I’ve got to hand it to Macleans — they sure know how to write incendiary headlines. Their Sept. 15th issue, now on newstands, sports a white-haired lady wearing a jogging suit and jewellry (could be expensive, could be from Aredene; I wouldn’t know) with those flashy plastic $50 & $20 bills being tossed around. Headline: “OLD. RICH. SPOILED. Why it’s high time they paid up.” Well, white hair doesn’t make you old; I know people who went snow white in their 20s. Nice that medical strides have enabled seniors to live longer while a bit more prosperity and knowledge has given them the ability and the incentive to continue to stay fit. When turning to the article, there is a clearly elderly feminine hand again wearing lots of jewellry giving us, the readers, or perhaps all the rest of the country, the middle finger. Crudely effective.
The article centers around former MPP from Kingston, Ont. Larry South who at age 89 who thought to overhaul the property tax system due to the growing concern that rising values were hurting the elderly on fixed incomes. He thought to tie the property tax to the homeowner’s annual household income. Some of his friends resented the idea because they have a retirement income that’s “30 to 40% above the $86,000 household average in Kingston”. So maybe seniors aren’t all that fragile any more.
The article goes on to say, seniors are lucky: only 6.7% of them live in poverty. Plus they get all kinds of tax breaks. Never mind that if they’re taking a free bus pass it’s because they aren’t able to drive anymore or aren’t comfortable driving in heavy traffic. I wonder how many seniors don’t take a free bus pass. I’ll bet South and his friends don’t. By the way, that’s not gov’t spending, that’s less income. Not the same thing.
And isn’t it great that seniors are able to collect Canada pension and old age security — after all, they’ve paid into their whole adult life. And all those special tax credits? They’re based on your income so it’s unlikely that the folks cited in the article who “earn 30 to 40 percent above the $86,000 household average in Kingston” are eligible for them.
I like that it explains that today’s seniors were “the babies born in the aftermath of the Great Depression who learned to abhor debt and save aggressively. (Most seniors carry a debt load equal to just five per cent of their total wealth, compared to a 99 percent debt-to-wealth ratio for their Boomer children).” Too bad their children didn’t learn the same traits. Today’s seniors did work hard for their money and probably with only one income in the family. And if they were anything like my family, most of them went without things in order to provide for their children (the ones who’ve become the ‘now’ generation — wanting everything as soon as they hit the job market and having children later in life). Plus with the cost of living going up all the time (nothing against prosperity, mind you) their money isn’t worth what it was when they earned it so, good job they invested it. Who is it that’s spoiled?
Both inside the story and on a graph, it tells us that 42% of Canadian millionaires are 65+. Hmm! Doesn’t that mean that 58% of them are under age 65? And while we’re told about the 5% of seniors living in poverty, exactly what percentage of seniors are making more than $100k? Doesn’t tell us that part. And I’ll bet that it’s a very small percentage.
And seriously, working until 67 rather than 65 to qualify for CPP and OAS? That’s a real shame! According to the graph (on p.41) 22.6% of seniors are receiving income from employment (which they are paying taxes on as well) probably, like many of us, at minimum wage jobs so they can go out to dinner and a movie now again.
It also shows on a graph that 63% of seniors are receiving income from private pensions and RSPs. So, once again, income from sources they paid into and saved. And given the cost of seniors’ residences, retirement homes, and nursing homes, and the fact that people are living longer than they used to, it’s a good job they have something put aside with possibly something left to pass along to their children.
And by the way, every time I see a list of CEOs’ salaries and their golden handshakes, I see red. If they’re making that kind of money to begin with, surely they can land another job or get an income on the lecture circuit. And presumably they’ve invested in stocks, bonds, and RSPs. How often does government ‘cut back’ only to lose a good portion of it to those retirement packages? That’s hard-earned tax dollars they’re throwing around.
Another point in the article says money for seniors could be put to better use to “benefit younger Canadians, [in programs] such as tuition and daycare subsidies”. How is it that in Quebec they don’t pay university tuition but they do in the rest of the country? What are they doing right that the rest of us haven’t caught on to? And tuitions for courses are tax deductible and often paid for by the parents. And I’d love to see the statistics comparing the number of young people who attend university today compared to, say, in the 60s when it was less usual for girls to attend university and those who did were derided as only working toward their “MRS” degree. Daycare? There was a perfectly good daycare program in our community school that was replaced with a more expensive (for parents) provincial government program with the start-up of all-day kindergarten.
And you know what? Government took over caring for the “orphans and widows” and other charities that used to be the domain of the church but they don’t fund it nearly enough which is why private donations from these same seniors with a work ethic and a drive to give back to the community are what keeps these programs going. And “cash-strapped governments” (p.42)? Let them tighten their own belts. The very idea of the majority Conservative federal government spending tax dollars on expensive renovations in order to accommodate the 30 new seats provided in their bill (Dec. 13, 2011) to allow for fairer representation is a ridiculous waste of money. Every other member of the House voted against the bill. “The Liberals argued that the number of Commons seats should remain unchanged but with each province’s share rejigged to better reflect their share of the population.” (CBC News) Estimated costs? “An additional $14.8 million per year to accommodate [them plus] about $11 million in costs associated with every general election” beginning in 2015. (Nat’l Post) It’s always nice to have someone to blame. In Nazi Germany, they blamed the Jews!