Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just a Muse

So, I wonder why some people (or many) who are so against a Capitalist society also seem to be reaping the benefits of it.

I meet more and more people who condemn conservative governments, but then they hop into their new vehicle and drive to their brand new home, after a long day at a business that they own. Their profits from their own business venture paid for that car, that home, the fancy clothes they are wearing... I just don't get it. Could it be that some people are actually more conservative leaning and they don't even realize it? Or claim to be quite 'left' but are actually more in the center?

I still think that is where I am. I believe that some people need help and have a hard time getting ahead when 'things' cost so much. But I have also seen years of abuse of those social systems and it makes me wonder how many people do actually need it, and how many are just presuming they 'deserve it' for some reason.

Alberta will end it's premium charge on basic health care in a little over a month. I know people were excited about it, but I am not. For one thing, people who were low income had subsidy programs in place already - I did not pay one dime for Alberta Health for 4 years and I also had 100% coverage for my children for EVERYTHING (dental, ambulance, etc) because I earned less than 33 or 36000 a year. We already do not have a sales tax like other provinces yet we were running at a surplus for many years. Yes the people want a share of the money - but what is that going to cost us in the future? The money for these programs HAS to come from somewhere. That is a given fact. So what happens when it runs too low? Are other programs going to be cut to pick up the slack? Or will they just have to turn around and say 'Okay, we are out of money now. You had a free ride for awhile, but it's time to pay up again.'? I think the surplus could be put to better use. There are roads around here that are absolute shite. There are schools that have to raise funding on their own for programs such as Outdoor Education (like my childrens' school). There are housing complexes in complete shambles and barely deserving of being called a home. Why give money back to people who CAN afford it. If a working family cannot afford 88 bucks a month for basic health care, something is wrong with their priorities.

As I said, people who were living below 33000 or so a year could apply for a premium subsidy and pay nothing or next-to-nothing already. Families could use the Alberta Child Health Benefit for 100% coverage. Single people could apply for the Alberta Adult Health Care Benefit (or some similar name) if they needed it. So now, the money is going to be drained fast and hard. There are about 5 million people in Alberta if I remember right. Losing 44 a month per person is going to put a HUGE dent in the govt spending pot. What happens when it is empty? Doesn't anyone think of that anymore? There are TONS of subsidy programs available to people having a tough time. The most I have ever earned in my life was $24,000 a year and that was working full time at more than minimum wage. If I still had another 10 grand to go before losing my subsidies, that must surely mean that a hell of a lot of families qualified for these programs. Why do we need to put even more money in??

I suppose I get a bad taste in my mouth about it because I saw first hand for over 14 years how people would scam the system and then still bellyache about their miniscule bills. For example - daycare. Higher earning parents had to pay over $500 a month for full time care, where subsidized families were paying $50! FIFTY dollars for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, 21 days a month care for their children. Talk about a deal! But do you know what I witnessed all these years? Subsidized parents STILL not paying their bills on time, complaining if the fee went up by 20 bucks, and so on. A few years ago, subsidy only paid 380 towards daycare. I paid $125 a month for my oldest to go to daycare after the subsidy came off. Then the govt changed it to 500 subsidy and wow what a difference! I was thrilled. But when my centre put the fee up by 20 or 25, it was the subsidized parents who complained. Well, I am sorry, but if you are getting childcare for under 100 a month you should be dancing in the streets! Then the govt added a bonus of 100 a month for every child under the age of 6 in EVERY family no matter their earnings. So - ALL of the subsidized parents were now getting FREE daycare, plus having money left over. When my boss put the fee up a small amount again because minimum wage went up, those same subsidized parents complained. WHATEVER. Oh my god I was so sick of hearing it for years on end. Seriously, get a grip of yourself! If you are getting free daycare, free healthcare, and high child tax benefit every month (about 250 per child for lower income earners) - please explain to me why you are bitching about daycare costs? It is seriously unreal.

The higher earnings parents would be dinged with a full bill and almost every single one always paid on time. It is not due to having 'more money', it is due to having priorities straight and knowing that if your child does not have care, you cannot go to work. The end. So why don't so many subsidized families understand this? I saw it first hand for 14 years. Of course there were always parents who were very grateful for the help and never complained, but they were few and very far between.

THAT is why I stand back and wonder just how far social programs should go. We would have dual income families qualifying for subsidy - yet they would shirk the daycare bill and go on a holiday. WTF? Are you serious? And they would tell us they were going away, going to the US for a trip... that they would come back the next day and pay off their bill. But no, they never showed up. Sometimes we were lucky to get all the payments by the 21st of the month when they were due on the 1st. And again, 99.9% of the time it was subsidized parents who were late. I would see the cigarettes poking out of their coat pockets or purses. I would hear about them being at the bar right after saying they could not pay their bill. How far should social programs go if it is actually causing people NOT to have the 'drive' to do something with their lives?

There are certainly people out there who need it. I was glad to have a house instead of an apartment, but I still had to pay 30% of my income to rent. I didn't get a free ride. I was paying over 500 a month for my place and always knew it was just temporary. Meanwhile, my neighbours complained when they were asked to leave after 7 years. They were dual income earners and there is no reason they could not afford their own place instead of community housing. I don't understand how my one just-over minimum wage job would land me a 570 rent bill and the neighbours claimed they could not afford their own place while driving around in their new truck. People like THAT ruin the system. People who somehow expect things, and think they deserve help all the time and bitch when someone suggests they should move on.

And now, everyone is going to be getting some cash back,,, but the cash HAS to come from somewhere. I am always saying that to people. It HAS to obviously. So where will it come from? From the oil and gas taxes when people are pushing for LESS gas and oil usage to Save The Planet? Well gee, I guess that would then mean less bonus tax money being used for things like.. I dunno... healthcare??

And then my brain wanders back to my original point on this topic - if people hate capitalism so much, why are they reaping the rewards of it? Do they wish that MORE of their cheque was going to taxes to help 'people in need'? People in need who may or may not actually BE in need, as a matter of fact. Do they wish that more money was taken for taxes so they could no longer afford the big house they just bought?

How far does a social program go before we have no money left or other items are taxed so much higher we are essentially paying for the same damn program in the end anyway? Why don't people think of those things? About the future?

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).