POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE ‘CHICKENSHIT CLUB’ MEMBERSHIPS BECAUSE THEY TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT ON SOCIAL INJUSTICE AND INEQUALITY

POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE ‘CHICKENSHIT CLUB’ MEMBERSHIPS BECAUSE THEY TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT ON SOCIAL INJUSTICE AND INEQUALITY

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

(Blog author’s comment:  The topic of financial discrimination of singles and low income families has been addressed from many different angles in this blog.  This particular blog post shows how compounding of benefits on benefits such as Registered Retirement Savings Account (RRSP) combined with a tax free Canada Child Benefit (CCB) allows wealthy families with children who can afford to max out RRSPs to benefit the most from reduced taxes, increased income, and increased wealth.  It also shows how governments and politicians fail to right the biggest social injustices and financial inequalities by going after the easiest targets.

WHAT IS THE ‘CHICKENSHIT CLUB’

Jesse Eisinger in his book ‘The Chickenshit Club’  gives a blistering account of corporate greed and impunity, and the reckless, often anemic response from the Department of Justice.  He describes how James Comey, the 58th US Republican Attorney (appointed by Republican George W. Bush and fired by so called Republican Donald J. Trump) was giving a speech to lawyers of the criminal division.  These lawyers were some the nation’s elite. During his speech, Comey asked the question: “Who here has never had an acquittal or a hung jury? Please raise your hand.” This group thought of themselves as the best trial lawyers in the country.  Hands shot up. “I have a name for you guys,” Comey said. “You are members of what we like to call the Chickenshit Club.”

Comey had laid out how prosecutors should approach their jobs.  They are required to bring justice. They need to be righteous, not careerists.  They should seek to right the biggest injustices, not go after the easiest targets.

This ‘chickenshit club’ has continued to grow.  No top bankers from the top financial firms went to prison for the malfeasance that led to the 2008 financial crisis. And the problem extends far beyond finance–to pharmaceutical companies, tech giants, auto manufacturers, and more.

DPAs (deferred prosecution and nonprosecution agreements) have become the norm in the USA (and now is being legislated in Canada) where high crime perpetrators are being given the easiest way out by ensuring prosecution is carried out by paying a nominal fine and agreeing to minor policy changes, but without serving any jail time.

Political parties have joined the ‘Chickenshit Club’ by taking the easiest way out and failing to promote social justice and equality for all therefore ensuring that wealthy households and corporate elites continue to increase their wealth over single person and low income households.

The ‘Chickenshit Club’ of low income and food insecurity and minimum wage

Living Wage and Minimum Wage

It is a known fact that the Canadian minimum wage in all provinces is not sufficient to bring households up to middle class status.

A major failure of Living Wage research is that it usually only identifies three household profiles, a single person, single parent with children and a family comprised of two adults and children.  The failure to include a household of two adults no children provides only a partial picture of inequality because it costs a single person household more to live than a two adult persons household.

Review of Living Wage profiles shows that even though living wages are higher than minimum wage, living wages are “no walk in the park”.  A living wage which only covers basic needs still leaves low income households, especially those with rent or mortgages, suffering a ‘no frills’ lifestyle with an inability to save for retirement or emergencies or replacement of vehicles.

By excluding the two adults no children household profile from Living Wage profiles the single person household is an incomplete profile since it costs more for unattached person to live than the two adults household as shown in cost of living scales like Market Basket Measure (MBM).  Example:  if single person household has a value of 1.0, lone parent, one child or two adults household have a value of 1.4, one adult, two children 1.7 and two adults, two children 2.0.  It costs more for singles to live than couples without children.

Many politicians, married and financially illiterate believe that a living wage is a good income but it only provides the bare necessities of life. The living wage in Calgary is about $18 per hour and in Metro Vancouver is about $19 per hour.  There is no saving for retirement or maxing out of RRSP and TFSA accounts on a living wage (see example below for single person household with $50,000 income).

