KEEN: The Three Percent Solution to Child Poverty

KEEN: The Three Percent Solution to Child Poverty

Postby Oscar » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:16 pm

The Three Percent Solution to Child Poverty

Presentation given to the Standing Committee on Finance, Department of Finance, Government of Canada by John Keen on October 30, 2003

Good morning. My name is John Keen, and this is the biography of my friend, John Kenneth Galbraith - Canada’s most famous economist. He will be introduced to you a little later.

For now, I wish to talk about housing. The 2003 budget offers about 350 million in programs. But we need 4 billion. Let’s look for it.

We will raise 2 billion annually from the CPP by selling them 50-year bonds bearing interest at 2% plus inflation. To be guaranteed jointly by Ottawa and the Provinces.

The E.I. Fund also has money. Let’s combine an annual 2 billion grant from EI with the CPP bond and put 4 billion into housing. Each year.

CMHC can handle the administration, offering long-term mortgages.

Collecting interest and principal on the entire 4 billion and paying interest only on 2 billion means the program should grow like mushrooms in springtime. Plus principal repayments could be recycled.

EI and CPP are funded primarily by working people. Investing funds to improve their present lives makes more sense than waiting till they are retired or unemployed.

Building, renovating or repairing housing is a great creator of wealth. Most of the materials are found within Canada, and transforming sand, gravel, timber, copper ore and silica sand into a store of wealth for a working family is a miracle.

Wages are paid, leading to taxes paid. Good jobs lead to better health and less crime. From the 4 billion spent, over 1 billion in new tax dollars will return almost immediately. And, a great many more new tax dollars will return over time as the money wends it way through our society. Half to Ottawa, half to Provinces.

Money to reduce debt or repair infrastructure, and so extend the chain of benefits.

Any government could be proud to do so much for so many.

If all this is so simple why don’t we do it? It’s not a shortage of money. We are in the middle of a 100 billion tax giveaway. And we still have cash on hand. We will soon hear from Mr. Galbraith.....

But first, let us talk about the failed attempt to end child poverty during the 90’s. It was strange we failed.

On average there were around 1.25 million poor kids during that period. NGO’s were looking for 2,000 dollars per child, per year. That is 2.5 billion a year, 25 billion during the decade. An imposing sum.

But, during that decade, Canadians moved over 800 billion (2002 dollars) to those who held government paper. 3 pennies from each of those dollars could have cured child poverty. Why didn’t we do it?

Well, we can ask Mr. Galbraith. In an article he wrote in the New York Times of 1985 he gives what could be the answer. He says the relationship between the rich and the rest of us cannot be frankly discussed.

“The rich,” says John Galbraith, “in our time have become a dirty secret.”

“And that dirty secret,” say I, “Is that those rich folks are starving the budget makers of the funds they need to create a better society.”

During the last thirty years, seven Prime Ministers and five governments, we have recreated the type of society which forbids both rich and poor to sleep under bridges.

But no one says that aloud. All those tax cuts, tax expenditures, and tax remissions, the transfer pricing, off shore financing, and funds sheltered in RRSP’s, Trusts and Foundations seem beyond reach. No one seriously proposes taking back some of that money.

But those in governments, people like you, have to start dipping a few pails into that stream of wealth flowing to the cloud dwellers.

Some people are complaining this means the return of tax and spend government. Well, it is about time. To have a real surplus we need to tax and spend about 40 billion more. On the deficits in housing, health, education, infrastructure, foreign aid, and on, and on.

And why would anyone find it a problem if governments tax and spend? Do people complain if birds fly? What we need is a government that taxes and spends wisely. To do that we must recover some of the most recent tax cuts.

John Keen
Riceton, SK
Last edited by Oscar on Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Oscar » Wed Mar 05, 2008 9:02 pm

December 14, 2007

A friend (?) of mine asked me if I would write something about Christmas. Now, I might not be the ripest banana in the bunch but even I could figure out that was code for:


Not a chance. Anyone that wants to knock Christmas can do it on their own time. A lot of good people do a lot of good things in the spirit of Christmas. Tax deductible giving and 50% off sales are only two of them. TV presents shows like Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Carol. Great stuff.

People like to find fault with corporations at this time of year, but look what they have done. Millions are spent on commercials that bring us Christmas music, not just for a measly few days, but for weeks. And without the social pressures that cause spending, many retail businesses would face difficult times. It cannot be easy for executives to hear themselves be targeted as money grubbing cynics when all they are trying to do is keep the economy moving and provide much needed jobs.

I feel particularly bad for the people at companies like Wal-Mart or Nike.

These are not the only outfits that are denigrated for their efforts to provide jobs in poor countries, but they are often singled out for abuse. If some of those do-gooders had to face the problems such companies encounter daily they might not be so quick to criticize.

