A "tax" on me

To quote the words of a song, Mr. Spit and I are above the below, and below the upper -alright. We do well enough. More than well enough, really.

Don't believe me?
  • I turned on my tap to fill my water bottle, and clean water poured out. Clean, drinkable water. Which makes me better off than 1.8 billion people in this world.
  • As I was leaving my house this morning - unlike the 640 million children who have no home - the kids across the street were heading into school - unlike 57% of female school-aged children, who will never step foot in a school.
  • I delivered my son, in the midst of an extraordinarily high-risk pregnancy. Do you know what it cost me? $36 for the chlomid to conceive him. By the time Mr. Spit's supplementary insurance kicked in, I actually paid $7.20. That's the only bill I ever saw.
  • And while Gabriel died, I did not. Unlike Africa, where a woman will die every 6 minutes - for want of a bag of Magnesium Sulfate, worth about $5 a bag.

So, when I calculated my tax savings with the new budget, and realized I was getting a whopping $166 extra, I shrugged my shoulders. The money ($13.38 a month) will buy me 2.9 lattes at work. I'll contribute to the economy, making sure that my favourite barista has a job. Maybe. I doubt that my 3 extra lattes make all that much difference.

But, there's another side to my $166. When the Federal Government gave me my $166, it meant that they couldn't give it to someone else. Someone got less. As it so happens, I know who it was.

And I'll start by saying that I'm not a hero. I don't wear a cape, I don't deserve your accolades, I'm just doing what needs to be done. For a few months now, Mr. Spit and I have been paying our neighbour's power bills. She's a single mum, and she can barely make ends meet, and it's a struggle, and we could do this little bit to help. It's Canada. It is simply not an option to go without electricity and water and natural gas to heat your house. It's not. And my mum and I have quiet conversations about how her young daughter will afford university in 2 years, because she's so damn smart, and she has so much potential, and we mutter about amounts, and say "well, if we all kicked in. . . .". (So, if I'm phoning you in 2 years, you'll know why.)

And we get angry - my family and I. We get angry because we know that if we didn't help, there's no program. She'd be juggling paying her rent, or paying her power bill, and sooner or later she'd be evicted, and then homeless, and then what? In a country as rich as Canada, how can Mr. Spit and I be what stands between a family and homelessness? What about all the family's whose power bills I am not paying? How and when do things get easier for them?

And I looked at my tax return, and I realized that my savings aren't even 15% of her monthly power bills. I'll buy an extra latte or three, and my neighbour will struggle to make ends meet, even with my help. She'll get no real help from this budget either. In fact, she gets $66 dollars under this budget.

$166 is an insult to me. But far more than that, it's an insult to my neighbour. It's an insult that I will go and buy a latte or lunch, while she parcels out her pennies to feed and clothe and house the next generation. It's an insult that I'll go and buy a frivolous pair of shoes to help out the economy, while the economy is leaving my neighbour behind.

And so when I read about how much I'm getting, I think, "I'll tell you what. You take my $166, and Mr. Spit's and my mum's, and my knitting buddy's, and all those like us, and you give them to her. And she pays her utility bills, and sends her daughter to university. Without charity.

You tell me, Minister Flaherty that this is Canada's Economic Action Plan. Real hope for families. Not quite Sir. In MY Canada, help is given to those who need it, not those who don't."
numbers from here