In a recent Conservative meeting, a Canadian Conservative Member of Parliament for Alberta stated he did not think the recent increase in minimum wage helped anybody, not even the poor.  When challenged that ‘this was quite the statement’ and ‘what was the answer to low wages?’, he said ‘he didn’t know’. As outlined below, the upside financial chickenshit mess that has been created by government and politicians for single person households and low income families is because more benefits with less taxes and no declaration of assets has been given to the wealthy and the married.  To create more financial social justice and equality, a drastic plan along the the lines of “Elizabeth Warren” and “Bernie Sanders” is needed so that the wealthy, married, and corporations pay their fair share.

The ‘Chickenshit Club’ of Single Person Household Poverty

Present day political parties and married/two person households with no children belong to the ‘Chickenshit Club’ when they fail to recognize, through financial illiteracy and financial discrimination, that single person no children households will likely face more income insecurity in their lifetimes.

From The Affordability of Healthy Eating in Alberta 2015 by Alberta Health Services (affordability-of-healthy-eating):

(Page 3) “In Alberta, more than 1 in 10 households experience food insecurity and more than 1 in 6 children live in a home where at least one member is food insecure. Nearly 80% of Albertan households who rely on social assistance cannot afford to purchase adequate amounts of nutritious food or regularly endure significant worry about access to food. Furthermore, more than 75% of all food insecure Albertans are actively employed yet still are unable to secure enough money to support both their nutrition needs and other indispensable life necessities, such as housing and clothing.”

(Page 9) The above report provides a more complete picture of income inequality because it identifies four household types – 1) a family with two parents and two children because this composition is used most frequently by other social, income and poverty reports across Canada, 2) a female lone parent due to the high prevalence of food insecurity among this household type, 3) a single adult under age 65 since this demographic experiences the highest rate of food insecurity and the least financial support through social policy, and 4) a single senior to highlight the ability of current social policy to effectively reduce the risk of household food insecurity in this population.  Unfortunately, the two adults person household is still not represented in these profiles.

Quote from the report (page 18): “Although Alberta remains the most prosperous region in Canada, it also maintains the largest gap in income inequality since the wealthiest 1% earns 18 times more than the average income in the province. Thus, the relative economic power of low income households in Alberta is weaker than low income households in all other regions across the country.  Despite a strong economy, the poverty rate in Alberta has remained around 12%, which is only slightly below the national average of 12.5%. Boom and bust cycles, increasing household debt and the high number of temporary, precarious and low-wage jobs put many Albertans at risk of falling into poverty. The Alberta populations at highest risk to experience poverty include:  single persons, families with children under 18 years old, families with more than one child, female lone parent families, women (not an inclusive list).

(Page 24 and 27) These statistical data sources also validated several important characteristics of Canadian and Albertan households that are at highest risk for household food insecurity:  low income households, individuals who rent their home (rather than own their home), women, lone parents, Indigenous Peoples, individuals who receive social assistance, individuals who work for low wages, unattached (single) people, households with children younger than 18 years of age, recent immigrants and refugees (e.g. in Canada for less than five years), people who have a disability.

(Page 28) Single adult – In Alberta, 40.7% of people aged 15 and older are neither married nor living with a common‑law partner and 24.7% of all households are home to only one person.  Unattached persons in Canada experience three times the rate of food insecurity compared to couple households without children.  In Alberta, single people represent five times more food bank users than couples without children.  The rate of poverty among single adults across Alberta is 28% whereas this value drops to only 6% for all couple families.

(Page 29) Single female – Unattached Canadian women are four times more likely than women in families to live in a low income household.  Sixty two per cent of minimum wage earners in Alberta are female.  Across Canada, 3 out of every 4 minimum wage earners older than 24 years of age are women.

(Page 30) Single adult 25–30 years old – Of all Canadian age groups, young adults between 20 and 34 years of age have the highest rates of moderate and severe food insecurity.  Both males and females between the ages of 20 and 29 have the highest nutrition needs of all adult groups and would therefore need to spend a greater proportion of their income on food to support their health and well-being.  By the time Albertans reach age 25, more than 83% are no longer living with their parents, so this age range would best reflect the reality of a young, single person at higher risk for food insecurity in Alberta.

