40 years of faulty wiring

Why Stupidity Rules … Sometimes

Never thought I would be extolling the virtue of being stupid and I’m not convinced that I am.  This article however made me think that one through just a bit. I’m not sure that stupid is a kind or fair word but I suppose it made for a catchy title, a means to get people to read the damned thing (like mine). This article applies stupidity to career and somehow comes up with success. What? How many books are on the market that insist getting ahead means getting a formal education (especially a Bachelor of Business or even better, an MBA), working 50+ hours a week and always “thinking outside that box.”  You know, justifying why you should get a raise during your annual review (with documentation to prove it), offering your assistance to colleagues or even people outside your department; B_F__Skinner_at_Harvard_circa_1950and the classic, “don’t dress for the position you have, dress for the position you want.”  I suppose this works for people.  I work for a public institution so I wouldn’t know. My guess is many people do very well with this type of behaviour and many people don’t.  Many people have been laid off and they have worked for their organization for years.  Many people have been forcibly retired when they reach age 65 even though they are perfectly functional and do an exemplary job.  Think of the devastation and the slap in the face to a person’s loyalty. Hm. Perhaps there is something to this stupidity thing. (NOT this type of stupidity).

This article insists that moving up the ranks (if you must) more slowly than those on the fast track and enjoying each mundane job thrust upon you can actually bring about more job satisfaction than being an ambitious “go-getter.”  That’s because people with an average to somewhat above average intelligence don’t expect as much in the way of success at their jobs and so long as they’re employed and making a reasonable living, they’re happy, dadgummit.  Certainly that cannot be true of everyone. I mean, many people do not look forward to Mondays (goodbye blessed weekend). Work is a chore and a bore.  The routine gets old fast, no matter how “stupid” or how brilliant a person may be.  That’s true of everyone in my experience, “stupid” or not.

Along with the stupidity blog was an article entitled Is Too Much Ambition Making You Miserable?  This one examines that cliche about being on “the fast track” (to nowhere). This article states that ambition often comes at the expense of close relationships…. the pursuit of materialistic values liklonelye money, possessions, and social status–the fruits of career successes–leads to lower well-being and more distress in individuals. Hm. Maintaining balance in one’s life seems to be a possible solution to such havoc. Perhaps there is something to be said for all that.  I flatter myself that I am not stupid (naive perhaps, but not stupid).  I am a humble soul.  I make a good salary yet I am content to live in a small bachelor apartment and keep my expenses reasonably low. I don’t seem to have a materialistic bone in my body (except shoes of course…but at least I find them on sale). I have a responsible, white-collar job and I aim to move upward in my career. However, I am also happy to move at a reasonable pace. It’s the type of job where I need not just the qualification but the experience to take on a more responsible position.  Fine.  I’ll get there when I get there.  I suppose there are lots of people around like me.  Perhaps that’s why, in spite of earning 3 university degree to date, and having a higher goal in sight, I am not stressed and I am certainly not in a hurry.  Works for me (pun).

A blog that analyzes why happy people are happy listed (of course) some traits that we happy people seem to possess. Dumb little man (his label, not mine), states very definitely that not pursuing status, strip away expectations, and don’t fight your environment (no, not fighting to save the environment). I really liked the “strip away expectations“, referring to easing up on the goal-setting habits of successful, miserable people.  A decade or two ago, I remember reading some kind of book that stated it was important to list goals for the rest of the year, five years later, and 10 years later. It kept a person on track and determined a path.  I followed this idea religiously.  I constantly made this list, completely erasing it and starting over with something new upon a whim, depending on my burgeoning interests and whichever direction my life was headed. It didn’t work.

This isn’t to say that a lack of goals is a sensible move in your career and your life.  In fact, going to that extreme is “stupid” (for anyone). If you don’t know girl-screamingwhere you are going, what are you working for?  I would suggest that a general plan (not years from now and then 10 years from now), that isn’t written in stone and is flexible as necessary is a sensible compromise. I know which courses I am taking that lie ahead of me in order to carve out a career path but this doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind somewhere along the way and pursue something else.  I don’t think that’s uninspired or “stupid.”  I have, however, reached a point where I don’t let my life bounce me around like a raging current, slamming me up against boulders, and leaving me wondering what will happen next, the way I once did.  I have a career where I have established a firmer foothold than that, and that’s a good move. I think it’s flexible planning, patience, and a great way to be happy.

