Archive for November, 2011

November 23, 2011

Growing class divide means some children may be denied a generational legacy

Once, as part of a group exercise to identify personal values, I had to answer the question, “For what would you be willing to die?”

“I would rush into the street to save a child!” I said. My colleague nodded his agreement and we talked a little more about how becoming a parent changes your perspective on what should be valued. So, when it came time to report back to the larger group, I described our shared generational commitment to protect those younger.

“Oh!” he interjected, “I didn’t mean I’d die for any child; I was talking about my children.”

My partner’s narrow protection of his genetic progeny shocked me — and reminded me never to ask him to babysit. However, many of us do recognize a wider common good, a place where all children and youth are protected and secured by the village that is us.

Youth are cited as one of the top concerns for residents across our city’s neighbourhoods. United Way Toronto’s environmental scan, Torontonians Speak Out, identified this in 2002, so that it became one of the community funder’s top three priorities (neighbourhoods and newcomers being the other two).

More recently, Trish Hennessy, from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), has been doing focus groups with Environics, to understand Torontonians’ voting records and public policy priorities. Among other interesting findings, she has found some deep resonance around issues of legacy. This is among voters who have voted in the current municipal administration, they too are talking about the next generation. As this boomer bulge ages, it is considering what it wants to leave behind and to whom.

The question is what shape that legacy will be, and for whom will we leave it?

Recent comments from Bowling Alone author and professor Robert Putnam cast a dreary light on the future of North America’s children. In the interview cited in Harvard’s Social Capital Blog, Putnam argued that, while Americans are seeing more

integration along religious and racial lines, there is an opposite trend when it comes to class, mainly, he believes, because of the widening gap in incomes. Americans are less likely today to marry outside their class. Children from lower classes are less likely to spend time with their peers or take part in community activities and have less confidence, while the trend for middle-class children is the opposite.

In sum, he explains, children have very different access to life opportunities dependent on who their parents are.

This growing income gap is not news to Hennessy’s colleagues at the CCPA; economists Armine Yalnizyan and Hugh Mackenzie have shown that unless we think about growing levels of inequality, many more will be further left behind on an economic level. The lack of economic opportunities has similar echos around access to education, housing, and other social determinants of health.

Mobility between classes may also be on decline in Canada, although the Conference Board of Canada ranks us 5th out of 11 peer countries.. American mobility is even worse, according an editor at Time magazine and others those who monitor such things.

Yet, youth are still hopeful. For instance, Joseph Rowntree study released this fall in the U.K. showed that youth from low-income families in the U.K. do have aspirations for higher education. Parents, too, want high achievement for their children. In the last Toronto District School Board (TDSB) student/parent census (2008), almost 9⁄10 parents said they want their kids to go to university. Among low–income families, that only fell to 8⁄10.

So, are these our children, too? Will we provide them the opportunities and encouragement they want?

I believe we will. We must.

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November 15, 2011

102 Things NOT To Do, If You Hate Taxes (Canadian version)

Adapted by Sandra Guerra and Diane Dyson from Stephen D. Foster Jr.

Posted in:

– May 18, 2011

So, you’re a citizen who hates taxes? Please kindly do the following.

