL very, very hard because the 70’s were tough years for the poor. And I admit that I even have some friends who have boot-strapped up starting in the 80’s, 90’s and oughts. It can be done. But most of those who did ‘boot-strapped’ in new industries that had not yet been regulated or controlled.
        This is NOT so much about the failure of the entrepreneur so much as the systemic closing of doors to creativity by way of monopolization and the need for BIG capital now. FREE enterprise is dead or all-but-dead not because of the individual but because of the system that shuts the door on them.
        Go see/hear John speak. I think VanCity is sponsoring him. This Saturday, maybe.


      • The opposite of a marketing board is NOT laying supine while foreign producers have their way with you….altho that is a threat….it is simply letting milk producers produce or cut back as they see fit. Foreigners can still be controlled with tariffs and such. All MBs did for Canada was guarantee the income of the domestic producers to the point that they monopolized the market and then Saputo bought them. Now Saputo owns all of it. Or close. And they do not care about the price-of-entry because the supply is controlled by government with a guaranteed profit margin.
        Whether you like it or not is not the question. The question is: “Do we have free enterprise capitalism or do we have corporate socialism?


  2. Terms of BC Teacher’s Pensions are on-line. Annual contribution to the pension fund is about 12.5% of each teacher’s salary per year. For many years there was no guaranteed indexed benefits. At one point the teachers pension plan was broke. Teachers also paid employment insurance or EI, and as 10 month employees paid a salary could not get EI. A payroll tax without a benefit. For many years teachers were paid at the pleasure of the crown and had few rights until organizing as a union. No health and safety rights. No job security.


  3. Do we have free capitalism? What special meaning is given to free? Clearly there are many constraints on capitalism. Do you mean capitalism which is unconstrained by taxes, regulations, business licenses, zoning, policies, competition, tariffs, ideologies and the like? Free is an absolute. Free has no limits.


    • Good points…but I am saying we should want free-er…free-ER. Right now, our form of FE or Capitalism is really just an exercise in monopolizaton or elitism. Get a degree, join a guild and keep others out. Or, let an industry mature, collude with government and then monopolize it. My most personal experience was Arbitration and Mediation. For a few years there, I was one the best mediators (mediocre Arb) and at the top of my profession. But then the lawyers lobbied government to squeeze non lawyers out. It didn’t matter to me because I was grandfathered but a lot of people coming up behind were kept out. They were ineligible or unacceptable for rosters, government work, etc. Worse, the old lawyers who did this to them were, generally speaking, the worst mediators – they were steeped in the adversarial system. But big jobs went to ex judges anyway who acted like all-knowing sages. Rotten mediators.
      Again…I didn’t care…I was busy. But, when I retired I was seeing work I did for fair fees was then being charged out at five to ten times what I was charging because it was lawyers doing it. I did over 100 separation agreements, the bulk of which came in under $2,000. Only one went to $3000. When I retired the fees charged for the same thing were closer to $10,000. Why? Lawyers. Monopolization. This kind of ‘circling the wagons’ is evident in every line of work. You should see what they are doing to house-builders. Am I against oversight? No. Every industry needs some. But we go about it NOT to protect the customer but rather to protect the industry.


  4. Sorry Sid, but I call BS on some of your kvetching on the sorry lot of teachers.

    I was BC public service for 20 years. Yes, I paid a good chunk into the pension plan but the employer paid more. I believe the teachers’ plan operates on similar principles to the Public Service Pension Plan. Your post is couched in language that would have us believe that the funding of the teachers’ plan is borne solely by the teachers. It is very generously funded by the employer (the taxpayers) as well. And boo hoo, no guaranteed indexing for many years. How many see such a thing?

    I reject out of hand the notion that teachers cannot collect EI. Perhaps not for the 2 summer months but then, why the hell should they spend every summer on EI, drawing out far more than they would ever pay in? There are too many of those that I call “net takers” and insufficient “net contributors”. That pretty much goes for society in general. Canada has made it too easy to suck off the public tit. But, back to EI. Are you saying that if a teacher is laid off, no EI, even though said teacher has been contributing? Such be the import of your words.