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Career, Education, Human psychology, money | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psychopaths in Suits – Corporate Criminals in Our Midst

Recently another ponzi scheme was exposed after its evil mastermind,  Jeffery White, passed away in 2011, from a brain aneurysm at the age of56. Lucky for him.   Brown, one of the “investors” whom he bilked out of his life savings to the tune of $250,000.00, has stated “if he wasn’t already dead, I’d kill him.” Indeed.  The truly evil thing about White was that he knew Brown and his wife, Anne, and they were his friends.  Imagine how he treated his enemies?  Brown’s wife used to teach White’s wife, Henny, in grade school, hence the connection between Brown and White. It turned out to be a devastating connection, personally and financially. Too bad Anne didn’t teach Henny about business ethics.

Ponzi schemes are named after Charles Ponzi, an Italian businessman and con artist in the U.S. and CanadaCharles Ponzi promised clients a 50% profit within 45 days, or 100% profit within 90 days, by buying discounted postal reply coupons in other countries and redeeming them at face value in the United States as a form of arbitrage.In reality, Ponzi was paying early investors using the investments of later investors. Some ponzi schemes also pay investors with their own initial investment, masquerading it as accrued profit. An interesting flick that presents a ponzi scheme (without calling it so) is Green Guys, about a group of 20-something hot shots who bilk unsuspecting investors for millions of dollars.

There are 5 main characteristics of a ponzi scheme:

  1. The Benefit: A promise that the investment will achieve an above normal rate of return.
  2. The Setup: A plausible explanation of how the investment can achieve these above normal rates of return.
  3. Initial Credibility: The person running the scheme needs to be believable.
  4. Initial Investors Paid Off: For a time, the investors need to make at least the promised rate of return.
  5. Communicated Successes: Investors need to hear about the payoffs.

Steps in the Ponzi Scheme

The steps are as follows:

  1. Convince a few investors to place money into the investment.
  2. After the specified time, return the investment money to the investors, plus the specified interest rate.
  3. Convince more investors to place their money into the system by referring to the profits of the earlier investors.
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3.
  5. During step 2 at one of the cycles, break the pattern.  Escape with the money and start a new life. Or, in Jeffery White’s case, drop dead.

White’s known investors say they are out as much as $5 million. The scheme unravelled after White’s sudden death. Trustees of White’s estate became “extremely uncomfortable“with the discoveries they made. White solicited investments from many of his insurance clients, while treating their moneys as funds that were loaned to him for his general use. White’s business and personal accounts were intermingled, making the tracing of investments impossible.  At the time of his death, White was carrying more than $300,000 in credit card debt and was behind his time-share at Diamond’s Edge Muskoka Cottages. The vintage Porsche 911 Turbo he drove around the GTA was leased. There were no red flags but court documents show White had money problems dating back to the early 1990. Reassessment of his personal income taxes of the years 1996 to 2000 resulted in a substantial debt to Revenue Canada. Testifying at his tax court appeal White claimed his sister left him $1.3 million in debt.The judge in the case called White “vague” and his records “woefully inadequate.” By moving funds about through numerous bank accounts, he made it impossible to prove his case. In 2006, he dropped his appeals and paid $400,000 in arrears.

Psychopathy runs on a continuum with white collar criminals falling in the middle. They’re deceitful and egotistical. White-collar criminals might not physically destroy people, but they have no problem financially destroying them. This type of psychopath is high-functioning. They’re intelligent, have great interpersonal skills, are powerfully persuasive and able to disguise themselves very well. A psychopath is all about manipulation. They’re always assessing, “How can this particular job or person meet my needs? How can I exploit them?’” 

The list of white-collar psychopaths is almost endless. To a certain extent, most people compartmentalize and lead different lives. It’s normal for your work persona to be divergent from your family life. With psychopaths the compartmentalizing is much more exaggerated Jim Hammes, formerly a controller with a Cinncinnati-based company, embezzled $8.7 million of company money into a bank account in the name of a second company doing business with his company. He is currently a fugitive wanted by the FBI and has been on the run since 2009. Hammes also abandoned his two families, neither of whom knew about the other: he was married to two women and had children with both.

Frauds can be very deceptive in terms of their appearance, status and age. Joanne Schneider, a 71-year-old woman in Ohio was recently charged with operating a ponzi scheme and bilking $60 million dollars from 900 investors. The scheme unraveled when a Schneider family member became suspicious after his mother was promised a 16 to 20 percent return on her investment. Schneider’s criminal resume is impressive: securities fraud, selling unregistered securities, engaging in corrupt activity, misrepresentations in securities, theft, and money laundering. Schneider’s husband, Alan Schneider, played a lesser role in the scheme, pled guilty to security and theft charges. He got probation. She got 10 years. If she serves the full sentence, Schneider will be 81 when she is released from prison – either that or deceased from natural causes.

