Nothing betrays the Calvinist-Social Credit roots of the present government more than this week's Employment Insurance "reforms." Tom Walkom writes:
Behind this week’s changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance system lie bone-headed ideology and contempt.
The bone-headed ideology stems from the Conservative government’s primitive, Economics 101 view of the world.
The contempt is that of comfortable, well-heeled politicians who, deep down, assume that those unfortunate enough to have lost their jobs lack moral fibre.
Behind the changes is the fundamentalist faith that wealth and social position are a sign that one is a member of the "elect." And, although most workers fund EI, the elect determine who receives benefits. Thus, only about 40% of Canadians can collect employment insurance. And this week it got much tougher for the 40%. The reason, Walkom writes, is because:
The rules as they stand are biased against those who for no fault of their own must take part-time jobs to make ends meet, as well as contract workers who are technically deemed self-employed.
Added to this is the fact that the EI fund has been used as a cash cow by successive governments — either to pay off debt (as Jean Chrétien’s Liberals did) or to fund other programs.
Thus EI now pays for maternity, parental and compassionate leaves. It funds training programs and subsidizes self-employed fishermen.
There is nothing wrong with supporting maternity leaves or retraining. But EI was established to see workers through layoffs. And, while more people are being laid off for longer periods, fewer of them can access EI. The new rules mean even fewer Canadians will be eligible to receive EI. More than that, they reinforce one of the Harper government's prime objectives -- to drive down wages:
Thus the new 70 per cent rule: If you lose your job, you must be willing to take a wage cut of up to 30 per cent to qualify for EI benefits. Lose that job and you’re liable to another 30 per cent wage cut. And on. And on.
The Harperites have confused being elected with being members of the elect. They assume that their position makes them evangelists, whose mission is to see that the less fortunate pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Pure Calvinist hypocrisy.