COLLATERAL DAMAGE AND FUTURE CONSEQUENCES OF POLITICAL FINANCIAL FORMULAS

COLLATERAL DAMAGE AND FUTURE CONSEQUENCES OF POLITICAL FINANCIAL FORMULAS

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

In the last post of October, 2018 the Alberta Conservative proposal of a teen entry level wage was discussed.  This post discusses the collateral damage or unintended consequences such an action could have on future financial lives of teens.

Every action taken can have consequences reaching far into the future.  An example is the teen entry level wage suggested by Alberta Conservative candidates.  The collateral damage and consequences of this action may impact financial programs such as Employment Insurance in the short term and Canada Pension Plan benefits for those teens forty or fifty years into the future.

CPP is a government defined benefit plan whose benefits are based on contributions deducted based on wage levels.  Employees are required to work forty full time years to receive full CPP benefits. If entry level wage up to 21 years or first five years of employment is implemented this will affect the amount of CPP benefits received for those five years, maybe even as high as 10% lost in CPP benefits (five out of forty employed years and CPP benefits for twenty years from age 65 to 85).  Even if entry level wage up to 21 years was implemented for a number of years and then repealed because of its discriminatory nature, the CPP benefits for this minority group (and only for this group) will be affected forever if CPP benefits are not fully restored for those years.

Approximately 520,000 Albertans and 4.5 million Canadians were adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24.  If the teen entry level wage is implemented only in in Alberta Conservatives will be forcing their Alberta teen constituents to earn less wages and CPP benefits than teens in all other Canadian provinces and territories.  How can Alberta Conservatives see this as morally and ethically fair?

Conservative goals on labour policies (Jason Kenney’s teen entry wage, Doug Ford’s broken promise on basic income pilot project, Trump’s tax cut for the wealthy) seem to try to circumvent and subvert in any way possible a decent minimum wage, a basic wage or living wage without concomitant tax loophole reductions for the wealthy and without evaluating the full consequences of those actions now and in the future.

It is time for Conservatives to use forward thinking instead of narrow mindedness in problem solving related to labour.  If small businesses are having difficulties then solve the small business problems instead of targeting labourers.

Jason Kenney needs to provide full details on the proposed teen wage reduction so voters can make informed choices.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

TEENAGE ENTRY LEVEL WAGE BELOW MINIMUM WAGE EQUALS BLATANT DISCRIMINATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE FAILURE

TEENAGE ENTRY LEVEL WAGE BELOW MINIMUM WAGE EQUALS BLATANT DISCRIMINATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE FAILURE

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

In preparation for the 2019 provincial election certain provincial Conservative candidates once again are proposing economic changes that target the most vulnerable – teenage entry level wage below minimum wage and flat taxes (tax-system).

Alberta Minimum Wage Profile (April 2017 – March, 2018) ‘Alberta Analysis (wage-profile)- At 28.8%, the 15 to 19 year old group  remained the largest group of minimum wage earners in Alberta, and the 20 to 24 year old group was the second largest at 20.5%.  Over one quarter or 28.3% of Alberta minimum wage earners were students’.

Fact check:

    • Some teens work to help support their families.
    • Some teens have already left home and are trying to establish themselves as hard working independent, self sufficient  and responsible individuals.
    • Some teens are emancipated minors who leave their families because of abuse and untenable living conditions at home.
    • Some unattached (and married) individuals are living at home because they can’t afford Alberta housing prices.  From the report:   During the current reference period, 39.5% of minimum wage earners were living with their parents.’
    • Households with children receive Canada Child Benefits, unattached individuals do not.
    • It costs more for unattached individuals (independent teens) to live than married without children (Market Basket Measure).  If one person (unattached) household has a value of 1.0, the value for a two person (married) household is 1.4, not 2.0.
    • Discrimination based on age is a violation of human rights.

Conservatives have referred to the Australian model for teenage entry level wages. Australia Minimum Wage Reduction for Teens in 2018 (based on $18.93 minimum wage):

  • <16 years 36.8% or $6.97
  • 16 years 47.3% or $8.95
  • 17 years 57.8% or $10.94
  • 18 years 68.3% or $12.93
  • 19 years 82.5% or $15.61
  • 20 years 97.7% or $18.49

Living wage Calgary is over $18 ($36,000/yr.) and very few living wages in Canada are below $15.00.  Alberta minimum wage of $15 ($30,000/yr.) is below the living wage, and now Conservatives want to decrease the minimum wage, for example if based on Australian model, an 18 year old to approx. 70% or $10.50/hr. ($21,000/yr.)?

It is difficult to draw statistics on specific youth ages, but from several sources and from Statistics Canada Census Profile 2016, statistics show approximate Alberta population age 15 – 19 to be 240,035, age 20 to 24 to be 261,830.  Approximately 13% to 15% of total Alberta employees are from age group 15 to 24. Do Conservatives really want to target the minority group of 13 to 15%?

In 2011 (profile-youth) the Services-Producing sector in Alberta comprised 77.9% of all youth employment.  In 2011, Alberta youth accounted for 37.7% of those employed in the Accommodation and Food Services industry.  The average hourly wage paid to youth was $9.57 less than the average hourly wage paid to all Albertans. Approximately 63% age 15 – 24 are full  time employees. In 2011 average hourly wage for all Albertans was $25.47 and for age 15-24 $15.90.

Premise that age 21 before 100% wage takes effect or five years to become skilled at a job is just plain discriminatory, a violation of human rights and a social justice failure.  At 18 years of age, these persons are adults, they can vote, and many have left home to work and become independent persons. Their parents no longer receive Canada Child Benefits.

Why would parents support a policy that is discriminatory?

If problems lie with small business then solve the small business problem instead of targeting vulnerable minorities to bear the brunt of failures of business.   Apparently politicians, businesses can’t see that they will pay one way or another-more welfare and food banks at one end and ability to live decent respectful lives at the other.

Jason Kenney needs to reveal his plan for teen minimum wage reduction in its entirety so voters can make informed choices on their candidates.

CONCLUSION

What is needed in this democratic country are centre left and right parties for balance and to challenge each other so right and fair decisions are made.  What is not needed are far right Conservatives (Jason Kenney – teen minimum wage reduction and flat taxes, Doug Ford who broke his promise by cancelling Ontario Liberal’s basic income pilot project, and Trump’s economic policies making the rich even richer).

Proper budgeting implies that if there is a problem with deficits, taxes should not be cut without reducing the “fat” or excesses.  Conservatives are also once again proposing bringing back the flat tax without cutting loopholes for the wealthy. Why is it that they always target the vulnerable, cut the revenue side by cutting taxes, but never cut regressive tax expenditures or loopholes for the wealthy?

Parkland Institute (things_to_know_about_a_15_minimum_wage_in_alberta) makes the following points:

  • Consumer spending power has more impact on employment than raising the minimum wage.

  • Raising the minimum wage by meaningful amounts helps put a dent in increasing income inequality.

  • Income inequality increases health care costs and slows economic growth.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

CONSERVATIVE REGRESSIVE PENSION INCOME SPLITTING GOLDMINE FOR WEALTHY MARRIED PERSONS

CONSERVATIVE REGRESSIVE PENSION INCOME SPLITTING GOLDMINE FOR WEALTHY MARRIED PERSONS

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

Regressive tax expenditures cannot be blamed on just one political party, however, some implemented by Conservatives are the most egregious of all.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) “Out of the shadows” (policyalternatives)is a must read for all taxpayers.  It examines benefits distribution from 64 of Canada’s personal (business not included) income tax expenditures and provides egregious and shocking facts on how wealthy minority benefit the most.  Only five were considered to be progressive. Remaining 59 regressive expenditures cost $100.5 billion in 2011 while providing more benefit to those above the median individual income level (based on CCPA individual income, not combined couple income, of $30,000 or $15/hr. wage based on 2000 worked hours) and in some cases benefit top decile of wealthy the most.  The monies doled out in these expenditures equals same amount of all monies collected in taxes.

Stephen Harper, former Canadian Conservative Prime Minister, introduced the hastily and poorly planned regressive pension income splitting (P.I.S.) partly as appeasement for the controversial crackdown on income trusts (another regressive tax expenditure).

