So...let us go through it by the numbers.
The ONDP and and its defenders on the issue of the Ontario budget have been quick to talk of "making parliament work" and of being "responsible". The Liberals, obviously, have embraced this.
But make parliament work for who, exactly?
Many have applauded the so-called ONDP tax that applies to almost no one. The miniscule charge on the ULTRA wealthy that only comes into effect over $500,000 in income, non-inclusive! A tax that McGuinty has already said would be used to pay off capitalist creditors....making it, for what it is, a tax from the very rich to the very rich.
Meanwhile the appalling fact that welfare recipients must accept what is in reality a cut and the fact that no one at all has put the minimum wage on the table goes unmentioned.
Perhaps, in part, because the austerity budget agreed upon by the Liberals and the ONDP does not effect the pocket books of the ONDP caucus at all.
It is really easy to take a "sensible" and "reasonable" stand on the poor, minimum wage workers, and public sector workers when you have no connection to their reality in anyway. Especially when you have made no attempt to ensure that their wages or paltry benefits are not either frozen or might as well be. Your "contribution", which would normally take the form of increased taxes, amounts to exactly nothing.
Despite twenty years of personal income tax cuts, most pronounced on the income brackets the MPPs lie within, income tax cuts that have caused the entire "crisis" we exist in now, the only "reversal" of this that is being called for does not apply to the ONDP (or Liberal) caucus members who made this deal and whose incomes still fall well within the top 2% of earners.
So what does that mean in terms of numbers?
Well, in 2011 Andrea Horwath made $158,156.96. Cheri DiNovo 129,722.63. Peter Taubuns $123, 334.34. etc.
Meanwhile, a frozen minimum wage yearly income amounts to $21,320 a year and remains FROZEN. Which means, given inflation over the last year it has declined by over 3% relative to the cost of living.
Much, much worse is an income of a single person on welfare.
That was $597.92 a month prior to this budget. It will increase by 1% to, stunningly and appallingly, $603.90.
That means a yearly welfare income of, for a single recipient, approximately $7246.80.
It also means an increase of only around sixty dollars a year while none of the ONDP caucus members will see their taxes increase by even that same amount. In fact, their personal taxes will not increase by one penny. While, yet again, welfare and disability rates will decrease on the most vulnerable versus inflation.
By over 2% this year and by, stunningly, at least 10% over the last decade.
But, even staying with this year alone, to equal the "sacrifices" that those on welfare are making, by having their taxes increase at inflation in lock step to the actual, in real terms, decrease of those on welfare versus inflation, the ONDP caucus members should pay, at minimum, in excess of $2,400 a year in increased personal taxes.
They are not doing this, needless to say.
So before we talk about the alleged "courage" of a tax increase that will not even apply to them, let us at least recall that the ONDP caucus members that made this choice, (and it was a choice), made at minimum 16.5 times a year what a welfare recipient does, and around six times what a minimum wage worker does.
And let us remember what living on these lower "incomes", especially in the face of other austerity cuts, really means,
Next time you wonder about income inequality in our society and why MPPs of any stripe don't seem to want to seriously do anything about it...it is worth considering these numbers.