(Page 31) Minimum wage – The percentage of 25–29 year olds who work for minimum wage in Alberta doubled between 2012 and 2014, and this is the largest jump for any working age group across the province.  More than 1 in 4 female minimum-wage earners and nearly 1 in 5 male minimum-wage earners are 25 years or older.  In Alberta, inflation has quickly eroded the contribution of every small increase to hourly minimum wage rates since the early 1980s.

(Page 39) Unattached persons in Canada experience three times the rate of overall food insecurity and seven times the rate of severe food insecurity when compared to couple households without children or with adult children. Single people represent the largest proportion in Canada, at 27.8% of all households, and they also constitute the largest share of food insecure homes at 38.2%. Single people without children also receive the least amount of government social support, as they are not eligible for the financial support of programs like family‑based tax credits and health benefits.

(Page 40) Single-person household based on the after-tax, low-income cutoff measure (LICO), the rate of low income in unattached male and female households has risen over the past decade while all other household categories have experienced a stabilized or decreased rate of low income.  Nearly 1 in 3 unattached people between ages 18 and 64 lives below the LICO in Canada, compared to only 1 in 20 of the same cohort living as part of an economic family.  An economic family refers to a group of two or more people who live in the same household and are related to each other by blood, marriage, common-law or adoption. The rate of poverty among single adults in Alberta is 28% but this value drops to only 6% for all couple families.  More than 40% of Albertans aged 15 and older are neither married nor living with a common‑law partner and nearly one quarter of all homes in the province are inhabited by only one person. Between 1961 and 2011, the proportion of one-person households in Alberta has more than doubled and now nearly matches the number of homes with families or couples without children.  Across the province, single people represent one third of all food bank users, and they outweigh couples without children by three and a half times.

(Page 40) Minimum wage is an important social policy because it intends to help lift low-paid workers above the poverty line so they have adequate income to meet basic needs for overall well-being.  However, unlike Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS), minimum wage is not regularly indexed to inflation through adjustments to match the increase in the Consumer Price Index.  This can lead to a hidden erosion in the value of this social policy since the general public tends to be unaware of how governments calculate changes to minimum wage rates over time.  In 1965, Alberta’s minimum wage equalled 48.5% of the average provincial income, but by 2010 this proportion had declined to only 35.5%. Alberta’s hourly minimum wage rate had been the lowest of all provinces and territories for several years, but recent increases have raised low-paid workers’ earnings to a minimum of $11.20 per hour as of October 2015.

(Page 41) There is a widespread misconception that most Canadians who earn minimum wage are teenagers who live with their parents, but more than 1 in 4 female minimum wage earners and nearly 1 in 5 male minimum wage earners are actually 25 years old or older. In addition, individuals who are older than 24 years of age are the most likely to live alone while they earn minimum wage.

(Page 42) …. In fact, unattached Canadian men and women between the ages of 18 and 64 are five times more likely to live on a low income compared to their counterparts who live in economic families.  Although the probability of living in a food insecure household is higher for females than males across all age groups and household compositions, income-related food insecurity affects unattached men at the same rate as unattached women.

(Page 44) Among all unattached Canadians, there are twice as many single adults younger than 65 years of age living below the after‑tax LICO compared to single seniors who live below this income.  In addition, the prevalence of household food insecurity is two and a half times lower for the elderly who live alone than for unattached adults who are younger than 65 years old.  However, the likelihood that a single senior will live on a low income is 10 times the rate for seniors who live as part of an economic family. This is significant since 25% of Albertans aged 65 years old and older live alone and unattached individuals are the most likely to rely on OAS and GIS.

“Social assistance soaring in Alberta, even as economy improves”, 2017 – Number of claimants on provincial income assistance programs has climbed to 54,374 in January of 2017, about 20,000 higher than at the start of the recession in 2015.  Makeup of claimants include individuals 69%, lone-parent families 24%, couples with children 5%, and couples alone 3%.  (Note:  Couples with children and couples alone only equal 8% of the total).  The Calgary Food Bank served a record 171,000 clients in 2016.

