Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Circle (part 5) -Education & the power of Unions

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

The Educational System is a Catch 22 for it promises future wealth for short term, present day pain.  In fact, it is nothing less than false hope and empty promises for in truth, the Educational System cannot deliver on it's promise of future wealth.  Especially when one realizes that the jobs needed to create future wealth and job opportunities, do not exist in abundance in this current economy and in fact, need to be created by Big Business and by the National Governments.  Since both of these social forces are working together to implement the agenda of the Elite, the jobs they are creating are more often than not, not dependent on degrees.  The other side of the problem and the reason why it is a Catch 22 occurs when you realize that without this post secondary education and "skilled" training, even the lowliest of jobs are now out of reach due to the fact there exists not only a surplus amount of workers in urban areas, but also there exists a surplus of undergrad students who have yet to find work in their respective fields and are therefore looking to work in ANY field in order to pay back their student loans.  

Current ads presented by Social institutions, Big Business, and National Governments guarantee work and careers in certain fields (ex: nursing). These combined forces working together advertise that their is a "shortage of workers" and throw out future estimates and projected numbers based around the "Baby Boomer" Generation.  This message however distorts the current social and economic realities presently.  All of this is done so that the BUSINESS SIDE of post secondary education is able to thrive and earn profits.  What it creates though by design is a surplus of DEBT holders that cannot easily pay off their debt especially with a SERVICE SECTOR ECONOMY in place.  Think for a minute, how do people get out of debt once they have invested so much money into the educational business system if there are no high paying jobs in the current economy?  How do students who are in debt enable themselves to have upward social mobility when there is not enough money to pay off debt without going further into debt?  

The overly ambitious student(s) with an undergrad degree are determined to succeed and get themselves out of this saturated category. They do this by accumulating more debt and by attaining their Master's Degree in order to get an advantage on the competition.  However, what happens when this same group wants to move up in society and experience "life marks", such as purchasing their first property? OR getting married? OR raising a child? Where do they get this money from?  They often find themselves in the simultaneous problem of: (A) paying off their student debt AND (b) wanting to move up in life while hitting "life marks".  Just like students with undergrad degrees, this group is forced to go into more DEBT, in order to move forward.  This is a WIN-WIN for Banks, National Governments, and Big Business.  This is a win for Banks because "BAIL-INS" are now being built into FIRST WORLD National Budgets like the the "Bail-in" implemented by the Canadian Federal Budget of 2013.  "A bail-in means that investors in a bank's stock, a bank's bonds, or deposit holders pay for the collapsed institution. Just so you understand what I'm saying; the government mentioned: 'the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into the regulatory capital.  Under the liabilities section of Scotiabank's balance sheet you will notice that Personal deposits fall under the banks liabilities. Scotiabank has $135.4 billion in personal deposits". 

BANKS now have the power built into them by the National Governments to absorb all the money sitting in bank accounts.  Meaning, if people were to start defaulting on their student loans, bank loans, and mortgage loans, the bank is able to absorb all the cash it holds in it's banks in order for it to survive and not become insolvent.  This means banks have insured themselves in case of an Economic Depression and in case of any "Bank Runs". Now let's understand this further and try and understand what the Governments can do if the Economic Depression hits.  If the economy crashes, National Governments can take over their citizen's pension money in order to keep itself running.  In fact, "European nations such as Hungary and Poland began seizing private pensions in 2013 in order to make up government budget shortfalls" That my friends is where the "projected" number of Baby Boomers and the money and staff needed in the Health Care business at a future date and time come into question (We will get back to that at a later point in time).  Other than seizing citizen's pensions, governments also introduce AUSTERITY BUDGETS and begin introducing PRIVATIZATION into the faltering economies.  This is not only good for National Governments but also Big Business, because now, not only does Big Business start owning more shares in any given economy, but they now have an educated surplus of workers in debt who need to work immediately.  During the introduction of Austerity Budgets, the public sector workers also get laid off and see their wages reduced.  Essential services are reduced and turned over to the private sector who run them as they see fit.

