If there’s one thing I hate about Canada is how some companies there try to take advantage of the regulatory environment and the nation’s social net. They believe this net applies to large corporations, but in reality, these should only be considered under the gravest conditions –as they should be self-sufficient. After all they’re private businesses, not public. The technique usually involves a sappy story about not being able to stay afloat, because of current economic conditions, and how it’s necessary to give leeway. Sacrifices may come in the way of wage cuts, benefits, and/or demand public financial support, and as will be outlined below, also come as a costly –to the customer– billing system.
As I recall from my teenage years living in Edmonton in the 80s, we had Peter Pocklington that always seemed to be on the news asking for government hand-outs for his Gainers meat packing plant –effectively threatening to lay off workers if he didn’t get his way. I recall the government giving in but his meat packing plant closed anyway (presumably, was first put into receivership) and in this writer’s recollection –Pocklington was never publicly addressed again regarding his loan. I clearly recall my high school literature teacher saying something to the effect of, “He took millions without ever paying the public back and now where are the millions?”. Today, Pocklington is again in the media, being charged for (alleged) “questionable business practices” (“charged in a California court for allegedly hiding assets from a bankruptcy court”) and he’s been labelled a professional con-artist by American authorities (although I believe this was first used by Canadians) –for his pattern of acquisition, financial trouble, and legal fallout. The FBI stormed into his house while he was in bed, and put him in jail for a few nights –but we’re getting off topic!
The fact that poor Pocklington couldn’t run his plant without cutting wages or without a 209 million dollar hand out from the Alberta government reminds me of the manipulative practice of how wealthy Chilean land owners used to diminish theft by surfs, by inventing stories of how they and their families were afflicted by curses, the evil eye, and even haunted by the devil himself. Sometimes, these hauntings occurred where merchandise were at risk to theft, such as wine cellars –as in the case of Casillero del Diablo (the name says it all). Generally speaking, they served to garner sympathy for the “poor old” land holders, so as to take attention away from miserable living/working conditions and –particularly in the case of Casillero de Diablo– to diminish in-house theft or –in the case of Pocklington’s sorry story about not being able to make the meat packing plant’s ends meet– to take away attention and responsibility from unpopular wage cuts and benefit from a large hand out –at least that’s my reading.
And now it’s Bell’s turn to throw in a heart throb story. Bell effectively says it can’t turn a profit without afflicting the Canadian public with a draconian billing system, by way of an usage based scheme. Bell says that the new system reflects today’s economic reality. “Poor old” Bell. I feel so sorry for them! Maybe old Ben should voluntarily condemn himself to life-long servitude because his owner says he can’t make a living without enslaving him.
Here’s a bit of advice Bell, if you can’t stay afloat without nickel and diming the Canadian public, who has paid for the infrastructure upon which you operate your business (by which you saved millions –perhaps billions of dollars– in start-up money), let other companies take your place. The public “Canadian internet” –is just that, public and it– is a pretty good system –providing broad-band when areas in the States were embarrassingly still on dial-up or without connectivity. (I’m speaking of not too long ago, around 2005/6.) I’m sure there are plenty of companies that are more than willing to have a go at becoming a major ISP and this without implementing nickel and dime billing –after all there’s no start-up investment as Canadians have already payed for it!
UPDATE: Apparently I spoke too soon about Canada’s internet sevice, as Bell Canada is severely throttling their wholesalers and –I recall one article even saying– their own customers (but that must have been a typo). Read about it.
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