The real truth about the financial lives of unattached (one person) household

A single person household has to make an extraordinarily high income to achieve the same level of wealth as married with and without children households. A minimum wage means they will be living in poverty and with a living wage barely able to meet the financial necessities of life with no ability to max out RRSP and TFSA contributions.

Example of approximate average cost of living for a single person household (easily obtained from Living Wage Research):  Rent for bachelor apartment (including water, electricity, tenant insurance) $1,000, food $400, vehicle (gas, repair and insurance) $200, phone/internet $300, clothing/footwear $100, dental/eyecare $100, house tax and insurance if a homeowner $250, contingency saving for emergencies and replacement of vehicle (10%) $300.  Total equals $2,650 or $31,800 per year ($16 per hour based on 2,000 work hours). Totals do not include other expenses like bank fees, personal care expenses, household operation and maintenance, pets, vacations, entertainment, computer purchases and expenses, gifts, condo fees and professional association and union fees, etc.  Note: this does not include saving for retirement beyond Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions. The living wage for Alberta is about $18 per hour based on 35 hour work week or 1,820 hrs per annum. Single person households receive very little income from government transfers (municipal, provincial and federal).

The following three examples, although simplistic, are real life examples for single persons:

  1. Single person private sector employee with $50,000 income ($25 per hour based on 2,000 worked hours) will pay about $11,000 for taxes, CPP and EI deductions.  This results in a only a barely survivable net or take home living wage income of $39,000 ($19.50 per hour based on 2,000 hrs. or $3,250 per month). Using average cost of living of $32,000 from above paragraph, this person only has a reserve of about $600 per month.  It is impossible for this person to maximize RRSP ($9,000) and TFSA ($6,000) contributions (about $1,200 per month) even though many financially illiterate believe $50,000 is a good income for unattached individuals.  Moreover, as seniors their standard of living will likely be frugal and less equal to that of married/common-law households.
  2. Single person private sector employee with $60,000 income ($30 per hour and 2,000 work hours) will pay about $14,500 in taxes, CPP and EI contributions.  This results in a net income of $45,500 ($22.75 per hour or $3,800 per month). This person will not be able to max out RRSP ($10,800) and TFSA ($6,000) contributions (about $1,400 per month).  This still equals a frugal lifestyle (note expenses like vacations and eating out are not included in the average cost of living).
  3. Single person public sector employee with $75,000 income ($37.50 per hour and 2,000 work hours) will pay about $17,000 in taxes, CPP and EI benefits plus pension plan contribution of $7,500 (10 per cent).  Union dues are not included here. This results in a net income of approx. $51,000 ($25.50 per hour or $4,200 per month). This person may be barely able to max out RRSP ($13,500) and TFSA ($6,000) accounts (about $1,541 per month) at the expense of no vacation and eating out expenses and will have a public pension on retirement, but still will not have a standard of living equal to that of married/coupled households since they pay more taxes than married households and will not receive benefits of married persons (spousal RRSP, pension splitting, etc.)  Market Basket Measure shows it costs single person household more to live than married households.

Lessons learned:  A minimum wage of $15 means single person households will live in poverty and a living wage equals a very frugal lifestyle with no frills.

‘Chickenshit Club of women being paid less for equal work

From the above Alberta Report and Canadian statistics it is evident that a major problem still  exists of women being paid less for equal  work.

From Global News, report finds that women in Canada earn just 84 cents for every $1 earned by men, a gap similar to the one reported in official statistics. In 2017, Statistics Canada said Canadian women were making 87 cents for every $1 earned by men.  [T]he Glassdoor study went one step further, finding a four per cent pay differential between men and women even when factors like education, years on the job, occupation and professional title are taken into account. In other words, Canadian women are making just 96 cents for every $1 earned by men with the same qualifications, job and experience, something Glassdoor is calling the “adjusted pay gap.”

How many years is it going to take before women receive equal social justice on pay equity?  Instead of being ‘chickenshit political parties’ which political party is going to take this issue on?

‘Chickenshit Club’ of Canada Child Benefit

The present day ‘chickenshit club’ Canada Child Benefit does help to bring low income households with children out of poverty and food insecurity (this is a good thing), but only during the first eighteen years of the household’s entire lifecycle.  When children are grown, low income single parent households are back to ‘square one’ of the adult probability of living in poverty.

