Are you kidding me?

Monday, September 25, 2006
According to an article in the Edmonton Journal today, there is a campaign being waged by gym goers around the country. You can read the article HERE. It seems that the Edmonton-based Fitness Industry Council of Canada is encouraging fitness rooms to hand out postcards to their members. These postcards are addressed to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and want the government to give tax breaks to adults with gym memberships. As well, the Tory government (Progressive Conservatives for the non-Canadians out there) is “devising a new Children’s Fitness Tax Credit. Starting January 1, 2007, Ottawa will grant up to $500 in tax credits to parents with children and teens under 16 who participate in eligible sports”. WTF? I have some issues with this and I may go on a rant so bear with me.

What ever happened to gym/PE class? There were no tax credits for parents when we were kids and we still took part in one sports team/activity each summer. Our parents (mostly dad) were involved in the activities we chose (especially bowling) and supported us all the way. They drove us to games/practice, sat and cheered us on and/or froze their butts off while we “played” with other kids. I don’t think there needs to be tax credits for kids or adults who take classes, are part of an organized sports team, or belong to a gym. There’s a serious problem with childhood (and adult!) obesity in the western world today and it’s our own freakin fault. Let’s stop blaming the government, fast food giants, and the media. We’ve done it too ourselves.

Children need active role models. That means their parents/guardians. While my mother was not that physically active, my dad played volleyball, softball, bowled, and coached. I can’t speak for my brother but it certainly helped us to get out there and do things. And it doesn’t just apply to organized activities. When we were kids we played outside ALL the time. We used our imaginations and had fun. And don’t try blaming it on computers, gameboys and playstations. We were one of the first families in the neighbourhood to have a computer (the fantastic Vic20 and Commodore 64s). Before that we had an electronic pinball game that hooked up to the back of our television. Despite these fantastic electronic playthings, we were still outside, running around, scraping our knees, falling off of bicycles and getting hit in the head with golf clubs (ok…not the best examples). With some exceptions, parents today are content to sit on the couch each evening and watch tv, guzzle a beer and order pizza. Is it any wonder that our children who look up to us as role models are fat and lazy? They’re imitating us.

One woman interviewed in the article stated: “Taxpayers are on the hook for millions every year for health-care costs incurred because of cigarettes and alcohol. So, what does the government do? Put sin taxes on that to offset the expense.” I totally agree, taxpayers do end up having to pay for these things. And I agree it’s wrong. If you intentionally harm yourself by smoking, drinking, doing drugs or, yes, eating yourself into obesity, why should I have to pay for it. Now, I’m willing to admit that these are often addictions and “diseases”. However, no one forced you to smoke that first cigarette, take that first drink, snort your first line of coke, or eat that entire box of donuts. And before anyone starts getting pissed off at me, I come from a family with a history of addiction and am myself overweight.

One of the things that really chaps my hide is David Crosby. Here’s a man whom EVERYONE knows spent a good portion of his life, smoking, drinking and doing drugs to excess. Then what happens? SURPRISE! His liver goes kaput and he needs a transplant. For some reason, it seemed to take no time at all for him to get his new liver. SURPRISE again. Such is the power of celebrity although I’m sure that the hospital, doctors and transplant/organ donation people found other ways to spin it so it made it sound perfectly acceptable for him to receive a donor liver so quickly. Give me a break. What about all those people who need a new liver because of some genetic malfunction, injury or disease that was NOT INTENTIONAL? Don’t expect me to pay for your health care expenses for something you’ve done to yourself. There is NO WAY that someone who smokes does NOT know the risks they are taking, everyone knows alcohol and drugs are addicting, and when was the last time someone actually believed a chocolate covered, Bavarian cream filled delight from Timmies had any nutritional value?

