Reducing Poverty by Guaranteed Annual Income

Even some conservatives support this idea, but we need to expand on it. 

The idea is that everyone in Canada should be provided a minimum level of income that is scaled back when people earn more, in a way that won’t discourage employment. This would provide a minimum standard of living, and eliminate much of the need for other income replacement programs. More details need to be worked out, because this only deals with the income side of things, and many programs provide other benefits but if we move in this direction, I think it could help people more because of reduced administration costs. We could possibly expand in other areas, such as drug and dental coverage for more people.

The problem I see with the way that this has typically been  proposed, is that the minimum income is always a year behind, so that if I required income support in 2011, I would be getting it this year in 2012. The poorest can’t wait that long. 

Some thoughts on improving:

  • Benefits should be paid monthly.
  • Every individual and family can opt out of the monthly benefit if they are confident that they won’t need it. Individuals and Families enrolled in the G.A.I. will receive a base amount per month. Those that opt out will have the yearly benefit calculated at tax time so that if they were eligible, they get a refund.
  •  Expand on Payroll deductions so that this supplement would be included in calculations. Those that earn more, pay more  of the benefit back through tax. This gears the benefit to income, while ensuring people keep more of the benefit when they need it most. This would then be assessed at tax time.
  •  Those that earn but aren’t employees with deductions would have the benefit calculated at tax time. 

These are some ideas, but I’m not entirely sure if they make sense or are doable, but I would like to see a move in this direction. I think it would be better for everyone. I hope more people will think about it.

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The “Flip Flop” Smear

When a politician changes a position on an issue, it is demonized. It is called a “flip flop”, and the politician is smeared as a “flip flopper”.

Ever changed your mind on something? You are officially a “flip flopper.”

Imagine if society were that rigid and certain. Abortions would still be illegal, there’d be no gay marriage, women still couldn’t vote, slavery would still exist, and so on.

If citizens use protests in an effort to convince government to change policies, then it helps to have politicians that might be willing to “flip flop” from time to time.

Sometimes politicians flip flop for the wrong reasons, but this doesn’t mean that we should make it so many are scared to change their minds in fear of the repercussions. We need to reject these “flip flop” smears as they make it harder for politicians to do what’s right, when faced with evidence that may run contrary to what they may have believed in the past.

Really, why should politicians be the only people that can’t change their minds?

Impossible People, Impossible Politics

Some people aren’t fond of us Liberals because we are not a party driven by ideology alone. While the Conservatives prefer to take the right side of issues and the NDP prefer the left, we Liberals are flexible. This means that we can change opinions based on the facts, but many believe that it means we only want to do what is popular and what will win votes. To them I ask, was it popular when we were elected in the 90s, to renege on election commitments in order to stabilize Canada’s financial situation? Doubtful, but it needed to be done.

Many admire the Conservatives, and the NDP because they believe in an ideology, and will stand up for it. I would say that they are simply rigid and stubborn. Do we really want our government making decisions for us based on a near religious belief system, or do we want them to make decisions based on evidence? Do we really want our government to deny any evidence that might dispute their right wing/left wing beliefs, or do we want them to adjust to proven realities?

Almost everyone knows an impossible person, who cannot be convinced of their own faults, and honestly believes in their own perfection.  Trying to suggest to this impossible person that things might not be quite as they perceive them is a hopeless task and a waste of time. Electing a party because of their rigid beliefs is like electing that impossible person to govern. We get impossible politics, because there is no room for movement. Both ideological parties are certain that they are correct and refuse to admit that they could be wrong. It is when the left and right parties change positions from the typical right or left position, that they really are doing it for votes alone.

Liberals wish to strike a balance between free markets and social justice, and can change based on the facts.

I don’t believe the best party to govern is a party that is rigid and stubborn, with inflexible core beliefs.

I think that the best party to govern is one that can be flexible and bases decisions on facts, not ideology.

Connecting With Voters

Part of it is policy.

Part of it is leadership.

Most of it is passion.

I am of the belief that when voters aren’t simply voting against someone else, than they will be voting for the party who’s leader gives them the most hope for the future.

