The High Cost of Living in Toronto forces Both Parents to work and forces their Children into Daycare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 24th, 2013

Week in Review

Once upon a time we worked so we could raise our families.  Now we find someone to raise our children so we can work (see Daycare in Toronto: ‘Parent summit’ participants tell of vastly different experiences by Marco Chown Oved posted 11/22/2013 on the star).

Diana Tarango is worried. Her 4-year-old daughter is in all-day kindergarten, but because she can’t find before- and after-school care, she can’t go back to work.

Perry Wong and Nalini Nankoo are frustrated. They have been looking for a daycare space for their 2-year-old son and have put down non-refundable deposits to get on the waiting list at a half-dozen daycares. They can’t afford to keep wasting money, and their son still doesn’t have a space.

Cynthia Zhu and Kenny Ji couldn’t be happier. They’ve been in Canada for less than a year and they’ve got both their kids in subsidized daycare spots near their home.

These stories show how ineffective our patchwork daycare system is, said Councillor Shelley Carroll.

“Child care is an issue that affects us all in different ways,” she said. “That’s why we need these meetings and why we need to get people talking across generations, too.”

Parents, grandparents and even childless adults are all affected by the high cost of daycare, said Carroll, and a better system won’t just be better for families with young children, it will be good for the economy as well.

There are 57,000 daycare spaces in Toronto, only enough for 21 per cent of the city’s children under 12. The city subsidizes 24,264 of those spaces, which only covers about 28 per cent of children in low-income families.

Making matters worse, the wait-list for a subsidized spot is more than 18,500 people long…

Tarango, newly arrived from Hungary, looked into putting her younger son into daycare, but can’t believe how much it would cost.

“I was amazed when I asked the price: $1,500 per kid (per month)!” she said. “In Hungary, after one and a half years, everything is free. The daycare even provides food free, too.”

If 21% of the total number of children under 12 equals 57,000 then the total number of children under 12 in Toronto equals 271,429 (57,000/0.21).  The total number of children who need daycare is 75,500 (57,000+18,500).   Subtracting this number from the total number of children under 12 equals 195,929 (271,429-75,500).  So the percentage of children under 12 who are raised in Toronto without daycare equals 72.2% (195,929/271,429).  In other words, the vast majority of children of daycare age DON’T use daycare.  Which is a good thing.  And one would hope that’s because they have a stay-at-home parent raising their child in a loving household.  Instead of dumping these inconvenient pains in the ass at daycare so they can do something more rewarding than parenting.

There may be many reasons why parents need daycare for their children.  Single mothers may need daycare so they can work.  There could be a married parent that prizes a career over raising children and prefers to work instead of being a stay-at-home parent.  But perhaps the greatest reason is that parents can’t raise a family on a single income because of high taxes.  Some of which are going to subsidize daycare at $1,500 per child per month.  Which creates a death spiral for daycare.

Daycare isn’t cheap.  So it takes a lot of tax dollars to subsidize.  The high unmet demand for daycare spaces requires more tax dollars to subsidize.  Which require higher tax rates.  Leaving people with less take-home pay.  Making it more difficult for parents to raise a family on a single income.  Requiring more two-income households.  And a greater demand for daycare.  Requiring more tax dollars.  And higher tax rates.  Leaving families with less take-home pay.  And so on.

The best way to provide for these children?  Tax cuts.  Allowing families to keep more of their take-home pay.  So much that they can raise a family on a single income.  Like they used to do.  Before the welfare state.  That provided cradle-to–grave benefits.  Which, ironically, leaves working people with less.  And forces their children to spend more time growing up with strangers.  And less time with their parents.


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The Government provides more Solar Power Subsidies to Encourage Bad Investments into Solar Power

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 14th, 2012

Week in Review

When it comes to electric power the smart money is on coal.  So of course our government chooses solar (see US gov’t sets aside 285,000 acres for solar, wind development posted 10/12/2012 on EDI).

