Tuesday, May 16, 2006

One small step for London city council, one giant leap for entitlement programs

Buried in the depreciatingly abbreviated "Councilbriefs" section of today's London Free Press is an illuminating example of how government programs entrench themselves. Even when political demand from the general public is limited, as evidenced by the electorate's short response to the federal Liberal government's universal childcare program overtures, the process of entrenchment is actively facilitated by mutually agreeable objectives and understandings between different jurisdictional layers of the mandarin classes of politicians and bureaucrats. If these demonstrations are not recognized as indictments of the failure to clearly resolve jurisdictional powers and responsibilities among governments in Canada, the failure will have become unfortunately but irrevocably institutionalized.

London will go ahead with a new federally funded child-care plan without guarantees the funding will continue beyond 2010. City council unanimously approved the Best Start program and said it will lobby the provincial and federal governments to continue funding once the existing $20 million is spent to build new spaces, augment worker salaries and create up to 346 new spaces. Once the federal cash stops, it would cost $3.1 million a year to keep the new spaces open. Best Start funding was stopped by the new Conservative government in favour of a plan to pay a taxable $1,200 baby bonus directly to parents of each child younger than six.
The process will be seen to unfold in its last-half-century-honoured and entirely foreseeable manner: six years of artificially stimulating subsidized spaces and worker salaries will encourage those few who actually benefit from the program — social workers and their activist licensors, a selectively "representative" substrate of parent beneficiaries, and a sympathetic media — to loudly protest against the damage the removal of the program would cause, their benefits morphing into birthrights, as though they would have been impoverished by a Dickensian blight of societal neglect only a few years prior to the introduction of the program. One or more levels of government will then just as surely capitulate to the political expediency of being seen to be sympathetic to the plight of necessity of those who, whatever the rhetoric, are really nothing other than factioners in the welfare state grand old party. The manufacturing of the necessity will have long been forgotten by that time, or regretfully subsumed under the category of "current reality." With hundreds of thousands, or millions, of other Canadians similarly comforted by the Conservatives' $1200 per annum child tax credit in the meantime, Londoners will have found themselves after 2010 bequeathed with not one but two perpetual entitlements and indentures where none had existed before. By such trifling little "councilbriefs" are such penuries produced.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't wait until the subsidized workers go on strike due to money, hours or "job security". There will be thousands scrambling to find someone to watch their kids while they work, think about the future loss of productivity.
It's absurd that Canadians think they are entitled to childcare. If you can't work out adequate care on your own (even if it takes most your paycheck) than don't have kids.