They will be voting for the party that they believe will do what is right, and vote against those that would travel the path of least resistance to power, or to secure their gold plated pensions.

Engaging in “politics as usual” is a recipe for disconnect. This is what we have been doing, and this is where we’ve ended up.

Our leader should stand up for what is right.

Our leader should answer questions directly.

What I’ve found pisses people off most, and pisses me off,  is when politician’s are asked difficult questions, and they answer by not answering. Bev Oda’s hotel affair was a perfect example. Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro was asked repeatedly on Power and Politics, whether or not the limo was paid back, and he refused to answer the question. That should be a simple yes or no question, but unclear political speak was used to answer nothing, and to hide everything.

We need to set a new trend of honesty, democracy, and passion for doing what is right for a better future. Sometimes people aren’t going to like what we have to say, but at least they will respect us for having the courage to say it.

When we see passion in another who really believes in their cause, and has the courage to stand up for it, we know it. We know it not in our minds, but in our hearts, because just as our hearts will sink with sorrow in the face of injustice, they will ignite with optimism in the presence of passion.

Let’s work to ignite our party, and our voters.

An Ounce Of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure- Healthcare Cracks

Last year, my daughter, Hannah, 11 months old at the time suffered through a respiratory illness, commonly known as the common cold, but dangerous to those under the age of one. It was likely contracted from her two older school aged brothers. This illness, Respiratory syncytial virus, forced her into a general hospital, an hour and a half away from our rural home, for a week, and the week before Christmas, no less. We were discharged on December 23rd. The best Christmas gift, was her health mostly returned.

Luckily, she was old enough to not have sustained any lasting damage, but she did require oxygen for a period of time in hospital, along with high doses of inhalant, puffer-like drugs designed to open up the bronchioles. Another friend of ours with a younger son, though recovered from the RSV, hasn’t been as fortunate as us with respect to the longer term respiratory problems associated with RSV. 😦

What is more distressing, as I learned from one of the nurses at the hospital, is that there IS a vaccination available in Ontario, but it is expensive (about $1000). The government will cover it for premature children, but no other exceptions.

Just a thought, but maybe they should extend that to babies under the year of one with other school aged children in the home, at absolute minimum.

Even better, how can we conscionably deny our youngest and most vulnerable children protection from a common disease like this that can potentially harm their basic respiratory function for the rest of their lives? Most adults get the disease 1-2 times per year. It isn’t like it is hiding under the rug.

According to this webpage, there are about 140’000 babies born in Ontario, each year, so this vaccination effort would initially cost the Ontario government $140 million, if costs don’t drop with increased demand.

My daughter was in a private room (due to risk of infection) for a week at the hospital. Maybe I’m out to lunch, but I imagine that if her disease had been prevented by vaccination this would have saved, at minimum, the cost of the vaccine.

Younger children are often hospitalized for longer periods, and often require recurrent care afterwards. If they suffer from long term respiratory damage, the healthcare costs could be huge. And don’t we have an obligation to prevent this, since we can?

I really don’t think decisions like this for our youngest and newest children should rely on being able to prove that mass vaccination will lower costs enough that the balance sheet will look better. On this issue, however, it seems like the initial cost will pay itself off through reduced healthcare costs.

So the real question isn’t “should we do this?” but why aren’t we doing this?”

The Economy IS Important, but it operates Within the Environment

Most economists will agree that most economic troubles are the cause of human action, but there are some that are not. The environment can cause economic disruption when natural disasters damage a country’s assets, and force savings to be spent on rectifying the problems caused.

Harper et. al. don’t seem to get this. They claim that the economy will suffer from too much environmental protectionism, but I would say that a far greater danger to the economy is environmental disaster.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I support the development of industry that may appear environmentally damaging on the surface, because I believe that what might seem damaging at first might actually be good overall, if it reduces the amount of supply coming from bigger polluters with little to no environmental protections in other parts of the world.

It is impossible to abruptly stop demand on some things in the absence of replacements. Too fast, radical change is likely not the best approach to the environment. We all need to be able to heat and power our homes, commute to work, etc. but we need to find the best way to expedite the development of efficient and affordable, green technologies. We should always be working toward better solutions for a greener Canada, not just when we believe we are nearing a crisis. I strongly believe that the best approach will be through government incentives for private sector development because we will have a bigger pool of ideas to draw from and we won’t be limited to the ideas of those who are on the government payroll.