    And just what, pray tell, is your point when you say teachers were paid “at the pleasure of the Crown”? Does that mean the Crown routinely acted capriciously and paid sometimes and other times not? Or paid teachers who curried favour and not others? Evidence please.

    No job security. Outside the union environment, who has that? My government posts were by order-in-council”, to serve at the pleasure of Her Majesty. No guarantee of longevity. But I accepted the terms. No one held a gun to my head. If being a teacher was such purgatory, why would anyone sign up?

    I recognize that many non-public sector workers adhere to the view that the public service has it made; employment for life. Again, that is not for the many who, like me, were management, professional or OIC appointees. Piss off someone up the line and you are gone. Dismissal without cause and wrongful, sure. But government does not give a rat’s ass about that. Large severance checks (sorry, my time living in the U.S. is showing) are routinely handed out. In the private sector, employers are keenly aware of the cost of dismissal. They do not move with alacrity to terminate a worker who is performing. The cost of recruiting and bringing a replacement online is significant, even more than the severance to be paid, or the cost of defending a wrongful dismissal action. But, with government, it’s the taxpayers’ money, so who cares? Fire at will, and replace the fallen one with someone owed a favour. Happens every day.

    Finally, let’s examine your comment about “no health and safety rights”. Since when? BC proclaimed in force its first Workers Compensation Act in 1917. Teachers have fallen within its purview continuously since that time. So what health and safety rights have been enjoyed by the common man in the workplace that has been withheld from teachers?

    In some ways, in my present position, I envy teachers. They receive, inter alia, regular pay increases. That is not a universal. Now, I work as what is oft called in modern parlance an “independent contractor”. No regular wages and certainly no benefits. No vacation pay. No sick time. No medical, dental, life and disability insurance, etc. I get paid piecework, i.e., for what I produce. The rate at which I am paid has increased by exactly 10% in the past 10 years. How does that stack up against teachers? In a sense, I have voted myself a pay raise each year by the simple expedient of doing more. The amount of work available to me is almost unlimited, so i can put in as many hours a week as I can stand and get paid commensurate with my efforts. But once one hits about 70 hours a week, there is less and less reserve capacity. I can work 80 hours and get more $, but there is a cost. But, I stay the course. It’s work I can do anywhere in the world and I effectively have no boss. If I suffer any misery (and I do not really see it in that light), it is self-inflicted. I am past really needing to work and I could go back to a well-paid regular job in Vancouver. But I served over 30 years in Vancouver. I deserve time off for good behaviour.

    I lament being drawn out to present this churlish and prolix bit of discourse. Old enough to know better, but too young to resist, I suppose. Time to get back to what matters: castigating that contumelious upstart Trump.

    A footnote about EI:

    I believe that “unemployment insurance” was renamed “employment insurance” in a rare moment of government candour.

    Insurance is generally named by the type of peril or risk insured against. For example, fire insurance insures against the risk of fire; accident and sickness insurance insures against those risks; theft insurance insures against theft; liability insurance against liability, et c. Unemployment insurance was conceived as insurance against the risk of unemployment. But that is no longer the case. It’s more in the nature of a handout to the indolent. It allows some to choose, for example, to become “seasonal workers” who can vacation for a good part of the year at the expense of those who work hard all year. It now allows one to say “I am pregnant” or “I am a parent”, ergo I am unemployed. So now, it’s much more honest to admit that “employment insurance” insures against the risk of, heaven forbid, actually having to work. Today, almost everyone feels entitled to have at least one claim in which they can draw out what they have paid in. But there are thousands (if not tens of thousands) who draw for a good part of the year, year after year, taking out far more than they will ever contribute. The program is designed to facilitate that. I suppose the EI program might soon be replaced by the universal income program recently bruited about. Never mind that a government that pays you to do nothing destroys your willingness to do anything.