The Canada Child Benefit was implemented by Stephen Harper, previous Conservative Prime Minister, and was taxed.  Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it non taxable.

All political parties have been complicit in perpetuating financial policies that increase middle class wealth to upper middle class status while forcing poor families and single unmarried individuals further into poverty.

Financial Post “Couple needs to cash in rental condo gains to make retirement work” (ditch-rental-condo-to-get-ahead) details a couple age 42 and 43 already having a net worth of $1.8 million, take home pay of $10,936 per month and receiving $286 in Canada Child Benefits for three children.

In 2018, Ontario couple with a child under six years of age would stop receiving CCB payments with a net income reaching $188,437.50 without other deductions such as RRSP (canada-child-benefit-is-a-win-for-most-families).  $188,000??? This is not an income of poverty.

The inequality of family benefits for the upper middle class and wealthy families is perpetuated even further by the compounding of benefits on top of benefits.  The article “Supercharge your Canada Child Benefit by making an RRSP contribution” (supercharge-by-making-an-rrsp-contribution) outlines how RRSP contributions are considered to be a tax deduction; therefore, they lower taxable income and can increase the amount of CCB payments.  The example of Ontario family with 3 kids under age 6 years of age and a family net income of $75,000 with full $13,500 RRSP contribution for the year (18% X $75,000) can expect a CCB payment of $13,215 and will pay approx. $11,814 in taxes.  Because of RRSP contributions in the previous year, their CCB payments increased by $1,465 for the present year. Additionally, they will save $1,401 in taxes and at a marginal rate of 29.65%, their RRSP contribution will also result in a tax refund of about $4,000.  The compounding effects of benefits means they will pay less taxes, get larger CCB payment and increase their RRSP wealth. The total family income with CCB is $88,215 (combined after tax and tax free) and they have increased their wealth by $13,500 RRSP for the year of contribution).

Using turbotax calculator for Alberta family with $250,000 gross income or approx. $160,000 net income ($13,300 per month) they should be able to max out maximum allowable 2019 $45,000 for couple to their RRSPs and $12,000 TFSA for the year.  Through compounding effect of benefits, including marital, they will pay approx.$21,000 less taxes, get larger CCB payment, increase their RRSP and TFSA wealth, own their home, and have approx. $181,000 minus TFSA $12,000 contribution or $169,000 ($84.5/hr.) spending capability annually.

It should be noted that there may be other credits and deductions that can be used which will further increase income available for spending.

What would anyone think that unattached individuals with no children don’t deserve to be angry because they know their hard earned money is used to increase the wealth of upper middle class and wealthy families since these families never pay their fair share in taxes because they can avoid taxes through multiple compounded benefits ???

“Ontario woman’s problem is too much debt and too little income” (forced-to-retire) is a very good example of what singles might face (i.e. on $3,750 income per month) when they are forced to retire early due to illness (doesn’t say if she is divorced or widowed).

Solution:  As per above example of $50,000 income it is impossible for single person household to have a meaningful financial life equivalent to that of married no children households.

Politicians need to get off their chickenshit politics, stop taking the easy way out, and do the hard thing by including assets and Market Basket Measure calculations in financial formulas so that singles and low income households get financial social justice and equality equal to that of wealthy and married households.

How about implementing legislation where never married no children persons should not have to pay any income tax on incomes below $50,000 so that get a benefit equivalent to that CCB and multiple benefits to families with and without children?

Chickenship Club of Climate Change

The Green Party keeps talking about a climate change plan, but like other plans and environmentalists/protesters it is all talk with very little information.  When is the Green Party (they are after all the Green Party) going to come up with a plan, for example, a line graph that shows what will happen in year one, year two, etc.  What is going to happen to all the gas combustion vehicles, gas furnaces and water tank heaters. Where are you going to dump them?  Apparently some gas combustion vehicles can be converted to electric. What are you doing about that? Are you going to shut very expensive oil refineries down that are still able to be used for another fifty years?