The worst thing we can do, is absolutely nothing.

Accountability- What’s That? We want more checks and balance, not less

Reading about cuts to the office of the Auditor General’s office here, reminded me of this song, here.

And that pretty well sums up our dearly beloved Conservative party of Canada, doesn’t it? “Responsibility, what’s that? Responsibility, not quite yet!” Any time they are about to be held responsible for some action,    they become masters of deception, distraction and defamation to shift attention away from their mistakes, misjudgments and misconduct.

That all works very well, but it is much easier to not even be held accountable in the first place. Why bother trying to explain, or distract, when it is much easier to leave things unquestioned in the first place?

Hence, the omnibus bill.

Hence, a reduction in audits.

Looking closer, the article reads, “the office will no longer audit how the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency report their performance.”

Really?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Wasn’t that agency recently cut?

After cutting 4% of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s staff, why would we want to audit their performance? That might prove that those cuts were wrong.

And why would the Conservatives want to deal with that?

How to Make Policy That Serves Us, Without Hurting Us

Everyone that cares about politics, should have an understanding of economics. Irwin Schiff’s cartoon, How an economy Grows? provides an easy to understand basis for economics, that doesn’t make the eyes glossy. One shouldn’t take everything  literally, and I’m not endorsing it in full, but much of the underlying theories are good.

Conservative’s tend to subscribe to Adam Smith’s economic theory which states, “The best result will come from everyone doing what is best for themselves.” This is where the every man for himself mentality derives from, and it is true to some extent. Until Adam Smith’s theories began being implemented, we never lifted the poor, or had a middle class.

This economic theory, which does form the basis for our system was expanded upon into “The best result will come from everyone doing what is best for themselves, and the group.” This is really where we should be. Knowing that if we implement policies that please any group, the benefit may only be to that group, at the expense of the rest. Sometimes though, a benefit that seems to only benefit a particular group actually has benefits to all. Things that provide income support to the unemployed can be the difference between loan delinquency and enough income to sustain loans until employment is found.

Through a reasonable understanding of economics, we can formulate better policy that better serves us all.

Getting more out of job creators

Probably the best and most successful way to get more out of the job creators, is to convince them that they can make more money.

Disabled Parents Fight for Rights

I recently read about new parents,  Maricyl Palisoc and Charles Wilton, who suffer with Cerebral Palsy and are fighting with Children’s Aid to keep their child.

This couple isn’t even being given the chance. Though I understand the need to ensure that the child is safe, the couple hasn’t done anything to make one suspect that the child would not be safe. All they’ve done, in order to have CAS involved is be victims of cerebral palsy. Maybe I’m missing something but I strongly believe that they need to be given the chance to care for their child.

They are in an assisted living home with help available. The problem is, CAS wants them to be fully supervised by an ‘able-bodied person’ offering 24-hour care. CAS doesn’t trust them alone to care for their baby without this ‘able-bodied person’. The entire thing prejudges the parents on the basis of their disability alone, and nothing else. Teenage parents face many challenges too, but we would never involve CAS when a child is born on that basis alone. These parents aren’t being afforded the same rights as all others. Is it not wrong in this country to be prejudice on the basis of disability, age, gender, race, etc?

I can’t imagine how the parents feel, being judged on their disability alone, not their actions. There will be challenges, but who is the state to decide what is best without giving the parents a chance in the first place? It appears that the CAS has assumed not only that the parents are unable to provide proper care for the child, but also that the parents wouldn’t want to do what is best for their child. Presumably, the parents feel that they have the mechanisms in place to provide the care the child needs,  but the government is telling them that they can’t be trusted.

This could set a dangerous precedent:

“If you are disabled and choose to have children, then you better be prepared to deal with CAS and you better be able to afford 24 hour ‘able-bodied care’. We do not believe you can be expected to do what is best for your child. We do not believe that you are able. You are nothing but disabled.”