My comparison comes a couple days removed from when Harper actually said this, but I think the comment he made on refusing to expanding EI benefits during these troubled economic times is worthy of Grinch comparisons, or Ebenezer Scrooge, for that matter:
“We are not interested in making it lucrative to pay people not to work, it’s not what this government is about, that’s not what the taxpayers expect us to spend money on…not making Employment insurance more generous”
Now, I could repeat word for word what Steve said at his post about this rather dumb remark (and I still recommend that you do read it) , but instead of that, I’m going to quote Cam Holmstrom from Steve’s comment section (who blogs at Peterborough Politics), and left this comment that encapsulates exactly why what Harper said is not only misleading, but insensitive and completely wrong:
EI is not like most government programs and is not some charity program: It’s a program that the workers themselves pay into. Those workers aren’t just recipients, they’re contributors to that fund. To hear Harper say it, you’d think that EI funds just magically appeared from no where thanks to the “taxpayer”, He needs to remember that all that EI money has been earned by the workers themselves. But that would involve giving up a chance to kick those pesky unemployed workers who probably won’t vote for him while they’re down, and again he shows he can’t be adult enough to control those urges of his.
Or how about what Mike, a lefty libertarian and blogger at Rational Reasons also said in the same comments section:
Considering this is an insurance scheme, one would expect you could get out what you paid in. And since it has been taking in far more than it is paying out for a decade, its clear that isn’t happening…Most people need EI to survive until they get that new job, not to party it up and get paid to do nothing…Why is the government stealing this money from people under the pretence of insuring them should they lose their job and then refusing to pay it to them when they do?
Or, if you don’t value bloggers opinions as being worth anything, how about the Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based think tank, which I don’t think is exactly teeming with liberals or socialists, who issued this report:
There was also a consensus that the feds should quickly inject money into the hands of consumers and businesses by strengthening Employment Insurance and other programs designed to act as a safety net during difficult times. The unemployed, pensioners, students and others more likely to spend than to save should be on the top of the list. Federal support for provincial social programs should also be increased as a short-term measure. “Getting more funds into the hands of individuals who most need support and will quickly spend the money should take priority over cutting personal or business taxes,” said Jonathan Kesselman of Simon Fraser University.
It is obvious that Harper is trying to make expansion or extension of EI benefits the equivalent of welfare payments, and thus painting that proposed measure with the stigma of welfare – ie. his stupid statement of “paying people not to work”. If you think Harper is a converted follower of Keynesian economics, think again with what he just said about EI benefits. He is obviously pained that he has to do a stimulus package, forced upon him by a united opposition. Despite dropping all forms of his ideological beliefs in order to say in power (otherwise known as flip-flopping), this measure is apparently too much even for him to consider, so he tries to smear and paint it in a bad light – which his finance minister and other ex-Mike Harris ministers should be well aware of, as their ex-premier boss did this type of smearing and besmirching of the poor and unfortunate all the time while he was in power in Ontario.
Suffice it to say that I believe the first stanza of the song in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” can be very well adapted to address Harper with:
You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You’re as cuddly as a cactus,
You’re as charming as an eel.