Fact Check:  First, married seniors, who have never had children, using P.I.S. pay less taxes just because they are married even though it costs singles more to live (Market Basket Measure – MBM).  Second, married seniors with equal incomes cannot use P.I.S. and, therefore, pay more taxes.  Third, poor married seniors benefit less as they have less income to split.  Fourth, senior singles and lone parents cannot use P.I.S., ever.  So, the wealthy married benefit most (?including Stephen Harper worth $7million when he becomes a senior). Exactly how many Canadian taxpayer households are completely left out of this formula?  – Certainly more than 50% or the majority. Just speak the truth, it is impossible for singles and low income seniors to achieve financial equality with this regressive tax expenditure.

Compounding effect of regressive expenditures ensures wealthy become even wealthier. Tax savings from P.I.S.means full contributions can be dumped into Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) (another regressive tax expenditure implemented by Stephen Harper where maximum contributions now total $11,000 per year for married households).  Wealth ripple becomes ever wider because investments earned from TFSA contributions without capping of individual limits are never taxed.

CCPA states P.I.S. is the most regressive tax expenditure costing government $975 million annually – that is almost $1 billion a year.  Eighty-three per cent (83%) of benefit goes to top 10% and maxes out at $11,700 (equivalent to $6/hr. wage) when $128,800 (equivalent to $64/hr. wage) of pension income is transferred from higher earner to spouse with no income (10 times the maximum benefit to Canada’s poorest from only five progressive tax expenditures).

Over ten years the P.I.S. amount to wealthy married people could total almost $120,000.  It is not possible to calculate the wealth achieved from TFSA investments. And, it is apparent that there is no shame on the part of the wealthy that they are robbing from the poor to pay themselves.  Singles and poor seniors deserve to feel righteously angered at the gross financial discrimination of this formula.

CCPA states that from an aggregate perspective $103 billion lost annually to 64 tax expenditures is an embarrassing failure of Canadian tax policy.  Many of those in poorest deciles are singles and lone parents.

When critical thinking brings sunlight to financial discrimination and selective socialistic (Conservative) financial privileging for the wealthy, it also demands financial discrimination be changed or eliminated.  Taxpayers need to educate themselves on how they are impacted by these expenditures and contact their government officials demanding change. Although Federal Liberals have successfully eliminated some regressive tax expenditures, so far, they have refused to eliminate P.I.S. Transferral of P.I.S. tax expenditures to increased OAS and GIS based on MBM and net worth and assets would ensure greater financial fairness for all Canadian seniors.

P.I.S. has been submitted to the Canadian Human Rights Commission for adjudication of financial discrimination based on marital status and income levels and once again to the Liberals for elimination.

CONCLUSION

Canada is supposed a democratic country where fairness prevails at all levels including financial.  Why aren’t regressive tax expenditures such as stock option reduction, dividend gross-up and tax credit, and partial inclusion of capital gains for the wealthy enough that we have to introduce further regressive tax expenditures such as pension income splitting, income splitting, and Tax Free Savings Accounts which again benefit wealthy the most?

Plutocratic capitalism, as discussed by many authors including Thomas Piketty, is no different than other egregious philosophies such as communism, dictatorships, far right and far left idealism which all eventually rob the poor to pay the wealthy.  Balanced social justice is the answer to plutocratic capitalism and far right and left ideologies.

Thomas Piketty quotes (quotes):

  • When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based.
  • It’s important to realize that innovation and growth in itself are not sufficient to moderate inequality of wealth.
  • We want capitalism and market forces to be the slave of democracy rather than the opposite.
  • When inequality gets to an extreme, it is completely useless for growth.
  • No hypocrisy is too great when economic and financial elites are obliged to defend their interest.
  • I don’t think there is any serious evidence that we need to be paying people more than 100 times the average wage in order to get high-performing managers.
  • What was the good of industrial development, what was the good of all the technological innovations, toil, and population movements if, after half a century of industrial growth, the condition of the masses was still just as miserable as before, and all lawmakers could do was prohibit factory labor by children under the age of eight?

(Addendum:  A study of Stephen Harper profile, former Canadian Prime Minister, shows that he claims to be an economist with only a Master’s Degree, a Christian whose right wing financial philosophy appears to be to increase the wealth of the rich, and a family man styled after the 1950’s “Leave It To Beaver”, but never includes singles in the family definition.  It seems one of his goals is to increase capital returns over wages by implementing formulas that benefit wealthy the most since they are the population who have the most capital.

After implementing Pension Income Splitting, he also introduced income splitting for families, another regressive tax expenditure benefiting the wealthy, but this was rejected by the Liberal Party who came into power shortly after.

During his tenure as Prime Minister he often introduced huge omnibus bills to hide controversial bills. His actions over time negatively affected environmental laws, cut health care funding, reduced number of food inspectors jobs, made it harder to qualify for EI benefits, and disallowed scientists to speak freely about their research, this is by no means an inclusive list.  It should be stated that omnibus bills have also been submitted by other political parties. Harper also prorogued Parliament four times for a total of 181 days when he feared he would lose a confidence vote or didn’t want to deal with controversial issues.)

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

BIG LITTLE LIES OF SIMPLE TAX (FLAT) RATE

BIG LITTLE LIES OF SIMPLE (FLAT) TAX RATE

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog post was prompted by a right wing think tank article that once again promotes a flat tax and big little lies that it is already progressive and should replace the progressive tax system.  It was submitted to a local newspaper in shortened format, but was not published.

The article ‘Many misconceptions surround single tax rate’ is reprinted in its entirety at the end of this post along with reader comments.

EVALUATION OF SIMPLE (FLAT) TAX

This right wing author says he is the originator of the simple tax.  In fact, he has changed the name of the flat rate to the simple tax as per explanation given in article as reprinted at the end of this post.  The simple tax of 10% was adopted by the Alberta Conservative Government in 2001.  

While it is true the personal exemption rate was increased during implementation of the simple tax, during their forty year Alberta reign the Conservatives failed to raise the minimum wage to meaningful levels.  (Reality check:  The wealthy also get to use the personal exemption rate.)  One of the best big little lies or gaslighting of this author occurs when he fails to tell the truth that during the implementation of this simple tax the tax rate for lower income persons was changed from 8% to 10%.  There was no Alberta Advantage for lower income earners as a result of the tax rate being increased at the same time personal exemption rate was increased.

He once again spews lies on single tax being progressive.  He says tax paid by the wealthy are a gift to those who pay little or not tax.  Oh, puh-leese.

He states low income earners pay no tax, but fails to mention wealthy never pay their fair share.  He fails to mention the many tax federal and provincial tax loopholes and benefits which filter down to the wealthiest taxpayers.

The wealthy, for example, put their Old Age Security (OAS – a poverty reduction pillar that is only clawed back on top two percent) into TFSAs that are not declared as income.  Forty per cent of Canadians have net worths over $750,000.

The poor pay plenty by suffering financial and mental stresses while trying to pay for basic human necessities on provincial minimum wages which remained static for many years.  Low income earners cannot take advantage of tax loopholes and benefits because they do not have the income to do so.

CONCLUSION

Instead of ‘Conservative gaslighting pants on fire’ half truths, he needs to speak full truths on tax loopholes, benefits and minimum wages.  Progressive versus simple tax and ‘taxes explained in beer’ provides further discussion on fallacies of the simple tax for low income earners (tax-system-explained-in-beer-analogy). (End of post).

Reprint of simple tax article is given below.

‘MANY MISCONCEPTIONS SURROUND SINGLE TAX RATE’, Mark Milke, May 12, 2018 (https://www.pressreader.com/canada/calgary-herald/20180512/281702615355933)

Alberta’s cancelled single tax rate is in the news again after the United Conservative Party passed a policy resolution wanting it back.

 

That was followed by Twitter wars, interviews and commentaries about that tax, much of it uninformed or making obvious points.

 

I know something about the single rate tax system. I wrote about it in a 1998 submission to the Alberta Tax Review Committee, which recommended it be adopted, which it was in 2001.  I favour its return one day, but when spending is controlled and the budget is balanced.