Many green earth technologies use rare earth minerals some of which are very toxic.  At the present time China produces 80 per cent of the rare earth minerals.  Just how do some extreme environmentalists and politicians think rare earth minerals get to Canada from China to be used in production of wind turbines?  The answer is probably by tanker.

The hypocrisy of the tanker ban is that it is only one way?  Does the  ban on tanker traffic address the tankers coming into Canada?

Elizabeth May was so impressed with India’s climate change plan.  However, India has just voted in again an authoritarian government with the help of far right Hindu religious voters.  India at present time has no middle class and the highest rate of unemployment in forty five years.

Any plan that is implemented by any country has to provide 100% climate change funds to the poor to convert from gas to electricity instead of excessive compensation of the wealthy who are the highest emitters of energy and the biggest consumers of natural resources.

Elizabeth May since her marriage has upped her membership in the ranks of the wealthy high super emitters of energy and super users of natural resources. Those with multiple properties (examples: second property hop farm owned by Elizabeth’s husband, Arizona and other vacation properties that sit empty for six months of the year and excess travel between these properties, huge motorhomes, etc.) should pay more for this privilege afforded to them by their wealth.

Green Party Reform of spousal pensions for those who have married after the age of 60 or retirement

The Green Party and particularly Elizabeth May belong to the chickenshit club of married/coupled financially privileged households.

From the ‘Surviving Spouses Pension Fairness Coalition’ May states she has lobbied to repeal legislation that denies pension benefits to spouses who have married after the age of 60 or retirement.  In one of her letters she states:  …The Green Party supports deleting these restrictive clauses in the Federal Superannuation Acts which penalize pensioners who have remarried or married for the first time after age 60 after retiring….these clauses serve to unfairly deny hard earned pension benefits to deserving partners.  These….clauses are causing great hardship to the survivor whose spouse gave a life in service to our country.”

Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau in his letter also supports this –  “I and the entire Liberal Caucus, believe that Canadian seniors are entitled to a dignified, secure, and healthy retirement. Retirees deserve financial security; they deserve a strong Canadian Pension Plan, and a government who is not only committed to protecting the CPP, but is dedicated to improving its benefits.  A secure and comfortable retirement is essential to achieving middle-class success, and Liberals believe that the federal government must do more to fulfill this promise. While the Conservative Government has left Canadians and the provinces to fend for themselves, Liberals support working with the provinces to create legislation that will make retirement security easier, not harder for all Canadians to achieve.”  (Shouldn’t the same apply to never married no children senior households?)

Tom Mulcair, NDP letter states – “New Democrats want to acknowledge the debt we owe our seniors and reward the years of hard work and dedication to our country.  That’s why we are committed to ending these archaic restrictions on benefits for pensions and their spouses.”

This is not the only pension plan where marriage for only a few years privileges the surviving spouse who hasn’t made any contributions to the pension.

Why, why, why do married persons believe they are entitled to benefits they haven’t earned?  These newly married persons never worked for and never made contributions to the pension of their spouses.  The reform of all spouses pensions similar to the above promotes the financial discrimination of never married, no children persons.  Why do these married persons who never worked for these pensions deserve to have a better lifestyle than never married, no children persons?  Never married, no children persons can never access another person’s pensions. As stated above, it has been shown that it costs more for never married, no children persons to live.  Why can’t a new widow because of death of the spouse live with the same financial realities as a never married, no children person? Afterall, the widow is now ‘single’.

Solution:  A proper financial justice solution would be to pay whatever is left in deceased spouse’s pension to the surviving spouse in the same way that whatever is left in the never married, no children person’s pension is paid to the listed benefactor.  If benefit after benefit is given to widows, equal financial remuneration equivalent to these benefits should also be given to never married, no children seniors.

Chickenshit Club of Conservatives Jason Kenney (Alberta) and Doug Ford (Ontario)

Jason Kenney is already showing his true Trumpian values by targeting most vulnerable residents at the lower end of the financial scale.  He is doing this by lowering corporate taxes and reducing teen minimum wage instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. Just waiting for him to reduce progressive taxes back to a flat tax!  Doug Ford continues to do his damage by breaking election promises, attacking healthcare and public sectors and employees of these sectors, and implementing retroactive financial policies on budgets that have already been planned.