  1. Do not use a hospital.
  2. Do not use Canada Pension or Old Age Security.
  3. Do not become a member of the military.
  4. Do not ask the Canadian Forces to help you after a disaster.
  5. Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
  6. Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.
  7. Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.
  8. Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.
  9. Do not use public restrooms.
  10. Do not send your kids to public schools.
  11. Do not put your trash out for city garbage collectors.
  12. Do not live in areas with clean air.
  13. Do not use a rehabilitation centre after your operation.
  14. Do not visit National/Provincial Parks or Conservation Areas.
  15. Do not visit public museums, zoos, and monuments.
  16. Do not eat FDA inspected processed food.
  17. Do not eat any Canadian food Inspection Agency or Health Canada inspected meat or produce.
  18. Do not bring your kids to public playgrounds.
  19. Do not walk or run on sidewalks.
  20. Do not use public recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts.
  21. Do not seek shelter facilities or food in soup kitchens when you are homeless and hungry.
  22. Do not apply for educational or job training assistance when you lose your job.
  23. Do not use food banks when you can’t feed your children.
  24. Do not use the judiciary system for any reason.
  25. Do not ask for an attorney when you are arrested and do not ask for one to be assigned to you by the court.
  26. Do not apply for any student loans.
  27. Do not use cures that were discovered by labs using federal research dollars or provincially funded university research facility.
  28. Do not fly on federally regulated airplanes.
  29. Do not watch the weather provided by Environment Canada.
  30. Do not listen to severe weather warnings from Environment Canada.
  31. Do not listen to tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake alert systems.
  32. Do not apply for affordable housing.
  33. Do not swim in clean waters.
  34. Do not allow your child to eat school snacks, lunches or breakfasts.
  35. Do not ask to implement the Federal Emergency Response Management System (FERMS) when everything you own gets wiped out by disaster.
  36. Do not ask the military to defend your life and home in the event of a foreign invasion (or a snow storm).
  37. Do not watch television
  38. Do not use your cell phone or home telephone.
  39. Do not use the internet.
  40. Do not use any Health Canada FDA regulated medication or health products.
  41. Do not apply for government grants to start your own business.
  42. Do not apply to win a government contract.
  43. Do not buy any vehicle that has been inspected by government safety agencies.
  44. Do not buy any product that is protected from poisons and toxins by Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety.
  45. Do not save your money in a bank that is CDIC insured.
  46. Do not use Veterans benefits or military health care.
  47. Do not use Department of National Defence Education Allowance to go to school.
  48. Do not apply for unemployment benefits.
  49. Do not use any electricity from companies regulated by the Natural Resources Canada.
  50. Do not ride trains. The railroad was built with government financial assistance.
  51. Do not live in homes that are built to code.
  52. Do not run for public office. Politicians are paid with taxpayer dollars.
  53. Do not ask for help from the RCMP, CSIS, ETF, the bomb squad or the Provincial Police.
  54. Do not apply for any government job whatsoever.
  55. Do not use public libraries.
  56. Do not use Canada Post.
  57. Do not visit the National Archives.
  58. Do not use any form of home care.
  59. Do not use airports that are secured by the federal government.
  60. Do not apply for loans from any bank that is CDIC insured.
  61. Do not ask the government for a grant or to help you clean up after a natural disaster.
  62. Do not ask Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to provide a subsidy to help you run your farm.
  63. Do not take walks in National Forests.
  64. Do not ask for taxpayer dollars for your business.
  65. Do not ask the federal government to bail your company out during recessions.
  66. Do not seek prescription care when you age.
  67. Do not use OHIP/medicare.
  68. Do not use any form of income supports, worker’s compensation or disability payments.
  69. Do not use electricity generated by Niagara Falls.
  70. Do not use electricity or any service provided by the any of the Power Plants.
  71. Do not ask the government to rebuild levees when they break.
  72. Do not let the Coast Guard save you from drowning when your boat capsizes.
  73. Do not ask the government to help evacuate you when all hell breaks loose in the country you are in.
  74. Do not visit museums or historic landmarks.
  75. Do not visit fisheries.
  76. Do not expect to see animals that are federally protected because of the Endangered Species List.
  77. Do not expect plows to clear roads of snow and ice so your kids can go to school and so you can get to work.
  78. Do not camp in provincial or national parks.
  79. Do not work anywhere that has a safe workplace because of government regulations.
  80. Do not use public transportation/transit.
  81. Do not drink water from your tap.
  82. Do not whine when someone copies your work and sells it as their own.
  83. Do not expect to own your home, car, or boat. Government organizes and keeps all titles.
  84. Do not expect convicted felons to remain off the streets.
  85. Do not eat in restaurants that are regulated by food quality and safety standards.
  86. Do not seek help from the Canadian Embassy if you need assistance in a foreign nation.
  87. Do not apply for a passport to travel outside Canada.
  88. Do not apply for a patent when you invent something.
  89. Do not adopt a child.
  90. Do not use elevators that have been inspected by federal or provincial safety regulators.
  91. Do not use any resource that was discovered by the Geological Survey of Canada.
  92. Do not ask for energy assistance from the government.
  93. Do not move your parents into a nursing home.
  94. Do not go to a beach that is kept clean by the local or provincial government.
  95. Do not use money printed by the Royal Canadian Mint.
  96. Do not complain when millions more illegal immigrants cross the border because there are no more border patrol agents.
  97. Do not attend a university.
  98. Do not see any doctor that is licensed.
  99. Do not expect that all drivers are licensed to drive.
  100. Do not complain when diseases and viruses, that were once fought around the globe by the Public Health Agency of Canada, reach your house.
  101. Do not work for any company that is required to pay its workers a livable wage, provide them sick days, vacation days, and benefits.
  102. Do not expect to be able to vote on election days.

The fact is, we pay for the lifestyle we expect. Without taxes, our lifestyles would be totally different and much harder. Canada would be a third world country. The less we pay, the less we get in return. So next time you object to paying taxes or fight to abolish taxes for corporations and the wealthy, keep this quote in mind…

“I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

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