Free trucks

Wes posted,

Hahahaha fooled all of you, what I would like is for you
to read this, I found this very informative and a good eye
opener. Please read it carefully and let it sink in.

Imagine that you are a recently trained trauma nurse
working in an emergency ward. A severely injured
patient is wheeled in. You see the bleeding and want to
stop it as colleagues do an assessment of the patient’s
vital signs. However, you are prevented from
proceeding. “Don’t you think we should find out what the
patient’s nutrition standard has been over the years—
and the kind of housing that person has?” one team
member asks. “And what about the patient’s parents,
work/life balance? How did the patient do in school?”
says another. You are dumbfounded because you just
want to stop the bleeding. What if there were 800 rules
that defined whether you could or could not treat the
bleeding first? And what if, when you asked why, the
response was “Because you are spending public funds
and that is the policy set by the government!” This would
strike any thinking Canadian as absurd. Yet this is
exactly how our governments address poverty.

Federal and provincial governments have argued for
decades that poverty is a complex problem. “Complex”
is a code word for a problem no one wants to face
directly. Poverty is a complex issue, but in the end it is
about one thing—a person not having enough money to
meet basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and
transportation for self or family.

The poverty level in Canada has changed little over the
past 35 years. It was 12.9 percent in the mid 1970s and
12 percent in the late 2000s. According to numbers
published by the Organisation for Economic Co-
operation and Development in 2009, Canada ranks 18th
behind France, Norway, Austria, Finland, Sweden,
Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark,
Hungary and the Czech Republic, which all have poverty
rates in the single digits. The “complexity argument” is
the one most often used by all status quo champions.
“Poverty is inter-generational”; “it is impossible to
address all the root causes of poverty.” It is easier to
agree to spend money on programs that will help the
problem, “help” being one of those weasel words that
makes it clear that governments would rather help
reduce poverty than actually erase it.

We spend billions on programs that address dropouts,
reduce substance abuse, assist young people in trouble
with the law, encourage nutrition, subsidize housing,
provide safe houses for the victims of family violence,
run the Children’s Aid, realign incentives in the tax
system for the working poor, support First Nations
education and fund micro-managing welfare systems
that do not bring anyone above the poverty line. And yet
the core number at 10 percent or above, depending on
the province or region, has not changed in decades. It is
time to look seriously at a guaranteed annual income.

In the opinion of some on the far right, topping up the
incomes of citizens who are of working age but poor,
thus guaranteeing them an income floor, violates some
primordial work ethic, even though the majority of poor
people work and often hold down more than one
underpaid job.

On the far left, the bias favours the design, operation
and implementation of programs for special needs by
well-paid and unionized civil servants. Any automatic
tax-based top-up, such as we have for seniors—
introduced in Ontario decades ago and known as the
Guaranteed Annual Income Supplement—would not
require thousands of employees now working in the
“many helping sectors” of the social service systems. I
believe in paying public servants fairly and that they and
government do important and vital work. I do not believe
that they and the programs they run are the only
instrument by which we can erase poverty.

If the federal tax system topped up everyone who was
beneath the poverty line to above it, there would be no
Canadians eligible for provincial welfare, liberating
millions of provincial dollars for other investments such
as chronic care, early childhood education, retraining or
health promotion.

How we deal with the lowest income Canadians among
us would be different.

They would not be “case load burdens”; they would be

They would not have to apply through Plexiglas for
enough money to feed their kids.

They would not be trapped in the rules and constraints
of welfare and the excessive state involvement in their
lives, such as “spouse in the house” rules, or be
prohibited from applying for post-secondary education

They would not be treated as dim creatures, incapable
of making decisions; they would be treated as human
beings trusted to make life choices.

They would not occupy homeless shelters, prisons,
court rooms and mental hospitals disproportionately to
their percentage of the population, because they would
be liberated from poverty-caused pathologies by having
a basic income guarantee.

They would file tax returns because they would have an
incentive to do so, as now occurs with the HST/GST tax
credit. Their confidentiality and privacy would be
protected by law, as it is for all tax filers.

In other words, being poor would become a problem we
all buffered in the same way as we buffer all Canadians
relative to health care. Only a small portion of
Canadians needs expensive health care at any one
time. But we are there to help as members of a
competitive, free market and coherent society—not by
embarrassing them with governments asking why they
are sick, but by letting their universal health coverage,
financed from general revenue, see them through. Since
poverty is the most reliable predictor of bad health
outcomes, not acting to eradicate it is senseless.