When you see that a girl (most of the workers are girls) gets less than a dollar from a hundred dollar pair of sneakers it would seem easy to double her income. And so it would be. The retailer could offer a little, maybe forty cents, from their $50 markup. And the star athlete could match it from his multi- million dollar endorsement contract. No problem. Even the transnational could squeeze out twenty cents from their end. Voila, a pay increase of over 100 per cent But it is not that simple.

This workforce is the result of years of learning to live in poverty. For many of these girls their only marketable skill is the knowledge of how to live on next to nothing. It would be reckless and cruel for some brutal Trans- National Corporation to disrupt their life on a whim. Oh sure, we could blame it on the Spirit of Christmas. We could just explain we got carried away by watching Scrooge save Tiny Tim.

But the fact is, by irresponsibly raising wages to a decent level, we would cause jealousy and resentment. Our girls would lose their friends and their former neighbors. It would be embarrassing for them to be earning more than twice as much as their former friends. Friends who had been left undisturbed in their happy poverty. Strikes might break out, maybe even revolutions.

So it is important for us, we who are not faced with the agonizing decisions needed to keep peace in far-off lands, to understand the difficulties the CEO of a large company faces. Not for him the luxury of saying “Santa made me do it”. No! Even in the face of rising profits he must stand fast. Even when the stockholders rebel over the growing dividends he must stand firm. His company, his management of that company, must never be accused of driving another poor country into prosperity.

Just because it was Christmas.

John Keen
Riceton, SK
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KEEN: The Ultimate Spear

Postby Oscar » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:36 pm

This statement is not a review of John Warnock's excellent book. It is an expression of the disgust and anger at the way Canada is behaving in the world today. Warnock's book, in particular the litany of death in the first chapter, was the catalyst. I urge you to read the book and get a little angry yourself. Maybe we can change the world! - John Keen C/R S/SK June 2008

The Ultimate Spear

In John Warnock’s book about Afghanistan …" Creating a Failed State”…he paints a portrait of our society that is covered with warts. Information the public in involved countries needed to make an informed decision about going to war was, and is, being denied the public. That information can be found here. Our Governments, particularly in Canada and the USA, have lied, and worse. Though we live in what we call a democracy, they have ignored the wishes of the majority of their populations. In carrying out murderous attacks on nearly defenseless populations, the so-called developed countries have shown their greatest development lies in the art of “murder most foul”.

In some twisted way, the desire for greater command of resources has become the justification for killing those who have what we want.

Chapter One is titled …"Guns v Spears"…with the implication that spears are less sophisticated. The third sentence of that chapter carries a ghastly message. That sentence describes the launch of our spear. The B2 Stealth Bomber is the most advanced spear ever created. What a perversion of engineering technology. The most powerful and (until recently) the richest, society in the world has forged a weapon that enables those who ordered its creation to kill from a distance that grants impunity. With this instrument we can reach from middle America to Afghanistan and beyond.

Almost as remarkable as the plane itself is its crew. Only two people are needed. Probably both are male. They come from middle to upper middle class backgrounds. Married, mid-thirties, better than average educations and thoroughly indoctrinated. It is likely both have children that they leave behind when they climb into their fabulous spear to go and kill other people’s children. They are insulated from the horror of what they are doing by the belief that what they are doing is right and must be done. And by the fact that human fragments are not visible from 50,000 feet. But a day will come when that certainty crumbles. And the automatic they kept as a souvenir will fulfill its function.

Until then they will act as accessories to their killing machine. What will they do during the hours between leaving Missouri and returning? Their magnificent spear is largely self-sufficient. Will they play video games? They could talk for a while. Sleep, for a while. Or gaze at a cloudscape illuminated by a silver moon. Anything but think of the family they left behind so they could go and kill other families.

Since they will arrive unannounced and (if at night) invisible to both radar and human eyes they can carry out their murders and leave unscathed. So the only retribution will be the suicides caused by the demons of conscience. And it will be visited upon (as custom decrees) the less responsible.

And while always rare in the halls of power, conscience is now vanishingly rare. As businesses grow and merge they wield greater and greater power Decency can be an impediment to promotion and to ultimate control. And as psychopaths and sociopaths gain control in finance, manufacturing, and communications, they seek out their counterparts in Government. It could be called fascism.

I guess that points to an obvious solution. We must find and elect decent people. And it is that simple. A close look at voting patterns indicates only about 22 out of every 100 eligible voters, voted for bad guys. The trouble of course, is trying to figure out who the bad guys are. There must be a lot of them in disguise. Otherwise the large majority of supposed good guys in our Parliament would have united to end our involvement in these atrocities. The members who profess to not enjoy killing could have united to end our share of the atrocities. By putting aside petty differences they could have defeated the current government and formed a temporary alliance that would have reduced the present involvement with the unsavory group to the south.

The reward would be a better world. The resources now wasted killing each other could create a fair imitation of Paradise.

John Keen C/R SS
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