Gen X at 40

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Cyn -

A: "...why should I pay for the mustard of others through my tax dollars anyway?"

C: Why should I pay for the babysitter of others through my tax dollars anyway? Education, healthcare...no probs...babysitting, bad idea.

Cyn -

Now that I've totally over-simplified a very complicated issue, let me clarify somewhat:

I don't think universal daycare is the answer to growing healthy children. Would universal daycare better the standards and make things more measurable, sure. It did during WWII and it would again. Mind you the motivation is different now. The government needed women in the workforce during wartime. Nowadays, its more about choice (or not for so many).

I'm not convinced that by providing assistance to those who don't need it is the way to go on this. I also wondering why there isn't more efforts being made to encourage parents who can, to stay home and raise their children. Assitance to those who need it?...of course...for those who want it for other reasons...I can't support that.

Call me old-fashioned this one time...but the bottom line is that as long as someone else is raising our children for those first few formative years, we're screwed. If we could only go to a time when neighbourhoods were tribal. Where, if other people cared for someone else's children, they actually loved them like their own.

David Janes -

Perhaps you noticed we had an election and "we" (and that includes you and I) decided that we preferred a flat $1200 payout to all parents as opposed to a small number of overpaid unionized jobs providing a few spaces to upper middle class families with designer children working for the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.

That's the way the cookie crumbles. I haven't gone all Anarchy because for most of my life I haven't got the government I prefer. Why the hell should I pay for anything but what's on _my_ checklist? Or is there some asymmetrical federalism principle here: what your pals want, good; what my friends want, unacceptable.

And I know that $1200 is peanuts to you Al, but for a lot of people, it's a _substantial_ amount of money. Funny enough, they're probably the people most in need of a government handout.

Shelley -

What David said.

I don't know that Harper ever said it was about the math. It's about universality. (everyone gets it) It's about choice. (everyone chooses how they spend their $1200) Good lord, choice and universality - who'd a thunk it from a right-wing gov't? Seems Harper is giving back what Mulroney tooketh away (the Baby Bonus!)

Yes, there will be those that benefit more than others. For those working poor who have the day care covered, it could mean they get to buy brand name diapers. Or give it to Grandma, who takes care of the baby for free. It could mean that those kids in the middle - the ones whose parents are doing just fine with the basics - get to go to gymnastics, soccer, swimming lessons - because now there's an extra hundred a month. It could be the difference between an RESP and no RESP. It sounds small, but it's big, and I think it's fair..

However, with the Ont gov't already musing "oh, goodie, we can decrease the social assistance checks" I think Harper should put some limits on that, if he can. It shouldn't be a case of the Feds giveth so the Provs can taketh away.

Alan -

David, of course I agree with the obvious. But thanks for that for what is worth. As I implied, I am not particularly interested in the politics - other than I like to make fun of Tories. The question is as to the math and the implications:<ul><li>was it presented as a four-fold increase in public spending? Do you agree with that math?</li><li>Is it wise policy in its greater context? Is universality so sacred that when creating new policies it can be slapped on to as a label so no one notices that the child tax credit does exactly the same thing but for a sensible clawback so that I do not get the same amount as a poor person thus allowing a greater share to go to the poor person who needs it?</li><li>Shelly, the PEI government already claws back (and likely others do) so I don't see what the problem with Ontario considering it - except that it does raise an issue for the new trendy decentralist western materialist separationist types. If Canada is to be weakened federally so that Alberta can keep the oil and gas winfall and pretent it is due to entrepreneurial spirit and not the fluke of God's gift of the tar sands, does not Ontario and other less I-me-mine-ist provinces not equally have the right to take their wealth and also determine policy according to the wishes expressed through their local representative democracy? Is this just not an example of devolving into a more diverse community of communities? Seeing as the entrepreneurial spirit of Ontario and its 24 billion funding of equalization combines with a more natural socialist interest would it not be natural for this community now find ways to limit the effect of a weakened federal level to become more autonomous in its own way?</li></ul>

David Janes -

Wrt your #2 point, I've always been a fan of this system: decoupling cash handouts from cash receipts. Under this system, progressiveness (and maybe fairness) is handled in a single place -- the tax system. Otherwise, you end up with N systems each implementing different policies under the name of "fairness" but are more likely to be politically driven. Or to put it another way:

* poor Canadians: beneficiaries
* middle-class Canadians: "not deserving", screwed
* rich Canadians: makes no difference, they're rich

And put that in perspective

* poor Canadians: don't pay into the system
* middle-class Canadians: pay for the system
* rich Canadians: not really that many of them

So you end up with a pile of govt programs were the middle-class have to pay for everyone else AND then have to pay for it again for themselves.