In Dauphin, Manitoba, in the mid 1970s, the
governments of Manitoba and Canada undertook an
experiment called MINCOME, where residents in this
farming community were guaranteed that, if the crop
prices collapsed, any resident family could be topped up
in the fall. In other words, between 1974 and 1978 every
resident family in Dauphin was guaranteed an annual
income should their own income fall below the poverty
line. This guarantee was similar to welfare but there
were no clawbacks if a person was employed, and the
rules were not onerous. The amount received was theirs
—no strings attached. For the most part, this project
assisted the working poor. The entire cost for the five-
year experiment, including all researchers and staff, was
$17 million.

The concerns then are the same as today—if you give
someone something for nothing, is he or she going to
quit a job, stay home and become a burden? The
answer, to the surprise of some then and probably the
captains of inertia today, was no. We are only
discovering the results of this 40-year-old experiment
now because, as often happens with government
research, elections occur, priorities change and
evaluations are shelved. Indeed, 1,800 boxes of paper—
the results of MINCOME—were moved to a warehouse
and ignored for decades.

But recently, a very determined, inspired and rigorous
academic, Evelyn Forget of the University of Manitoba
Health Sciences Centre, sorted through those 1,800
boxes of anonymized documents to find out what
happened in the MINCOME experiment. Her research,
funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research, has so far underlined how cost-efficient
MINCOME was and how the income guarantee reduced,
in measurable ways, the negative social determinants of
health. She found that while MINCOME was
administered, hospital visits including work-related
injuries, domestic abuse and mental health visits
dropped by about 8.5 percent. By her calculations, an
8.5 percent drop in hospital visits alone would save
taxpayers $4 billion annually. If this were extrapolated to
all healthcare spending ($200 billion), the savings could
amount to over $17 billion. As well, Forget found that
teenagers stayed in school and education enrolment
surged. Young people no longer dropped out in order to
contribute to the family finances. And from many other
proven studies, we know that more education is the
foundation for economic success—individually and

As Forget’s initial report states: “The GAI is conceived
as an insurance policy. In the same way that people who
buy fire insurance on their houses perceive the policy to
be beneficial even if they never collect, the GAI
benefited everyone in the saturation site, including
families that never collected payments under the
scheme. The benefit to those who did collect payments
is obvious, but those whose incomes exceeded the
threshold and therefore did not qualify still benefited
from the reduction of risk. Because this is an agricultural
community … few people knew in advance whether they
would qualify or not.”

Also, it was noted in her research, there was almost no
reduction in hours worked except for women who chose
to stay home with young children, elderly parents or
disabled family members, thereby unburdening the state
of health or daycare costs.

Today, the annual cost per person of such a base
income floor would be less than $10,000. The cost of
confining someone in prison starts at about $60,000 per
year and can double depending on the level of security. I
do not believe that poverty always causes crime or that
those who are poor are more likely to be criminals. But
the fact is that most criminals are poor. Less than 10
percent of our population fills 90 percent of our jails.

The cost to our Canadian economy of poor Canadians
dropping out of school, getting sick faster, staying in
hospital longer and living shorter lives than the rest of us
is in the billions. Of course, the most important of these
costs—the life costs to poor Canadians in every aspect
of their difficult and discouraging life journeys—cannot
be formally tallied.

But in the ways we can count, poverty is desperately
expensive—well beyond welfare expenditures, as was
reported in “The Cost of Poverty: An Analysis of the
Economic Cost of Poverty in Ontario,” the 2008 study by
Food Banks Ontario to which the TD Bank chief
economist Don Drummond was an advisor. The efficient
and humane thing to do is to take the example of
Dauphin and learn from it. Take the example of the GIS
for seniors and apply it. Take the current billions of
dollars in welfare, social services and support costs and
use them to eradicate poverty, not perpetuate it.

We have tried every manner of incremental solutions.
Why not try treating poverty as a problem we can fix,
rather than the result of a thousand problems we

I have said and written before that it would be hard in
any area of public policy to find an approach to ending
poverty whose elements were supported by Sir Winston
Churchill, Richard Nixon, Donald Macdonald and his
Royal Commission on our economic prospects, Bill
Davis, Milton Friedman, Robert Stanfield and Senator
Patrick Moynihan, but a basic income floor (or a
negative income tax) would meet that test. Friedman,
the right-wing Nobel Prize–winning economist, had a
view of the American government that can be
summarized with one of his more famous quotations: “If
you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara
Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.” That
is why he proposed a negative income tax. His intention
was to create a system that cost less than the welfare
system, while avoiding the degrading nature of welfare.
He argued that a negative income tax would be
administratively cheaper and more effective, and would
remove the intrusive and offensive nanny-state
overregulation of the lives of the poor. He was right then,
and, although he is now gone, he is still right today.

