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Column: Once upon a time……
By James W. Breckenridge. Once upon a time in a magic kingdom called British Columbia, the government of the land could spend as much as it wanted without having to give any thought to where the money to pay for everything was going to come from because the government could ‘find’ money whenever it wanted to.
All the citizens of this land were overjoyed that they did not have to pay (as do the unfortunate citizens of lands that exist in the real world) for the ever increasing services and perks the citizens, with their insatiable appetite for more health care, more hospitals, more salary, more perks…..more……more……more….., demanded their government provide to them.
Anytime the government of the Kingdom wanted to spend money on something, the MLA’s merely needed to walk through the garden of the castle called Legislature and pick up the money that had fallen off the money trees growing in the garden or visit the basement of the Legislature and exchange the gold that the little man Rumpelstiltskin had spun from straw or pluck the gold eggs from the nest of the goose who lays gold eggs.
One group of citizens, Teachers, were so enamoured of the government’s ability to ‘find’ money without limit, they felt it reasonable to demand a 22% wage increase – plus a host of expensive perks and changes to schools. To support their fatuous salary demands, the Teachers spread the tale of the government’s magical ability to ‘find’ $$$$ whenever the government wished, throughout the airwaves of the land.”
Unfortunately for the citizens of BC they reside in the real world – despite politicians of all stripes and parties (Liberal, NDP, Conservative) telling voters the fairy tales voters, who insist on living in the land of ‘Willful Denial of Reality’, demand to be told in order to give the politicians what they want – political power.
In the real world neither fairy tales nor willful denial prevents the outstanding bills and debts from – at some point in time – coming due……as the outstanding bills and debts are now doing in Greece.
The problem is that the advertisements and statements from teachers and their representatives evidence the teachers belief in the fairy tale they are telling.
Providing a little understanding as to why, despite the hundreds of millions of $$$$$ taxpayers pour into education, students are getting a 4th rate education. An education that leaves students in BC functionally (or actually) illiterate in English and Mathematics, lacking even the most basic skills in logic and problem solving or the ability to analyze what has occurred or attain an understanding of the consequences and/or implications flowing from events.
With the teachers demonstrating their inability to analyze, use logic, problem solve, research and understand what is, as opposed to seeing the fairy tale land they want to see, it should surprise nobody that the product (graduates) of the BC school system lacks these skills. Or that students of the BC school system cannot use the English language or Mathematics in a functional or useful manner.
As ‘proof’ of the existence of their fairy tale land of unlimited plenty the teachers point to the $600 million the government spent on the new roof on BC Place.
A comparison of the proverbial apples to oranges as the BC place roof is a capital project representing a one time (admittedly large, but that is the nature of capital projects) expenditure and teachers salaries, which are operating expenses that need to be paid every year, not one single time.
The teachers also either ignore or fail to understand that operating expenses such as wages, suffer a compounding effect as the starting point of future contracts and increases is the current contract negotiated.
The biggest problem is that the teachers ignore where the provincial government had originally found the $$$ (and what happened to those $$$) – accepting Ottawa’s offer of $1.6 billion to harmonize the PST with Ottawa’s GST.
And we all know, or at least should know, how that worked out.
The citizens of BC voted to continue their state of willful denial and extinguish the HST – a demonstration of a lack of the skills required to evaluate and understand the consequences extinguishing the HST would have on provincial finances and the ability of the BC government to deliver services to citizens.
I am assuming the decision was due to a lack of skills to understand the consequences of extinguishing the HST and not to the desire to force the government of BC to reduce the services delivered to BC citizens or a lack of mental capacity or insanity.
See “Think. Think. Think.” for an analysis of the consequences flowing from extinguishing the HST.
Irony that the product (graduates) of the BC school system, of the teachers teaching, lack the ability to analyze, use logic, problem solve, research and understand the extensive negative financial consequences of extinguishing HST. One of which is a reduction of the funds the province has to provide services to the people of BC. Which results in not only no money for increases in education costs such as teachers salaries and smaller classes, but puts the government under pressure to find ways to reduce or ‘reallocate’ spending on education.
Irony that the teachers and their union are supporters of the NDP party, which spent months travelling the province publicly supporting and working to extinguishing the HST. The ‘success’ of which meant there are no funds available to increase spending on education. Actually, this irony applies across the entire government employees union.
Irony in the strong probability that numerous teachers voted to extinguish the HST, voted to place the government in a financial position where there is no money to be able to afford increasing teacher’s salaries or spending more on education.
Irony that voters acted in such an egregious and childish manner as to ‘damn reality or the consequences, threw a temper tantrum and extinguish the HST in anger’ – rather than acting like adults; taking the consequences of throwing a temper tantrum versus a reasoned response into consideration.
Irony in that childishness being reflected in the teachers rushing to get on strike before the government introduces and passes legislation imposing a settlement. Three days of being on strike that will accomplish nothing since the final outcome of the matter will be the same strike or no strike. The only ‘accomplishments’ of the teachers strike being the inconveniencing of parents and more negative consequences for students – in particular those who graduate this year. Although, the strike will make available to government the savings achieved from not having to pay 3 days of teachers wages.
Irony in the teachers, whose job is (theoretically at least) to impart knowledge, clinging in willful denial to the fairy tale world in which the government has (in effect) access to money trees or Rumpelstiltskin or a goose laying gold eggs. Because it is only in that fairy tale world can teachers demands be met. In the real world there is no money and the teachers are SOL.
From the Tao of James:
The bottom line, the real world Reality, is it that until teachers are turning out well educated, well rounded, well prepared to deal with the real world product (students) – teachers salaries should be going DOWN, not up.
James W Breckenridge
dedicated to nonconformity and creative maladjustment