 

Class warfare warriors have long mischaracterized Alberta’s single rate tax, so let’s clear up some misconceptions.

Let’s start with why it is called a single tax and not a flat tax. Because a true flat tax system would mean that no basic exemption exists — that everyone pays the same proportion of tax relative to income. That would be a bad idea. But that was never Alberta’s tax system. It is also why the political and media myth that the single tax was not progressive is nonsense.

 

In 2014, the last year the single-rate system was in effect, Alberta’s basic provincial personal exemption was $17,787. Income earners below that paid nothing in provincial income tax.  As for everyone else, at $25,000 in income, 2.9 per cent went to provincial income tax. At $50,000, the rate was 6.4 per cent. A $100,000 income was taxed 8.2 per cent. The single tax system was progressive.

 

Next up, the silly notion that the single rate tax was a giveaway to the wealthy. Note the language. It assumes money belongs to government and not those who earn it. In that view, any tax relief is a gift. That inverts a more sensible view from citizens to politicians: We will pay reasonable and justifiable taxes, but don’t assume our earnings are your property.

 

A relevant fact: Higher- and middle-income Albertans pay most of the income tax, not those with lower incomes. That is why the former and not the latter would gain in any tax relief scenario.

 

For example, using tax data from 2014, those earning under $50,000 counted for 57.3 per cent of all tax filers and paid just 7.6 per cent of all provincial income tax.  Of note, almost 1.8 million Albertans were in that under $50,000 group in 2014, but nearly half (845,690 Albertans) quite properly paid nothing in tax due to low incomes. (Another 8,290 at higher levels also did not pay provincial income tax for various reasons, such as maximizing previously unused RRSP deductions.)  Those who earned between $50,000 and $100,000 counted for 27 per cent of all tax filers and paid 30.6 per cent of all provincial income tax.

Albertans whose incomes were more than $100,000 accounted for 15.7 per cent of Alberta’s tax filers; they paid 61.8 per cent of all provincial income tax. Point: If one’s argument is that the wealthy should pay a hefty share of Alberta’s income tax burden, the $100,000-plus crowd in Alberta already did (a proportion higher both of tax filers and of total taxes paid than in any other province).  Thus, any substantive tax relief will naturally benefit that group.

 

Here’s the summary: Even when the single rate tax was in effect, Alberta’s over $50,000 tax filers already paid 92.4 per cent of all provincial income tax. And even for those who earned less than $50,000, more than half — more than 920,000 Albertans — paid all the income tax collected from that group.

 

When someone claims a single tax is a giveaway to higher incomes, the rhetoric has it backwards: The gift is actually from more than 2.2 million Albertans at all income levels in 2014, to the more than 850,000 Albertans who quite properly, mostly due to low incomes, paid nothing for the cost of government.

 

READER COMMENTS

#1 – Don’t bother with hard numbers Mark. It doesn’t fit the left wing rhetoric. Math is too hard for them. Lies and innuendo is the tool of the left. And 100k + income earners only paying 62% of the tax. No, Canadians want those earning more than 100k a year to pay 100% of the tax. That way, they get closer to their dream of equality of outcome. The last thing you want to do is stump a Canadian with real facts.

#2 – Your most salient point is that money belongs to those who earn it….not the government. I accept that if we want the social services we now enjoy taxes must be collected. But it must be fair and not punitive, which it is right now.

#3 – Whenever taxes are reduced, the high tax payers will always get the biggest break. Usually the biggest complainers of this move, are the socialists who pay very little tax. When Alberta implemented the single tax rate they increased the personal exemption, if the provincial or federal governments really wanted to help low income earners, just raise the exemption Trump increased the personal exemption for everybody, which means the low wage earners got a major tax break from trump. Currently are personal taxes are twice as high as the US, so why would any professional want to live in Canada compared to the US from a tax perspective.  (End of article).

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.) This is a WordPress blog designed by a hired individual.

FINANCIAL REPRIEVE FOR INFANT DEATHS (MOTION 110) DISCRIMINATES AGAINST OTHER FAMILY DEATHS

FINANCIAL REPRIEVE FOR INFANT DEATHS ((MOTION 110) DISCRIMINATES AGAINST OTHER FAMILY DEATHS (updated April 29, 2018)

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

The original opinion letter of this blog post was published in local newspapers.  Because only a certain number of words can be published in newspapers, please note that the content of this blog post has been expanded to include additional information.

MOTION 110 – FINANCIAL REPRIEVE FOR INFANT DEATHS

A Federal Conservative MP has submitted to Parliament via Motion 110 (motion-110) a proposed financial reprieve for parents who lose infant to death, particularly SIDS.  The motion proposes investigation to ensure parents do not suffer undue financial or emotional hardship due to government programming design, particularly from Employment Insurance Parental Benefits.  He believes these families are affected by “bureaucratic oversight”.

PARENTS OF INFANT DEATHS SHOULD NOT RECEIVE FINANCIAL PRIVILEGING

How is revoking of parental benefits any different than revoking of senior death benefits?  If payment of benefits continues after month in which senior is deceased, these benefits have to be repaid.

Regarding bereavement leaves, why should parents of deceased infants receive more than what other families receive in bereavement processes?  If employed, most Canadians (if they are so lucky to have these benefits) receive up to one week of bereavement leave.  Continued difficulties with bereavement process are dealt with through sick leave, then short term and long term disability.  These same benefits are not available to those who are not employed at time of infant’s death.

Conservatives continually want to cut taxes but keep adding benefits.  Who is going to pay for yet another benefit that purposely privileges special interest groups, lobbyists, families and married or coupled households over singles and the poor?  Many government programs do harm due to design.  One example, if privileged benefits are given to parents of infant deaths, then same privileging should be given to estates of singles never married, no kids who die, including tragic deaths, before receiving Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) benefits.  In just ten years of employment with maximum $2,500 annual CPP contributions or $25,000, deceased single person’s estate will only receive a $2,500 death benefit.  Total of $22,500 contribution is forfeited to be used by the survivors of married or coupled households.  Imagine what the total might be for forty years of CPP contributions (?$90,000)!  Singles face righteous anger and despair because of financial discrimination and social injustice heaped on them when they are made invisible by “bureaucratic oversight”.

It should also be noted that Employment Insurance (EI) contributions at approximately a maximum of $850 for 2018 is also forfeited by singles if they never use EI during their lifetime of being employed.  These contributions are used by parents for EI Parental Benefits and those who use EI benefits multiple times during their employment lifetime.  For ten years of employment it is possible that singles will forfeit up to $8,500 and for forty years up to $34,000.

LOST DOLLARS LIST TO DATE

The above two examples of contributions forfeited by singles show that amount can equal up to $90,000 (CPP) plus $34,000 (EI) for a total of $124,000.  Our LOST DOLLARS LIST TO DATE already includes potential forfetting of EI dollars.  CPP dollars will be added to the list (lost-dollar-value-list) with potential lost dollar value for lifetime now totalling approximately $643,000.

In article “Income support rates in Alberta continue to soar” (social-assistance-rates) a stunning, almost unbelievable, statistic states that in January, (2018) 69 per cent of recipients were individuals, 23.5 per cent one-parent families, 4.9 per cent couples and 2.6 per cent couples without children.  The income support program helps those who do not have resources to meet their basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter.  NINETY TWO (92) PER CENT requiring income support were singles and lone parent families!

CONCLUSION

Government and social policies need to include singles in the definition of family.  It is time for families to realize that their children even when they become adult single children deserve the same financial inclusion as children during child rearing years.

Singles face financial discrimination every day when they have to forfeit their financial contributions (which are required by mandatory government policies) to married or coupled persons with and without children.  This can total not just hundreds or thousands, but hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Conservatives (and perpetuated by Liberals) continue to talk only about the middle class and implement policies and benefits that benefit the middle class and the wealthy most.  They also continue to talk about ‘family’. However, their definition of family doesn’t include singles or poor families.

Conservative ideologues and far right Christians like Stephen Harper (Canadian Conservative Prime Minister), Conservative 40 year rulers in Alberta, and Sean Hannity (staunch supporter of Trump, derider of Obama and owner of 20 shell companies containing approximately 870 housing units) continue to gaslight about helping families, but instead, make themselves even richer.

