Contextualizing government malfeasance regarding teaching contracts of 2012
An unofficial backgrounder for OSSTF members only.
Information presented here has been taken from Noam Chomsky’s books – Hopes and Prospects, How the World Works (four books condensed), Making the Future and Necessary Illusions. This is by no means an official release by OSSTF; however, I hope it helps us better understand where this unduly harsh government agenda has its origins. I also hope that it will help explain contextually the dissent in which teachers periodically engage to remind governments that we will continue to protect our working conditions in the cause of public education.
Noam Chomsky is the world’s most cited living author and the eighth most cited in history (after Marx, Lenin, Shakespeare, Aristotle, the Bible, Plato and Freud). He has written over 100 books and is arguably the most important intellectual alive. Essentially, Chomsky’s evidence suggests that corporations have successfully created vast wealth for a small percentage of the population who are using this money to influence governments and laws. These state-backed corporate institutions are maximizing profits at the expense of working people and the environment across the globe. They have turned our social democracies here at home into business democracies.
In the interest of brevity I have created four categories most relevant to teachers and our current plight. As educators – if you don’t know this information already – I think you will find it illuminating, somewhat disturbing and hopefully invigorating enough to stand united against forces that are actively trying to degrade our benefits, pensions and working conditions. In the near future we will need more education and more energy to sustain our efforts in protecting public education.
Government (The Investment Theory of Politics)
“Politics is the shadow cast by big business.” (John Dewy, 1930s)
- Money is now understood to be an essential part of running any electoral campaign.
- Big business–i.e., corporations–financially support candidates during elections and use the media to create successful candidates.
- Elected officials then act more as an advocate for the largest contributing corporations rather than their own constituents.
- Corporate purpose is to increase shareholder value often at the expense of all else, including the societies they operate in, and the environment.
- The corporate backed government officials adopt the corporate agenda to reduce benefits, slash wages and legislate against labour unions and any other working people in the interest of profit.
- Corporations drive down wages which eventually creates a small privileged class and the poor. The formally larger middle class is being eroded.
- Corporations also make the government look like the bad guy in the eyes of the public so people focus on big government and beurocracy as the root of many societal problems, instead of the corporations themselves.
- Essentially, corporations are forming associations transnationally and utilizing governments to undermine the rights of working people worldwide. Unions are barred from operating transnationally.
- Corporate backed governments are now setting their sights on collective bargaining and the right of people to associate with each other. What’s next? Farming co-ops, parent councils, church groups, union newsletters…?
- The working classes are now transforming into a growing sector called Precariats: people in a precarious position at the periphery of society.
- The Precarious Proletariat is suffering from an assault on labor through deunionization, flexibilization and deregulation.
- Thomas Jefferson warned: if the bankers and corporations grow, the American Revolution will be lost.
- The entire media and entertainment industry is largely composed of a small number of mega corporations which are powerful enough to influence how people view issues.
- The corporate owned media sways public opinion by printing and emphasizing their own interests.
- Unfortunately the media reflects the advertizing money that supports it, and journalistic integrity is undermined in the process.
- Debate in the media is seemingly quite prominent and unbiased, however the preset parameters for such debate are quite restricted and many of the more pertinent issues are not mentioned or reported on at all.
- The media propaganda has been successful in turning the public against labour unions and collective bargaining.
- Corporate money is sufficient to drown out union funds, which is why we can’t compete equally with advertizing.
- Individuals and even large unions find it difficult, if not impossible, to get their views in front of the public given either the sheer expense of advertising or the restrictive corporate media parameters and governance.
- High level public media personalities are groomed and tested long before promotions occur, ensuring their opinions are all their own.
- Media often doesn’t report what is actually being said by unions, but rather what the union tactics are instead.
World Financial Markets
- Canada, alongside the USA and Britain, is one of the three main global plutonomies; i.e., economies powered by the wealthy.
- The USA is the imperial global superpower which utilizes state backed capitalism – including the military – to open foreign markets and secure natural resources for its transnational corporations. The USA has only 6% of the world’s population but they consume 40% of the resources.