    In my case, I believe I was subject to the EI tax with no benefit. I always held 2 jobs, much of the time 3. Had I lost my public service job, for example, I doubt I would have been allowed to collect EI as I would be told to get lost, because was still making $50K a year or better from my part-time job. But the max EI deduction was compulsorily taken from me for years.


    • Wahoo!!!! My greatest blogging pleasure is getting the discussion going. Thankyou. Now, in defense of Sid (and he can well defend himself), he was a dedicated teacher who believes everything he says. He put out more than he had to and did a better job than most. That he has a good pension when 80% don’t, that he is/was covered in so many ways so many aren’t and that his employment was secure 95+% of the time were not issues that came up on his radar. Worse, there is an air of victim/martyr in the teacher’s staff room and always has been.
      Most of us had it much harder except in one critical way: I would have slit my throat doing that curriculum/pablum for thirty or so years. I honestly do not know how anyone ‘toes’ the institutional line for that long. I could not. I worked much more like you. Each contract was undertaken fully and to the extent of my capacity and that meant NOT even having a chance to line up the next one. Fortunately, I was adequate enough that I stayed busy. And, when I wasn’t, I found something else to do. A friend of mine in the public service envied that ‘freedom’ and quit to give it a try. After four months, he was depressed and sitting alone in a small room. He did not have the ‘find it’ gene. So, he went back to the service. My point: I could not do what he did. He could not do what I did. Up and down sides to both paths.
      Only addition to your wonderful rebuttal: get out. Get out as soon as you can. The only real currency is time and you can’t save it.


  5. Dear Sir;
    Twenty years in the Public Service, what was your job ? Were you in a union? How long did it take you to reach your highest pay? Were you paid at the pleasure of the crown? Or were you able to negotiate a personal services contract? Were you forbidden from joining a union or starting a union? Did you have control of your workplace or the conditions of your workplace? Were you entitled to Occupational Health and Safety coverage. Were you entitled to coverage under the Labour Relations Board? I would like to know more about the job description for your work because because it appears you might be drawing a false equivalence between your workplace and a workplace employing persons at the pleasure of the crown. At the pleasure of the Crown means No Rights! Did you supervise workers and were you paid? Teachers were directing the work of C.U.P.E with no pay for the supervisions. So you call BS, well my friend I thought you wanted to hear about being free of constraints really means. You know free. Teachers on salary, I stress salary, can not collect pogey in the summer or at anytime as long as they are under contract. Temporary teachers who have been laid off can apply for benefits after a waiting period. But these laid off teachers are free to work anywhere. I direct you to the history of teachers specifically in BC, I have not mischaracterized it. BC teachers have had a union for 27 years. The LRB was rewritten in 1996 and at that time teachers were not members. Do not know where you got the 1917 stuff but nevertheless teachers were not part of it. Teachers unionized 27 years ago and were then admitted to the LRB. FYI The British Columbia Teacher’s Fereration, is not a union. It is a professional federation, it could not bargain at that time before teachers were unionized. The only teacher protests possible were political protests. No strikes were allowed but the media claimed teachers were on strike. You know working at the pleasure of the Crown. Interestingly some threads of your frustration seem to be emerging. A major one is you seem to object to the concept of certification. How specific is your opposition to certification?


    • ON that, I tend to agree with ‘Dear Sir’. This ‘certification’ thing is designed more for the industry than for labour. Or customers. Some? Yes. To the point of a barrier? WAY TOO MUCH. When I was going to Uni, I worked. Shift work in a treatment centre. At one point I had to escort a few Master’s degree students around the place (centre for delinquent kids) and they were hopeless. Totally incapable of dealing with drug-using, rebellious, half-mental, violent, street-savvy teens). If I continued to work this 40+ hour job and go to school, in two years I would get a BA. Two years after that, I could apply to get the job I already had. Was education up to par for that job? Absolutely not. Neither was the certificate I might get. Total BS. And – guess what? After there, I went to be the exc director at a 37 staff medical clinic that req’d a MBA…except for one thing…it was in Skidrow and all the MBA guys were either afraid of Skidrow or quit after a few months. Point: the MBA didn’t qualify them for squat.


