July 19, 2000

Full Metal Rant


Maybe I'm missing something..

This very innocent-looking report in today's Montreal Gazette has had me fuming all day long.

It starts out reasonably enough:

Dollars don't add up for parents
Many being unfairly left out of Child Tax Benefit program: study
NICOLAS VAN PRAET
The Gazette

The amount Montrealers Jeanne Rojek and her husband receive in federal child-benefit assistance to care for their 26-month-old boy, Zachary: $0.

The amount they spend on daycare alone per month: $600.

The number of Canadian children Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin said would benefit from his $9 billion-a- year Canada Child Tax Benefit program this year: 9 out of 10.

Well ok.. the days of the universal "family allowance" are long gone. I never did understand why high income families should receive that money.

Zachary, it seems, is out of luck. He is one of the minority of children whose parents make too much to receive child assistance in this country. His parents make $90,000 a year combined, far more than the $73,604 family net income at which the child tax benefit completely peters out.

But a new study released yesterday by the Montreal-based Institute for Research on Public Policy says Zachary's parents are being unfairly taxed in a system that penalizes people who have children. It argues that anyone who has kids should receive child assistance, no matter how much money they make.

Say what?

Jeanne Rojek is an executive with a promotional materials company. Her husband is a cabin-maintenance planner with Air Canada.

"We make too much money," she said. "But all that money still goes back into spending on the child no matter what. Kids are supposed to be our future. It would be nice to get a break paying for that future."

So let me get this straight... MY tax money from MY household of four (whose combined income is distinctly less than Ms. Rojek's) should go to pay for HER child care so that SHE can continue to work as an executive with a promotional-materials company and maintain the lifestyle of a $90,000 a year family??????????

I.
Don't.
Think.
So.

I understand that in many families both parents need to work. I define "need to work" as providing the basic necessities in a safe and comfortable manner and a reasonable amount of security.

I don't define "need to work" as providing a lifestyle of oversize houses in overpriced neighbourhoods, designer cars and clothes and schools and jewelry; these things are fine if you want them but if you want to have children too, and aren't lucky enough to have close friends or family to care for them, don't expect me to subsidize your designer day care.

Even if the couple in the article made equal salaries of $45,000, they could manage with one (or one full and one part-time) salary. $600 a month child care times twelve months is $7200 back, immediately. Then there's the incidental expenses of working.. wardrobe, transportation, higher tax bracket; furthermore, the family would then qualify for the child tax credit in question.

They might have to scale back their standard of living. A little. But what of the standard of living of their son? Does it matter to him what size house he lives in, or if he wears store brand clothes or Oshkosh? Or does it matter to him to have the care and attention of a full time parent?

The child is two. In three years he'll be in school. Time enough for both parents to be working then. Will the stay-at-home parent's career suffer? Perhaps.. but it's a question of priorities. Are either of these parent's responsibilites at work as important, to them or to society, as raising a child? If they have the choice of living on one salary, comfortably if not lavishly, is it not bordering on irresponsible to farm out their child to strangers... all the while expecting ME to underwrite it?

Staying home with young children is often not fun. I know. I did it. It's at times dreary, smelly, stressful, boring, isolating, confining, mind-numbing and certainly not sexy. I understand a woman's need to work, pursue a career, pursue self-fulfillment. But.. when that woman has a child, priorities need to be reexamined. There are ways to keep your sanity while seeing your kids through their toddler years.

My thoughts keep going back to the Columbine High School shootings, where one of the gunmen (gunboys?) was assembling a bomb in the garage of his $500,000 home, set in the side of a hill, and his parents had no idea.

Is that relevant? I don't know. Is all daycare bad? No.. what's bad is the attitude of the parents that put their own monetary and personal fulfillment above their child -- whether or not they expect society to "pay for the child's future".

Linque Du Jour

Sorry, too grouchy.

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