E-letter: Right to pay

Ikea last month announced it is recalling 29 million Malm or similar dressers in the U.S, along with 6.6 million in Canada, because the units are unstable if they aren’t secured to a wall. The company said it is offering free anchoring systems for customers owning the offending furniture, or will provide the customers with a full refund.

I have to admit, it is impossible for me to get my head around some of the numbers active in today’s home furnishings and supplies markets. If Ikea has sold 6.6 million dressers in Canada, that means an average of one in five Canadian residents has one. I understand the dressers come in several sizes, so it is probable that many purchasers have more than one, but still…. Six-and-a-half million is lots.

 

Kerry Knudsen

Kerry Knudsen

I had the same reaction recently when we reported on the $13.5 million in fines levied against Lumber Liquidators for irregularities in their imported Chinese flooring products. How can a mere flooring importer survive a $13.5 million hit? Do they really have access to that kind of cash reserves? Worse, on November 15, 2013, well before a 60 Minutes report that the flooring had excess formaldehyde emissions, Lumber Liquidators’ stock peaked at $119.44. On May 13 of this year, it was trading at $11.34.

There is a parallel story worth reading about the company’s current (partial?) exoneration when Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) tests failed to replicate 60 Minutes’ results, and the company’s subsequent on-going stock recovery. However, at the moment I am focused more on the sizes of these actions. It is worth noting, however, that 60 Minutes has more than once held the life and health of a subject company in its hands, and has crushed with more regard for ratings than for accuracy. As the result, it has neither good ratings nor a good reputation for accuracy.

 

The whole issue of accountability baffles me. Last week we heard the demand from Black Lives Matter that Toronto’s mayor Tory “stay in his own lane” with regard to their demand that no police participate in the Pride Parade.

Just think about that. If an organized entity demands a retreat from the police force, then who is supposed to supply the typical services of the executive branch of our government? That is, in this case, who will provide the policing? If Black Lives Matter is to provide the policing, it seems we have a more serious problem on our hands than just diversity. It seems more like a coup.

Within hours, Dallas and the U.S. were devastated by a ghastly attack against law enforcement and against law enforcement officers, and it was done in the name of Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter disavowed any association with the perpetrator, but it’s hard to accept their position wholly, because we have seen Black Lives Matter in many cities demonstrating and calling for exactly this kind of action.

 

The political resolution of these matters will come in due course, I guess. However, it seems to me there are issues that small businesses in Canada need to assess and deal with.

The issue of “rights” is especially foggy at the moment. Everybody is demanding “rights:” gay rights, black rights, aboriginal rights, transgender rights, animal rights, gun rights, abortion rights, suicide rights…. It’s overwhelming, particularly when the social convulsions surrounding the pursuit of rights crosses the threshold of businesses.

We have all seen the devastation that occurs when an activist group attacks a cake maker, a chicken restaurant, a flag or a statue, but we never hear what, if any, “rights” the defendant has. In our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there are also rights delineated for property and business owners, but they never get media play.

Along with property rights, Canadians are obliged to execute property responsibilities. In the case of a business, you have the responsibility to pay taxes, comply with safety and environmental regulations, provide for the health and safety of your workers and protect the public trust. For my money, these make more sense than much of the other chatter.

Has anybody ever asked for the protection of gun responsibilities? How about gay, black, aboriginal, women’s, animals’ and suicide responsibilities? Have you heard lately about being responsible to children while making sexually explicit television commercials? Personally, I can learn more about female sexual response in one evening’s television commercials than I learned in the first 13 years of my life, and I was looking. Back then, if the internet had been available on every phone, desktop and notebook, anybody could have typed XXX into Google’ search bar and received a Ph.D. in pornography at no charge beyond their mothers’ cell phone plans.

The bothersome point behind these notes is that it seems everybody wants rights at the expense of society, and society wants accountability from taxpaying companies and citizens. Specifically, companies become the target because they can often pay, and because, of all the players listed above, they have the fewest rights. Usually.

 

Which brings us to Canada Post. At presstime, we are once again looking down both barrels of a charged and primed assault weapon called Canada Post. Canada Post is a “crown corporation.” That is, it is neither government nor business. It is claimed to be a “hybrid,” but nobody knows how, until you get to the area known as accountability. In that, there is none.

To continue, Canada Post, the company that is not, is more-or-less ruled by a union that is not, aka, a public employees’ union. Traditionally, unions were formed to protect defenseless workers from rapacious employers. However, public employees’ unions defend the employees from anybody they attack, such as companies.

Confused? Don’t be. It’s like the police. The police are a function of the executive branch of government. (See above.) However, the police are ruled by a public sector union. This means the union protects the police from the government of which they are a part.

And in a democracy, the government is you.

Get it? If not, take two aspirin and call your MP in the morning.

 

 

 

 

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