Continuing my rant about tax breaks, I also have an issue with the $1,200/year/child tax break the Conservatives have established for families with children under the age of 6. Whatever happened to taking care of your own kids? Now single parents out there, don’t fret. This particular portion of my rant is NOT directed towards you – you HAVE to work in order to provide for your children. This is aimed at the two parent households. When my brother was born, my mom was a stay-at-home type. Then I came along. I’m sure my brother would like to think I was the reason my mom decided to go back to work (ha ha Dave, you’re NOT funny). My mother stayed at home until I was old enough to go to school. We went without a lot of stuff as kids, things that are taken for granted by most families today…a 2nd car, a house (we lived in military housing our whole lives), fancy clothes, the coolest toys, fabulous vacations… Did we suffer for it? Well, with the exception of a god-awful pair of purple lace up winter boots, I’d say no. There was no one there handing out cash for parents who couldn’t afford daycare – one parent (usually the mother) stayed home. And why should I have to pay for you to put your kid in daycare while you go to work because you think you NEED to? Oh yeah, that’s right, I said “because you think you NEED to”. Here’s why…

A lot of families (parents) will tell you that they both HAVE to work in order to make ends meet. True, but why is that? It’s because they’re all playing “keep up with the Jones’”. There’s no reason you need to have an SUV and a mini-van and a compact car for junior. You don’t need that big house, fancy furniture, the latest fashions, or every new version of the iPOD that comes out. Look at families in other parts of the world. Their houses and their cars are much smaller despite the fact that their family units are the same size or bigger! Their kids don’t need to have cell phones by the time they reach grade four or the latest PS2 game. Think of what’s really important in your life. It should be your children, your health, your happiness. You don’t need the tax breaks, you need to get a clue and realize that life isn’t about things or stuff. It’s about family, friends, happiness, love, and caring for one another.


Wandering Coyote said...

Great rant, but I personally don't have a problem with these particular tax credits. While I agree about the PE class thing, you can blame that on provinical education budget cuts which relay back to transfer payments made by the federal government. I agree that there is a complete lack of personal responsiblilty when it comes to obesity/exercise/health - we are as a society quick to blame someone or something other than ourselves, and I agree that tax payers shouldn't bear the burden of medical costs for people who get disease as a direct result of their vices. But I personally don't see the harm in giving tax credits to people being responsible with their health by going to the gym or sticking their kid in soccer.

As for that $1200 tax credit - that was the Conservatives' way of cheaping out on providing national subsidized child care. I don't agree with it either, mainly because it won't cover the costs of childcare for most families needing it, and it lets the Cons off the hook with the whole issue, so they can be hereos and say, "look, we're giving families $1200 a year to help themselves." Bullshit. Invest in national childcare and get over yourselves. That's what we really need in this country.

Alun said...

Perhaps the Crosby liver is a dream come true for some people. After you die you have a small part in making his next album.

But drinking celebrities with new livers aren't always attractive.

Candy Minx said...

I loved this rant and agree with all the major points. these cut backs are disgusting and PE and art should be a basic part of the curriculum. No, no handouts for gyms thats ridiculous. Thats why we have the YMCA!!! which is an incredible public facility, often re-vamped all across Canada...and membership is based on inome. A tax break may be a way of cut backs on school programs and the YMCA.

Often, if we do the paperwork, by the time a spouse has bought clothes and gas and luches the cost detracts from the benefits of two spouses working.

You know, the brilliant anthropologist (cultural materialism) Marvin Harris said that women's rights weren't demanded because women wanted to be equal but rather...because employers would rather hire any white woman over an African-american, women wanted to buy all the new gadgets and appliances invented after the forties.

I don't know sweetie...we really need to hone into these tricks that politicians play with us.

It really frustrates me that people tend to vote for someone because that person promises them a deal on taxes. Really, it's this petty shell game of deals on taxes why some of these________ get elected...and the public doesn't understand how our benefits in Canada work and are maintained. I might suggest along with protecting gym classes, re-introducing art cvlasses...we also get a history of our social structure and social benefits in Canada.

sometimes, I wonder if a little "collapse" might be just the ingredient we need to accept some of the changes we really should make in our lifestyles. That is why I was attracted to part of the blurb from Homer-Dixon's book...that some set back actually might turn out to be a good thing a leap for our imagination...

Hey maybe you and I can do a tag team book review if we like his new book and get people turned on!

Cheers kiddo!

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