      • I think any one who wants to claim any expertise does not need to present evidence of competency. Let the aspiring rocket scientist claim expertise and the test will be whether the rocket flies. No formal eduction is needed and let the laws of Darwin prevail.


      • I love that: let the aspiring scientist PROVE their theory….but I also understand the ‘other’….”what if he/she is using nuclear fuel and his/her mistake kills millions?” So, yes…SOME basic ‘credentialing’…but almost every profession should be able to be ‘challenged’ without formal education. If you can pass the test, you are in. Formal education is a sham in many, many ways. In fact, it is one of the reasons why we do NOT recognize so many foreign universities (some are fake, some threaten OUR universities). Credentials have acquired a ‘privileged’ status and yet it should be MERIT and competency that has that.


    • Is certification related to credentializing, why is it so common to see teachers in their last few career years, go to summer school to get their MA ed??
      Is this not to top off the benefits as the last 5 years salary counts so much, this fits under don’t ask don’t tell.
      nonconfidence, I like your paragraph about prolix.
      Here are some ‘hair on fire’ querieys I am clueless about, why is DNA testing such anathema to indigenous folks, when it is the final word in criminal courts?
      why do we hear so much about high child poverty rates with never talk about their parents, that’s akin to analyzing earth with no regard to the sun, these are political questions, I am hoping some of the deeper thinkers could address, sincerely,, I am always astounded by these examples.


      • Damn…until I read that these questions were aimed at deeper thinkers, I was going to take a stab at it…..
        …’s a theory on the FNs…..a HUGE amount of their identity rests on being ‘first here’ status which, at best, is doubtful and at worst demands the question, “So what?” Confusing that ‘pure American’ status even further is that there are now way more FNs in NA than there ever were…by a large percentage. And that came about (in part) by co-mingling with other races. Imagine what it would do for the leader of a FN to learn that he was ten% black or German? Or, even more likely, sharing a helluva lot of DNA with Asians? What happens to status and land claims? Then there is Kennewick man…the long, long dead white guy dug up in Washington State who predates much of FN time.
        There is nothing to be gained for FNs to delve into their DNA….but there is a lot to lose.


  6. The DNA of FNs issue might be looked into by searching for Kennewick man, a very ancient skeleton, and Clovis points & Solutreans crossing the ice Fron Europe. These two sources are thought to challenge the theory of who were the first people North America. The meaning of these two items is contentious.


    • Well, there is no REAL answer as to why we ‘go along with this’…FN people were oppressed and depressed and they became ne’er do well comparatively speaking and we have a Judaeo Christian ethic and a penchant for guilt and well, we can afford it…and so we did and a major soap opera developed. Is it warranted? Yes, they were oppressed as FNs..not so much if they ‘went white’…and were they depressed? Yes…a metabolic disposition, a tribal culture in a global world, NOT part of the privileged class (just three reasons)…but there were doors and they were open… and well, the times were the times… is NOT over but we are getting there. The OLD way, of course, was quicker and easier. Kill all the men and rape all the women and soon the dominant culture prevailed and the conquered one was absorbed. But..we didn’t do that….we did this instead….
      NOT a good answer but I think it is true…the JC ethic put us here.


  7. You know all the PC stuff. Have a look at the 19th Century history of Lord Shaftesbury on the use of exploitative labour practices such as children working in mines 12 hours a day. Also look at ragged schools. Workhouses. Children sent to adult prisons at the age of 11.


  8. Gentle reader,

    I cannot say much about my last position in government without making public my identity, which I prefer not to do. However, my first government job was a bargaining unit job – BCGEU, an organization for which I have little use or regard.

    I worked for several different ministries (originally Consumer and Corporate affairs) as well as the Ombudsman. After my brief stint under a collective agreement, I was in jobs broadly regarded as “management”, paid on the management grid, Level 8 or higher. My highest salary came after about 13 years when I was appointed a program manager, responsible for a staff of about 120, most of whom were, themselves, on the management grid. Except for the support staff, they (and I) belonged to professional organizations.