People think that no matter what, "if the ECONOMIC DEPRESSION does hit, my job/career is safe". They believe this because they strongly believe that, "my union can overcome the government".  In truth, No it can't.  This is due to the fact that it is not unions, or governments, or politicians that dictate the national agenda.  It is the ECONOMY that dictates the national agenda.  Not the politicians (on any level) or the National Governments in place.  The state of the economy dictates what power and control politicians and unions have. So no, the union cannot overcome the economy.  A strong and robust economy can help Unions push for their objectives.  However, a weak and faltering economy takes the feet out from under the Unions and renders them powerless and impotent.  When the economy is weak, the unions are powerless but to accept the demands of the Elites, Big Businesses, and National governments because they are the only ones with money that can be put into the creation and maintenance of jobs.  That is reality.  Unions need money too in order to function.  Unions can only survive if they take a certain amount earned from their workers in order to organize and advertise for the survival of the union.  However, when their workers are not working, the union is not making enough money in order to ensure it's own survival.  Therefore, it is not the union that tells the government what to do, it is the economy that enables the unions and governments to have any leverage during discussions.  

Unions during a weak economy, can and do strike.  However, that in itself is another CATCH 22.  This in part is due to the fact that in a faltering economy , strikes damage the economy even further thus weakening the revenue National Governments can use in their job creation plans.  However, if Unions don't have a "show of force" during privatization and Austerity Budgets, the union power becomes ever weakened and even gets eliminated in certain sectors.  With a surplus of educated workers in all countries across the globe, the power has shifted from unions and governments to Big Business and the Elite.  The truth remains that many unions are in fact powerless to do much for they provide no essential services and can be replaced easily.  The more difficult and highly skilled jobs that can and do wield power are "essential services" such as Nurses, Doctors, Fire-fighters  Police Officers (to an extent momentarily), and Transportation workers (for the moment as well). These services, these "essential services" are the only unions that can actually wield power during the privatization measures imposed by Banks and Big Business on National governments who are forced to implement Austerity Budgets.  However, strikes that last for long by these "essential services" only cripple governments further and cause governments to change without actually solving the economic problem in place.  However, once these austerity budgets are introduced and social cuts are implemented, privatization of these essential services also occurs.

For in truth, Big Business and the Private sector are always waiting on the outside if the National Government fails.  Big Business and the Private Sector can re-organize quicker than the masses and can make up their losses when they consolidate and merge together with each other in order to stay profitable and stay alive.  Big Business's sole purpose is profits, nothing else.  They may sell "customer service" but profits is their main objective and incentive.  For "Big Business" no matter how they advertise it, your ONLY value to them is your customer loyalty, nothing else.  During this time of economic uncertainty  Big Business will often request government subsidies and corporate tax cuts in order for them to exist in a country.  Afterwards, Big Business (especially when there exists Monopoly Corporations such as Bell and Rogers in the Telecommunications business) pass the additional costs incurred during this time onto customers (unless global competition exists similar to the trade pacts on the table of the Canadian Federal Government presently -ex: with China, with the E.U., with Trans-Atlantic Partners).  This again is a CATCH-22.  Signing these trade pacts will in fact bring in diverse companies in all sectors of society, however in return, Canada has to give up it's sovereignty on many issues and in many different sectors.   More so, after these global trade pacts are signed and privatization measures occur, competition occurs in all sectors of the economy diluting many of the services rendered to the customers.  During this time some of these strong "essential unions" will also become expendable.  That is the nature of business.  The over-commodification of people into objects, numbers, stats, and figures.

Before we move on though, let's look at the nature of strikes in order to dispel the notion that unions and strikes have the power to bring down Big Business.  There is a ring of truth to it, but let's look a little closer at how it all boils down before the corporation is "brought down".  Workers and their unions go on strike in regards to higher wages, job benefits, and better working conditions.  First, the strike starts to hurt the workers due to substantial drop off in pay from his/her usual standard of pay and the amount you get on "strike pay" especially in an economy with rising inflation. Second, the person it starts to hurt is the consumer who depend on the product or service that is now being put on hold because of the strike.  In order to get around this problem, the consumer uses his already overly strained and overly tapped resources to overcome these difficulties but this can only be done for so long without infuriating the customer and alienating him from the strike workers.  Third (if it is private business and the stocks are on the market), the person it starts to hurt is the share holders who are fickle and once they know they are losing money, they will start dropping the shares in the company.  This will decrease profits from the company.  Fourth, the person it hurts is Big Business who in retaliation to it's losses, decide either to close shop completely and move to another country where their are no unions in place and the wages are even lower for the workers so it can maximize it's profit.  This move regains the once lost share holders, and Big Business starts expanding again.  Fifth, the last person it hurts is the worker on strike because now they have lost their jobs and livelihoods.  This in turn affects the economy weakening it much further than it was already.  If Big Business does capitulate to the demands of unions, depending on the amount of profits lost during strike times, it begins over time to shed jobs and begins to over-work the already existing workers in the company. Due to Globalization, Big Business has created insurance measures to ensure it always comes out on top.

