OK, so my blog title indulges in some hyperbole.
But tonight, I was struck by the headline crawling across the bottom of CTV Newsnet. Layton *announces child care plan, $400 per child for families earning under $38,000 and $250 per child for families earning less than $188,000.
Woo hoo! was my immediate reaction. With two boys, that means we get $500 a month from the government. And then my rational side kicked in swamping the momentary euphoria. And I started doing some math in my head. The numbers were staggering.
So off to the computer, and Stats Canada. There were (as of 2006) 8,896,840 family units with an average of 1.1 children per family. 97% of families earn under $200,00 per year. 1.1 children X 97% of families = 9.5 million children. At $250/month that means Layton's plan would cost $2.4 billion a month or $28.5 billion per year.
Now the Star is reporting this plan will cost $17 billion, and CTV is reporting this plan will cost $4.4 billion.
Quite the disparity in numbers. I will point out my numbers do not factor in the $400 per child for families under $38,000. So my number of $28.5 billion would likely be larger. (StatsCan only shows # families making over an amount, not under). Also, family income numbers and children per family unit do not match up, as what constitutes a family unit in one table is not the same in the other table. So if anyone can produce a more accurate number go ahead.
But anyway. The above numbers were a secondary consideration to my "Jack Layton is nuts!" reaction to this announcement.
This policy is supposed to reduce child poverty. So why the benefit to families earning between $38,000 and $188,000? Does it seem right to you that a family earning over $100,000 gets a child poverty tax benefit? Yeah, I didn't think so either.
Personally I earn over $70,000 a year. My wife stays home to raise our two boys. So that's our family income. WE ARE NOT POOR!!! MY CHILDREN ARE NOT POOR!!! I own two cars, and just this July bought out my mortgage. So we own our own home too. I'm insulted that Jack thinks my kids are poor and need his help.
Giving our family $500 a month to "end child poverty" is ludicrous. Think of it this way, if my children were doing without at our family income, obviously we would be poor fiscal managers. Giving $500 a month to a couple that can't budget the wealth they already have won't solve their problems.
Going back to this blog title. Right now you can buy a 2008 Town and Country Touring edition minivan from Chrysler for $31,895. At 6.99% financing, that works out to (no down payment ) $544 a month for 5 years. If you have 2 children under 18 years old, Jack Layton will buy you a brand new minivan. If you have 2 children (and have a third to cover the $44 difference in the payments) you'll find that a minivan is almost a necessity. If you can't figure out how to afford one, Jack Layton has your answer.
For a supposedly targeted benefit plan, I can't think of any that is as dumb as this one. (For the record, I have no problems with low income families getting assistance. But this isn't just for low income families. Its a blatant attempt to buy votes.) And yeah, I think Harper's $100 a month per child is ludicrous too. This just compounds that stupidity 2.5 times.
If the government paid you $500 a month to install solar cells on your home in an effort to combat GHG based energy sources, would you do it? That's a targeted program that would accomplish something.
$4.4, $17 or $28.5 billion dollars a year, targeted at any specific problem would go a long way to solving many of our problems. Infrastructure, climate change, mass transit EVEN CHILD POVERTY.
But this isn't targeted spending. Excuse me for saying this, but as a potential recipient of this plan, the $500 I would receive would buy a lot of beer and popcorn. Or rather, that cottage up north I have my eye on.
* The link is to the Star, since CTV's online report didn't have the same details Newsnet was showing.