Education is a core defining factor in determining future
prospects. Yet our welfare systems often marginalize
those with the will and desire to better themselves
through education. Not only do we dampen their desires,
but we also punish their ambitions by clawing back any
earnings above a prescribed limit, or we cut off welfare if
they apply for student loans, or we suspend dental or
drug care benefits for both mother and children if she
finds employment at minimum wage, or we demand a
DNA test (paid for by the state) in order to prove
paternity and claw back any child support received. Our
present system does not fight poverty. It institutionalizes

And just so we do not ignore the most glaring of
challenges, let’s look at young people, First Nations and
immigrants in terms of how they are doing on the
poverty/unemployment spectrum.

According to Statistics Canada research published in
May 2012, 13.9 percent of Canadian youth between the
ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed. That is just under
double the national rate of unemployment. First Nations
people on reserves face an unemployment rate of nearly
25 percent, while the off-reserve rate is almost 14
percent. For new immigrants to Canada, those with
university degrees face an unemployment rate of 14.3
percent and those with the equivalent of a high school
diploma are unemployed at a 17 percent rate. We need
to be frank about what high unemployment rates for
these groups do in terms of stability, incentive and

Let’s look at costs here in a realistic way. If the average
top-up per person below the poverty line was $10,000
annually and if all of the three million lowest income
people in Canada received the full amount—that would
be an upfront cost of $30 billion—roughly 10 percent of
the present Canadian federal budget. But that up-front
cost would be reduced by savings elsewhere.

In a December 2011 article, Glen Hodgson, vice-
president and chief economist of the Conference Board
of Canada, pointed out critical gains from a GAI in terms
of simplicity, flexibility, improved social determinants of
health and incentives to work. “First, it would address
poverty directly, and in a neutral fashion, via transfers
provided through a single existing administrative system
—the income tax system. A GAI would streamline
existing social welfare programs into one universal
system, reducing public administration and intervention
with related savings.” He addressed directly the anomaly
faced by present welfare recipients who, when they find
work and between clawbacks on benefits and welfare,
face an almost 100 percent practical tax rate on their
new earnings: “Second, a properly-designed GAI could
reduce the ‘welfare wall’ of high marginal tax rates on
earned income for the working poor. Earned income
could be taxed at low marginal rates, providing a strong
incentive for GAI recipients to work and earn more. As
they work more, GAI recipients would essentially pay for
a growing portion of their own GAI, through income
taxes on their employment earnings.” Hodgson’s third
point is that a GAI would reduce healthcare spending on
low-income persons. “The link between poverty and
poor health is widely documented,” he writes, “so if a
GAI reduced the prevalence of poverty, it could create
better health outcomes and help to slow the rising costs
of publicly-funded health care.”

Employment insurance could go back to being
employment insurance and not a mix of employment
insurance and income security. We should also take the
figures from Forget’s MINCOME study and see what
happens when health expenditures are reduced by 8
percent and the costs of prisons, the criminal court
system and aspects of child welfare and early dropout
problems fall by a conservative estimate of 5 percent.

As for the $30 billion? During the 2008–09 financial
collapse led by the failure of the Lehman Brothers in the
United States, Central Mortgage and Housing, a
Canadian Crown corporation dependant on the
taxpayer, found several hundred billion dollars to buy
solid mortgages from our banks to prudently guarantee
them the liquidity to keep credit, business and personal
lending moving—between banks, for Bay Street and for
auto and mortgage loans as global credit was drying up.
This worthwhile, one-time liquidity measure, combined
with annual and constructive capital cost write-offs for
industry or mining and energy tax concessions dwarf the
annual cost of a basic income floor for Canadians
through the tax system.

So if we can generate liquidity for our biggest and most
profitable financial institutions and other important
industrial and productive investments, surely some
operating liquidity for our poorest citizens makes as
much sense. Living in poverty does not make focused
savings programs possible. Income received by low-
income Canadians is spent on food, clothing, heat,
shelter and transportation. It recirculates in the
community quickly.