The US government has finalized a plan to encourage new solar-energy projects on federal lands in several western states. The area covered by the new agreement is 285,000 acres, consisting of seventeen “solar energy zones.” considered to be the best locations for solar development…

The Obama administration has authorized the development of 10,000 megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal projects. These would provide enough energy to power more than 3.5 million homes, said Salazar. According to Salazar, solar and wind energy production has doubled since Obama took office.

You know what the federal government doesn’t have to encourage?  The building of coal-fired power plants.  In fact, the demand for the electric power a coal-fired power plant produces is so great that the government has to increase the cost of building and operating them to discourage people from building them.  Why?  To please President Obama’s liberal, environmental base.  Which includes a lot of wealthy donors.  The environmentalists don’t like coal or the cheap and reliable electric power it produces.  So they attack coal.  And encourage government to subsidize solar power.  Because solar power is not cheap or reliable like the electric power produced by coal-fired power plants.  Which is why no one will build a solar power plant without massive government subsidies.

Power plants have capacity factors.  Which we calculate by dividing actual power produced by the maximum possible power a power plant can produce over a period of time.  A typical capacity factor for a coal-fired plant is approximately 90%.  Because all you need is fuel.  Unlike a solar power plant.  Which has a capacity factor of approximately 20%.  The reason why it’s so much lower than a coal-fired power plant is that solar power plants turn off every evening at dusk and turn back on at dawn.  Something you don’t have to do with coal.  Because you can burn coal all day long.  Even at night.  Which is when we use electric power the most.  To light our homes.  To run our air conditioners after work.  To power our televisions we watch after dinner.

So 10,000 megawatts is not likely to power 3.5 million homes.  Especially at night.  Unless they build a very expensive energy storage system to store the electric power they make during the day to use at night.  As long as no one needs any electric power during the day.  As you can see solar power is not what the government thinks it is.  It’s a novelty at best.  That is very, very expensive despite sunlight being free.  Why is it so expensive?  Because that 285,000 acres needs to be covered with solar panels.  And for this power to be useful at night there’s that aforementioned energy storage system.  All of this to provide what a coal-fired power plant can produce with about 30% the installed capacity of the solar power plant.  Which makes the logical and rational choice coal.  Not solar.  Yet our government chooses solar over coal.  Which tells us what?  Our government is neither logical nor rational.


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Private Investors passed on Solyndra, so why didn’t the Smart People in Government pass, too?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 14th, 2011

The High Cost of Solar Power makes Reliable Fossil Fuel-Produced Electricity even more Attractive

Solar panels. One of the darlings of green energy. And a favorite of the Obama administration. Especially Solyndra. Where Vice President Biden made a personal appearance to showcase the government’s half billion dollar investment into the economy of the future. A future, albeit, that will not include Solyndra. Why? Sales of solar panels are down. Way down (see Opposing view: ‘Perfect storm’ sank Solyndra by Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary of Energy, posted 9/14/2011 on USA Today).

Unfortunately, expanding production has coincided with short-term softening demand, a product of the banking crisis in Europe and its wider economic effects. The combination has had a dramatic effect on the price of solar cells, which has plummeted 42% in the past nine months. This has taken a serious toll on solar manufacturers everywhere, including the U.S.

Actually, what made Solyndra’s solar panels unsellable was something else. They didn’t use silicon. Like everyone else. They used another material. And a different technology. This cost more. But the installation was cheaper. So the total package was competitive. Until the price of silicon fell, that is. Which priced them right out of the market.

Solyndra needed silicon to remain expensive to remain competitive. Much like E85. That really only sold well when gas peaked over $4/gallon. And people didn’t realize that they had to buy more of it to go as far as gasoline would take them. Which meant a lot of people bought E85 only once. But government still subsidizes it. To make it cheap enough to get people to buy it. Even though they don’t want it.

Which is why solar panels aren’t selling. Governments everywhere are implementing austerity measures to reduce record debts. Which means they can’t subsidize these solar panels anymore. Which makes their high prices even higher. Making that sweet reliable fossil fuel-produced electricity all the more attractive. So bye bye Solyndra.