Politicians need to be held accountable for formulation of policies that privilege certain segments of society such as married or coupled households with and without children over singles and poor families.  Motion 110 is an abject example of financial discrimination based on the emotion of infant deaths over tragic deaths of other family members.  Changes in financial formulas should include review of how changes will affect all members of families, not just married or coupled households with and without children.

As one segment of society, singles do not deserve to pay more and get less than their married or coupled counterparts with and without children.

The death of an infant should not be financially treated any differently than deaths of other family members.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

RESPONSE TO CONSERVATIVE, PROGRESSIVE THOUGHT OPINION LETTERS

RESPONSE TO CONSERVATIVE, PROGRESSIVE THOUGHT OPINION LETTERS

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

The following post is in reply to two response letters to first August 2, 2017 (why-conservatives-and-progressives-think-the-way-they-think) letter published in a local newspaper .  The two response letters appear at the end of this blog post.  This reply letter was published in local newspaper in abbreviated format on August 16, 2017.

BLOG AUTHOR’S RESPONSE LETTER-August 16,2017

Two response letters on blog author’s August 2, 2017 letter on conservative versus progressive thought only perpetuates bafflegab where imbalance between the two results in wealthy conservative types or anarchists ruling the universe.

One example of inequality of Canadian values is housing.  One condo development in housing complex includes 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio 552 sq. ft. micro-condo with starting price of $299,900 or $543 per sq. ft.  Three bed, 2.5 bath, 2 patios, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos in same complex are priced from $649,900 to $749,900 or $355 to $409 per sq. ft.  Ultra-deluxe model master bedroom suite covers entire third 600 sq. ft. floor. Third bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo and sells for $150 to $200 less per square foot for two-thirds more space.  Where is the critical thinking of ripple effects where owners (most likely to be singles) of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest, insurance and real estate fees on less house and likely less take home pay for their biggest lifetime expense?

Vancouver 100-square-foot apartments rent for $570 a month (again most likely to be occupied by singles).  Renters in the 50 units share 11 bathrooms and laundry facilities over the four floors (approximately 12 units and 3 bathrooms per floor)..

Which of you conservatives who spout family values as a personal issue believes your daughter should go traipsing outside of her apartment to use bathroom in middle of the night?  Which of you believes it is humane to stick anyone into a 100 square foot or smaller units (90 square foot units in Vancouver) plus charge excessive rents?   Who makes the decisions behind loan-shark or pay day loan type pricing where financial targeting of the most vulnerable occurs?  It is private enterprise, land developers and cities (government) that make these decisions, not unions.  Where does conservative bafflegab of neighbor helping neighbor, personal discipline, caring, responsibility and respect as stated in one of the letters fit into these decisions?

Free market enterprise and private businesses under the guise of ‘it is what the market can bear’ purposefully ‘rob’ from the poor to pay themselves and to ensure Wall Street ideology is maintained, used and controlled by lobbyists and wealthy who benefit most from Wall Street.  The act of making disadvantaged pay more for less housing and reducing apartments to the size of jail cells (as just one example) (empty-house-speculator-syndrome) has now normalized these scenarios to where it becomes acceptable to do this.  It becomes acceptable to first make singles and poor families pay more and then to (or at same time) offer them charity when there is nothing left for private enterprise to financially extract from them. The charity logic offered in one of the letters completely turns upside down the financial principles where everyone should be able to live on their incomes first and then charity kicks when these incomes fail.

Families (parents), governments, society, corporations, businesses to date have failed to provide support and responsibility that is needed to ensure all Canadian citizens are able to financially take care of themselves without financial parental aid, inheritances of wealthy parents and without bias of gender, race, marital status or income level.  Many Canadians are fed up with the infighting of politicians and the Trumpian corporate and family greed of the wealthy where wealthy always pay less and get more and never pay their fair share.

There are only so many words one can submit for opinion letters so there was no space to mention moderate or balanced positions.  The original newspaper letter was expanded in blog post by stating:  “It also should be said that extremes on either side whether conservative or progressive can have dire consequences.  Far right conservatism can lead to authoritarian governance and far left progressiveness can lead to communism type governance where freedoms are taken away under guise of all persons are equal.  It also is wrong for governments to hand out tax credits without looking at assets and wealth so that wealthy get tax credits or financial loopholes they don’t need (tax free savings accounts with no limits, OAS Clawbacks that don’t work, and pension income splitting implemented by the Conservatives and perpetuated by the Liberals selective-democratic-socialism).  It is all about balance!”  Where is the balance?

You want me to get to know you as a conservative.  How about getting to know me as a person without making me pay more while getting less?

(end of blog post)

 

READER LETTER #1-August 9, 2017

This is written in response to August 2 letter.  Initially I was with the contributor about how conservatives tend to lean towards the stern father archetype and progressives towards the nurturing mother archetype.  But almost right away the writer does not lay out the positions and instead appeals to emotion as opposed to the intellect.

Conservatives want structure and order so they tend to be wary of rapid change and prefer it to happen slowly.  Progressives are more creative and prefer rapid change as a lack of change causes them to fear society is stagnating.  The extreme of these positions is totalitarianism and anarchy respectively, so in a healthy democracy it is not one or the other, but a combination of the two.

Yet the writer does not make this point and instead goes on about how compassionate progressives are, but you have to look at the words carefully.  Using the government to affect change is not compassionate, you are merely using the cudgel of the state to force people to form to your ideology.  There is no agreement no consensus, merely coercion.

At the end of the day, you have to ask what is the role of the government?  Are they there to  provide a framework to engage in mutual cooperation with their fellow human being or is the government there to regulate the lives of their subjects?

READER LETTER #2-August 9, 2017

The writer of August 2 letter has no idea how conservatives think.  Nearly everything you expound in your letter (including from Professor George Lakoff) is pure drivel. Perhaps you should take some time to really understand what conservatives hold to. Here is just a few examples of what conservatives believe in:

Wealth is created through personal initiative, ingenuity, risk taking and sacrifice, not governments.  In fact almost of of these attributes are either absent in government or discouraged (particularly in public service unions).

Great strides in most facets of our society, industry, medicine, technology and science have not come as a result of government initiatives but individual and private pursuits. Think Microsoft, resource development, telecommunications, transportation, agriculture and the internet.

Conservatives believe the free enterprise marketplace promotes diversity, rewards achievement and hard work and fosters the widest choice of ideas.  On the other hand big government represents monopoly, increasing regulations, and the narrowing of ideas and choice.  It often disparages success in private life and business and its very mantra is to force compliance and uniformity.

Conservatives consider big government as wasteful and often corrupt since career politicians have little regard or understanding of the hard work and sacrifice necessary to create wealth and then seek to confiscate and distribute more of it to get personal credit, secure votes and retain power.  Conservatives believe when they build something through hard work, sacrifice and ingenuity, it not only helps their family but the community as well through jobs, taxes and other contributions.  Conservatives know that fair pay retains valuable employees, but for a business to remain viable this has to be balanced with maintaining competitive prices and services to the public.

Conservatives believe true charity and caring towards others is a personal  issue. Unless it comes from the heart and is voluntary it is not genuine.  Using government to take more from some and create entitlements has nothing to  do with empathy, caring or being charitable.  Bureaucracies are incapable of caring.  Genuine charity and and caring only happens with neighbor helping neighbor directly person to person or collectively through voluntary charities and service organizations.  Conservatives understand that government safety nets are needed at critical times, but when they become entrenched and permanent they lead to dependency and undermines personal initiative and self-fulfillment, and so often politicians cannot resist the temptation to use such programs to garner more power, control and votes.

Conservatives believe values are taught in the family not through government programs or policies.  Personal discipline, caring, responsibility and respect must start in the home.  Conservatives do not believe that society’s moral values and conscience derives from government and therefore social engineering or social agendas should not be imposed on anyone by the government.