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, BullCrap, corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Education, Finance, Human psychology, money, Politics, Pop Culture | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Average Canadian is Truly Joe Average

As Canadians we have a lot to be proud about in terms of living in a wonderful country like Canada.  The best country in the world, in fact. Where else can you retire on nothing and still be taken care of (see my previous blog Ridiculous Retirement Advice).  However the stats for the average Canadian as a person are considerably less impressive:

  1. the average male is slightly overweight (think of that ugly beer belly many middle-aged men sport) and only earns $30,000 a year
  2. Many Canadians spend $2,000 on fast food and/or restaurants annually yet they save zero for retirement (again, that relates to my previous post if you are interested in the no-frills retirement option)
  3. the average Canadian is $112,000.00 in debt ….  watch cbc a living wage instead of minimum wage
  4. Canadians spend more on booze than fresh fruits and vegetables
  5. these stats don’t jibe with the fact that most Canadians have graduated from college or university
  6. most people are happy with their economic situation
  7. if you live in a house larger than 1,900-sq.-feet,  contribute anything at all to your RRSPs and don’t have a mortgage, you’re doing better than most
  8. The average household debt, including  mortgages, credit cards and personal loans equates to a monthly payment  of about $1,140 ….  watch canada’s growing debt
  9. There’s no evidence that we have a retirement crisis since overall Canadians contribute 30% to their RRSPs
  10. If your family brings in more than $68,000 a year, you’re doing better  than average

The average household rake in between $68,000.00 and $86,000.00, but that is only if both spouses are working.  It is the combined salaries that raise the household income from a single person (on average only $30,000 to $40,000) to these higher amounts. Usually those who are university educated fare far better financially.  An individual can make as much money annually as a combined household income with 2 adults who haven’t graduated from a post-secondary institution.

The stats seem rather disparaging to me, personally but in comparison with the United States they really aren’t so bad:

  1. In 2006, the median annual household income rose 1.3% to $50,233.00
  2. The real median earnings of men who worked full-time, year-round climbed between 2006 and 2007, from $43,460 to $45,113
  3. For women, the corresponding increase was from $33,437 to $35,102 watch thomas sowell – gender bias and income disparity – a myth?
  4. households with an income exceeding $60,000, had two income earners
  5. The educational attainment of the U.S. population reflects that the vast majority of the population has completed secondary education and a rising number of college graduates outnumber high school dropouts.
  6. As a whole, the population of the United States is spending more years in formal educational programs
  7. an average per person of more than $43,000 in debt
  8. the American mortgage debt works out to over $60,000 in housing debt for every adult in the country
  9. the average debt for every adult in the United States is $113,360
  10. Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,956

You’re no better off if you skip to the States to try to capitalize on lower-income taxes as a senior retiree.  Stats seem to bear this out.  The numbers sound abysmal but apparently if you fall in that range somewhere, you’re doing okay. It seems the average Canadian and the average American have a lot in common.  Who knew?

July 9, 2012 Posted by | Education, Finance, money, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ridiculous Retirement Advice

Although I’ve pretty much been doom and gloom about Canada’s ongoing recession, job losses, and the European euro crash, I found some interesting (and hilarious) non-investment retirement advice in MoneySense Guide to Retiring Wealthy that has lifted my spirits. I always wondered what happened to people who either couldn’t or wouldn’t invest a cent for their retirement.  I know people in the latter situation, if you can believe it. One family blows their money at the racetrack every week (how they can afford that while living on a government-funded seniors’ pension, God only knows).  The other is a young man who is more than capable of holding down a job, yet he works the welfare system and collects every month because he doesn’t like work.  No, seriously. There just seem to be people like that in the city, don’t there?  They learn barely legal loopholes and they live on us while we live on … us.  But I digress….