This month, Solyndra , a California-based company, filed for bankruptcy. Solyndra had been named one of the world’s 50 most innovative companies and reported sales growth of 40% to $140 million last year. In 2006, the company applied for a federal loan guarantee. It underwent years of rigorous internal and external review before being approved — before the perfect storm of deteriorating market conditions.

This year is 2011. So they reported sales of $140 million in 2010. And if you do some math, this means they reported sales of $100 million in 2009. Sounds impressive. But numbers are relative. We have to put them into some kind of context for a true understanding.

Government Investment into Solar Energy is Politics over Substance or just Plain Cronyism

So let’s find a little context (see White House ignored red flags in loan to failed solar company by Martin Wolk posted 9/14/2011 on MSNBC).

The FBI raided the Silicon Valley headquarters of the company, Solyndra, last week, investigating whether the government was misled when it loaned the company $535 million in taxpayer funds…

Solyndra received the loan guarantees in 2009 as part of President Barack Obama’s promise to create millions of so-called “green” jobs. But last month, Solyndra declared bankruptcy, laying off all 1,100 workers.

Hmm, let’s see. That was $535 million to produce $100 million in sales. Now that’s putting things into context. In other words, $100 million in sales is not impressive. In fact, it is downright abysmal. Only about 19% of the federal loan produced sales in 2009. For the last two full years of their existence, about 45% of the federal loan produced sales.

Worse, by the time you subtract the cost of sales from these sales and calculate the return on this government investment, there is none. Even before the bankruptcy. This was a horrible investment. This is a lot like all of those dot-com startups. Companies that were flooded with investment capital. As people were anxious to find the next Microsoft. Pouring money into companies that never produced anything to sell. And when the investment capital dried up, the dot-com bubble burst.

At least with the dot-com economic destruction, private investors lost. The green energy bubble, on the other hand, it’s the taxpayer losing. Because we’re subsidizing so much of this green energy. Why? Because private investors see it for what it is. A bad investment. There isn’t a market for this stuff. So they’re not throwing good money at bad investments. Unlike Uncle Sam.

House Republican investigators have unearthed emails — reviewed by NBC — which reveal repeated warnings by government staffers about the loan. Days before final approval there was a warning that one model showed the project would run out of cash in September 2011, which it did.

Another memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget, also cited by The Washington Post, questioned the model the government was using, but said “[g]iven the time pressure we are under to sign-off on Solyndra, we don’t have time to change the model.”

Why the rush? The White House appeared to be pushing to meet political deadlines so Vice President Joe Biden could announce final approval when he spoke at the groundbreaking for the new plant.

A key question is whether Solyndra’s political connections were a factor. A big Obama donor associated with the venture, identified by the Post as Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, repeatedly visited the White House. He has denied using his influence to win approval of the loan.

This explains a lot. Staffers warned against the loan. Some even did math. Probably recognizing that there were no sales. And with no revenue coming in it was a simple matter of dividing investment capital by their monthly costs. Which proved very accurate. The staffers were smart. The policy was just bad. But, alas, staffers don’t make policy.

This is politics over substance. Or just plain cronyism. Which means one of two things. Government is incompetent. Or corrupt. Take your pick. Whichever one makes you feel better.

If Private Investors won’t Invest it has to be a Bad Investment

Solyndra is just one example of bad government policy. The whole ‘green energy is our future’ is a pipe dream. An excuse for the government to spend money. And to pay back campaign donors.

If this was our future, private investors would be pumping investment capital into green energy like there was no tomorrow. Like they did with all of those dot-coms. Those didn’t need any government investment, did they? And you know why? Because the private sector is full of greedy bastards looking to get richer. That’s why. And they will bury someone with investment capital if that someone has a good idea.

Anything the government ‘invests’ in, then, is a bad idea. Why? Because private investors say so.


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