Alan -

I think we largely agree - unless you are being ironic. I don't think I am being screwed by the child tax credit clawback. In fact when it went to about 45% of what it had been, I thought...why not take it all away. But one program for the function is key to the success of the child tax credit. <p>Yet, unless we are willing to create a minimum income for parents through substantially larger child tax credits (in the range, say, of $600 bucks a month) we cannot get truly universal user choice as to child care and the poor will be screwed and univsersality will be a euphemism.

David Janes -

Well, this is where you and I part ways: I don't believe the government should be creating entitlement programs for people to sit at home, raising kids or not. I don't particular support the Tory program, I just think it's far better than the alternative that was offered. I think these types of programs are simply recipes for creating a permament underclass, much as Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" has been a diaster for urban Americans.

Alan -

Yes, I do not believe the government should be into corporate welfare style where there is no poverty involved like the Tory toddler bonus...creating a bum out of every child not in need. I do agree that there is an underclass issue with poverty based welfare systems but I would rather seek to put the money where there is need rather than a massively more expensive phoney baloney billion dollar give away with no clawback scheme to make a voter base feel good about itself.

Chris Taylor -

The Kingston plan is not exactly gold, either.

Assuming one-sixth of the 7,273 are poverty stricken, as the Toronto Star seems to believe:

- 1212 poverty-stricken kids (under 5yo) in Kingston who will require daycare.
- Assuming 1/6th are under 18mo (202), 1/6th are 18-30mo, and the remaining 2/3rds are 30mo-5yo), Kingston requires a minimum of 208 daycare workers according to Schedule 3 of the Ontario Day Nurseries Act, RRO 990, Reg 262. [<i>Broken down as 0-18mo, 67 workers; 18-30mo, 40 workers; 30mo-5yo, 101 workers.</i>]
- CDN $13.48 is the mean gross hourly wage of centre-based daycare workers (full and part-time) [<i>According to the somewhat aged 1988 figures of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care</i>].
- $13.48 x 37.5 hrs = $505.50/week.
- Estimating 47 work weeks per annum (excluding 4 weeks vacation, 1 week personal, 1 week sick days), $505.50 x 47 = CDN $23,758.50 per annum, per worker.
- 208 workers x $23,758.50 = CDN $4.94m per annum.

Ergo Kingston will be under-funded to the tune of $2.62m each of the first two years (ameliorating somewhat to merely -0.79m in the third) and that is before facility leases, utilities, furnishing, food and supplies are factored into the equation.

Alan -

Well, that is fine and, while you can appreaciate I will not debate the local in that sense, let me ask this:<ul><li>When you say it is underfunded are you seriously suggesting that the money in under the Tory plan will actually go to replace in the same account the money out lost as the Liberal plan fades away. If so, please explain in equally truly admirable detail. I believe the two fundings will go in two directions, the future being more in the malt beverage and corn based snack direction; and</li><p><li>Was not the Liberal plan (use Ontario's Best Start as the example) also going to school-based programs and fostering and other things. If that is so, does your math still work?</li></ul>You do, however, win a gold star and even a free beer when we next meet for best counter-argument of the October 2005-present time frame and are a shining example of the equal time for equal if different reasoning powers we support around here.

Chris Taylor -

Hey, it's your blog. <i>You</i> should be doing the legwork. =) The only part of the figures that I am not 100% comfortable with are the hourly wage figures for daycare workers. 1988 is not a recent baseline; $13.48 is the best one I could find, and since it's listed by a child-care advocacy group I figured they are likely low-balling it. In all cases I attempted to lowball so as not to artificially inflate the figure. I am a lazy, lazy man so I don't want to troll StatsCan DBs for the raw official salary numbers.

The regulatory component (DNA RRO 990, Reg 262) applies to daycare anywhere in Ontario; it's not specifically targeted at Best Start.