I am reading the updated 2012 edition of MoneySense and found, on p. 58, the most hilarious retirement advice ever.  Now the book states it can help you to retire wealthy, however it seems to have thrown in a codicil here for people who just want to retire, wealthy or not. It presents the no-frills retirement option:

  • rental property with utilities
  • no car – public transport only
  • no cable, internet, etc
  • 3 meals a day
  • no extras – even a bottle of booze every week
  • it didn’t mention food and clothing banks or soup
    kitchens…consider those your luxuries
  • it didn’t mention begging or busking …
    consider those your optional additional income

If you can live happily under these rigid conditions (and some people can) the total amount required to save for your retirement is:  zero.  Seriously.  Where does the money come from to finance the aforemementioned, you say? 3 very solid government systems:  OAS (Old Age Security), GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) and CPP (Canada Pension Plan).  It is not true that CPP and OAS are in danger of vanishing.  Poppycock.  Those rumours have been swirling around since the 1970s but the two systems are still paying out annually to ever senior in Canada.  watch the canada pension plan with malcolm hamilton

This provides a couple with a combined income of approximately $24,000.00 annually, every year.  I do not know what a single retiree is given but I do know  (and I quote) “you won’t have to live on cat food.” watch 88 year old stand up to harper government

While it’s reassuring to know that if, for some tragic reason, you wind up on skid row, that you will still be cared for financially, it just rips me that you can plan for a basic retirement by investing nothing. I cannot stop snickering over that one. Can you imagine watching a commercial like that? So for all of you very laissez-faire types who have been late to the investment party, or who may never make it, relax.  You live in Canada.  Let the elderly Americans eat cat food…or to COIN a phrase…let them eat cake. watch make your money worth more


July 7, 2012 Posted by | Finance, money, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Toronto’s Condo Market Truly a Bubble waiting to Burst?

The jury’s out on this one.  There are a number of reasons why the condo blitz seems to be taking place in the past few years (and will continue to do so for several years to come):

  1. many more single women are buying condos – they won’t wait for husbands or kids and they have the income to afford it
  2. corporate investments – businesses are buying the units and turning them over at a nice, tidy profit
  3. private buyers are doing the same
  4. immigrant people are buying in Toronto
  5. international buyers feel safe in Canada

However, # 2 and # 3 don’t send me into a panic.  So what they’re turning the units for a profit?  I intend to live in my investment one day.  It is unlikely i will want to move out once I get settled in.  I like permanence.  Most of us do. watch toronto’s condo market

Who can predict the real estate market?  6 years ago the U.S. brought us down with that joyous recession, mostly due to the corruption of their real estate market.  You do remember those phony, outrageously unrealistic mortgage rates given to people who couldn’t afford to a kleenex to sneeze into, don’t you? Boom, bust and echo, baby.  Just so long as you have the finances to survive the bust, there shouldn’t be a problem or a panic. watch family guy – glass house

And before you go hopping up on your soap box about condo fees consider mortgage rates, utilities and land property taxes.  How much control does any homeowner have over that?  watch family guy – peter turns house into a puppet

Yes there are renters (like me, currently) who are very happy where they are for a number of reasons:

  1. Usually you won’t be house poor with a decent rent
  2. you don’t have to sell and hope to make a decent profit when you want to move – move anytime you want
  3. the building is maintained for you – just like a condo – no work for you, my dear

There are cons to renting of course:

  1. it’s not an investment…some say it is throwing your money away.  I strongly disagree. Throwing money away is visiting the Woodbine Race Track and betting on the horses.  Keeping a shelter over your head is not.
  2. Rent increase is no longer controlled by the regional government…however most building owners aren’t entirely idiotic.  Unless they want to chase away their tenants and have trouble acquiring new ones, rent increase will probably remain within a reasonable percentage.
  3. When renting becomes as expensive as owning, then you are probably foolish not to buy.  But only then.

There are always pros and cons to renting and owning.  It’s pointless to predict what will be.  I live for the here and now. Someone warned me away from purchasing a condo recently.  The sage explained that “in ten years there will be such a condo boom it will be impossible to sell your unit.”  Who says I will want to?  I might be dead by then. watch how to buy a house: how to buy a condo

There is no such thing as a risk-free investment. Even your “safe” mutual funds where you don’t “put all your eggs in one basket” (hello Wealthy Barber) can crash at any time.  NOTHING is guaranteed. If you’re considering a condo just now, stop worrying about something that may never happen and grab a hold of Nike’s motto:  JUST DO IT.  watch Polka dot door

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Education, Finance, money | , , , , , | Leave a comment

WalMart Involved in a Scandal? Really?

Well isn’t that news, and so unexpected too.  Wal-Mart, according to CEO Mike Duke‘s Statements of Ethics, “our customers trust us to be their advocate. Our suppliers trust us to be an equitable partner. And as Wal-Mart associates, we trust each other to uphold the highest standards of conduct every day.” Just don’t cross the Mexican border, Mike.

