Tuesday, 20 January 2009


The times being what they are I think it is good time to post this little story that Canada's greatest orator, Tommy Douglas, used to describe a capitalist economy.

I used to visit in farm homes, particularly around meal time, and if I got in around dinner time of course, everybody in the family was busy. They were unhitching the horses. They were pumping the water. They were milking the cows. They were pitching down the hay and the oat sheaves. Somebody else was out gathering the eggs. Somebody else was feeding the pigs and the chickens. Everybody had something to do. Even the youngsters were given a job doing something, for instance gathering the eggs or feeding the chickens.

And here I was, right off the city streets. I didn't know what to do, and I said "give me something to do." Well, nobody was going to trust this city boy with milking a good cow. They gave me the one job that anybody could do. They gave me the job of turning the handle of the cream separator.

Any of you ever turned the handle on the cream separator? Well it's quite an experience. I got to be quite good at it. I got to the place where I could tell you how many verses of "Onward Christian Soldiers" it takes to put a pan of milk through this thing. And as I was turning the handle and they were pouring in the milk, and I could see the cream come out the one spout and the skim milk coming out of the other spout, one day it finally penetrated my thick Scotch head that this cream separator is exactly like our economic system.

Here are the primary producers, the farmers and the fishermen and the loggers. They are pouring in the milk. And here are the workers, whether they work on the railroad or go down to the mines or sail ships or work in a store or a bank, or teach school, clerk in the store, work in a hospital. They are the people whose services make the economy go round, and they're turning the handle. So here you have it: primary producer puts in the milk; people who work with hand and brain turn the handle. And then I thought, but there's another fellow here somewhere. There's a fellow who owns this cream separator. And he's sitting on a stool with the cream spout in his mouth. And the primary producer and the worker take turns on the skim milk spout. And they don't like skim milk. Nobody likes skim milk. And they blame it on each other And the worker says, "If those farmers and fishermen, you know, would work a little harder, well I wouldn't be drinking this skim milk." And the fishermen and the farmers say, "If those workers didn't demand a forty hour week, didn't want such high wages, I wouldn't have to live on this blue milk." But you know, they're both wrong.

The farmers and the fishermen have produced so much we don't know what to do with it _ we've got surpluses of foodstuffs. And the workers, they've produced so well that today nearly a million of them are unemployed. The fault is not with the worker. It is not with the primary producer. The fault is with this machine. This machine was built to give skim milk to the worker and the primary producer, and to give cream to the corporate elite.

As a matter of fact, it doesn't always do that because every once in a while this little fellow sitting on the stool with the cream spout in his mouth gets indigestion. And he says, "Boys, stop this machine. We got a recession!" He says to the worker, "You're laid off, you can go on unemployment insurance. and after that on welfare." And he says to the farmers and the fishermen, "You know, we don't need your stuff. Take it back home." And then he sits for a while,indigestion gets better, burps a couple of times, says, " Alright, boys, start the machine. Happy days are here again. Cream for me and skim milk for both of you."

Now what the, what the democratic socialist party has been saying to Canadians for a long time is that the time has come in this land of ours for the worker and the primary producer to get their hands on the regulator of the machine so that it begins to produce homogenized milk in which everybody'll get a little cream.


  1. Good post Gary! Tommy was a 'great man' who did a lot for the people. It would be nice and reassuring if we had a man of his stature, vision and compassion, today, to help us through what is going to definitely be some 'mean years' ahead for most people.

    The States has Obama, while we still have a Bushite running things here, fumbling with the gears and all over the road, not sure which way to go because he and his team's ideology keeps getting in the way. Pretty scary for all of us, I think!

  2. Gary, on a different note, what has been happening with the bridgecreek projects lately? I haven't seen a thing mentioned in the councel minutes in months. I thought you would know though, since you are employed by them.

  3. Hey John, yeah. Going to have to explore this topic more.

    Anonymous: Bridgecreek has not made any announcements to council nor have they asked anything of us. I would suspect they are going about their business in getting things ready for development on River Run. I am no longer employed by the company.

  4. hmmmm? why did you quit?

  5. Who bought the machine John????? Sometimes investment and gains go hand in hand. Without a machine the worker gets nothing. Well, actually they get exactly what they produce and to get anything other than exactly what you make you have to go back to a barter system. It's dirty and not very productive in the long run. That's why few true barter systems still exist, and when they do they only exist as a sort of whimsical throw-back that people only participate in to get a glimpse of the "good old days." Truth is: if they were so good why'd we move away from them?