Most people would give me, as my high school principal Mr. Farrell used to say, a pat on the back up high, for saying that. "Yeah, good on ya mate! Way to go! Nice positive thinking, man!" But find those same people and say something about the problem in a negative way and watch how fast they blend into the bushes like Homer Simpson.
The latest example of this was a beautiful illustration of my topic today. I was exchanging goods with my co-teacher Margie. Ha! Fitting to talk about her right below that gif of Homer. Anyway, Margie has been here since '96. HERE. At this fake school. I don't know if it's always been so Mickey Mouse around here but I have been finished my double major class for a month now and nobody has asked me for marks or anything. There was no plan or notice for any of my classes. I was just thrown in a room with 30-90 students and told to teach. For half of my classes I didn't even know how to get to the classrooms! I was hired very last minute so had no chance to make proper curriculums, though, am glad of it since that would have been polishing a turd. Honestly, the lengths to which over expectation of students can possibly go seem to have no limits here. I told you of the beloved bumblebrain class I have in which they have a text that academically, and in heightened, esoteric English, covers the intricacies of the major English speaking countries of the world. Their government, histories, cultures and such. Given to students, about half of which, are failing my severely dumbed down English class of the very rudimentary elements of English speaking countries and their cultures. Well I have another class that might be even lower. I am supposed to be teaching them TOEFL. This is an outdated, but still used, English proficiency test. I think they had some TOEFL texts but in about two minutes I could tell there were no students in the class who could get a decent score on the test. Not one who should be hired for any job requiring English. And CERTAINLY not one who should be studying something in complicated English. Just last class I saw them all carrying these massive, blue Chemistry books. Again, heightened, esoteric, chemically English that even native speakers would have difficulty with. These students? Use the thing as a door stop or a coffee table leg. It's not going to do you any good otherwise. On an educational level, this school ranks below a lot of the hagwons I've taught at. And the first and second things they did to me were, 1. cheated me into signing a contract here and 2. put me to work in August for which I STILL haven't been paid.
Having said all that, Margie has been here since '96. This should give you a hint as to the kind of person Margie might be. I refer you to my recent post about posobots. All of the stuff above is true and we both teach at this joke of a school, so naturally, with a guy like me who doesn't shy away from the negative, these topics are going to come up in conversation. Last time she was over here for a barbecue, I mentioned to her that she has been here longer than anybody has worked for any school that I know of here, yet she makes the lowest salary I know of here. And if you saw what she does, I think she might work harder than anyone I know here. But tell her of the school I have applied at where right now teachers are making in a week what we make here in a month and it bounces right off her. She has attained peace in her meagre earnings. Then I brought up my culture class when she was over here giving me some parmesan cheese she'd purchased, while I gave her some lettuce I had found. You have to go all over the place to find specialty items like these.
Margie has an interesting way of regurgitating harsh facts, then trying to gloss them over with nonsense. She says to me, "Yeah they're like baby birds in a nest with mouths open squawking for food, helpless to get their own." Right! That's EXACTLY what they are! They want me to teach them in a week, how to read these ridiculous texts they've been given. But then Margie goes into damage control mode. "Buuut you probably misunderstood them. They're bad English leads to misunderstandings sometimes. They probably didn't understand the assignment. They may have had trouble with your explanation. It's probably a cultural thing." and so on. Here's the thing: Margie speaks Chinese. I don't know how much she uses in Class but I have met several teachers here who are supposed to be teaching in English and are not. I even said to Margie that most of this class should not be in the classroom with a teacher who only speaks English. They're not ready for it. I even said that in Canada, a lot of these kids would be in special ed.
Margie teaches oral English to this same group of lugnuts and I have no doubt she is aware of the students who really don't belong on the inside of a university classroom, but she has her thing here and she doesn't want it messed with. I felt like an assailant on her peaceful malformation of reality. She gave me my cheese, found that the cheddar she was going to give me was frozen, said she'd give me a hunk when it thawed out, then couldn't blend into the bushes fast enough. She probably went to her apartment, drank hot water and meditated. Ha ha ha. In China, the cure for everything is hot water. I will never see that hunk of cheese. Margie doesn't contact me even though we both live on campus here. It's another example of a person I've scared away because of my negativity. I think I "offend" her. At the very least, Margie is never going to sit down with me, have a beer and bitch about work.