    Was I paid at the pleasure of the Crown?  I asked you to explain what you mean by that turn of phrase and you seem to have ignored/overlooked my request. It is not a term with which I am familiar. To serve at pleasure is more understood in legal circles as a term of art and, when I have been appointed by open-ended OIC then yes, I have served at the pleasure of the Crown. Other times I have been appointed for 3 or 5-year terms, with no assurance of a job beyond expiration of my term.

    Was I able to negotiate a personal services contract? No, not really. A personal services contract is simply another term for employment contract and, in general, all employees work under an employment contract. The master/servant relationship is inherently contractual. But few government employees are able to do much negotiating. If the job offered is, say, at management level 8, you get paid as an 8 and there is really no chance you can “negotiate” to be paid as a 9. Equally, there is no prospect for negotiating benefits additional to those being paid to other similarly situated government managers.

    Was I forbidden from joining a union or starting a union? Well, all I can say on that score is that it would be a rather unseemly spectacle for a government ministry to hire a manager who comes in and seeks to organize the workplace. I would not say I was “forbidden”, but I think my employer’s response would have been along the lines of “Well good luck with that.” More likely it would have been a resounding Trumpesque “You’re fired!” Perhaps, in such case, you could say I was tantamount to forbidden.

    Did I have control of my workplace or the conditions of my workplace? To some extent, sure, particularly when I was in charge of my workplace and all staff.

    Was I entitled to Occupational Health and Safety coverage? I think I need more precision in the question; a bit opaque as it stands. I have no idea what falls within the scope of OHS “coverage”. Did my employer have to adhere to the OHS regulations promulgated under the Workers Compensation Act (“WCA”)? Certainly. Was I entitled to WCB benefits if I suffered an injury “arising out of and in the course of employment” as that term is used in the WCA? Yes. I always had, in addition, employer-sponsored life insurance and disability coverage. I believe teachers do too.

    Was I entitled to coverage under the Labour Relations Board?  Bit of a misnomer to speak of LRB “coverage”, but I get the idea. The answer is nope. Except for a short time early on, I was never in a bargaining unit and my employment was beyond the purview of the Labour Relations Act, the Industrial Relations Act and any other such variants.

    You say: “I would like to know more about the job description for your work because because it appears you might be drawing a false equivalence between your workplace and a workplace employing persons at the pleasure of the crown. At the pleasure of the Crown means No Rights!” I am drawing no “equivalence” at all. And I am at a loss to understand why you are so fixated on the notion of “at the pleasure of the Crown”. Is that the basis upon which all BC teachers are hired and serve today? Is that what the BCTF has negotiated on their behalf? I am unsure as to its provenance, but the BCTF has been around for about 100 years, I believe. And I disagree vehemently about the “no rights” suggestion. It strikes me that teachers enjoy some form of tenure and cannot be dismissed from their employment except for cause. That is a form of security most would envy. For most non-union employees their job security is no better than the end date of their fixed-term employment contract (for the few that work under those) and, for everyone else, they serve at their employer’s pleasure. Take a look at the Employment Standards Act and tell me what you see. Most employees can be dismissed on a whim provided the employer pays severance or gives notice in lieu of severance.

    You say: “Teachers on salary, I stress salary, can not collect pogey in the summer or at anytime as long as they are under contract.” That is eminently fair and reasonable. They still have a job. They cannot be “under contract” yet unemployed, can they? As I said, in effect, if the employer comes to a teacher and says “you are laid off indefinitely due to a shortage of work”, then the door to pogey is open, is it not?

    You say: “BC teachers have had a union for 27 years. The LRB was rewritten in 1996 and at that time teachers were not members.” Here’s what I understand about that:

    The Social Credit government on April 4, 1987 passed Bill 20, later to become the Teaching Profession Act. The introduction of Bill 20 was accompanied by Bill 19, the amended Labour Relations Act, which included provisions requiring members of the BCTF to choose between continuing to be a professional association, as it had been since its founding in 1916, and becoming a full trade union with collective bargaining rights and the right to strike. The BCTF organized a certification drive that resulted in all of its 75 locals becoming certified as bargaining agents. With this, the BCTF had now chosen the “trade union” rather than the “professional association” model.