Please forget your perceived misguided views of conservatives and get to know one.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

WHY CONSERVATIVES AND PROGRESSIVES THINK THE WAY THEY THINK

WHY CONSERVATIVES AND PROGRESSIVES THINK THE WAY THEY THINK

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

The following blog post is based on George Lakoff’s research on moral politics.  It is impossible to outline all of his findings here, so it is worthwhile to read more of his research for a fuller picture of his findings.  The words in this blog post are primarily taken from the two source materials.  Words in italics are those of the blog author.   (This blog post was published in a local  newspaper in 600 word abbreviated format as submissions to newspaper are restricted to a certain number of words).  Updated August 9, 2017.

Why conservatives and progressives think the way they think

Thank goodness for local newspaper opinion letters of past few weeks highlighting why Conservatives message and Unite the Right in Alberta are failures for social democracy!

To understand conservatives and progressives George Lakoff, retired Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics, in ‘Understanding Trump’ (understanding-trump) and ‘Your brain on Trump’ by Jennie Josephson (transcript-george-lakoff) states “politics needs to be understood metaphorically in family terms since we are all first governed by our families and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of family governance.   Family defines the self-definitions of people and people don’t vote against their self-definition.   Based on life and family circumstances neural circuitry in the brain follows two common forms of family life.  One is ‘strict father family’ (conservative) and the other ‘nurturant parent family’ (progressive).  All politics is moral.  Voters vote their moral values.  To vote against their moral values means rejection of self.

‘Strict father’ brain circuitry believes authority is justified by morality hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate, for example, rich above poor (increasing corporate/family wealth with no increase in minimum wage), Western Culture above other cultures, men above women, white above non whites, Christians above non Christians, straights above gays, corporate outsourcing or privatization for the sake of profit above unions, etc.  In conservative politics poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, while rich deserve their wealth (as evidenced by almost zero affordable housing during forty year Alberta Conservative oil boom reign sung to the tune of it is what the market can bear mentality). Responsibility is taken to be personal responsibility, not social responsibility.

Poor conservatives vote against their material interests, because they’re voting for their worldview. And the reason for it is that their moral worldview defines who they are. They are not going to vote against their own definition of who they are.”

Another type of dominance to add to the list is married above singles.  Singles are often invisible in the family definition and excluded in financial formulas (what-is-the-point)

“Conservatives see taxation, not as investment in publicly provided resources for all citizens but, as government taking their earnings (their private property) and giving it through government programs to those who don’t  deserve it.  They always want to cut taxes and cut public resources.  They fail to recognize that many public resources begin with business and that they themselves benefit from tax dollars used for public good in public roads, schools, hospitals, police, courts for business cases, the criminal justice system, sewers, water, electricity, Wall Street which is utilized most by the wealthy, etc.

They want to go back to ‘old time’ values as in “the Alberta I grew up in” and “Make America great again”.  They fail to realize it is impossible to go back, for example, to oil boom days when Britain and France and auto manufacturers are moving towards electric only cars.

Re conservative and progressive brain circuitry, Lakoff states “there is no middle in politics, but most people are not just all one or the other.  They are what he calls bi-conceptual or moderates.  Most conservatives have some progressive views and, likewise, most progressives have some conservative views.  And there are people who are both conservative and progressive, but one view is usually stronger than the other. How can they both reside in the same brain at the same time?  Both are characterized in the brain by neural circuitry.  They are linked by a commonplace circuit:  mutual inhibition.  When one is turned on the other is turned off; when one is strengthened, the other is weakened.  The more conservative views (Trump) are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get; both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of progressive conservatives.”  (The three political parties in Canada – progressive conservative, liberal and new democrat also changes the political picture.)

“Far right conservative politicians may want to turn on the minor view in the other person and USA conservatives have figured out how to do this.  In fact, they set up leadership sessions to train leaders who want to be conservative to think and talk conservative.” What is really scary is that Lakoff says a fact that is set in the neural circuitry of the brain can be changed in less than a tenth of second.  Trump as a perfect salesman has learned how he can take the mind off of important facts.

Lakoff states that “conservative and progressive views often determine which college they are likely to attend.  Conservatives are likely to take business courses which means they will take marketing courses which teach them how to maximize marketing.  There’s a good chance they will study cognitive science, that is, how people really think and how to market things by advertising. So they know people think using frames and metaphors and narratives and images and emotions and so on. Progressives interested in politics are more likely to take political science, law, public policy, economic theory, not business, and therefore, they learn a different way of thinking.  They likely are not going to study either cognitive science or neuroscience.  Once a worldview is established and become fixed in a  lot of very complex circuits in the brain, the worldview becomes natural and automatic.”  (One professor after reading Lakoff’s research has added a cognitive science course to the curriculum).

According to Lakoff, “research has shown conservatives tend to reason with direct causation while progressives have easier time reasoning with systemic causation.  Examples of direct causation are Trump’s ‘immigrants are flooding in from Mexico so build a wall’ or cure for gun violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter.  Those who think climate change is a hoax likely base this on direct causation.  Systemic causation in global warming explains why global warming over the Pacific can produce huge snowstorms in Washington DC:  masses of highly energized water molecules evaporate over the Pacific, blow to the Northeast and over the North Pole and come down in winter over the East coast and parts of the Midwest as masses of snow.  Systemic causation has chains of direct causes, interacting causes, feedback loops, and probabilistic causes, often combined.   Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to represented in the grammars of all languages around the world.  Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language.  It just has to be learned”.

How do conservatives get their message across?

How do far right Conservatives get their message across?  Lakoff gives ten examples of unconscious brain mechanisms (98 per cent of thought is unconscious).  Some examples are repetition (we are going to win, win, win so much).  Then there is framing like ‘Crooked Hillary’, and repeating well-known examples over and over again like shootings by Muslims, Africans-Americans and Latinos.  In his tweets, salesman Trump uses preemptive framing, diversion or deflection, attack the messenger and trial balloons (test public reaction to nuclear arms escalation).

Lakoff states that even if Trump had lost the election, he will have changed the brains of millions of Americans, with future consequences.  This is why it is important that people know the mechanisms used to transmit Big Lies and to stick them into people’s brains without their awareness.  It is a form of mind control.

How to fight far right conservative ideology

So, how can we fight far right conservative ideology?  As stated by Lakoff responsibility rests with ordinary citizens recognizing unconscious brain mechanisms used to spread their message.  Then, recognize that it does not help to repeat false conservative claims and rebut them with facts.  Instead, go positive.  Use positive truthful framing in terms of public good to undermine claims to the contrary.  Use facts to support positively-framed truth with repetition.  Say it over and over again.   The best resistance is positive persistence.  Talk about the public, the people, public servants and good government.  And take back freedom.  Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and in private life.

Don’t go negative.  Keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks.  One can speak powerfully without shouting.

Rebuttal needs to start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. PROGRESSIVES ARE THE MAJORITY (in USA) so let’s make our values clear. Progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals.  Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values.  Facts and policies matter, but they always support values”.  (The Democrats lost the election to Trump because their message was wrong).

From George Lakoff’s ‘Ten Points for Democracy Activists’ (condensed) (ten)

  • Understand the basic issues (see online: ‘a minority president why the polls failed and what the majority can do’)
  • Know the difference between framing and propaganda:  frames are mental structures in thought; every thought uses frames.  Frames, in themselves, are unavoidable and neutral.  Honest framing is the use of frames you believe in and are truthful.
  • Hold conservatives accountable (focus on Republican actions-minimize publicizing Trump – his image, his name, his tweets)
  • Focus attention on substance, not sideshows:  positively and strongly reframe Trump’s preemptive framing 
  • Focus on democracy and freedom (in government by, for and of the people, there is, or should be, no distinction between the public and government.  Government’s focus should be on empathy, transparency and freedom and opportunity)
  • Be careful not to spread fake news
  • Understand the brain’s politics:  All ideas are physical, embodied in neural circuitry.  The more the circuitry is activated, the stronger the circuitry gets and the more deeply the ideas are held. (Use real facts to filter out alternative facts).
  • Remember progressives are a powerful majority
  • Be positive:  frame all issues from a progressive moral viewpoint.  Take the viewpoint of the public good, of the impoverished and the weak, and of preservation
  • Join the Citizens’ Communication Network

Conclusion

Whether or not readers agree with Lakoff’s reasoning for conservative versus progressive differences is in the eye of the beholder.  However, it behooves all of us to fight dangerous Big Lies leading to authoritarian conservative governance.

