“I Am Less Free Today Than I Was 30 Years Ago…”

That is a shocking sentence to read. Gets the brain going. Here is the nub of an excellent post over at the always excellent The Last Exile:

Globalization was suppose to make us all free and rich. Although, it has not worked out that way for most of us. I am not any richer and my wages face a constant erosion from the rising rates of taxes and the general cost of just about everything while the corporate tax rate continues to slide ever downward. I know for a fact; I am less free today than I was 30 years ago. Canadians generally do not have any babies anymore; mostly because they cannot afford to when it takes a 2 person income just to raise a small family with ordinary expectations. We never really discuss that in this country, and if the topic does manage to come up in public dialogue, somehow the dominate ethos manages to give the impression that a woman who works outside the home rather than rising her children at home does so for selfish avaricious reasons rather than the fact that taxation, housing and transportation costs now claim a much larger percentage of family income than they did 30 years ago.

Add to that list communications device fees. I pay over $250 a month for home phone, internet, cell phone and cable TV. I could cut it but with the range of ages in the house it’s not a practical solution. I am a bit shocked at electricity hikes added to natural gas bill, too. Again over $250 a month combined. If I ever created that stand alone blog dedicated to complaining about society’s broken promises called Where the Hell is my Jet Pack??, I might write about these things or think about them more.

Why don’t I? We are fortunate and a bit unconventional as fosterers and for other reasons, I suppose, but if I thought about it, I might have expected the sort of financial status we have now to have been the lifestyle in my late 30s rather than my late 40s. But maybe I don’t care. Maybe the money or other resources go to intangibles and non-investments. Like better cheese. Like tanks of gas for wandering weekend road trips. I think I am better off. But who knows. I don’t think I think about it all that much.

One thought on ““I Am Less Free Today Than I Was 30 Years Ago…””

  1. [Original comments…]

    Matthew Fletcher – October 24, 2011 5:04 PM
    Rising rates of taxes? I don’t know about the last 30 years, but in the last 22 years, income tax rates have come down.
    Rising cost of everything? Depends. The cost of many household goods has come down; either in real terms, like computers, or in relative terms, for a lot of other appliances and goods.
    Lower corporate taxes? Yes. And if you work for a corporation it has had more money to pay you with.
    Less Free? Completely ridiculous. Gays and lesbians are, in absolute terms, more free today than they were 30 years ago. Women are much more free on the basis that they have a much greater access to abortion. The Internet has generally created a massive liberalisation of communication and information availability. The rights of most other people have not regressed or declined.

    People are having fewer children; when my parents were my age they had three kids, I have none. Is that because of a real or perceived increased cost? Possibly. But I think there are a lot of factors, but it is important to note.

    Are women negatively assessed for leaving the home to work? Often, for sure. But less so now, I think, than 30 years ago.

    Overall, I can’t agree with much in this rambling declinist paragraph.

    David Janes – October 25, 2011 7:37 AM
    Oh man I wish I had some time.

    Brief notes:
    – TV is free OTA. Scale down to one phone with no call display, etc.. I bet you can get Internet for $25 month.
    – Scale heating costs to the size of the house compared to grandparents. [There is a strong argument that economic malaise is related to energy costs].
    – Kids are expensive, and especially expensive if you want them reared in a camp-heavy bourgeois lifestyle.
    – Mostly everything we have is awesome, and less expensive than 40 years ago. Cancer is not a death sentence, neither are a large number of childhood diseases. Cars can run a decade without falling apart. Access to encyclopedias is measured in milliseconds, not by trips to the library.

    K’Shoshana – October 25, 2011 10:29 AM
    The last 22 years income taxes have come down….but what about provincial income taxes, sales taxes, health taxes, EI and CPP rates? Of course, there were considerably more ‘tax deductions’ we were allowed 30 years ago than we are allowed today.

    I would be remiss if I did not point out to a whole host of consumer goods and services that sales taxes have been imposed on that were never taxed 30 years ago. Just think things like hairdressers or lawyers for starters. Why even birth certificates and driver’s licensing cost considerably more today than they did 30 years ago. Shall I even bring up the cost of water taxes, property taxes, and the price of electricity or gasoline? I have a friend who lives in an apartment and uses less than $20 worth of electricity a month but her bill is always closer to $100 because of the extra surcharges which are added. And appliances, well the thing is, when you brought a fridge 30 years ago it tended to last another 30 years easily – ditto other household appliances. Of course, the cost of a car didn’t represent the size of a down payment on your average 3 bedroom house in the GTA. It was quite common 30 years for a car to run longer than a decade. Contrary to idea that ‘cars’ are built to last longer today – my mother bought a ’73 Duster which ran till 1989. Most people chose not to drive their cars that long because new cars didn’t represent the expense they do today.

    Now we can talk about the outrageous prices we pay for things like coffee, butter, bread, milk, rice which have seen fairly hefty price increases in the last 3 years alone. What about the price of beer and booze.

    In 1981, I made $175.00 a week and a month’s cash fare for TTC cost me $30 ($.0.75 cash fare). If I made minimum wage today, I would have monthly income of $1200 (based on a 40 hour work week) but the cash fare for 20 working days would cost me $240.00. Now tell me again, about how much cheaper everything is today. I have not even brought up the costs of books, women’s clothing, shoes or boots. And David Janes, most families I grew up around had encyclopedias in their homes 30 years ago. No trip to the library was required. Either they were on a layaway plan and each volume came in the mail or we used our green stamps from shopping at Steinberg’s grocery to buy them. But I cannot quite help but think it sad that a trip to the library is perceived as an ‘inconvenience’.

    In 1981, I made $175.00 a week and a month’s cash fare for TTC cost me $30 ($.0.75 cash fare). If I made minimum wage today, I would have monthly income of $1200 (based on a 40 hour work week) but the cash fare for 20 working days would cost me $240.00. Now tell me again, about how much cheaper everything is today.

    Less free, absolutely. The weight of municipal laws alone is crushing – from regulating the number of cars I can park in my driveway to where I can hang my laundry outside to the type of garden I am allowed to grow on my property. The list goes on and on – and it seems quite never ending. Furthermore, travelling outside the country – or even in country is a nightmare. Thirty years ago, I use to just show up at the airport with my passport and cash in hand and I would buy a ticket for the first plane I could get on. I don’t think I ever had to wait more than 20 minutes before a flight took off either – cannot do that now.

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