E-letter: Sixteen tons


Back before the 19th Century, people used to become indebted and lose their freedom. One freedom loss was debtor’s prison. Another was indentured servitude. As with all things human, these situations took on every colour and shade in their applications. Families might “sell” a child into slavery to satisfy a debt. An African king might indenture his subjects to pay “tribute” to a warlike neighbour.

Kerry Knudsen

In North America, it was relatively common for somebody down and out in Europe or England to promise to work for somebody if they would pay the price of passage to the New World. 

One problem in that system was in the fine print. For example, if there was interest, or if the indentured servant agreed to also work off room and board during the indentured period, the amount owed could increase faster than the debt could be retired, leading to a person being a legally bound slave for life. This theme was repeated in the 20th Century in the “company store” accounts of miners in the Appalachians and elsewhere having to rent homes and buy staples from the employer at rates they could not get ahead of. This was famously illustrated by the indenturing of the Irish and others to work in the cane fields of Jamaica and Barbados, as well as domestic and farm labour in Upper Canada. 


It has become oh-so fashionable to cite slavery as an historic evil, blame the perpetrators and act as if one knows all there is to know of the practice, yet almost every time they open their mouths they profess their ignorance. All it takes is the energy to crack a book to learn there is more to the story. My Viking ancestors raided the British Isles for slaves. The Barbary Moslems raided Scandinavia for slaves. The British raided the Irish for slaves. The Lakota raided the Crows for slaves. The Iroquois raided the Chippewa for slaves. The Kenyans raided the Ethiopians for slaves. As near as I can tell, every culture on earth has been guilty of slavery at one time or another. 

This is not to diminish any cultures blame or pain in slavery, but to point out that slavery has been part of the human condition for all time, and I’m not sure it’s going away, which is the point. 

I pointed out years ago that the advancement of credit to young people not yet firmed up in their fiscal development is a form of slavery. I see a lot of resumes from university graduates, and it’s a crime. You can see the most ludicrous “disciplines” imaginable as major courses of study – stuff I would have no use for under any circumstances, and then you hear of six-figure or near-six-figure school loan debt. 

One part of me says, “You were an adult. You signed the contract.” However, I also may be a crusty, grouchy old codger, but they were tricked, just as sure as if a checkered-pants, slouch-hat, alligator-shoes used car salesman sold them a car with no engine. The other part says fiscal pressure leads to despondence and even death. 

They are crying for relief, and I don’t blame them. Having paid off my own exorbitant student loans, I even empathize. Maybe one day there will be a resolution. I have to say, having once paid off my own loans, I am not anxious to pay off theirs, but that’s a story for another day. 

Another thing I have pointed out frequently is the habit that small-l liberals have of passing bills with great-sounding intentions, but having no way of paying. Well, almost no way. They actually do have a way. They have the power to indenture you and to indenture me, and they do. Why not make reparations for past wars, forgive student loans, provide free food, housing and health care? People “deserve” it.  

The problem is, once having made a list of “rights” with no responsibilities (which is what “free” means in this context), there comes a new list. Free books, free bus tickets, get out of jail free clauses…. There appears to be no end. 

I have become very, very concerned at what our future will be after Covid. The governments of every democracy have become ignorant of the rules that elevate democratic government above simple mob rule. They are passing out money that, not only do they not have, but that nobody has, all with the implied promise that it will all be better after we graduate – er, recover. 

Let me provide a simple, either-or question you can ask your representatives: do you think I am the one that will have to pay the piper, or are you an idiot?  


Back to cracking a book, if we look at history, we can see that mob rule ends up being the rule of the jungle – the strongest rule, not the most. At that point, some groups become the debtors, and some groups become the creditors, and it’s not always in line with what went before. For example, if the mob decides to “tax the rich,” and the rich resist, then the rich have to be compelled to comply, and also to be taught a lesson or be used as an example. The more the rich resist, the more they get shot. 

You may think I’m telling ghost stories around a cottage campfire in August, but I’m not. I have spent years counselling young men faced with the consequences of ill-considered borrowing, I have warned my kids and now I see it coming down the road again, just as sure as the ensign of a Barbary ship, hull-down off Copenhagen half a millennium ago. Trouble is on the way. 