And that's all I wanted to do. It's cathartic. Cleansing. Therapeutic. But nowadays we're all trained, not to say mindfucked, into believing that's all bad juju. Even if it's the truth, it's offensive. I had one student from the TOEFL class send me a text saying my class needs to be more interesting and harder. I'm teaching things they did 12 years ago in school. Well first of all this particular student had missed about half the classes. He was probably sending this message to get me to believe he never shows up because he's not challenged. Second of all, I bet if someone tries to teach from that same, big, blue, chemistry book next year, he'll be "offended" because they've already done that. Well "done" and "learned" are not the same thing. He's probably right. These kids probably DID cover the basics of English a long time ago in their regular schooling. Taught by a Chinese teacher who couldn't recite the alphabet and they all cheated on their tests by copying the one student in class who had lived in America for a year. It was painfully obvious to me that these kids needed, so I am teaching them introductory English. Well this "offends" them because in their minds they are beyond this. The next class, this student, nicknamed Whale, shows up for class. I tape five pictures to the board and start asking random people things about them. Where are they from, what is their nationality, what is their hobby, what's their favourite food, what language do they speak, what are they wearing, because this is what we've been learning in class. I stress the S for present tense like "He speaks..." "She likes..." and I stress present continuous tense for clothes. "He is wearing..." "They are wearing..." I also make sure they watch for countable and uncountable A's and S's like a red jacket or blue socks. NONE of the students were doing any of this properly when I talked to them all on the first couple days of class. It's what they need to learn.
So I call on Whale and ask a question. He gets it wrong. I ask another question. He gets it wrong. I explain to him how if he'd been in class he would have studied this and may have gotten the question right. I call on a student with lower level of English who had been regularly attending. He got the question right. Whale has a choice to make. He can be "offended" or he can smarten up. Which do you think he will do?
It's really a choice between thinking or retreating into escapist quasi-thinking. Do we find our joy and happiness or do we pretend to find them by settling for shitty situations and blocking out any evidence of their shittiness? I went for one of my long walks yesterday and saw this:
Well, by golly, I thought, maybe China has this figured out! I sure wish this school well! But then, just a few doors down I saw this:
The Bryan Adams Happy Learning Centre. And back to Earth my hopes for China crashed. lol
Another example. I occasionally engage online in conversation, or exchange of philosophies and opinion just to keep the lawyer in me sharp and since I'm starved for English conversation over here. Really, I argue. I especially like the challenge of trying to take people out of artificial comfort zones and make the posobots nervous. Possibly even wake a person up. Never know...
The other day I saw something posted online by a guy who's VERY awake, Bernie Sanders, about Canadian health care. It was a Canadian doctor saying that "Never has the Canadian government dictated what she does." I think even Bernie fell for one of the oldest and falsest lies about Canada: the myth of free healthcare. As the old joke goes, "Canadians are just unarmed Americans with free healthcare." I have heard it more accurately told as "better healthcare," but it's still wildly inaccurate. First of all Canada has guns. Three for every 10 residents. But they're hunting rifles, not Uzis. And for the love of GOD stop saying Canadian healthcare is free! It's far from it! Until you've worked in Canada and felt the sting of a 48% payroll tax, then felt the icy grip of the taxman taking 20% for a 100-year-old dinosaur income tax that has paid off the wars a thousand times over and THEN 15% on almost everything you buy and even MORE in excise taxes on certain "luxury" items like beer, AND THEN paid special bonus taxes if you have property or own a car or die, until THEN, don't tell me Canadian healthcare is free.
