“Can you believe those teachers?! Some of them are making more than one-hundred thousand dollars a year! What criminals!”
Those are the words that a family member blurted out a couple of weeks ago, perhaps in an attempt to bait me, but in any event completely unexpectedly and forcefully.
“What do you mean?”, I asked.
She went on determined to teach me what criminal scum schoolteachers and their unions are, asking me repeatedly if I’d read Bill 115 (her own interpretation coming from a newspaper), and demanding that I answer her on the spot.
“Do they start off making that much?”, I asked incredulously.
“No, they start at forty-thousand, but because of the union they’re guaranteed a pay increase of two percent every two years!”
She was steamrolling over the entire conversation at the time so I didn’t get a chance to do the math, but I did know that historically the rate of inflation was 2% so such a measure would simply keep teachers from slipping into poverty.
My interlocutor wasn’t having such arguments. “No one else gets pay increases, why should they!”
“So you’re complaining that because everyone in the private sector’s getting screwed, people who have the ability to be represented and demand better pay should be fired?”, I retorted, having heard such nonsense many times in the past.
“That’s not true!”, she replied. “These people take tax money, your money and my money, and they’re getting ridiculous salaries. Everyone else is paying for them!”
At this point I wish I’d had the opportunity to do some basic math for her since she clearly hadn’t done it herself, but she was complaining that teachers, having come out of school with thousands in debt, would be paid roughly $19 an hour (increased by an astronomical $0.38 per hour every two years or so).
“How much did dad make?”, I followed up, thinking back to my father who worked for the city and who retired after a couple of decades making considerably more. I wasn’t even going to bring up the fact that teachers are taxpayers too — that old Fordite mentality.
“Well, more, obviously,” she replied,” but he was doing a real job. All these people do is babysit children.”
I’d spent some time teaching kids too. She hadn’t even come near a school for anything more than parents’ night. So of course she demanded that this is exactly what goes on in the classroom, that I’m completely wrong (and ignorant, just for good measure), they’re all completely wrong, and we’re all getting royally ripped off by the teachers and the unions. (She also loves Ford and Harper, if that helps to explain things).
After an hour of back-and-forth, we finally managed to reach the consensus that those responsible are mostly in government, unions can be a good thing (which took many recounting of my own experiences with private industry abuses), and that maybe people could be paid a wage that allows them to both live and pay off their debts (though this took a lot — Conservatives abhor this idea and expend a lot of effort in quashing it).
When I finally hung up I got to thinking whether or not the teachers would even be launching an illegal strike to meet their demands, so deemed by Premiere McGuinty and the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Then I remembered this little gem from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (right near the top):
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
- (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
- (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
- (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
- (d) freedom of association.
So according to the highest law of the land, expressing your demands, peacefully assembling, etc. — basically everything a strike is about — are FULLY PROTECTED UNDER LAW.
The really sad thing is that no newspaper anywhere in the province has bothered to bring up the fact that the tyrannical government of Ontario, along with the OLRB, are the ones acting illegally. They are ignoring federal laws and instead simply saying that they’re going to take these incredibly unlawful actions. And then to impose a contract on the teachers while telling them to get back to work — what the fuck is that?
And if you speak out about something so blatantly obvious, something so simple that a child can see it, you’re branded a conspiracy kook who should be spending time in solitary confinement with a tin foil hat.
Certainly that’s the high horse on which my family member rode in on – summarily dismissing such obvious signs of a tyrannical dictatorship because, clearly, people in positions of power have NEVER abused it, and because a “newspaper” sporting half naked women, ads for hookers, and more advertising and pictures than words, told her that’s how things are.
Perhaps the most bizarre takeaway from the conversation was my family member’s insistence that I need to read Bill 115 because it’s so gloriously correct, but all of the plethora of documents by and from the government, on their website, showing their criminality, malfeasance, and generally nefarious and outright evil plans for the future, are all blatant lies and complete fabrications.
In other words, Bill 115 must be true because it agrees with what she was told, and all of the other documents are a straight up lie because they’re just too unpleasant. You know — if you don’t see it, it doesn’t exist — kind of thing.
I remember asking my family member how she thought all of the other evil governments of the past and present managed to take a hold. After all, it’s a safe bet to say that most citizens would not choose to live under such conditions.
I was met with a deafening silence.
“Yeah,” I replied, “that’s exactly how it happens.”