Hmm let’s see now. Insofar as Wal-Mart and scandal is concerned there have been a few in its history:

  1. sweatshops – when we discovered that was one reason Wal-Mart could keep lowering those prices that
    created a bit of an outcry, however it didn’t last too long…who doesn’t want low prices?
  2. Chinese pork labelling scandal – Tonnes of pork was deliberately mislabeled as “organic”.  Organic pigs.  Who
    knew?  Watch president of Wal-Mart China resigns after pork scandal
  3. Something about commie China and Wal-Mart – watch America can’t afford Wal Mart any longer. Good ol’
    WM keeps importing unsafe products from China rather than selling our domestic products here where the
    health and safety standards assure we won’t end up dying of asbestos poison when we eat a deli sandwich.
    Tsk, tsk, Samuel. watch the hidden costs of walmart
  4. Speaking of importing Chinese products (which have been made in Wal-Mart’s Chinese sweatshops), heaven
    forbid Wal-Mart employs American and Canadian workers to make products here at home, thus improving the social
    economy and guaranteeing jobs for thousands of people who have been out of work since the mortgage crisis in
    the US of A.  That would be too people-friendly and far too ethical.  (Mike Duke will forgive me). watch Wal-Mart smiley tv commercial
  5. On the other hand, Wal-Mart employees tend to go hungry on a Wal-Mart wage – watch 3 of 10 Wal-Mart Deception
    and Corruption Documentary 

Wal-Mart of course makes a mighty attempt at volleying back these accusations through their PR department.   David Tovar, VP of Corporate Communications, actually kept a straight face during this little blurb.  Well done, Dave. watch Wal-Mart statement on fcpa

Okay, so this one isn’t directly WM’s fault.  However it is entirely understandable if the “suspect” was in a grouchy mood about WM’s victimization of consumers. Perhaps he mistook the tot for a WM PR rep and he let the kid have it.  watch stranger slaps crying child at WM

I shall leave you with this catchy little jingle…..  I’ve always been a CCR fan, myself.

April 25, 2012 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, corrruption, money | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Canadians’ Well-Being and Permanent Poverty – Living the Canadian Dream

Welfare: the right to well-being, security and safety, including fulfilling basic needs to ensure survival. This is the general idea behind the term but welfare carries with it a negative connotation:  those lucky enough not to need it imagine lazy folk who simply won’t work for a living, or who aren’t trying hard enough to find jobs.  Poppycock.  This may be true for a small percentage of Canadians and landed immigrants, but guaranteed this is not the norm: most people want to work; are skilled and educated enough to work; and do not want to live with the stigma of receiving welfare.

Racism being what it is in Canada, many Caucasians believe it is landed immigrants and minorities who are bleeding the welfare system dry through a lack of initiative and illegal manouevers.  Not so.  There are more Caucasian multi-generational Canadians receiving welfare (including those who are not in need of it) than there are minorities and LI’s. As subjective as my own experience is, the only people I know who rip the system are Caucasian Canadians whose family have lived in Canada for generations. In fact, many Canadians receiving welfare once belonged to the “middle class”, evicted from their homes after job loss during the start of the recession. Others do not receive welfare for more than one or two months to keep them afloat until (presumably) they find another job. watch judy graves on why welfare matters to everyone

Many people who receive welfare are known as the “working poor“.  They  have jobs but through no fault of their own, are employed part-time, or they work for the paltry minimum wage of $10.25 an hour: hardly a financial means for raising a family. In fact since Harper’s House of Horrors came to be, social assistance is nearly non-existent.  Why, you ask?  Duh.  You voted for him and then you wonder why so many hard-working Canadians ...  oh never mind.  I’ll just get all in a tizzy.  What was I saying? Oh yes. Harper’s agenda is not for individual citizens, such as you (who voted for him) and me (who did not).  It is for large, multi-national corporations, the recipients of his glorious tax breaks and other financial incentives to keep them afloat during the recent recession. Well there’s always May 2012 for you to get it right (although you probably won’t).  Enough blasting my faithful blog followers of precisely one (hi Damien).  Watch income inequality and child poverty in Canada

To receive welfare in Ontario you must earn or live on $800.00 a month or less.  The website doesn’t tell you that of course but if you want to test my theory give your local welfare office a call and inform the clerk that you currently receive $850.00 or $900.00 per month to live on. She will interrupt you to tell you that if you live on more than $800.00 a month you are ineligible to receive financial assistance. If you live on $810.00 or more you are out of luck.  In the event you do live on $800.00 a month or less you are entitled to …  not much.  You might get $200.00 or slightly more a month but you won’t be laughing all the way to the bank. Poor no more – there is a way out