Healthcare is reported to be the thing that the highest percentage of Canadian taxes are spent on. I say that because nobody has ever read the horrendously voluminous Canadian tax code, (made so for that very purpose), so nobody really knows. Health care is expensive in Canada and the representatives of the hospitals, and the doctors, are getting rich off our tax dollars so it's unlikely that you'll get an honest assessment of the cost of healthcare from any of them. In a way, the Canadians still pay a lot for healthcare, it's just less personal. And because there is no way to measure exactly how much we each pay, people can still get away with saying it's free. Or telling other lies or making other misleading comments like the doctor who snowed Bernie. She said the "Canadian government" hoping people would think she meant all forms of government in Canada, but what she meant was the federal government. Bernie Sanders can be forgiven for not knowing that healthcare is something that is handled provincially in Canada so, no, the federal government doesn't dictate what she does, but the provincial government does. Thing is, she probably doesn't mind that cuz since Canadians don't really know what happens to their taxes, provincial governments get away with highway robbery by saying, "It's for healthcare." Nobody bitches about taxes taken for healthcare. Well we probably should start. But even people who GO to the hospital may not see the bill. They may not see what the taxpayer pays for things like the bed and room you stay in. Here's a frightening list of hospitals in the Vancouver area and how much a room costs for ONE day. Okay, this is for uninsured people, this is not what you pay if you pay your "premiums" or your mandatory medical insurance but it's probably how much tax money they take. Who knows? Maybe they take more since it's not directly paid for and nobody will be the wiser.
The premiums are $136 a month for a family of two and going up all the time. Can you imagine what is collected just on this? Add to that the even bigger pile of money from taxes. It's no wonder hospitals charge so much! There's plenty of money just up for grabs.
Now of course they're not going to be shouting from the mountains how much people get secretly charged for stuff at hospitals. These are stats that are hard to find! I worked for Alberta Health Services in Calgary hospitals when I was in Canada. I went through about 5-7 pairs of rubber gloves a shift. I had to glove up every time I touched or might touch a patient. Here's an article from the UK saying that hospitals there were paying 16 pounds for rubber gloves that could have been bought for 35 pence. That's about 27 bucks a pair if this same sort of thing happens in Canada. And it does. That's over 150 bucks a shift of Canadian taxes I might have been eating up. Now, maybe in Canada we use cheaper gloves than England, but this is just an example of what can happen when greed and corruption meet with an annual taxation glut.
Here's a list of things that are overpriced in American hospitals. Rubber gloves are 53 bucks there! Those little medicine cups? 10 bucks! A Tylenol? 15 bucks, baby! Come on, man! Surely it can't be that bad in Canada! Well in 2014 it was estimated that 141 billion bucks of our tax money was spent on healthcare. That's almost 4000 dollars per Canadian and of course only a fraction of Canadians spent any time in the hospital. According to Alberta Official Statistics, 7,596 people per 100,000 in Canada went to the hospital in 2013-2014. Let's say 7.6%. The population of Canada in 2014 was 35,540,400. So that's 2.7 million patients approximately. That works out to $52,222.22 per patient. And that's over and above any insurance or healthcare "premiums" paid.
People talk about hospital visits driving Americans into debt. How many Canadians wouldn't be crippled by a 52 thousand dollar hospital bill? I don't know many. Look, even if you asked ME if I have a problem paying taxes when I never go to the hospital, I'll say no. I don't mind footing the bill for unfortunate Canadians who get sick and need medical treatment. What pisses me off is when the price of that treatment is outrageous. And it IS in Canada. Getting worse all the time. But the vast majority of Canadians remain proud of our healthcare, even brag about it, and if you make the mistake of even accurately disparaging it, you will see ANOTHER myth about Canada debunked: the one about us never getting angry and being so polite.
I commented on the Bernie Sanders site mentioning that I love the man, but that talking to a doctor might not get you the most unbiased description of the Canadian healthcare system. I went into a few of the things described above. I immediately get one eye roll. Then I get a dipshit named Bryn who says that I pay about 50% less for my Canadian health care than Americans pay. So it makes tax rates irrelevant. Then he strays into La La Land and states that the average Canadian family has a total tax burden of 24% and that's a fact. What I am writing is not factual it's... something else.
So I reply to him that okay if a family of four has a Father, stay-at-home Mom and two young, unemployed kids that's 96% tax for the Father, zero for the other three so it averages out to, yup, 24%. You're right, Bryn. My bad.
You see, you can't just accept idiotic "facts" like that without questioning. One of the oldest tricks in the book to make taxes look lower is using "family" tax rates. But you need to THINK, not just blindly accept what some liar is telling you. It's funny that Bryn did this for MY comments but not the BS 24% tax rate Soma that some politician prescribed for him. Probably because the politician's happy news didn't "offend" him. My truth did.