Not all is negative. Covid will pass, and an election is coming up. Opportunities will become clear as days pass. Remember: just before Covid, the U.S. racked up China on international trade, and the effects of that a) never got a chance to mature, and b) have been obscured buy the racket over Covid. Remember: as of right now, the mortality rate in from Covid in Canada is 0.0003. Three one-hundredths of one percent. Approximately the same as the suicide rate. True, the suicide rate is annual, and Covid has only been with us six months. On the other hand, Covid will likely be resolved before long, and suicide will not. 

If I have any advice today, it’s to write your MP and MPP, muster your resources, be ready to be a buyer instead of a seller if the market starts to constrict and keep your reputation intact. Most importantly, start to study for the election. Elections are not popularity contests, despite our insistence to make them that way. Elections are how we choose who will rule us. That means who we give the keys to the treasury and the armory.  

Sorry to go negative on such a beautiful day, but I just saw yet another multi-million-dollar Trudeau scam hit the papers, and we are too good to tar and feather con men these days. 

Or maybe working for Justin and his fraternity is just our lot in life. 


  • Great editorial today. Thank you for your work, or should I say “words”, which is work in your case!

    Business on the West Coast is entirely dependent on sector. Building supply is crazy busy, I guess people are looking at their back yards and thinking they will spend more time there instead of travelling to Tuscany. Definitely I think the great majority of people still have as much money today as 6 months ago. We have a new business less than a year old that is showing good growth http://www.lumberstore.ca for outdoor lumber. But we have never been retail people and I am finding that to be a challenge (amazing ignorance in retail, mind numbing, makes me want to cry, so we are adding Lumber 101 to our website). With China now facing steep import duties (otherwise known as access fees) for moulding and millwork there will be another bump as the supply side figures that one out, remember West Coast supplies large volumes of Hemlock and other species shop and btr grade lumber to China. In other words the business is just a giant see-saw going up and down and it depends on how light/heavy you are to see how much you crash! Ha Ha (I’m no lightweight, I have legs heavier than most Chinese lumber exporters)

    Bottom line for our sector, we are keeping busy, but the customers are changing. I see us selling much more domestically (within Canada) as it “recovers” and much less to Japan/China/Europe. A complete change to the business plan. But the alternative isn’t good!

    How is your advertising revenue keeping up? Hope you are doing ok. Cheers, Doug

    • Good points. I am certain the import duties on China, stresses over Hong Kong, the TikTok and Huawei controversies, the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the riot of canceled extradition treaties between China and other countries, the Chinese sentencing of two Canadians to death and a rash of other political and economic facts have occurred under the cover of Covid-19. It will be interesting to see how China is actually faring once the veil is lifted.

      Ad revenues are tough. Many of our advertisers rely heavily on shows for promotion, and they advertise ahead of the shows. We had a rolling closure of shows, small and large, culminating in the cancellation of Xylexpo and IWF, which has set everybody back on their heels.

      Nobody has a crystal ball on this one. All the shows are looking to reopen. Globally, there is a push to make all shows go “virtual.” We will see. For now, magazines and trusted e-letters are the only game in town when it comes to mass marketing. That’s it. Direct sales or media.

      Thanks for your comments, and for your interest in Wood Industry.


  • Ah, Kerry, you have a habit of reading my mind. The problem with our wooly-headed politicians and our journalists-turned-opinion writers is that they have never cracked open a book of facts that hasn’t been re-written not to give offense. They have drunk the Kool-aid served up by pinko-commie-u ‘instructors’. Therefore, they spout whatever is shouted at them the loudest and god forbid they should listen to the regular people. So ‘black lives matter’, but only select ones. ‘Defund the police’ – in fact, ‘abolish the police’ altogether, until someone scratches their car.

    Way back in the day before I, too, became a crusty old codger, we made sure we got our money’s worth because it was us who were paying the bills, not our parents. We demanded university and college courses that would lead to a job that wasn’t in McDonalds. Now-a-days, kids are told they are ‘special’ and have the ‘right’ to get whatever they want. They get trophies for just showing up. In fact, if it’s too much to show up, the trophy will be mailed. Then they get to the real world and surprise, surprise, that ain’t the way of the land.

    Time for the ‘Special People’ to be held accountable. Defund the universities who are feeding this propaganda crap to our youth. Hold the Liberals’ feet to the fire and make them understand that IT’S NOT THEIR DAMNED MONEY THEY ARE SPENDING.