Along with receiving absolute minimal financial assistance for the working poor, anything these people have in the way of financial assets has to be depleted before qualifying for welfare:  RRSPs, homes, cars.  It may seem as though this is reasonable: if you can afford a house, you can afford to live without assistance.  But is it reasonable to tell people to spend their RRSPs in order to receive social assistance?  What happens when it is time to retire?  They must continue to ask for more assistance and never get off the treadmill.  How about a car?  If a person needs a car to get to work where they make that $10.25 an hour, how will they be able to hold a job after selling their cars? Ditto houses.  Rentals are not cheaper than ownership depending on where a person lives. Like it or not, everyone needs shelter. watch homeless middle class

The Canadian welfare system is not designed with dignity in mind. Nor is it designed to truly assist anyone.  If assistance comes with the price tag of losing one’s retirement security, transportation and shelter in a safe, secure part of town, I’m betting many people would hedge their bets on going hungry and losing sleep at night over their bills, if they’re lucky to avoid eviction.  In Canada, it’s a better guarantee for one’s well-being.

March 13, 2012 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Finance, money, Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Get Out of Debt – Forget About It …. It Won’t Happen

Read this:


Now take every piece of advice in that article and flush it down the section of your brain reserved for intellectual sewage. Canadians and Americans will NEVER be debt free and the reason is so simplistic (and nauseating) that it could be tattooed on your forehead every time you look in the mirror:

  1. The Middle Class – rapidly deteriorating due to credit card debt, variable mortgages, and the Republican Party of Canada and the U.S.A.
  2. Your neighbours, friends, acquaintances, and strangers on the street.

What’s that?  The Republic Party of Canada you say?  Harper and (formerly) Bush were political bedfellows.  It’s all about the almighty American and regressing Canadian dollar and always will be.  I am well aware that Obama is one of my own, a Democrat, however it isn’t enough: Bush and Harper relations secured doctrines protecting Republican interests that even the good man Obama cannot undo. What does this mean to you, oh Canadians who were so happy to vote Harper in again even after the scandals that rocked his feeble-minded Harper House of Horrors 2 years ago?

  1. Corporate tax breaks means higher taxes for the little guy, in other words we of the disappearing Middle Class.  Who do you think is picking up the slack?  No you’re not aware of any additional taxes levied against your income in the previous 5 years.  You do if you’re a senior living on a fix income fund: you know, that retirement fund that Harper promised during his first ever campaign that his party would not tax then within the first year of his reign of terror he taxed it?  Maybe you aren’t a senior. So what? No wo/man is an island.  Taxation for seniors who cannot afford a tax levy means seeking other means to increase one’s livelihood: what other choice do these fine people have but to apply for welfare so they can enjoy a nourishing can of cold beans now and then? Whose paying the additional (if utterly meagre) financial assistance for these people (and rightly so, you’re the ones who voted for Big Brother, ye of the Ministry of Non-Truth).

2.   To continue to quote John Donne: we are all a piece of the continent, a part of the main.  You and everyone around you are
part of an intrinsic network, a human internet if you will.  Let’s say you somehow bail yourself out of all consumer debt and are now
living a puritanical lifestyle, strictly on cash and good intentions. Your neighbours and strangers are still up to their eyeballs in debt.
Their debt is your debt. Their debt continues to enable the mechanics of the recession, thereby increasing inflation rates.  Their debt
means your job is on the line due to lay-offs as much as theirs.  Their debt is your debt.  The bell tolls for thee as much as anyone else,

You were forewarned in so many media by so many financial experts, financial writers, and humble bloggers such as myself.  So many people warned you to be careful about what you vote for, in the event you might get it. You are getting it now (although I won’t say where).

Sieg Heil, Republicans.

March 11, 2012 Posted by | Finance, money, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Say You Want a Revolution?

I can’t help but be somewhat cynical about the purported 370,000 jobs that may open up in Canada at some point this year.  Not that I wish to see the glass as half empty but sometimes it is. And in the case of Harper’s House of Horrors promising new jobs in 2012 I would suggest the glass is completely empty.