This is only a small insight into what George Lakoff has to say about moral politics.  It also should be said that extremes on either side whether conservative or progressive can have dire consequences.  Far right conservatism can lead to authoritarian governance and far left progressiveness can lead to communism type governance where freedoms are taken away under guise of all persons are equal.  It also is wrong for governments to hand out numerous tax credits without looking at assets and wealth so that wealthy get tax credits and financial loopholes they don’t need.  It is all about balance!

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

OPINION LETTER ON ‘LEFT’S BIG LIE…’ AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION BASED ON MINIMUM WAGE CONTROVERSY

OPINION LETTER ON ‘LEFT’S BIG LIE…’ AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION BASED ON MINIMUM WAGE CONTROVERSY

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog post was submitted as an opinion letter to a local newspaper on October 27, 2016 in response to three opinion letters entered in the paper on left and right wing political parties.  It should be noted that this opinion letter was edited and shortened by the newspaper because there are often only so many words that can be submitted to newspapers. The title of the opinion letter was ‘Notley is a champion.’  The three opinion letters on which this post was based are outlined at the end of this blog post’.  The ‘The left’s big lie…’ does not appear in its entirety.

October 13 and 20, 2016 letters ‘The left’s big lie…’, ‘Only right and wrong’ and ‘Minimum wage increase won’t help anyone’ letters only produce financial misinformation and reduce political process to shoes (Conservative-minded folks are in the right and the wrong party Liberal -socialist species are in the wrong-the left should only refer to shoes).

Re ‘The left’s big lie…’ statements on socialism and left-wing politicians, analysis shows Conservative and Liberal policies surreptitiously and purposefully eliminate the middle class, thus practising ‘selective’ social democracy (democratic).  Advertently or inadvertently, future class system will consist mainly of the poor, upper-middle class and wealthy while favouring married or coupled family units with multiple ‘marital manna benefits’.  Square root equivalence scale (if value of ‘1’ is used for a single person, then a value of ‘1.4’ is applied for two adults since it costs them less to live) and ‘financial fairness for singles’ are ignored (singles-finances).

During federal Conservative and Liberal party reigns, even while reducing social programs helping vulnerable populations of aboriginals and veterans, introduced programs like pension splitting and OAS clawback particularly benefit the wealthy and married or coupled family units.  In OAS clawback only about five percent of seniors receive reduced OAS pensions, and only two percent lose entire amount.  The very program that is supposed to provide a ‘very modest pension to low and middle-income seniors’ has been redesigned to benefit the upper-middle class.

During provincial Conservative party forty year reign and oil boom, just 1,048 new affordable housing units in Calgary were built over the past 14 years.  Two thirds of shelter beds in Canada are filled by people who make relatively infrequent use of shelters and are more likely forced into shelters by economic conditions (due to structural factors, the state of housing and labour markets that destine the very poor to be unable to afford even minimum-quality housing).

Federal Liberals have continued Conservative benefit programs like Canada Child Benefit in perpetuity which is based on income and number of children, but not net worth and assets, so families may receive large tax free child benefits and continue increasing wealth even while already having huge assets (tax-credit).  

Elimination of the middle class is also evident in Liberals’ proposed Canada Pension plan enhancements (canada-pension-plan).  Premise remains the same – individuals with highest YMPE will receive the most CPP, while those at lower income levels will receive the least CPP benefits. Persons with highest YMPE of $82,700 (massive jump from 2016 $54,900) and forty years of contributions will receive 33 percent CPP benefit or about $2,300 per month, while those making a minimum wage of $15 per hour, $30,000 annual income with forty years of contributions will receive about $800 per month.  A single person earning $15 per hour minimum wage would have to work two and half full time jobs for forty years to equal the $82,700 YMPE.  

Schizophrenic political systems exist where CPP pension enhancements are controlled federally, but minimum wages are controlled provincially.  The continued unwillingness of government and business to promote minimum wage increases to indexed living wages means the poor will remain in poverty even with pension systems that are supposed to improve financial quality of life as seniors.

The words ‘hard-working people’ has been used again to ad nauseum.  The idea that minimum wage only increases having to pay more income tax is ludicrous. Yes, increase in minimum wage may increase income tax deductions by, for example, 20 percent but these recipients will also have 80 percent more income to spend which will be used to increase product and services.  Increasing CPP, but not increasing minimum wage means children in the future who are living in poverty will receive less CPP, while their wealthy CPP parents and family members will receive the bulk of the CPP enhancements.

We are all responsible for not fighting financial greed of plutocracy, big government and corporations like Walmart, tax loopholes, Wallstreet, outrageous salaries and prices in the entertainment, sports industries, housing and gentrification of cities.  This has resulted in small businesses not flourishing and poverty increasing to an unprecedented level. Failure to increase the minimum wage instead of dealing with real underlying problems equals fighting the wrong fight.

More champions for the vulnerable like Rachel Notley and Bernie Sanders are needed. Bring it  on!  (End of opinion letter)

The three opinion letters that this blog post refers to are included as follows:

‘The Left’s Big Lie…’ October 13, 2016 local newspaper

The totality of this article talks about climate change and ‘The radical environmental movement as well as left-wing Canadian political parties, most notably the Alberta NDP, are telling the BIG LIE about our energy industry and the global environment.’…..To explain, it goes back to the goal of socialism, which is to “restrict private enterprise and control the economy”…..If we continue down the path dictated by our left wing politicians, the standard of living in Alberta will continue to decline…..Albertans must come together and take back government from these politicians who put their radical ideology ahead of the interests of all the hard-working people in our great province.’

‘Only right and wrong’ October 20, 2016 local newspaper

‘Great letter (The left’s big lie).  However we have to get this right and left idea straight.  The only thing in my home that is left is my shoe.  In politics, it should be referred to as follows:  Conservative-minded folks are on the right.  Liberal-socialist species are on the wrong.  Wrong being the proper opposite of right unless you are describing an object such as my shoe.’

‘Minimum wage increase won’t help anyone’ Oct 20, 2016 local newspaper

‘I do believe all people should make a living wage, but driving up the minimum wage does not have that effect.  If you look at the numbers according to the Government of Alberta website there are 290,000 people in Alberta that make minimum wage.  If they all get $1/hr. raise at approximately 40 hours per week the economy needs to breakout an additional $638 million, with no real increase in product or service.  The cost of all things go up and still we have no living wage, but those on minimum wage now pay more income tax.  So, now the NDP has made political points as well as more tax revenue, while some have lost hours or jobs.  All fixed income people, like vets and seniors, are hit most because they get no raise in pay.’ (End of post)

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

CANADA CHILD BENEFIT PROGRAM SHOWS FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION AT ITS BEST

CANADA CHILD BENEFIT PROGRAM SHOWS FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION AT ITS BEST

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice). 

(boutique-tax-credits-pushing-singles-into-poverty)

From CBC News-”New Canada Child Benefit program payments” July 20, 2016 (cbc) – Analysis of new Liberal Canada Child Benefit program and old Conservative UCCB program

The old Universal Child Care Benefit or UCCB (Conservative) provided $160 per child per month for children under six and $60 per month for children aged six to 17. That money was paid out to families regardless of income level.  The Conservative philosophy was that there should be some component of assistance for families that was universal.  However, this benefit was to be included as income and required payment of taxes.

Conservative universal approach could be viewed as all families should receive some component of assistance.  Just because they make a lot of money they should not be penalized, they should not be losing out and not getting any government benefits,  (Note: only for families, ever singles don’t matter).

The new Liberal program Canada Child Benefit (CCB) begins this month and combines the CCTB and UCCB into one payment that is entirely income tested up to $190,000 of income. The new payment is also tax-free making it more expensive than the UCCB.   Less than $30,000 in net annual household income generates benefit $6,500 for each child under six and $5,400 for children aged six through 17 tax free. 300,000 fewer children would live in poverty in 2016-17 compared with 2014-15.  The Liberals also reduced the tax rate from 22.5 per cent to 20 per cent for middle-class Canadians earning between $44,700 and $89,401 a year.  The Liberal (Trudeau) approach is that these benefits should be based on income testing.  Wealthier families can carry more of the load…they don’t need additional government handouts.

