I have tried to avoid listening to much budget coverage today as, frankly, I cannot stand the Conservatives trying to save their government by putting us more deeply into debt. As I mentioned in my other budget related post I support stimulating the economy through increased transfers of money to individuals. The last time I checked the Conservatives ideology was one steeped in rugged individualism and the free market economy. How can they justify bail outs to large companies in the private sector? Here are only a few of the budget’s problems:
1. EI – the Conservatives have increased the number of weeks someone can collect EI by five. Yes, folks, that is right, five more weeks of EI – if you qualify. If you don’t oh well. The rules remain the same meaning a great number of the unemployed do not qualify for EI. What could have been done you ask? Well, for starters, they could have made EI more accessible. They could have raised the rate of benefits. Currently, you earn a maximum of 55% of your income. However, the highest rate one can get on EI is about $800 every 2 weeks. It is not a lot of money. By raising the rates of EI more money flows to people who spend it. People who are not working or who are living on paltry sums do not spend money.
2. Increase the Child Tax Benefit – by doing this the Conservatives would have put more money into people’s hands who would then spend that money. Families need to survive and they can only last a short time before they must make necessary purchases. By ensuring that families with children have money to spend they will do so and stimulate the economy. This was one of the major tenets of the Family Bonus when it was started in the 1940s. The Family Bonus was issued to mothers as they were seen as the ones making the purchasing decisions for the family.
3. The Conservative’s infrastructure programs are a huge joke. By making the provinces and municipalities match funds before any federal dollars flow ensures not much is going to happen. Provinces and cities don’t have money for projects or they would already be doing them. This measure will force other levels of government to also borrow heavily. Plus there is a built-in escape clause for the Conservatives: If the package doesn’t work it is because no one matched their funds. They can say they tried and then offload the blame onto other people. I can almost hear Stephen cackling here in frozen Maple Ridge.
The bottom line is this government is trying to save itself. They think we are all stupid and don’t see their tricks. I am beyond disgusted. I only hope that Michael Ignatieff does not buy into this charade. This plan is not a ‘quick’ way out of the recession. The Conservatives have no interest in helping average Canadians, they are far more concerned about their corporate friends and their shareholders. We need a different plan from a different leader. Bring on the Coalition.