I wouldn’t fall hook, line and sinker for that news flash until I am signing my new job contract on the dotted line. Consider for instance:

  1. Industrial Revolution – Watch turning points in history – industrial revolution What a golden era in North American history! Major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times. Almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. Most notably, average income and population reached unprecedented, sustained growth. Childhood was invented for the middle and upper classes.  Education, although not mandatory in the 17th and 18th centuries, was accessible. Watch top 50 inventions of all time
    Reality:  Unbelievable amounts of pollution began spewing into our atmosphere for the first time in history.  The low-class got many jobs in the manufacturing, mining, and transportation industries without the right to unions or minimum wage pay.  They worked up to 14 hours per day but were usually paid for less.  There were no child labour laws, keeping the child mortality rate as high as it was pre-revolution. Children were not paid as much as adults even though their productivity was comparable. Childhood didn’t exist for the poor. The poor lived in cramped, squalid houses on the streets whereas the middle to upper classes lived far more comfortably. The shabby homes shared toilet facilities with open sewers, and families were at risk of developing pathologies associated with persistent dampness. Disease was spread through a contaminated water supply. Watch the children who built Victorian Britain Part I
  2. IT Revolution -Watch the information revolution then and now scudda-hoo!  scudda hay!  The fastest growing industry in history began in the early 20th century and suddenly exploded in the 1990s, still progressing in leaps and bounds.  The success of the IT industry is unprecedented.  Communication worldwide is as quick and effortless as clicking a button on a computer or iPhone.  Cell phones and Blackberries carry software applications including the internet, Microsoft software package, games and much more. Losing information in the mail is a thing of the past. Access to information for schools, hospitals, laboratories, corporations etc is abundant and easy. Read Bill Gates’s dream: A computer in every home. 
    Reality:  Watch internet for rural areas Lesser developed countries, as well as minorities in developed countries, have not even come close to reaping the benefits of the internet: the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to grow. Domestically there is a two-tier computer system in providing high-speed internet services to rural and urban communities, known as the “digital divide”.   Watch The digital divide.  This is crucial since those without  high-speed internet services could be cut off from affordable information about education and healthcare. African-Americans and Hispanics are less than half as likely as Caucasians to explore the internet from home, work or school, meaning minority groups are at a disadvantage in competing for entry-level jobs. Donna L. Hoffman, a professor at Vanderbilt University says, “The big question is why African-Americans are not adopting this technology, it’s not just price, because they are buying cable and satellite systems in large numbers. So we have to look deeper … I think there is still a question of ‘What’s in it for me?’” Read computers for Jamaica
  3. Global Work Force – Watch Sikorsky to cut global workforce by 3 percent. Immigration Canada opened its doors for hundreds of thousands of professional and skilled workers. Many prospered and helped to improve Canada’s overall economy and employment rate. Families helped provide the country with a more regulated number of young workers as Canada’s baby boomers moved closer to retirement. Canadian families were having fewer children (from 2.5% to 1.3%) and foreign families helped to maintain the 1.3% stat and prevent it from falling any further. Watch Canada immigration – fast track immigration for skilled workers
    Reality: Watch course 3 – cheap labour will cost you more Many skilled, foreign workers were hired by companies for much lower wages than Canadian workers, costing Canadians countless jobs.  Skilled workers had to be re-trained in order to comply with Canada’s safety regulations and this took considerable time and cost. Welfare increased in order to provide new immigrant families with a source of income, as did subsidized housing; this in turn increased Canadian taxes. Many landed immigrants with criminal backgrounds were admitted into Canada via arranged marriages. Marriages occurred as a means to bring over relatives rather than functioning as legitimate marriages. Outsourcing usually meant sweatshops and “slave” labour: some workers received only 68 cents an hour from American and Canadian employers. In some cases this meant the quality of products was noticeably reduced.  watch more American workers outsourcing own jobs overseas

Change, even on a revolutionary scale, can be a good thing. But with great change comes great responsibility, and many corporations and individuals fall far short of that ideal when it comes to cost-saving labour and increased communication. Then again, so do certain “conservative” governments as of late.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Finance, money, Politics | , , | Leave a comment

Living in America During 2012 Eurozone Crisis

You’ve heard about the upcoming global financial crisis that is happening in 2012 of course.  It’s origins are plentiful and they begin with the good ole’ U.S.A. (naturally).  Don’t get me wrong I don’t have anything against America.  Wait… that’s a lie.  I have lots against America including their blatant racism, gun worship, invasion of Iraq on the pretence of looking for weapons of mass destruction (we all know it’s a war about oil)…I could go on and on. As a side note, how do we know for certain that the war against Iraq isn’t about nuclear weaponry? Consider that Germany was already making weapons of mass destruction during WWII.  The states knew it and didn’t invade them over it…because there isn’t any oil beneath Germany.  Zing.  Anyhoo.