He didn't respond. But then another posobot named Ron wrote that the healthcare premium I mentioned in BC, (which he just assumed. I didn't mention), was a lie. He lives in Ontario and appreciates the healthcare there AND Tommy Douglas. Then he says I'm making up lies. Douglas was a Canadian politician who introduced a medicare plan in the province of Saskatchewan that was eventually adopted by the rest of Canada. In a national survey he was voted our greatest Canadian. Our healthcare is nothing like what Douglas implemented any more, but it is still as beloved because Canadians don't know the outrageous rates our taxes pay for it. And they don't want to know!
Like I just said, I have no problem with the Douglas system. I like it. I have a problem with greedy, corrupt medical price fixing. So I tell this to Ron, say that the people who call Canadian healthcare "free" are the ones making up lies, and give him a screenshot of the price of healthcare premiums in BC that he said I lied about. (which was actually 36 dollars MORE than I quoted) This does not deter Ron's patriotic vigour. He tells me that he went to the hospital last year for 20 cancer treatments. Now he is in remission. No point of service fee. "All paid for by my taxes," says Ron.
Do you see how beloved this myth is? But I didn't tell Ron that HIS taxes didn't even cover the room he was in. I didn't ask if maybe it was brain cancer he had because he'd have to be mentally malfunctioning to believe his taxes paid for that much hospital care. But Ron also asked me, "Why are you spreading misinformation?" So I had to say something in reply. I said, "So I am saying that Canadian healthcare isn't free, we pay for it with our taxes and you just said that is misinformation because YOU went to the hospital last year and paid for it with your taxes."
His reply was, "You DO know that most Canadians pay taxes and Canadian healthcare is far better than the US." I probably would have responded to that with, "Right, but not free." But he had to go further. He then posts, "You sound like a Republican anyway." So I just ignored him. He probably thinks he won the argument.
A Republican? The GOP? First of all, we don't have them in Canada. Second of all, those are the guys trying right now to get taxes for the rich cut and they're going to finance the tax cuts by getting rid of social programs that poor people rely on. Among them will be Medicaid!
Giving the rich MORE money and having the poor pay for it. Reverse Robin Hood healthcare is exactly what I was complaining about. But even if I posted this article on the conversation thread with Ron and Bryn, people just believe what they want to believe. For many it's the false positivity of blatant lies like Canadian healthcare is free! Homer too.
All a person can do is keep citing unpopular facts and keep losing friends. It's not a sad as it sounds. I don't want to be friends with cowardly escapists anyway. Start complaining about anything and they disappear. What kind of a friend is that? Listen, the point is, whether you pay exorbitant rates out of your own pocket, or if you pay them collectively as a province through the vaunted universal healthcare system, it makes little difference. What I believe is whether you're stuck footing the whole bill by yourself or whether you get help from your fellow taxpayers, the issue in healthcare is NOT this! It's the price setting and that is totally corrupt!
Back to our friend Ron. Who, let's face it, may not have had, nor beat cancer anyway. He might have said all that to win an argument. But even if not, here's a doctor who might be a better doctor to listen to about the REAL problem in the healthcare system. He's American and talking about America, but do you think doctors in Canada don't know all this? They're still prescribing chemotherapy in Canada too. If I have rectal cancer and go to the hospital, is there more human compassion and less CHA-CHING in any hospital in Canada? I think you'll find I'd be charged out the cancer ravaged arse the same as I would be in America. Just exchange the word, "insurance" for "taxes," and we probably have the identical problem. And the pharmaceutical company charging 5000 is the beginning. The drugs are probably worth 50 bucks. Then the HUGE markup by the hospital and the nice dividend made by the doctor keeps THEM silent. Our healthcare in Canada is a for profit industry just the same as it is in the States. Just a bit less individual. But hospitals, schools, damn near everything run like corporations where money is all that matters, are now the norm. It's not shameful, it's now accepted, in Canada as well as the States, as honourable, virtuous, heroic! People think, "Well he's getting rich, he must be helping the country." That's because we've been socialized to believe this horseshit. They are helping themselves TO our country. That's all.