Where are the ‘Elizabeth Warren’ and ‘Bernie Sanders’ of Canadian politics that will promote social justice and financial equality by ensuring corporations and upper middle class families and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes without the compounding of benefits that make them wealthier than single person and low income households?

Chickenshit Club of Liberal Party

The Liberals also belong to the Chickenshit Club of politics as they have done very little to promote social justice and equality where wealthy and corporations pay their fair share.  They are promoting ideas for the elderly to receive benefits if they have to work over the age of 65. How nice – make the senior poor work longer while giving benefits to the wealthy and married who have multiple compounding of benefits which allow them to retire at age 55.

Liberals keep talking about helping the middle class – the real truth is they are pushing the middle class up to the upper middle class while keeping unattached persons and low income families at the lower end of the financial scale.  With their plans there will be no middle class.

The Liberals have done nothing to mitigate the financial injustice and inequality of Conservative Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) which benefit wealthy the most.

The following  was published in the Calgary Herald as this blog author’s opinion letter on TFSAs – ( Ted Rechtshaffen and Fraser Institute are telling half truths since only child rearing years are discussed on who is paying more taxes.  Wealthy Canadians with TFSA accounts pay no tax on investments earned; therefore, someone else is indeed picking up the bill, i.e. those who can’t afford TFSA accounts. Singles pay more taxes throughout entire lifetime).

“TAX LOOPHOLES NEED TO BE CLOSED”

Re: “Trudeau is right, 40 per cent of Canadians pay no income tax, Opinion, Feb. 8, 2019 (someone-else-is-picking-up-the-bill) ”

Ted Rechtshaffen and the Fraser Institute once again tell half-truths about who pays the most income tax.  Conservatives have created a TFSA monster at home (not offshore) tax loophole.

“They Want To Spend $50,000 In Retirement, Did They Save Enough?”(did-they-save-enough) outlines how an Ontario couple with large TFSA, RRSP accounts and a $600,000 house can retire at 55 and evade income taxes for 15 years while using benefits intended for low-income persons.

Canada, one of the few countries with TFSAs, has the most generous plan with the only limit being annual contribution amounts. Others (example Roth IRA) impose age, income and lifetime limits on contributions.

Without further addition of TFSA limits, the wealthy will pay less income tax than those who cannot afford TFSAs.

Chickenshit Club of Drug Cost and Advertising

All political parties are lobbying to cut drug costs.  Has anyone thought of limiting the amount of advertising drug companies can do?  Advertising is very expensive. Surely, this money could be used to decrease drug costs and to promote research for new drugs.  Why does one have to listen to advertisements on Peyronie’s disease, hemorrhoids, female and male sexual drive dysfunction, etc. over and over again.  Information on benefits of drugs should occur from discussion between the doctor and patient, not from advertisements. One solution would be to limit the amount of times each drug company can advertise in a given time period.

Chickenshit Club of Issues like Tanker Traffic Ban, Money Laundering, etc.

It doesn’t matter which political party it is – Liberal, Conservative, Green Party, BC NDP party, etc., all political parties with their chickenshit politics are trying as hard as they can to harm certain provinces and low income citizens in any way they can.  Governments at all levels have failed in controlling ‘dirty money’ and indeed have been complicit in promoting it. Some have hypocritically implemented legislation that negatively impacts only certain parts of the country.

Tanker Traffic Ban – on west coast, but not the east coast while increasing other revenue generating traffic such as cruise ships, ferry traffic and sightseeing boat traffic on the west coast.

Money Laundering in BC and Canada – The money laundering problem is prevalent across Canada but the egregious case of the ‘Vancouver Model’ of money laundering in BC shows how greed of chickenshit government overtakes the moral and ethical logic of doing the right thing.  BC governments failed to address the problem because of the huge amounts of money generated for the BC Lottery Corporation to be used for government programs. Since this also apparently involved real estate, housing prices rose to an exponential level.  Who is affected most of all? – low income persons who can’t afford housing, be it rental or ownership.