How did it all begin?  The subprime mortgage crisis that originated in the late 1990s started the ball rolling toward recession and stock market crash, the impending Great Depression of the 21st century. A subprime mortgage is offered to people who are risky in terms of being able to make mortgage payments, in other words to pay off their loan.  Along with taking risks with millions of risky borrowers, many lenders offered them ARMs or adjustable rate mortgage, meaning the borrowers could make smaller initial payments if they were willing to absorb a possible increase in interest on the loan.  Of course, this is exactly what happened along with many people defaulting on their loans because they simply couldn’t afford to pay them. We all saw that one coming. Clearly they weren’t familiar with Shakespear’s work: neither a borrower nor a lender be. Watch 2012 The next Great Depression

The impact of the subprime mortgage foreclosures decimated Wall Street almost as literally as the Al-Qaeda airplane that destroyed the World Trade Centre buildings. Watch the Man who saw it coming. The states took interest out of it’s economy to pay down it’s deficit to several countries, causing it’s economy to contract. Many people lost their jobs and of course they stopped paying taxes. In order to keep making debt payments, the U.S. had to keep taking out more loans and consequently their debt grew.Even if one of the countries to which the USA was making it’s debt payments was also making debt payments to the US, both countries became poorer because the interest kept making their debts bigger.  Watch Global Financial Crisis explained in 96 seconds.

However the states alone are not to blame for the 2012 financial crisis: the failing euro in the ISE has a great deal to do with it. In 1999, 17 of the 27 Member States of the European Union initiated use of the euro as their formal currency.  There were several reasons to use the euro as a nation’s currency:

  1. It is speculated that the euro increased trade within the eurozone by 5 – 15%.
  2. It helped to control arbitrage and speculative trade among countries with its “law of one price” value.
  3. The euro increased investment rates and made it easier for corporate firms to access financing in Europe.
  4. The euro created reductions in market risk exposures for nonfinancial firms both in and outside of Europe.

For a time the euro did very well but problems soon arose:

  1. the value of the euro slipped and one major reason was debt problems of some nations, especially Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Greece.
  2. other countries’ demand for the euro decreased, lowering the euro market supply and demand.
  3. the euro’s value versus the dollar required significantly more euros to purchase a U.S. dollar.
  4. Many North American corporations have foreign operations in Europe and these operations experienced a significant profit loss.

Of course this means that imports will become more expensive in North America to balance the profit losses in foreign operations,credit card interest rates will increase, and an accompanying inflation rate will soar. Unemployment rates are increasing although not in significant numbers (they’re pretty darned high as it is).  Watch how the poor get poorer – the bitter truth .  Sounds like we’ve dug ourselves into quite the economic hole.  But wait!  There is a glimmer of hope!  Now that you know about the upcoming financial global crisis in 2012 there are several things you can do to debt-proof yourself:

  1. Consolidate and pay down your credit card debt and stop using the darned thing.Watch Debt consolidation Canada.
  2. If you are American, hedge, rather than save your money. Watch You’re a loser if you are saving.
  3. If you are Canadian take advantage of the TFSA (tax-free savings account).Read about TFSA
  4. Seek dividends from company shares you own.
  5. Fund your 401K or your RRSP. Watch Lance Roberts – Financial Planning to do list 2011
  6. Scale down your lifestyle – no more unnecessary luxuries or stop trying to keep up with the Joneses (or worse, be the Joneses). Watch the Joneses
  7. If you suspect you might face foreclosure get a lawyer right away and learn your legal rights.
  8. Ease up on buying oil and gas; try car pooling and using public transportation. Watch Myth: World is running out of oil Beware of using a bicycle however….that could be as risky as a subprime mortgage. Read The Ongoing Saga of the Michael Bryant-Drug Courier Manslaughter
  9. Be aware of little spending habits and reduce them.  Read What your Starbucks habit really costs you
  10. Prepare yourself for potential job loss:  have a 3 month emergency fund available and be aware of the industries that anticipate the most job losses for 2012. Watch In pictures the 10 worst jobs for 2012
  11. Be aware of the top 10 jobs for 2012 (and the ensuing decade). Watch top 10 career choices 2011 (still applicable for 2012).  Watch Donald Trump’s Advice on Choosing a Career

It is inevitable that most of us are going to take a hit one way or another but perhaps forewarned is fore-armed.
Your welcome.

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Finance, money, Politics | , , , | Leave a comment