Since provinces also provide some child benefits, there was concern that provinces would clawback CCB from children on social assistance.  So far eight provinces has indicated they will not clawback CCB.

Illustration provided shows Ava Williams as a Toronto social worker with a net income of about $30,000, who lives in community housing. As a single mother of four children between the ages of six and 17, she says the new program will boost her old annual federal benefit payment by about $6,000 per year with added benefit of the new payment being tax free.  Something does not add up for the totals given..  One wonders if she means an additional $6,000 to what she received in 2015.  Assuming her net income is under $30,000 and her children all under the age of 18, it appears she will receive somewhere between $21,000 and $26,000 in child benefits, for a total net income between $51,000 and $56,000 all tax free.  This is in additional to subsidized housing and other possible federal and provincial benefits such as GST/HST credits with no clawback of the benefits..

An example of additional benefits received on a provincial basis with no clawback is Alberta.  In Alberta the non taxable child benefits are applied to working families with children under 18 and a net income starting at $25,500 with phasing out up to less than $41,220 per year.  Total annual maximum benefits for one child could be up $1,863, two children $3,107, three children $4,073, and four children $4,762.  Ava if she lived in Alberta with four children could receive total tax free federal and provincial child benefits of approximately $55,762 plus subsidized housing ($30,000 net income $21,000 CCB and $4,762 Alberta child credits). (There is no clarification on her marital status, which should not matter, but many readers wanted to know where the father was).

SYNOPSIS OF APPROXIMATELY 2500 READER COMMENTS FROM TWO NEWS ARTICLES

Approximately 2500 reader comments from two news articles were reviewed.(not number of readers, as some some readers comment many times)  The majority of comments were classified into the following major categories:

-Negative comments (most were negative)

-Not happy with amounts received between new Liberal and old Conservative benefits or  it is not enough

-Positive comments (very few)

-Bashing of political parties (Liberals versus Conservatives)

-Worried about future debt generated by benefits

-Many comments bashing Ava and where is the father of these children

-Other programs would be more beneficial than the child benefit program

-Program will be abused

-Benefits given for children but seniors and disabled receive much less

-Singles feel they have been left out of process and families of all types bash singles

-Divorce and death of one parent as well as other causes have impact on poverty

-Child benefits not only on federal level, but also provincial level

-In addition to benefits, should also be teaching budgeting and financial responsibility

-Immigrants

-Education

-Advantages of Child Benefits

-Benefit programs – have lots of other programs in addition to child benefit

-Eighteen years a long time for benefits

-Misconceptions about what is benefit versus welfare

-In addition to benefits, income taxes also cut for middle class

-Net worth and assets

Because of the length of the post, only issues regarding ‘Singles’ and ‘Net Worth and Assets’ will be discussed here.  Other categories will appear at the end of the post for those who wish to review all other categories in their entirety.

Reader comments regarding SINGLES

Single response-We’re sending cheques to families with household incomes up to $190,000/year yet there’s nothing for the 30% of single female seniors living in poverty. There’s a number of programs for single female seniors. I’m sure though that you and I would agree that it’s not enough.

Reader response-For all you single people out there, if you want to get tax free money , you better get married and start having kids because that is the only way you will get a tax shelter.

Single response – Nobody ever wants to help single people with no kids. Ever occur to you that I have no kids because I am responsible and do not want to bring kids into a life of poverty?

Reader response –  According to the left if you are single and no kids you need no help. You are well off and should pay more taxes.

Reader response -or you are selfish and don’t want to spend money on anyone but yourself.

Reader response – Don’t worry, that ‘right person’ is out there somewhere.

Reader Response -Yet other people’s kids will be the ones to take care of you when you are elderly. Don’t you think that’s worth a little bit of investment?

Single response – If the govt had money to throw away they could have reduced the tax rate for all of us, not just those who think they are poor because they gave birth to 4 kids.. Single people get NOTHING, just pay up more.

Reader response – We don’t have another human depending on us for life and those who have taken that responsibility deserve the help managing the full time obligation.

Reader response – I doubt that that is what he meant at all. A sense of responsibility is not selfishness.  Having kids is one of the most important things you’ll ever do. Granted, you cannot anticipate every life outcome, but generally speaking a responsible adult has an idea of their finances, and where they expect their finances to be in future. Most adults can actually budget their grocery store purchases – I believe they can budget the price of a child.   And having babies is not a right. Nobody should be under any obligation to financially support a stranger’s kids.

Reader response – You should be asking yourself why you need help if you’re single with no kids.

Reader response -And second, it’s not to say that single people with no kids can’t or shouldn’t receive support, it’s just that why would you need support for being single or having no kids? If you’re also elderly, or disabled, sick or unemployed sure, but being single and having no kids isn’t making it harder for us to live reasonably.

Single response – Hey, maybe all the poor single people – the disabled, etc., will simply die off and make room for all the government-supported kids.

Single response – as a childless middle aged man I am sick of paying for everybody’s kids, especially the Harper garbage boutique tax credits for hockey and ballet school.

Reader response – More likely you don’t get along with women very well or can’t find someone that will have your kid. Ever occur to you that poor kids may not necessarily have been born that way and that layoffs and economical hits create poor kids? That divorce also creates poor kids. Death of a spouse creates poor kids. You can be a millionaire and bring kids into the world and then have your investments tank the next day and you’re poor.

Reader response – If you are single your costs are much, much lower than if you have kids. Your contribution to the economy is also lower. When I go out to dinner my contribution is 5 times what a single person will bring to a restaurant but I still only need one table. This creates jobs as well. My kids go to swimming lessons (jobs and economic boost), they take the bus (jobs and economic boost), eat food and wear clothes and you name it. Grow up.

Reader Response – Single people do not pay more in taxes, that is a lie.

Single response – they certainly don’t get all the freebies (singles)

Reader response – I don’t think it’s that single people with no kids expect support, it’s simply that they perhaps don’t understand why people with kids should get rewarded with their tax money for having babies.

Reader response– Everyone at some point has paid taxes, not just single people. To say that only “single” taxpayers are funding tax benefit programs is hogwash.

Single responseSingle and no kids myself, in my early 50s, barely able to keep a roof over my head even with a full-time job and living frugally. Where’s *my* handout/monthly allowance from the gov’t?

ANALYSIS OF COMMENTS REGARDING SINGLES

It is clear that families with children (and even some singles) are financially illiterate and have no understanding of what it costs a single person to live.  Living Wage for Guelph and Wellington (2013 living wage of $15.95 per hour), a bare bones program to get low income and working poor families and singles off the street, allows a calculated living wage income for single person of $25,099 with no vehicle, food $279, transit and taxi $221 (includes one meal eating out per month).  (In 2015, the living wage for Guelph and Wellington has been set at $16.50 per hour). Note, this is not Vancouver, Toronto or Calgary where living costs are much higher.

Singles get no benefits except in abject poverty.  In both Liberal and Conservative programs, families with children (including single parents) get the benefits while ever singles and divorced persons without children get nothing.

Singles pay more.  Yes, ‘singles pay more taxes’ is a false statement.  Truth is that singles, person to person, pay same taxes, but get less benefits.  From the time they are married until one spouse is deceased, married or coupled families with children will likely have received shower, wedding, baby gifts, possibly maternity/paternity leave benefits, child benefits times number of children, TFSA benefits times two, reduced taxes, pension-splitting,  possible survivor pension benefits, and then want to retire before age 65.  In certain cases some of these families will not have paid a full year of taxes.  Single parents will receive child benefits and possible other benefits as well.  When all the benefits that families with children receive are taken into consideration, ever singles and early divorced persons with no children do pay more.

-There is a the perception by families that a reason to have children is that they will take care of future generations.  Financial responsibility implies that everyone including families should be financially paying for and taking care of themselves.  Future generations do not deserve to have heavy tax burdens placed on them to finance this generation and future generations of parents and children.  Likewise, financial responsibility implies that children do not deserve huge inheritances, while singles have a much more difficult time achieving same standard of living and saving for retirement as families with children.

