[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]
Dear Dr. Steve,
Our province faces an education crisis created by the powerful vested interests of the BC Teachers' Federation. As the teachers' strike continues, I am determined to fight the union on behalf of the people of British Columbia. But it's a challenge. Cynically playing the "our children's future" card, the union has swayed some of the more gullible and naive to their side. I admit that public school teachers are the custodians of our children's education -- well, not mine, but other people's -- and I am certainly willing to pay them a custodian's wages. But it seems they want more. As premier, I feel my role is to stay above it all and then piss on the teachers from a great height. I've done this recently on Twitter, but I fear it's not enough. Any thoughts on how to proceed?
Premier Christy Clark
Before we turn to the education issue, let us first ponder the panda -- the adorable, black and white, bamboo-masticating panda. Everyone loves them. From a public image standpoint, unassailable. So smug they make me sick. How often have I schemed and plotted, wondering just what it would take to go negative on pandas? Now, a breakthrough: news of a panda that faked a pregnancy. Ai Hin, a six-year-old panda at a zoo in Chengdu, China, apparently pretended to be pregnant after figuring out she would then get more food, attention and pampering. Finally, an opportunity to portray pandas as the preening, narcissistic little attention-seekers they are. They practice their deceptions to get more resources so their cute two-tone asses can live in comfort. They're not even real bears. Pandas: don't fall for their bullshit.
If pandas can be demolished, Premier, think what you can do with teachers. In fact it's been done for years, by you and others. Demonizing teachers has become a political art. As public employees, it's not such a stretch to bunch them together with those surly functionaries down at the motor vehicle department. They're civil servants, and everybody knows civil servants are well-paid, paper-shuffling obstructionists. South of the border in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, the Republican Party has attempted to make "teacher" synonymous with "tapeworm," with some success. The government-is-a-business mentality dictates a bottom-line approach to education, with the emphasis on "bottom." If you're so smart, teachers, do the math. It's not as if these expensive third graders are going to be generating tax revenue after class. Not since the local shirtwaist factories closed, anyway.
Private industry has the solution. More than one solution, actually. There's the option you've taken, Premier, paying to give your son the kind of high school education not available to the less fortunate. But there's also the business model. During my brief, unhappy teenage career at McDonald's, I was expected to come in on my own time and watch videos of how to make hamburgers, so that I might advance myself. That's how it's done -- with some minimal production costs, your student graduates to the burger-dressing station. Access to video tutorials is a lot easier now than it was in that primitive era. Teachers are a luxury.
'Show us the baby panda!'
Your primary duty is to the taxpayer. The taxpayer, once reduced and simplified by that description, becomes an uncomplicated animal. Taxpayers are perpetually-annoyed money spigots, wanting only that government stop showing up with more and more buckets to fill. Education is just one more bucket wielded by one more parasitic constituency making its claim on the poor voter. Like those selfish pandas, B.C. teachers just want to fatten up at our expense. You, premier, are there to say "No more! Show us the baby panda!"
Stick to your guns Premier Clark, and you'll break your fat-cat teacher foes. It has been suggested that the $40-a-day you propose to pay parents for daycare and such might be better spent settling the strike. But sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Crush the teachers' union now, and let us walk hand-in-hand into a better tomorrow, in which every British Columbian will reach their proper burger station in life.
Although I never did, actually. Couldn't get the hang of the whole burger thing. But don't worry -- a few will always fall through the cracks into media. And everybody knows you don't need an education in that racket.
Read more: BC Politics