Though the National media and the National governments distort the message they send out through advertisement ads and through labor ads by repeating, "there are X amount of jobs in this market and in that market", the problem is that there does in fact exist a need for more staff to be hired in those markets.  However, what is not being told to the masses is that there is not enough money in that field for money to be spent on staff.  Especially when money is being diverted from Human Resources and the hiring process into the technological aspect of that field.  Investing in technology gives the masses the notion that the changes being brought into the sector are in fact improving the efficiency of that sector.   The truth however is that money being pushed into that sector is not improving the services or the welfare of the workers.  For example, let's again look at Canada's Health Care program to understand this further.  Though the government is investing vast amounts of money presently, Canada's Health Care services are in fact getting worst.  This fact is further hammered home, when you enable the illusion to fall away and you realize that Canada's Health Care system is not as good as advertised.  That in 2013, "Canada delivers the second most expensive health care among developed countries, yet it finishes last in effective and timely care".  That in fact, "Canada's health care system ranked 25th among 34 countries and just ahead of Slovakia, just behind Portugal".  That "one in ten Canadians report they are not filling a prescription because of the costs" Though the National Governments and Social Institutes advertise that Canada has one of the best Health Care services in the world, it is nothing but a fabrication used to appease the masses.  Instead of spending money on staff and improving the quality of service inside of the Health Care system, money is being diverted into technology which cause many of the nurses on staff to overwork themselves and often burn out.  With burnt out staff and overworked workers, the money needed to hire the staff and improve services are being spent elsewhere thus compounding this problem further.  When the economy crashes, health care services will face one of two inevitable possibilities.  In order to survive the way it exists now, (A) governments need to raise taxes on tax payers OR (B) a private two-tier system comes into play -which will create disparity between the services given to patrons depending on the hospital you go into.     

In truth, the media's portrayal determines mass society's understanding of the situation at hand.  Media is used by the Elite and by Big Business in order to stimulate and create beliefs in the mind's of the masses.  For the "educated",  social institutions create their belief systems and ideologies.  Together, the Media and Social Institution's work for the National Governments and Big Business, hypnotizing your mind, making you see a reality which is similar to having "Tunnel Vision" and often missing the big picture in front of you as it unfolds in front of you.  What the Media often hides, misrepresents, and minimally covers is the fact that all of these expansionary projects enable certain sectors in society to make profits.  Expansion of transportation routes, expansion of health care services, and expansion of educational faculties enable the BUSINESS SIDE to advertise that they are doing this to improve the services they provide.  However, take education for example.  Education faculties state that the classes are overcrowded and because of this they need to expand classroom sizes.  However, Educational faculties are not stopping their recruitment needs and recruitment drives.  They are allowing the maximization of students in any one class every year in order to maximize profits.  Then with an overcrowded classroom, they are required to expand again and therefore in doing so raise tuition fees on students.   This is the BUSINESS SIDE being involved in Cyclical epidemic where expansion occurs but the services do not improve.  In fact, this cycle continues until BOOM the economy crashes and these expanded facilities will become privatized and only become affordable for those with money to spend.  A two tier education and a two tier Health Care system emerges from the rubble of an Economic Depression.

In conclusion, brothers and sisters, be careful of the causes you support, the protests you attend and rally behind, and the ideologies you personify and identify with.  The government can make any strike illegal and can legislate people back to work. By-laws, which affect private property, come into play when you decide to protest so be weary of this. Criminal laws affecting roads and the "safety" of roads and streets come into play and can be used to fine you and jail you.  Be weary of all these things when you are caught in a game of power between Big Business, Unions, and National Governments.  Realize that the school you go to doesn't necessarily determine the person you become, however, it does have a huge affect on the social connections you make, which does make a huge difference in your future opportunities.  DEBT eliminates the middle class and makes them into the working poor.  Understand that though our social realities might become harder for the masses that it is not hopeless.  The THIRD WORLD economies have existed and so have it's citizens.  Some have thrived in this THIRD WORLD economy, some simply survive.  Use your opportunities when they arise and use them for your advantage.

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