Sunday, May 14, 2006

Universal entitlement program

Despite the technical failure of the outgoing Liberal government's universal childcare gambit, the desperate electoral ploy has apparently already bequeathed its most important legacy despite having never been really implemented: that is, a powerful and enduring sense of entitlement, one that is interestingly not so much to the general public who instead elected a Conservative government that had promised to do away with it, but to the professionally media-savvy cohorts of politicians, bureaucrats and social activists that would benefit from encouraging senses of entitlement at large for their services. This, despite the fact that the sudden "need" for a universal childcare program is an astonishing admission of an appalling failure of all previous entitlements when parents are suddenly no longer able to provide for their own children's upbringing after centuries without government assistance in the matter. The pressing costs of all such entitlements have rendered the situation now where more entitlements are required, and London city council is prepared to discuss the opportunity to augment the viciousness in the circle. From the London Free Press:

London taxpayers could be on the hook to pick up a $3-million federal child-care program -- or leave hundreds of little kids in the lurch -- when funding is scheduled to run out in 2010. Some members of city council wonder if it's worth the risk to implement the Best Start program without a guarantee of permanent funding.

"I'm pretty hesitant to implement a program designed to be funded with federal dollars that creates huge expectations in the community and when the funding dries up, it falls on the backs of local taxpayers," said budget chief Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell.

Council will vote tomorrow on whether to go ahead with the Best Start program with $20 million received in federal funding.

The money will be used to build as many as 346 new child-care spaces, make wage improvements for workers and give subsidies to parents. But once the federal cash stops, it would cost $3.1 million a year to keep the new spaces open.
Free Press staff reporter Joe Belanger's palpable bias is as always a breath of foetid journalistic air — his "leave hundreds of little kids in the lurch" is a hysterical and contestable bit of editorial propaganda in a "news" article that is meant to insinuate a callous if not almost murderous intent behind any opposition to the program. Nevertheless, the dramatics are an important part of the protocol behind the drive to make the universal childcare program succeed. And it has partly succeeded already — the Conservatives at the least felt compelled by the advancement of the agenda to have some sort of redistributive and utilitarian policy for childcare themselves, even if the $1200 per annum tax credit has the advantage of not entrenching the bureaucrats' and activists' demands. But if council goes ahead with implementing the Best Start program — a neat bit of nomenclative doublethink that is! — they will have succeeded in politically entrenching their interests at a local and possibly provincial level where they have only so far failed at the federal level, which for taxpayers and parents will amount to the same indenture. Councillor Susan Eagle frankly acknowledges the manipulation of the country's political agenda:
Council's community and protective services committee says the city should go ahead.

"I don't see any risk," said committee chair Coun. Susan Eagle. "I'm sure within three years, we'll have a federal government -- regardless of their ideological stripe -- that understands the importance of keeping this program.
Emphasis mine. By "importance," Eagle means that you should read "political importance" — which is the critical framework to establish for the politicians. Eagle continues with a few economic-sounding banalities uninformed by actual economics:
"To me, there's a far greater risk with not going ahead with this. People won't want to move to this community and our young people won't stay because they'll look for employment where they can get adequate child care."

Eagle said the city has a financial stake in the issue since the lack of adequate child care is a barrier to employment that can ultimately see taxpayers shell out more for social services.
Only if the politicians continue to subsidize unemployment, my dear councillor. But she and her kind have already established the political importance of that, so she need not fear any close examination of the economic incentives and disincentives that the politicians have already created to drive the scenario.
Controller Russ Monteith said there's no doubt about the need for child care and is confident council will support the program.

"It's a risk, because at the end of the funding it will be hard to close down those spaces," Monteith said.