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Canadian personal income has been frozen by government policy for 15 years Print E-mail
Written by Link Byfield   
Monday, 24 January 2005

Alberta schools this year have been told that due to a new "obesity crisis" among kids, students must start doing thirty minutes a day of phys-ed.

This prompts the question, why was there no "obesity crisis" before?

The experts (as usual) are blaming parents. Kids come home after school, eat junk food, and spend several lethargic hours watching TV and playing video games.

Parents aren't telling them, "Don't spoil your appetite before supper," and "Go outside and play."

But this raises another question, one which the experts aren't addressing. Why aren't parents supervising?

Answer: they're still at work.

According to a Toronto Dominion Bank study released on Monday, the proportion of women aged 24 to 54 who have jobs has risen to 81%. In the 1970s, it was less than 60%. In the '60s it was less than half.

You can't keep kids out of the pizza pops and ride their bikes if you're miles away dealing with customers, and snatching a few groceries on the way home at 5:30.

When my wife and I got home from school in the '60s, our own mothers, along with most others, were waiting for us, in charge of our homes and of the neighborhood. Today kids come home to empty suburbs and empty houses. That's a huge change. (By the way, I'm not trying to guilt anyone out here, merely observing.)

It's also a fact that for years most (not all, but most) working moms have told pollsters they would rather stay home, but can't afford to.

According to the TD study, all through the '70s and '80s, a job-holder's average take-home pay (after factoring out inflation and taxes) kept going up. It paid for both parents to work. Double-income families could afford vacations, vehicles, houses and luxuries denied to single-income families and to previous generations.

But according to the study, this real wage increase was being stimulated and financed by massive government borrowing. It was like a twenty-year sugar high.

By the early 1990s, borrowing and spending by the various levels of government accounted for 8% of the total Canadian economy, and a trillion dollars in public debt.

Then Canada's credit ran out, bond-raters issued panic signals, the government borrowing stopped, and it was payback time.

The TD reports that since 1989, the average Canadian after-tax income has remained almost perfectly flat, up a measly 3.6% over 15 years. We make more money, but governments take the increase as fast as we can earn it.

The TD says they use it mainly to pay interest costs on the debt, spiraling health costs, and vastly increased Canada Pension Plan costs. None of these three things boosts worker productivity, on which our standard of living depends.

The study also confirms that in productivity per worker, Canada is falling behind smaller countries like Ireland, Finland and Belgium.

But our governments don't care. While our schools are busy trying to offset an "obesity crisis" caused (at least in part) by taxation levels that are forcing more mothers to find work, Paul Martin is saying he can't cut taxes because he wants to start a national daycare program that will help keep them out of the house and paying taxes.

What a strange way to run a country!

- Link Byfield

Link Byfield is chairman of the Edmonton-based Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, and an Alberta senator-elect.
"Just Between Us" is a feature service of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy. The purpose of the Citizens Centre is to enhance freedom and democracy by enabling ordinary citizens to become active and effective on important issues outside the normal processes of party politics.

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