Reader Comments regarding NET WORTH AND ASSETS

Comment-Liberals are so dumb that they don’t even know that the measure of true wealth is NOT income but net worth.  Are they so stupid to think that a lot of your neighbors, who declare zero income (and I know a lot of them) but can afford Jaguars and Bentleys and multi-million dollar homes really are poor? My wife and I are middle class folks, who live in a modest townhouse in Vancouver who won’t qualify for this now because we “make” too much. Sorry, Justin Trudeau, but 150k a year in Vancouver won’t get you very far.

Comment-if you only make $30,000.00 a year, maybe stop after the second child. Kids are expensive.  “According to MoneySense.ca, the average cost of raising a child to age 18 is a whopping $243,660. Break down that number, and that’s $12,825 per child, per year — or $1,070 per month. And that’s before you send them off to university.”

Comment – Take my numbers for example:   Property tax in Oakville Ontario is very high. I live in a 3000 sq/ft house on a tiny 90×90 lot and property tax is $12,000 a year.  Food cost for a family of 3 is about $15,000 a year, Utilities is $9000, Gas/Car/Insurance (2 cars) is $13000, Clothing/Phone/Living Expenses $8000.  I am only listing off the big expenses. Not including a lot of the little things. That comes to $57,000 a year. Hardly enough to live.

Reader Response to above-That sounds more like someone living beyond their means. And taxpayers are expected to step in and assist families like yours who have a more luxurious lifestyle than most could even dream of.   If you mean 3 kids, maybe, but 3 people, well, then you want too much. A family of 3 in a 3,000 sq. ft house? $300 in groceries a week for for 3 people? Did you know your taxes would be that high before you bought the house? If so, then you brought that on yourself.

ANALYSIS OF COMMENT REGARDING NET WORTH AND ASSETS

-Sense of entitlement.  It is absurd how the wealthy and rich families believe they are entitled to everything (3,000 square foot house)..

-Net worth and Assets.   None of these benefit plans include elimination with high net worth and assets, so again, the wealthy and rich families are receiving benefits they do not deserve.  One of our last posts (see link at top of page) showed how families with considerable assets ($500,000), one spouse working and four children under age of six would receive considerable benefits while never paying a full year of tax if they retired at the age of 60 when their youngest child turned 18.

-Middle-class families with higher income levels for child benefit program complain they don’t receive same level of benefits.  Yet they refuse to acknowledge that they are the ones who would also receive the reduced tax rate from 22.5 per cent to 20 per cent for middle-class Canadians earning between $44,700 and $89,401 a year.

CONCLUSION

It is completely obscene how governments and politicians can implement programs that do not look at net worth and assets.  Families units (including singles) with high net worth and assets and low (of any kind) income do not deserve to get child benefits and other wealth-creating benefits and programs.

It is also financially discriminatory when governments and politicians only include certain family units in their financial formulas.   In Canada, family units with children benefit most while ever singles and early divorced persons without children get nothing.  In the USA, Bernie Sanders has managed to accomplish some wonderful things for financial fairness.  However, even some of his accomplishments agreed to by Hillary Clinton again target only certain family units, that is those with children (free college/university for families with incomes $125,000 or less and paid parental family and medical leave).  Most politicians, whether right or left leaning, only talk about families, with most benefits given only to families.  Singles are never mentioned let alone included in financial discussions and formulas.  What if singles want to go to college/university to get a better wage?  Why are they are not included?

Many of the reader comments correctly identify divorce and death of a spouse as having a big financial  impact on family units.  However, it is also irresponsible for family units to not have life insurance to cover these life circumstances.  Life insurance for spousal death should be mandatory, just like car and house insurance,  and should be ample enough to cover big ticket items like mortgages.  Maybe divorce insurance should also be implemented and made compulsory so that ever singles are not forced to support divorced family units.

For many years there have been great universal government programs in place like public school education, and health care.  For financial fairness, absurd programs like the child benefit programs need to be replaced with universal day care, government paid for college and university education (at least first couple of years of university) and affordable housing (should be available to all types of family units).Then, if wealthy families want to send their privileged children to elite private schools, day care and university, they can spend their own money to do so.

Benefit programs like income splitting and pension splitting under Conservatives are bad policy as they discriminate against singles, and the  widowed and divorced (and spouses earning equal incomes).   Benefit programs should focus on the poor with inclusion of net worth and asset assessments  in the financial formulas.

Governments, politicians, and families need to become financially educated on what it costs ever singles and early divorced persons without children to live.  All Canadian citizens deserve equal financial dignity and respect regardless of the type of family unit they are in.

Once children become ever single and early divorced without children adults, they should not become invisible and made to feel like they are no longer financially important to society.  All lives matter including ever singles and early divorced without children adults.

Additional Reader Comments:  click on link below:

CANADACHILDBENEFITSCOMMENTS2 (1)

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

AFFORDABLE HOUSING NOT PART OF CONSERVATIVE PARTY DEFINITION

AFFORDABLE HOUSING NOT PART  OF CONSERVATIVE PARTY DEFINITION

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

Creb now(published by Calgary Real Estate Board) June 24 to June 30, 2016 states:

‘housing officials increasing rates of overcrowding or “underhousing”  in Calgary’s housing market….Resolve says about 3,500 Calgarians were considered homeless in a recent survey, with about 14,000 at risk for homelessness – and that doesn’t include people “couch-surfing”…we know fundamentally that number is up.  It’s hard to get a handle; people are one paycheque away (from homelessness) or aren’t in appropriate housing.’

 

Appropriate housing definition is interesting.

‘Under the Social Housing Accommodation Regulation, such housing is considered overcrowded if more than two people must share a bedroom, with at least one individual in each of the other bedrooms, and if an individual over 18 “must share a bedroom with another member of the household,” or someone over the age of five has to share a bedroom with “an individual of the opposite sex.”  (Spouses or partners sharing a bedroom don’t count)…..”Affordable housing is intended to be appropriate housing-appropriate to needs of families.   If children age in place or additional children are welcomed into a family, they can transfer within the system…subject to availability.”

“Calgary Herald”, June 29, 2016 ‘City takes aim at failing affordable housing plan” states:

‘just 1,048 new affordable housing units created in Calgary over the past 14 years, the need for affordable housing was great in 2002 and it remains so today.  Calgary has half the amount of affordable housing as the national average, and a total of zero affordable housing units have opened in the city in the past three years….the city wants to see 1,500 affordable housing units built in the next two years – more than the number built in the past fourteen years – and staff believe it’s a goal that’s possible given money pledged from the provincial and federal governments, both of which have recently signalled a renewed commitment to affordable housing. Housing a homeless person has been shown to save taxpayers $34,000  annually….Currently 88,000 Calgary households earning less than $60,000 are in need of affordable housing.’

ANALYSIS

Married or coupled family units tell singles to go live with someone if they are having financial problems.  According to the definition above of appropriate housing this means singles appropriately should not live in a one bedroom apartment with one person couch-surfing, but should live in at least a two bedroom apartment.  By the above definition married or coupled family units with no children can live in a one bedroom apartment.

Affordable housing units of 1,048 divided by 14 years equals only a total of about 74.9 affordable housing units having been developed annually in Calgary.  In fact, zero units were opened in the last three years.   Calgary has 1.23 million population as of 2015.  The number of affordable housing units for a city this size is pathetic.

Alberta has essentially been under Conservative government for many years.  Alberta had a Conservative party in leadership for 40 years until New Democratic Party won the election last year.  During the Conservative reign (particularly in the latter years) money was squandered in what were essentially boom years because of the oil boom.  Oil, government and business persons and families became wealthy because of Conservative policies which favoured the rich. The Conservatives always talked about the Alberta Advantage. Federally, the Conservative party was in leadership for ten years until the Liberals won the election this year.

Right wing Conservatives have done nothing to provide affordable housing for singles and poor families except to line their own pockets and the pockets of their voters.  Just what is the purpose of politicians and political parties if they don’t provide government by the people and for ALL the people? Singles and the poor are not considered to be part of the ‘people’ definition.  There never was an Alberta Advantage for singles and poor families, only for the rich and the middle class.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).