Sunday, 16 February 2014

Financial Fuss - Minimum Wage and Living Withing Your Means

Hey folks,

I'm here to give you my perspective on the current minimum wage debates and the societally-accepted bullshit that I'd like to call "the age of entitlement".

Age of Entitlement:

Entitle: To furnish with grounds for laying claim... To put that a little more simply, since it's a bit of a 'frilly' definition... Being entitled is the act of believing that you are owed, or deserving of something for one reason or other. Based on that definition I suppose I should call our current time period the Western age of universal entitlement but I think the Age of Entitlement will do.

What I mean to say by this is that people seem to feel that they, purely by their existence, are entitled, or deserving of everything that life has to offer, regardless of their financial position. People say that they 'need' the best, newest, shiniest things in life when really, the world doesn't own you anything at all. It is these same people, and this general mindset that gave the banks their ridiculous power, which ultimately led to the economic collapse.

You see, when people feel entitled, they tend to act upon that feeling. This leads them to buying things they can't afford which then causes them to demand higher wages, more benefits so on and so forth. These people will also then claim, that these better wages and benefits are a "necessity" and stir up a rather considerable fuss in order to get what they want. This is where the modern day worker's union came into being, but that's likely a discussion best left for another article.

The main point that should be understood before moving forward is this... People need to get their heads out of their asses and accept that they can't get everything they want... Should be simple but God-knows it's not how enough people think.

Minimum Wage Increase:

Personally, I support what I'd like to call a "Practical Minimum Wage", one that actually makes sense. You may be asking "what makes sense" and I would reply with this...

A "practical" minimum wage is one that is tied to the cost of living which is tied to inflation. Such a wage would be the minimum wage upon which an individual can sustain themselves while working a 40 hour work week. 

There are many who disagree with my view, and I understand that, it's the way of the world. What I don't understand is HOW these people can disagree. If you work a 'typical' work week, which isn't exactly typical at all anymore, why should you still come in below the poverty line? Why should the simple basics of food and shelter be beyond your reach? Some people have said that "students don't need to make $14/hr"... And that bugs me considering if they're doing the same work, they deserve the same hourly pay regardless of their age or that fact that they're in highschool. Some highschool students HAVE to work so that their family doesn't starve, or get kicked out onto the street.

To me it's quite simple, as are most things in theory and I understand that. People argue that it would chase away business, despite the proven fact that a fairly-paid worker produces better results which more than compensate for the wages they are paid. I'd like to say that there are more arguments but that is by a LARGE margin the most popular one going, and it happens to be wrong or at the very least ill-informed.

The Wrap-Up:

Despite my strong feelings I would like to hear your opinions, regardless of what they may be. Whether you agree or disagree with me on my claims that people are far too entitled, or that the minimum wage should be tied to cost of living, I would like to hear your opinion and why it is that you believe as you do.

Until the comments come in, or I feel inclined to write another article however...

Enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylor

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Problematic Politics - What About Wages

Hey everyone,

Been a while but I'm back with a definite purpose this time (I know, you're all just SO excited). Being entirely serious though, this topic is something that every country needs to consider and the topic of the night (and of many posts yet to come) is the wage discrepancy between Canada's politicians and the average worker's salary.

Just The Facts:

I'm not here to start a flame war over opinions, I'm here to put it to your straight-up, as honest as can be, with the best information that I can gather. Fortunately the information is readily available and it's extremely cut and dry.

I'd like to start you off with something simple, just to get the juices flowing in all of our brains... The average Canadian's annual income at the start of 2014 (information gathered from Workopolis) was documented as being ~$48,250.00. That translates out to being around $928.00 per week, or $23.20 per hour for a full, forty-hour work week. Personally I've never seen a figure like $23.20/hr in my life even with almost six years of experience in my field (sure that'd retail but still, I've never seen even an assistant manager nomination with my experience... But I digress) however I understand that there are some -not many, but some- very high-earning individuals in Canada to bump that average up a smidge or two.

The point where this annual income really becomes shocking to me is when you look at the base salary of a member of Canadian parliament (MPs). Your run-of-the-mill MP makes a guaranteed $160,200.00 yearly income. I'm not sure how much of that is taxable, but it wouldn't make a lot of sense to tax a politician's income considering it's tax dollars being spent but then again, with political logic, you never know. Different members of the House of Commons received increased pay depending on their 'workloads' which range from a 'simple' extra $5,700.00 for each caucus chair of parties other than the leading party and the official opposition up to the Prime Minister who makes a tidy sum of $320,400.00 a year from a 'workload bonus' of an extra $160,200.00 per year... Yup, the Prime Minister gets double the already inflated salary of an MP.

The difference here, if you're without a calculator or a mathematically gifted mind, comes to $111,950.00... Let's put that in a list shall we?

