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I've have had some arguments with conservative types (note the small c (and if you think liberal is an insult...)) in this forum about how poor people are stealing from the rich (sic). Here is a more realistic look at hunger in one of Canada's biggest and wealthiest cities:
http://thestop.org/documents/DemographicsofHungeratTheStop2006.pdf
Scope of Hunger at the Stop
73% of respondents go hungry sometimes, if not often, because they cannot afford to eat
48% have used food banks for more than 12 months
17% of children go hungry at least once a week
Children
29% of food bank clients are children
26% of households relying on food banks that are caring for children
20% of this group have been prevented from working due to the cost or a lack of access to daycare
47% of adults go hungry at least once a week
Working Poor
48% of households using food banks have at least one person working
58% of working food bank clients earn at least $10/hour
{sarcasm}of course the poor are just lazy. Look at the rich, they have widened the gap between rich and poor with hard work.{/sarcasm}

I work with these people and I just think it is time we all think about the fact that in a city with so much wealth people are still going hungry. And to those of you callous bastards who are upset about paying for any of this think about the added costs (OHIP) you could have prevented by feeding people properly in the first place. No should be going hungry and we are all partly responsible due to our inaction. I think this puts people's whining about gas prices and income trusts in perspective.
:mad:
 

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One of the major problems is that people don't know how to feed themselves.

They think a $3.99 McDonalds meal is a deal, when in reality, for $1.50, I can buy enough dry pasta and a can of pasta sauce for a few meals.

Drinking orange juice? The can says add three cans of water...add three and a half.

Need cheap meat? Buy bulk, buy clearance, separate and freeze.

Buy frozen vegetables instead of fresh to avoid spoilage.

A $6 bag of rice seems to last an eternity.

And stop eating until you are full. Portion your meals so that your satisfied. You'll waste less food and be healthier.
 

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Two factors behind the widening gap are: more single parents and more couples matching their levels of education (ie. "rich" is about $120k for a household...not difficult with certain kinds of education).

Also, if you're going to target "callous bastards" then I hope you are not so callous as to oppose smart tax cuts (e.g. personal and corporate income) because they can create jobs that prevent more people from starving in the first place. Unless it's just about politics and a desire to only point the finger at conservatives. So yes, to the callous bastards that don't want to think through the consequences of their personal politics: think about it.

Finally, I agree that no one should be going hungry in such a wealthy society, with the possible exception of that tiny fraction of people who just cannot seem to function in society. They could be forced into institutions but, if they're not harming anyone, I do not think they should be forced. So, almost no one, unfortunately.
 

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Two factors behind the widening gap are: more single parents and more couples matching their levels of education (ie. "rich" is about $120k for a household...not difficult with certain kinds of education).
So that, in your opinion, is the sole reason for the widening gap, or just a possible contributor? Or are you saying because of double incomes there is actually no widening gap?
Beej said:
Also, if you're going to target "callous bastards" then I hope you are not so callous as to oppose smart tax cuts (e.g. personal and corporate income) because they can create jobs that prevent more people from starving in the first place.
So why have the smart tax cuts since the early '80s produced the opposite result? Why has Bush's massive cuts to the top <1% not done as promised? Is the trickle down theory still popular among economists and just needs more time to prove itself or have all of those cuts been dumb tax cuts? What do you propose?
Beej said:
Finally, I agree that no one should be going hungry in such a wealthy society, with the possible exception of that tiny fraction of people who just cannot seem to function in society.
Glad to hear that you believe that.

I heard recently on the radio, can't recall the source, of a study in BC where it was estimated the cost to government in terms of services for each homeless person was in the $20,000-$30,000 range annually, while the cost of funding housing would be half of that. Even though for some, they would still require some services once they had a roof over their head, even if the cost came back to what we currently spend, we could at least reduce some real misery in our society.

But it's safer for many politicians to let expenses for the poor dribble out by way of grants to the United Way and various agencies than to suck it up and say they are going to spend on some major housing. Announcing a program could easily pissoff the considerable "let them rot" and "don't give me no sob stories" voting demographic.
 

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So that, in your opinion, is the sole reason for the widening gap, or just a possible contributor? Or are you saying because of double incomes there is actually no widening gap?
I think the reason that people can't raise themselves above the poverty level is less about economics and more about social issues that the particular individuals have (e.g. mental issues, social issues, lack of education, drug use, etc..).

We have all the mechanisms in place to allow people to raise themselves above the poverty line. Education is very accessible in this country. There are job shortages everywhere. You can make $15 at Tim Hortons in Alberta. That is actually enough money to live on. Not saying I would want to, but just stating reality.

Blaming tax cuts and income disparity is a red herring IMO.

But it's safer for many politicians to let expenses for the poor dribble out by way of grants to the United Way and various agencies than to suck it up and say they are going to spend on some major housing. Announcing a program could easily pissoff the considerable "let them rot" and "don't give me no sob stories" voting demographic.
I see this as a MASSIVE problem in Canada and it isn't just limited to poverty issues. We spend a tonne of money talking and shuffling paper and not enough doing. I think many socialists who claim to care about these issues could do better to utilize the power of free market economics and efficiency in solving social problems.

My father is active in social housing and he runs an organization on Vancouver Island. His runs the organization with essentially ZERO overhead. They post all of their accounting information online in real time. InnovativeCommunities.org
 

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So that, in your opinion, is the sole reason for the widening gap, or just a possible contributor?
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So why have the smart tax cuts since the early '80s produced the opposite result?
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Announcing a program could easily pissoff the considerable "let them rot" and "don't give me no sob stories" voting demographic.
Two contributors. I have not seen a full calculation of their share, pre or post tax. The single parent one would have a large impact when looking at household incomes (single people are generally poorer) and the couples' education one, while it has been identified, could be difficult to quantify.

However, the simple concept of the rich households being at about $120k should tell you something. That is not actually "rich" given salaries for jobs like teachers, nurses, civil servants, lawyers, accountants etc.
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Oh dear, the spewing Bush rant. Calm down GA. I can discuss what the Bush cuts most likely did if you want, but at least bring your own napkin. ;)

For Canada, you've got a bad timeline. Taxes were generally going up until not too long ago. Post-deficit tax cuts have produced some good trends. Again, is it just about pointing at conservatives, or is it also about lefties thinking things through?

If you actually want to unstuck yourself from pointing, some taxes do more economic harm than others and yes, if people who supported spending had thought things through better, we'd have had lower unemployment for much of the 80s and 90s and a lower debt now, leaving more room for social programs and/or economic prosperity.

Callous bastards. But that would involve choosing to point at bad decisions, instead of just choosing left or right. When you start pointing, you've got to think things through. Or just play the standard political game...and wonder why politicians act the way they do.
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I agree, just like spending cuts or tax cuts setoff a certain mindless sub-group on the left that, albeit the minority, is quite loud. So, ignoring the extremist ideologues, think through the policies.
 

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Two contributors. I have not seen a full calculation of their share, pre or post tax. The single parent one would have a large impact when looking at household incomes (single people are generally poorer) and the couples' education one, while it has been identified, could be difficult to quantify.
Whilst I agree that single income people are 'poorer', the callous bastard comment was in reference to the inability of some to purchase food. I think the income level for the majority of working singles is sufficient for them to feed themselves adequately.

I think the majority of people who cannot feed themselves have other issues to grapple with.

Just a side note on a recent news story where they interviewed a lady who lived in social housing in Vancouver. It is one of the oldest social housing complexes in the province and they are tearing it down to create new housing, some of which will include housing housing (with no net loss I believe).

She was really upset about losing her place. In the interview she said that she has lived there for 30 or 40 years. I have to question... at what point are we enabling negative outcomes?
 

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I think the income level for the majority of working singles is sufficient for them to feed themselves adequately.
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I think the majority of people who cannot feed themselves have other issues to grapple with.
That makes sense.
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Could be, but I don't think Canada is quite there yet. It is not a binary thing either. Some people have more difficulty functioning in society for a variety of reasons, but some simple programs and safety nets can make all the difference, whether in their childhood or later on. So other issues seem worth overcoming, for the most part.

It's a matter of how much of that to address (allowing for that tiny set of "hopeless" that cannot be helped without forced institutionalisation) and, as you pointed, how effectively the programs are delivered. The latter has huge potential in Canada, in my opinion.
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Enabling negative outcomes: We are, but I consider that worth the enabled positive outcomes. I have no hard data on it, just feeling and what I get from a general sense of comparing various jurisdictions.
 

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Two contributors. I have not seen a full calculation of their share, pre or post tax. The single parent one would have a large impact when looking at household incomes (single people are generally poorer) and the couples' education one, while it has been identified, could be difficult to quantify.

However, the simple concept of the rich households being at about $120k should tell you something. That is not actually "rich" given salaries for jobs like teachers, nurses, civil servants, lawyers, accountants etc.
So, you didn't actually state whether you think there is a real widening gap here, only given some reasons that indicate it's only a gap on paper. Hey, I'm only the highly opinionated non-expert here.

Beej said:
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Oh dear, the spewing Bush rant. Calm down GA. I can discuss what the Bush cuts most likely did if you want, but at least bring your own napkin. ;)
Cute, if you think that's spewing or ranting you haven't been on ehMac or the internet long , but I know you have, so therefore I think your winking little jab and napkin joke are just an attempt to ratchet up the heat. Not too Beejian of you. I'll leave the bait on the hook for today. ;)

Beej said:
For Canada, you've got a bad timeline. Taxes were generally going up until not too long ago. Post-deficit tax cuts have produced some good trends. Again, is it just about pointing at conservatives, or is it also about lefties thinking things through?
OK, so how long has the lower-tax regime been in place, since the mid to late '80s under Mulroney? Since Paul Martin's reign as Finance Minister? Has the expected trickle down happened? Is the tax-cutting experience of the US since Reaganonmics not relevant to this discussion?

Beej said:
If you actually want to unstuck yourself from pointing, some taxes do more economic harm than others and yes, if people who supported spending had thought things through better, we'd have had lower unemployment for much of the 80s and 90s and a lower debt now, leaving more room for social programs and/or economic prosperity.

Callous bastards. But that would involve choosing to point at bad decisions, instead of just choosing left or right. When you start pointing, you've got to think things through. Or just play the standard political game...and wonder why politicians act the way they do.
Sorry, I wasn't aware I was pointing in my post. I thought I was asking some questions about your assertions in your first post.

Beej said:
I agree, just like spending cuts or tax cuts setoff a certain mindless sub-group on the left that, albeit the minority, is quite loud. So, ignoring the extremist ideologues, think through the policies.
So if you agree there is a problem, again what do you propose?
 

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It's a matter of how much of that to address (allowing for that tiny set of "hopeless" that cannot be helped without forced institutionalisation) and, as you pointed, how effectively the programs are delivered. The latter has huge potential in Canada, in my opinion.
First off, I also agree that everybody deserves to eat. Even further, I also believe all Canadians have a right to access housing.

How we get there is the debate. What we are currently doing works OK, but I think we have 'peaked' in the amount of benefits that can be delivered. More money into these government systems isn't going to help. In fact, I believe it would push us further back. For example, look at England in the late 70's and the direction their 'social state' was headed.

Looking forward I see a couple of options:

1. Guaranteed Minimum Annual Income - This would be a transfer of power from government to the individual. It COULD remove a large amount of unnecessary bureaucracy which helps pay for the program. Or will individuals spend their money on beer and popcorn? Big brother knows best right?
2. Greater Private Sector involvement - The government could define specific social outcomes and put government funding out to tender, rather than managing it themselves. The lowest bidder would win the 'social contract' and would be allowed to profit from it :eek: . I can guarantee the efficiency gains will be far greater than any profits.

I am sure the lefties here are cringing about this. But, why not give it a try? Let's try it in certain areas and see what happens. If it works, then expand it. If it doesn't, let's try something else. More status quo doesn't solve anything.
 

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I see this as a MASSIVE problem in Canada and it isn't just limited to poverty issues. We spend a tonne of money talking and shuffling paper and not enough doing. I think many socialists who claim to care about these issues could do better to utilize the power of free market economics and efficiency in solving social problems.
I'm all for improving the efficiency of our programs. If we can do the same for less or even better for less, then let's do it. I've always thought that bureaucracy, which exists in large corps as well as governments, is a cancer and is mainly caused by people who are not engaged with their jobs. I've seen it first hand and it often comes down to whether the person within the structure cares enough to fight the BS and waste. Most give up.

Do you think that free-market economics alone can solve the social problems. If we have all the tools in place to solve these problems why are they not going away?
 

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1. Guaranteed Minimum Annual Income - This would be a transfer of power from government to the individual. It COULD remove a large amount of unnecessary bureaucracy which helps pay for the program. Or will individuals spend their money on beer and popcorn? Big brother knows best right?
I hear this idea occasionally come from the right, but I don't think any politician, left or right would have the nerve to implement it. It seems like an appealing idea to me. Love to see some details on it.

Vandave said:
2. Greater Private Sector involvement - The government could define specific social outcomes and put government funding out to tender, rather than managing it themselves. The lowest bidder would win the 'social contract' and would be allowed to profit from it :eek: . I can guarantee the efficiency gains will be far greater than any profits.
I think we've seen many examples where government contracting out has cost more than what was previously delivered cheaper by government. As I said in my earlier post, bureaucracy is a cancer and some organizational refreshment within government couldn't hurt.
 

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So, you didn't actually state whether you think there is a real widening gap
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I'll leave the bait on the hook for today. ;)
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OK, so how long has the lower-tax regime been in place, since the mid to late '80s under Mulroney? Since Paul Martin's reign as Finance Minister? Has the expected trickle down happened? Is the tax-cutting experience of the US since Reaganonmics not relevant to this discussion?
.........
So if you agree there is a problem, again what do you propose?
Ah, it was a witchhunt test. Pre-tax there is one, post-tax very likely but not to the same extent when factoring in demographic changes. At least, that's what I think until I see better data and analysis.
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Good idea. Let's stick to policy.
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U.S. has a vastly different social structure (did not redistribute benefits), but the cuts did much of what they were supposed to. It was all the other crap that messed things up (moribund social safety net; military spending). To consider policies you'll need to look beyond the "legacy" soundbites and trying to throw around terms like "trickle down", hoping that they make some sort of argument.

Lower Canadian taxes started consistently coming in around early to late 1990s provincially depending on where you lived; late 1990s federally. Results have been more money to spend on social programs, lower unemployment rates and lower rates below LICO. Yes, it worked (extremely well, at that), even if you don't like how recent surpluses were spent (I don't).
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I've answered a number of your questions. Some for you:

Are you against any corporate tax cuts and tax cuts to mid and higher income tax brackets?

Are you against improving social program performance before spending more money (beyond inflation and population growth rates) on them?

Do you think that reasonably efficient program delivery should not be expected if that means the program not going forward?

Lots of subjective words in there, but give it a try. Also, there's your own question to answer:
And, what do you propose doing about the problem?
 

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I'm tired of hearing how the poor can't afford to eat. Phooey. These people need lessons in how to shop and how to prepare nutritious, bargain meals. I lived on a food budget of $20 per week and did just fine. It meant doing advance meal planning but it's quite doable. Hearty stews and soups and pasta or rice dishes made up the bulk of diet. Unlike the welfare mamas that had their carts stuffed with frozen pizzas and coke I had frozen concentrate juices and fresh veg and fruits. I didn't shop at the big glamorous food stores with polished fruit displays. In fact most of the things in my cart were from the last day of sale trolley. I could make a big pot of pasta sauce from a packet of tomatoes marked down to 69 cents. I'd buy up a tray of green peppers for the same amount then bring them home and chop up to freeze for sauces and rice dishes.

Maybe someone should take the food bank recipients to the local cheapo grocery store and teach them how to shop instead of just handing out food.
 

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Maybe someone should take the food bank recipients to the local cheapo grocery store and teach them how to shop instead of just handing out food.
It's like the pan handlers that plague TO, as long as someone is giving, there will always be someone taking. I'm not saying we shouldn't give but there should be some accountability on their side. You get welfare you should be taught and required to create monthly budgets to show where the money is going. This might sound a little harsh, but people need to realize what is and isn't important/necessary for for living. Lets see if the Liberals were right, are people spending their money on beer and popcorn? Or are they buying fruits and vegetables?
 

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I think we've seen many examples where government contracting out has cost more than what was previously delivered cheaper by government. As I said in my earlier post, bureaucracy is a cancer and some organizational refreshment within government couldn't hurt.
I agree that all organizations can be disfunctional and it probably wasn't fair just to single the government bureaucracy out. The difference between the two however, is that with capitalism you have competition and get to have a choice.

You would probably be interested to read some of the material in the link I provided on Chaordic Organizations.
 

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Ah, it was a witchhunt test. Pre-tax there is one, post-tax very likely but not to the same extent when factoring in demographic changes. At least, that's what I think until I see better data and analysis.
No witch hunt, the original post mentioned a widening gap, but you seemed to be possibly refuting that there was one in reality. I just wanted to know what you were saying.

Beej said:
To consider policies you'll need to look beyond the "legacy" soundbites and trying to throw around terms like "trickle down", hoping that they make some sort of argument.
Trickle down was the way Reaganomics was explained to us common folk and the rationale given for the tax cuts. The same explanation has been given for many subsequent tax cuts and it sounds like what you were proposing. Maybe I'm not up on my economic jargon. Do you have a better term?
 

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Beej said:
I've answered a number of your questions. Some for you:

Are you against any corporate tax cuts and tax cuts to mid and higher income tax brackets?
I wouldn't mind a tax cut. My income is below the national average, (by choice, I'm in the arts), so my taxes aren't huge, but being self-employed, they can be a struggle at times. Paying both shares of the CPP is big, although I naively assume I'll be getting that back with interest someday, if I don't croak first.

If I could be convinced that more tax cuts would help make for a fairer and more prosperous society I would be for it. It seems like it's really the lower middle and middle brackets that gets hosed on taxes. For those at the very top of the heap, it has no real effect on their lives, just their ability to get even richer. If all the tax savings were staying within the country on real investment that created prosperity that would be good. I'm not sure if much of it really does. I think a lot or those cuts might just sit in ever bigger piles of wealth, invested away in other countries or sit in real estate.

The act of slashing taxes to the top bracket, keeping the the mid-brackets at the same level (when you add on extra service costs) while at the same time reducing social program expenditures doesn't seem fair to me. Or actually upping the lowest bracket rate (as Harper did).

Beej said:
Are you against improving social program performance before spending more money (beyond inflation and population growth rates) at them?
No, sounds reasonable. Improve away.

Beej said:
Do you think that reasonably efficient program delivery should not be expected if that means the program not going forward?
I don't think we should just throw money into programs that don't deliver what we want. I do think there is often more to consider than money, but we of course have to be prudent with it. Back to the study I mentioned several posts ago, which concluded that homelessness costs us a lot per homeless person. If providing housing is cheaper, we should do it, but we can't in good conscience spend even less now on it if we don't have a better alternative in place.

Beej said:
And, what do you propose doing about the problem?
I propose that the experts and our "leaders" present us with some real options to the problem rather than mostly ignoring it, except for the occasional mention or sound bite around election time. There is a moral imperative to do something about poverty that goes beyond economics, but I also think that if we can start to solve the problem it will benefit the general economy as well as our general quality of life.
 
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