    Yes, there’s an election coming up but there’s a couple of problems. 1. None of the other parties have leaders OR POLICIES that are much better than Selfie Boy & Co. 2. People don’t understand that there is no such thing as ‘free’. Not only is somebody paying the price, but those who constantly take, take, take, are forfeiting their ambition, self respect and reducing themselves to a lower level in our society. The ones who depend on ‘free’ stuff vote Liberal as do the Fancy People who want to ‘do their part to better the world’.

    All we can do is keep on plugging away and support the kids with gumption and moral fibre to get a good start. They’re out there in solid numbers and they’re our hope for keeping Canada a mighty fine country.

    OK. Back to work.

    Best regards,

    • Most of my neighbours are business owners. Some of us were talking over the weekend. It was beautiful here in the valley. All present agreed that corruption in the government is a huge problem. I made the point that we keep catching them. We caught Chretien, Martin, now Trudeau. In Ontario we caught Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne actually destroying evidence.

      So we’re great at catching them. Then what happens?

      If you look back into the post-WWII years, it appears we once took such things seriously and we did things to stop it.

  • Thanks Kerry for this letter . You are right. People have to wake up and look at what is going on. Is the pandemic and issue because of the USA’s coming election – because they don’t know how to beat Trump? And I don’t know where to start with us and the Trudeau mafia stealing money from the people and making so many bad decisions with our money and the lock down for what? A bad flu? And why is Trudeau still there after being caught so many times filling up his pockets and his friends’? I can’t wait for our election, and hopefully the Trudeau gang will not find a way to be re-elected but lose by a lot.

    • Hi Guy,

      I posted a comment, above, about catching politicians stealing is not, seemingly, very hard. Making them stop seems beyond us.

      I think it is very concerning to see in the States that the conversation has turned strongly toward the topic of stealing elections and rigging ballots. To me, that strikes at the very foundation of freedom. I hope they can figure it out. Stalin allegedly said, it does not matter who votes. What matters is who COUNTS the votes.

      Thanks for your time and your interest in Wood Industry.

  • The one thing you failed to mention was your clear preference for the Conservative Party of Canada. It would not surprise me to discover that you are actively supporting, in some fashion their regressive political agenda.

    As most people who are “COVID” deniers, you use our success in stemming the virulent effects of this disease to prove the opposite. Any health official will tell you the same.

    Without addressing all of the untruths and half truths in your address, it would seem to me, that as a representative of our industry you should stick to an agenda that addresses our sector and to restrict yourself from spewing right wing nonsense, clearly issues you are in no position to judge.

    Maybe it’s time to pass the helm of this magazine to someone younger who’s views are more reflective of the Twenty-First Century and not the Nineteenth.

    Just a thought from a semi-retired Cabinetmaker, probably older than you


    • Hi Gil,

      You’re not going to believe this, but I was just on the phone with our art director, and I said I could not believe it has been months since we got a negative comment, and voila! There you were. Welcome.

      It always makes me stop when people accuse me of being a large-C Conservative. It was not always so. However, it’s a fact. I tend to vote that way. In fact, during the current leadership race, place my top-place vote for Leslyn Lewis.

      But to your point, most Conservatives would be cautious of me. My main focus in politics is on corruption, I think it’s the end of our freedom and I attack it wherever I see it — liberal or conservative. It’s just that it happens on the conservative side so rarely.

      However, it seemed you are more interested in getting a point across than in knowing my voting preferences, and that’s why we are here. The “cancel culture” is doing its best to stop us from discussing anything, and I won’t have it.

      You may not realize this, but the cancel culture is not an organic, freedom movement, but the opposite. It comes from commercial interests and special interests trying to suppress any ideas of which they disapprove. Blum, Homag, Biesse and SCM, among others, have been trying to cancel me for years. However, they have never said a word about politics.

      They are made, as Blum made clear a few years back, because I will not do what I’m told.

      But you see, I can’t. I have another obligation. I have promised my readers that I will protect their privacy and interests. I have promised them I will not, as does my competition, put the demands of narcissistic advertiser agents above those of the audience, and I will tell the truth to the best of my ability, be fair and clear and always allow opposing points of view.

      So I’m interested. Are you saying you would like me to shut up? If so, do you want the company? For what? If you want a forum to present a view opposite to mine, go ahead. The floor is yours.

      As for our ages, there is little we can do. I have to confess, my perspective is actually quite a lot older than 19th Century.

      But that’s enough from me. I yield the floor.