When Newfoundland and Labrador lifted the welfare
support level for single recipients to the low-income cut-
off, Premier Danny Williams made it clear that if higher
resource revenues were a structural part of the
province’s fiscal base, deploying them for the neediest
residents was the right thing to do. What an interesting
idea: doing the right thing.

I think Williams’s progressive conservative response to
new sources of wealth in his province should encourage
us to ask ourselves about the purpose of wealth and its
generation in a free and mixed market democracy. If
poverty were like an untreatable terminal cancer, you
could make a case for the evasive and non-productive
palliative programs we finance through costly
bureaucracies and programs that never confront the
problem head on. But we know what poverty is: it is not
having enough money to meet modest requirements; it
is the marginalizing of kids who claim to have forgotten
their lunch at home, when there was no lunch packed; it
is abusive and soul-destroying marriages staying
together because there is no financial way for the
abused partner to leave; it is high school kids drawn to
substance abuse and local gangs because they cannot
make it to college or to the end of high school.

When Don Drummond released his report on Ontario’s
public spending in February of this year, he made
recommendations in many areas of public policy and
public spending. He noted that more than one quarter of
recent immigrants (28.8 percent) in Ontario lived in
poverty five years after arrival and 19.1 percent
continued to live in poverty after ten years, while about
22 percent of severely disabled Canadians receive
social assistance and have no ties to the labour force.
The report states that these people “would be better
served by a national basic income program instead of
social assistance.” Drummond also questioned the
unacceptable nature of the Ontario Works cap on a
recipient’s liquid assets, and points out that this deprives
“recipients of the most basic means of climbing the
welfare wall.” Moreover, he noted that recipients of
social assistance receive Ontario Drug Benefit coverage
but lose this and other benefits after finding employment
and that this “represents a strong disincentive to work.”

Governments do not do everything well. Anyone who
thinks so has never worked within government. But one
thing governments do well is collect taxes. And because
they have done so for years, they have the confidential
records of how much we earn and the legitimate costs
we have. This means we have a delivery system in
place tied to every taxpayer, or tax credit recipient,
including those who receive GST/HST and other
refundable tax credits. So there is no need to build or
design a new bureaucracy. We have the system in

There are two aspects to national security in this
country. One is the ability to defend the rule of law,
democracy, human rights and freedom as part of a
citizen’s legitimate expectation. The other relates to the
economic security of all our fellow Canadians, which is
sustained by different Canadian traditions—universal
health insurance, universal primary and secondary
education and a basic income floor for our seniors. But
that economic security base is deeply flawed if an
income floor that wipes out poverty for working-age
Canadians is not part of it. Letting poverty fester when
we have the capacity to address it is more than an
abdication of opportunity. It is a politically, economically
and socially incompetent evasion of our collective
responsibility. It is one thing to be unable to broaden the
economic mainstream because of financial or
productivity problems. It is quite another to leave people
behind for whom an affordable and structural hand-up is
possible that obviates less than effective perpetual

Dealing with poverty, reducing its occurrence to almost
incidental single digits should be the key domestic social
project of our time for Canada in this new century.
Energy superpower? Super. Strong global voice for rule
of law, democracy, gender equity, freer trade,
international security? Great. Supporter of law and order
at home? Excellent. But if we do not engage on poverty
in a direct way, none of these other pursuits and goals
will matter as the gap between the richest and poorest

Who are the poor? They usually work, some are young,
many have disabilities and most have grown up in a
poverty not of their making. Too many are from First
Nations and increasingly disadvantaged lawful
immigrants. They are in every large city and small
community and all the Canadian spaces in between.
They are our brothers and sisters, neighbours and fellow
citizens. And for many Canadians, the barrier between
their present lives and poverty is as little as one event: a
car accident, a failed employer or a lost job.

A basic income floor, or refundable income tax credit, or
basic annual income credit, or guaranteed annual
income—call it what you like—would put a floor under all
Canadians beneath which they could not fall, one that
would see them through to working and earning again.
Putting limits on what one can achieve is not what the
state should do. We can agree that is excessive
overreach. But putting a floor below which no one can
fall is both achievable and necessary.

In a mixed free market Canadian economy where
enterprise, risk, diligence and hard work matter, equality
of opportunity is essential if fairness about access to the
economic mainstream is to be real for all. A guaranteed
annual income would be a serious pillar of that
opportunity, as important to us as universal education,
safe communities and health insurance.

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2013 January 4 1:37 AM


Sold on Craigslist!!

2013 January 4 10:07 AM