  • Average Canadian Income: ~$48,250.00/year
  • Baseline MP Salary: $160,200.00/year
  • Prime Minister Annual Salary: $320,400.00
  • Average MP - Average Canadian: $111,950.00/year
  • Avg. Canadian / MP x 100: 30.11% (average Canadian income is 30% of an MP's yearly salary)
  • Avg. Canadian / Prime Minister x 100: 15% (Average Canadian makes 15% of the Prime Minister's annual income)

So, those are the facts, the cold hard truth, and nothing but the truth. If this seems a little unfair to you, then you're of the same mind as myself... So long as you think that the gap should be smaller, rather than larger. If you DON'T think this is unfair, my guess is that you've never had to worry about where your next dollar would be coming from.

My Angle:

I always have one, as you know, and although I try to be a moderate, I can't help but be completely opposed to this level of wage disparity. There is no reason that, with a national debt of $683,315,279,727.00 and rising (as of 10:17pm, February 5th, 2014), which comes out to an individual average (your 'personal' share of our national debt) $19,360.00 per man, woman and child in Canada, that politicians should be making this kind of money.

Answer me this reader... Should a politician's salary not reflect the people they were elected to represent? Are politicians not, by definition in Canada, elected individuals intended to carry out the majority's will while protecting the minority's rights? In that event, it is my opinion (strongly held opinion) that politicians should be restricted to making no more than the average Canadian's salary... That includes people who are designated as unemployed ("seeking but unable to find employment").

Is this not a fair proposal? I elect an official to represent me and my interests, values, and opinions. We all elect these people to conduct themselves as our representatives to the rest of the nation but how can they be expected to identify with, and represent us if they make so much more than we do? You cannot be "of the people" when you've put yourself up on a pedestal now can you?

My Proposal:

If you feel like I feel then I urge you to take action and take back control of YOUR tax dollars. You elect your MPs and other political representatives to stand in your stead on the national stage, and it is money taken from YOUR income paying for theirs. Why should they make three times the average Canadian's salary when they're meant to represent that average?

I don't mean taking action as in rioting, bombings, violence of any sort... I'm honestly a peaceful-enough fellow. What I DO mean is to pick up a pen, lay down some paper and write (yes, WRITE) a letter to your MP and MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament... For which statistics should follow in my next post re: their salaries) and tell them what you think of this situation. You, dear reader, if you are a Canadian citizen, 'owe' $19,360.00 because that's 'your' share of our nation's debt. IF you have children, they each 'owe' that same amount... Why? For a lot of reasons including poor personal finance management but to a much larger degree, poor financial planning at the highest levels of government.

Personally, since I wasn't alive, much less able to vote when most of the policies that would eventually cause our current national financial predicament were put into place, I can't help but feel a little slighted by all of this. It's like walking into a restaurant and having your server tell you that you're responsible for the check of the group of businessmen that just left and if someone tried to pull that on me, it wouldn't go over so well so why should we take this lying down? Get on the phone, get to your keyboards, writing desks, typewriters... I really don't give a damn how but contact your elected representatives! Just because you may not have voted for your MPP/MP doesn't mean you're not still paying their salaries and as such, they are (believe it or not) accountable to YOU, the taxpayer.

I was once told by my politics teacher in grade twelve that a career-minded politician equates different types of communication from their constituents with a number of votes. If you make a quick email? That's around 10 votes worth in their minds while a phone call represents about 100 voters, and a hand-written letter speaks for about 1000 individuals. You may think that's ridiculous but the logic is pretty sound. If one person is willing to sacrifice the time it takes to hand write a letter, if they are that passionate about the issue, then the odds are that more people are bothered by the problem, but simply haven't yet taken that level of initiative. When you make a gesture, even one so simple as writing an email, dialing a phone number, or penning correspondence to your political representative, you'd better believe that they take it seriously. If enough people get up off their asses and do the same? Then you can bet change will be just around the corner. 

Politicians like having a salary, they like having a job, and they're the type of person who enjoy being in the spotlight and in a position of power, that's just a simple truth based on the type of occupation and the mindset required for campaigning. These people want to keep their positions which is only done through keeping the voting public happy... Emphasis on the VOTING public, as too many people stay home from the polls and refuse to stand up and be counted. If you don't vote, you can't complain about the government. Even if you go to the polls and select "abstain", it's still counted and says "I don't believe in any of the options, they're all equally unsuitable for office" and that can go a LONG way to indicating that we want change.

The Wrap-Up:

There's really not much more for me to say folks, we're getting fleeced. People are making decisions that negatively affect our lives every day and they're getting paid quite generously to do it. 

The figures I quoted earlier don't even bring into account expenses for cars, or the international trips that these dignitaries (and I use that term loosely as little dignity seems to be involves) conduct each year so you could just imagine the amounts being spent for which information ISN'T provided to you, and please feel free to let your minds wander on that idea.

I'm asking you no, begging you to do something about this. We CANNOT advance as an equality-minded nation with this kind of elitism in our political system. These men and women are in the House of Commons to represent Canada's provinces, and regions within those provinces and yet they out-earn the VAST majority of their constituents.

If you think that this abuse of power has gone too far then join me, and let's make a change. Let's you and I get in contact with those we've allowed to represent us, and tell them exactly what we think of their ludicrous incomes, expense accounts and more. You may think they won't change regardless of how many people we get behind such a movement but I guarantee you, if they won't make a change, we can put in someone who will.

Join me? Regardless of if you do, or do not...

Enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylor