Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Never let facts affect the message - Updated

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, is a 'citizens' group that advocates for lower taxes. In reality, it is another part of the right wing movement to defund government, privatize public services and eliminate social programs. Organizers of the CTF favor privatization of environmental oversight, public healthcare, education, transportation, public power and employment programs such as compensation, EI, CPP and other elements of the socioeconomic safety net. They aim to undermine taxpayer confidence with exaggerated claims of government excess. Any data they publish bounces quickly around Canada's right wing echo chamber.

Directors and staff claim to be non-partisan but come almost exclusively from the Conservative Party's right wing and founders included old bible-thumpers, Reform Party members and people allied with western separatist movements. Financial support originates with the usual mega-corporations, libertarians and social conservative spear carriers that also fund the:
  • Fraser Institute, 
  • the Manning Centre, 
  • Frontier Centre for Public Policy, 
  • Atlantic Institute for Market Studies
  • the Institute for Marriage and Family, 
  • Institute for Canadian Values, 
  • Cardus (formerly the Work Research Foundation), 
  • etc.
The Canadian Taxpayer Federation, like the Fraser Institute, is accustomed to having its reports published in the mainstream press without editing or fact checking. As an example, the Vancouver Sun printed the CTF claim that "British Columbians will see their after-tax income shrink more than anyone else in Canada" in January 2011.

The Vancouver Sun reports:
"According to the CTF, a B.C. family of four with a single-income earner who makes $35,000 a year — receiving a 1.8-per-cent raise to account for inflation — will pay $384 more for health, CPP and EI premiums in 2011, the biggest increase for this demographic."
In fact, if that family received a 1.8% wage increase, the amount would be $630 for the year. That would lead to higher contributions to CPP and EI of $42.40 on the increase plus $17.50 for an overall EI rate increase.  Those payments would give rise to higher benefit eligibility but, ignoring that and adding the $7 monthly increase for medical services results in the family paying $144 more for health, CPP and EI premiums in 2011, a far cry from the $384 claimed by the CTF.

Update, Dec. 29, 2010 9:00 pm

The Federation's so-called study is the direct result of statistical gymnastics aimed at deceiving readers. They are trying to choose income levels that would result in the mythical family losing part of its medical premium assistance because of slightly higher income. However, their example misses the fact that subsidies are based on "adjusted net income" which provides $9,000 in dependent deductions from the family's gross income. Whether the families medical premiums assistance changes or not requires a calculation specific to their individual circumstances.

It is dishonest and foolish to choose one very specific situation and claim it can be extrapolated to report, as the Vancouver Sun did, "British Columbians will see their after-tax income shrink more than anyone else in Canada."

I pointed out errors to the newspaper writers credited with this article, although it may have been prepared directly by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. As is the Vancouver Sun`s habit, they made no correction or acknowledgment. Nor did they defend their erroneous work. Perhaps, this is worth an inquiry with the British Columbia Press Council.  - Read update -

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2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for your work. I have just stumbled upon your blog, but will try catch up on old posts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Ien. I look forward to reading through your blogs as well.

    ReplyDelete

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