    My source for the material in the next preceding paragraph is this Continuing Legal Education Society publication:

    SCHOOL LAW—2011 PAPER 1.2
    History and Politics of the British Columbia College of Teachers: Reactions to the Avison Report

    So teachers did not want to fall under LRB jurisdiction before voting to do so in 1987. What’s your point? Are you “frustrated” (on which motif see more below) by the fact that the BCTF in a sense sold out on any hope it ever had of being recognized as a true professional body, such as the Law Society or College of Physician and Surgeons.

    You say: “Do not know where you got the 1917 stuff but nevertheless teachers were not part of it.” The “1917 stuff” I made clear relates to the Workers Compensation Act. It provides mandatory coverage for anyone in the province who could be considered a “worker” and I am sure that it never excluded teachers. The OHS regulations have always applied to schools.

    You say: “Teachers unionized 27 years ago and were then admitted to the LRB. FYI The British Columbia Teacher’s Fereration (sic), is not a union. It is a professional federation, it could not bargain at that time before teachers were unionized.” So, if the BCTF is not a union, but the teachers unionized, can you tell us what their union is called?

    Lastly, you say: “Interestingly some threads of your frustration seem to be emerging. A major one is you seem to object to the concept of certification. How specific is your opposition to certification?” I had not realized heretofore that I am “frustrated”. In fact, re-reading my words, supra, I see little, if anything that addresses certification, much less that expresses annoyance or frustration with same. Now EI, that’s another matter. Perhaps you would be gracious enough to quote some of my words where I show “opposition to certification”. I did express some disdain for the BCGEU. But that was not intended to be construed as some broad-brush antipathy to trade unions.

    Respectfully submitted.


    • Well, firstly, you are right. Sid is, indeed, a gentle man. And, secondly, you have both MADE MY DAY! Thank you. Now…on to more important things than whether teachers are or are not coddled in some way. Or, alternatively, whether they are ‘put upon’ or not. You both know the answer: yes to both.
      The NEXT question is: what topics do I have to opine on to get this kind of response again AND how interested are you all in drinking a beer some day together….? I know the answer to that, too – you would all enjoy it but logistics are too difficult.


      • Yes, to the beer, a curry, a yarn or a discussion. All government authority exercised in a Constitution Monarchy is derived from the Crown thus at the pleasure of the crown. Teacher’s used this term to describe employment without bargaining rights. Not a lawyer so what is the actual term in-law?


    • I think sid probably regrets his use of at the pleasure of the crown, the context re teachers seems lacking,,
      could be more like ‘he was press ganged and now is employed at the pleasure of the crown’ pedant puke here


    • What is the purpose of the Labour Relations Board? One purpose is access to management and union mediation or arbitration or to rulings on labour law. The settling of disputes. Without being a teacher’s union there is no such access to the LRB, this is pretty obvious so why does it need to be spelled out?


  9. Dear Sir;
    The short hand response is teachers in BC had no “Collective Bargaining Rights” but twenty-seven years ago we were given these rights. Political protest was one of the strategies used to get bargaining rights for teachers. My original comments were an attempt to address some mistaken impressions about the working lives of teachers. Teachers can now bargain wages and many terms of employment such as having a Staff Committee, a Health and Safety Committee, a Profession Development Committee, Staff Reps and other benefits. School Administators in part continue to resist these contractual rights gained by teachers because managers see them as reducing administration rights.


  10. I’m up for the pint, and you and I are not far apart (geographically, at least). Not so sure about Sid. Maybe he’s in Sidney? (two thirds of a pun…p.u.).

    I am sure Sid’s a good sport. We should be able to resolve any differences by a duel. Maybe cow dung at 10 paces?


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