Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Soft Paternalism

If, Bernard Lord is re-elected in New Brunswick he is promising a tax credit for sports, recreation and cultural activities (the addition of cultural events is likely a preview of things to come from the federal government.) As my colleague Andrew Potter pointed out on his Maclean's blog, the whole notion of tax credits for physical activity is classic Tory double speak:

The tax credit embodies everything conservatives supposedly hate about government. It is government-knows-best micro-social engineering of the worst sort. It chooses amongst conceptions of the good and uses the tax system to force people into compliance. What’s worse, kids who can’t kick a ball or kids who can’t carry a tune? Is either of these a matter for the government?

Even if we accept that the government should be encouraging child fitness, this policy is not neutral with respect to delivery. Why should parents get $500 for ditching Sophie and Maxime three days a week at the pool, while parents who take their kids canoeing or for daily walks get squat?

Which is to note that the entire force of this credit is diametrically opposed to the other child benefit, the $1200 in cash money the Tories are giving to parents for every child under 6. The idea behind that credit was: give the money to the parents, they know best.

The whole notion of tax credits to encourage behaviour is utterly senseless and a complete waste of public money.

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