<blockquote><i>When you say it is underfunded are you seriously suggesting that the money in under the Tory plan will actually go to replace in the same account the money out lost as the Liberal plan fades away.</i></blockquote>

I deliberately made no such claim, since I am a strict-constructionist Darwinist when it comes to matters of social policy. I was just hoping to show that the Liberals' more elaborate funding could hardly be considered adequate, too. I don't see either plan as adequate, but I believe one is slightly more desirable and responsible.

By responsible, I mean the risks and rewards are right back where they belong, with the parents of the child(ren). If fiscally-strapped parents ignore their need for child care and blow it on frivolity, I can all but guarantee they are doing the same for other necessary expenses. Like say, rent, clothing, or food. Having the government look after the child for 8 or 9 hours a day does nothing to ensure that the parents are not irresponsible the rest of the time. The problem then is dopey parents, something that cannot be solved by childcare or anything other than a parental change in attitude.

This, of course, doesn't apply to the responsible poor, but then they are probably going to do what they do now -- find a fiscally manageable work-around, like relatives or neighbors.

Alan -

You know, in addition to my Gospel-based anti-Darwinianism socialist red-flaggery, I think I also simply prefer the 100% expense half-solution to the 400% expense half-solution when it comes right down to it.

David Janes -

With the defunct plan, we would have expected gold plating on the wages with a one-way ratchet on where salary direction.

<blockquote>
<b>Quebec Child Care Workers Organize</b>

<i>
In May of 1999 unionized child care workers in Quebec won a major victory - they successfully bargained a contract in which they will receive a 35% wage increase over the next four years. This is an increase from $12 to $18 an hour by 2003. The increase will be paid directly by public grants and not by parents. The victory was the result of years of organizing that, in many ways, just began when child care providers and teachers successfully unionized in the early '80s with the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN).

Yves Rochon, union leader and former child care worker from Quebec, attributes the success at the bargaining table to the unity of the workers and their ability, if necessary, to go on an indefinite strike. But how did the union get to the point of being able to pull off a massive strike?

1) There was a long campaign of education, demonstrations and walk-outs involving union members, parents, and the support of non-union child care providers. They developed structure and organization using child care workers as local leaders. They also had staff assistance, strike pay and funds from the Union(CSN).

2) These successful actions gave the union membership confidence in their own abilities and in the public's support. As workers began to organize, politicians began to listen.

3) Earlier campaigns brought an increase in the number of centers and funding (not wages) as well as group insurance plans, training subsidies and maternity leave for the workers paid primarily by the state. These changes made high turnover less of a problem and allowed the union to build an experienced leadership. (From a presentation by Yves Rochon, Confederation of National Trade Unions, San Francisco, April 2000)
</i>
</blockquote>

Fantastic child care services those parents received during the strike. Of course, Buzz Hargrove's union would have been looking out for the needs of the children first and not just tireless working to put another wing on Buzz's house.

Alan -

So what colour is the plating on the 400% plan where a significant part of recipients (who do not have need, provide a service to the state, are in an employment or contractual relationship with the state or any have any constutional or human right justifying the benefit) get public funds. I think that colour is called "whoo-hoo" as that is what the non-needy recipients will say when they cash the cheque en route to their wine and water cracker supplier of choice.

Chris Taylor -

Actually I just noticed a goof.

Should be 46 work weeks (not 47), excluding the 6 weeks off (4 wks vacation, 1 week personal, 1 week sick -- probably more like 2 wks vacation, 4 weeks sick, knowing how often kids get colds).

- So weekly salary $505.50 x 46 work weeks = CDN $23,253 per annum, per worker.
- 208 workers x $23,253 = CDN $4.82m per annum.

Still pretty close to the mark and way over the local budget. The Lib plan is probably closer to the 200% expense half-solution since it doesn't even approach maximum funding until year three.

I think we will have to agree to disagree on whether God intended for individuals to voluntarily or governments to involuntarily extract donations for the poor among us. I am going to hold you to the beer though. Next we can debate whether simple or compound interest applies to the elapsed time between beer-promising and beer-imbibing.

Alan -

Immaterial is you do not nail down the rate of interest.<p>In the end, I bet Dalton goes it alone on Best Start. With any luck he will deduct the difference from the equalization ding Ontario is hit with and if that does not work, create a separate provincial income tax collection system like other provinces have. Ontario needs to take care of the fiscal imbalance without the intercession of meddling social theorists in Ottawa.