- Under the guise of promoting democracy worldwide, the industrialised nations ensure third world countries serve their own corporate interests. Democracy is undermined as part of foreign policy because it makes it easier to exploit the land and indigenous people.
- These tactics are now starting to affect the rich countries of the G-20 themselves, including Canada. After moving manufacturing jobs overseas since the 1970s for the sake of profits, corporate backed governments of the G-20 now have to turn to their own labor markets for more profit. This is why teachers and the rest of the working public are being significantly affected, especially since the 2008 financial meltdown. The jobs are not coming back.
- Canada and the industrialized nations have had a stagnation of real wage growth for the last thirty years, while corporate profits are soaring. Capitalism is subjugating labor.
- All of the G-20 industrialized nations are increasingly running under the influence of corporate interests in accordance with US foreign policy. Canada profits by supplying nations with raw materials and manufactured goods when new markets are opened.
- Public money often backs private corporate financing but the corporations get to secure the private profit. This unfair practice also increases a systemic risk in financial markets which results in the boom and bust financial meltdowns.
- Now the Ontario Government is using the newly created debt as an excuse to cut our wages.
- Corporations also don’t like government debt because it equates to increased risk for them. This puts our government secured teacher pensions on the chopping block, because business wants it off the government liability books.
- According to the International Labor Organisation, workers are now shouldering much more of all risk associated with business.
- Corporations often are not respectful of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the right to good health, education, decent employment, and security….
- Historically, US financial markets became somewhat regulated at Bretton Woods in a social democratic fashion after the Great Depression to better serve the working public just after WWll.
- Financial markets subsequently became deregulated at Breton Woods in the 1970s.
- Financial deregulation creates a virtual parliament in which industrialists and financiers vote on government programs that serve their own financial interests. Capital flight often occurs when it comes to paying decent wages for workers, because it lowers profits.
- Free Trade agreements (NAFTA, GATT…) largely create more wealth for the rich and hurt working people. They are more aptly named, Investor Rights Arrangements.
- Corporations can associate, communicate, monopolize and are largely unaccountable.
- Canadians now have province-corporate wars against public sector unions to lower wages, cut benefits and reduce pensions. The governments are pushing to pass laws against collective bargaining to further stifle working people. This is happening in many third world countries right now, and has happened in industrialized societies throughout history.
We Need Changes
“Don’t just try and understand the world, change it.” (Karl Marx)
- We need domestic dissent across society now, and the government will not be very tolerant. The Occupy Movement might be the start of more dissent to come, as the public becomes more aware of income disparity.
- The government needs to hear that they have not been, and currently are not being, responsible enough for the welfare of the people – and this is not communism.
- We must not become accustomed to a precarious existence or become Precariats.
- Our societal input should be ongoing and not restricted to once every four years during elections. We need to have consistent input into the issues of education, social welfare, working conditions and the environment.
- We need a real social democratic political party that acts on behalf of the working public.
- We need to understand these corporations can be unmade, just as they were made by the courts in the late 1800s. Corporations have more rights than individuals and live forever. Corporations can be tyrannical, totalitarian, illegitimate and immoral.
- We must demand that corporations be dissolved or at least be legally obligated to pay a percentage of their profits back to their workers. Otherwise, people need the same rights as are currently extended to corporations.
- We should be allowed to unionize transnationally and help protect workers worldwide, just as corporations are transnational.
- We will never back down on the right to collectively bargain for the rights of working people, and just as importantly out of respect for the workers who have died while trying to achieve it for us.
- We demand a government that makes decisions on behalf of the majority of its constituents and not corporate interests for private profit.
Will we wallow in hopeless naiveté? Or will we be proactive teachers and force this business democracy to understand the true value of public education?
Will we concede like OECTA? Or will we fight to correct the attempted degradation of our vocation?
I hope you wholeheartedly choose to stand united with all the teachers that remain standing.
Comments, further insights or any other feedback is welcome.
Branch President, OSSTF District 19
Science Head, Glenforest SS, PDSB
To download the article click here