CONCLUSION:

Unless there is a major change to the upside down financial situation of politics and government where the wealthy, married and corporations stand to financially benefit the most (selective socialism for the rich), there is little hope that single person households and low income families will ever reach the middle class status so hypocritically touted by governments, politicians, families, and the elite. They should seek to right the biggest social injustices and financial inequalities, not go after the easiest solutions.

(Updated June 8, 2019)

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND LONE PARENT POVERTY MASKED BY GASLIGHTING

FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND LONE PARENT POVERTY MASKED BY GASLIGHTING

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog post is in response to a local newspaper opinion letter submitted by a reader who believes “singles only need small spaces and one tank of gas per month”.  This post was published in a local newspaper in shortened format as only so many words can be submitted for newspaper publication.

SHOCKING STATISTICS FOR PROVINCIAL INCOME SUPPORT PROGRAM RE INDIVIDUALS AND LONE PARENTS

Shocking statistics show that in one of the richest provinces (Alberta) there were in early 2014, 33,000 Alberta Income Support program (excluding AISH) recipients of all ages.  Alberta Income Support program in January, 2017, had 54,374 recipients and in January, 2018, 57,003 recipients.  Makeup of claimants in 2017 and 2018 include individuals 69%, lone-parent families 24%, couples with children 5%, and couples alone 3% (social-assistance-rates-continue-to-soar-despite-albertas-recovering-economy).  Totals do not say how many are turned away and do not include those who on verge of poverty.

GASLIGHTING MASKS INDIVIDUALS (SINGLES) AND LONE PARENT POVERTY

Reader comments on Alberta support program statistics gaslight by blaming NDP government and immigrants.  Local newspaper opinion letter submitted by a family gaslights as part of the family majority by using bias and financial illiteracy re singles finances to tell singles they only need small spaces and one tank of gas per month.   The letter implies families have to pay so much more than single retirees.  Sorry, singles and lone parents retirees are forced by married majority to pay more taxes because they can’t pension split and don’t have marital benefits privileging married and coupled persons with and without children.

So, apparently, while your children have their own bedrooms, it is okay for singles to live in spaces as small as 150 sq. ft. with only a microwave, bar fridge, bar sink, and no stove, bathtub, laundry or storage space.  And, apparently, as evidenced in Whistler, BC housing crisis it is okay for singles to earn a decent living, but have no place to live.  One person earning $2,800 after taxes has lived in a camper van for four years.  Styrofoam cutouts are wedged into the windows to keep out the cold. Or, in shared house a single bedroom was advertised for two female tenants at $780 per person.  Illegal short term rental greed has replaced housing designated for staff.

Singles have become invisible in DIY, real estate and housing TV programs.  Probably this is because singles are increasingly being charged more and more per square foot for their small spaces and are less able to afford home purchases.

One tank of gas per month doesn’t even deserve a response.

J-u-s-t  s-p-e-a-k  t-h-e  d-a-m-n  t-r-u-t-h!  Over 90% of Alberta Income Support recipients as minorities are singles and poor lone parent families!  Families gaslight by saying it is expensive to raise children covering only twenty to twenty five years.  Housing covering sixty to eighty years, especially rental, is biggest lifetime expense regardless of marital status or children.  House ownership is separating Canadians into ‘haves’ versus ‘have nots’.

MARKET BASKET MEASURE SHOWS IT COSTS INDIVIDUALS MORE TO LIVE THAN MARRIED OR COUPLED PERSONS WITHOUT CHILDREN

Conservatives, financially illiterate, gaslighters and married never talk about low income, equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living or cost of living scales like Market Basket Measure (MBM) (statcan).  Example:  if single person household has value of 1.0, lone parent, one child or two adult household has value of 1.4, one adult, two children 1.7 and two adult, two children 2.0.  It costs more for singles to live than couples without children.

Just one example of MBM not applied was the 2015 Federal Conservatives proposed targeted federal tax relief benefit for single senior to $20,360 ($1,697 per month) and senior couple $40,720 ($3,393 per month).  Using simple math, $1,000 rent and $400 food and white goods per month is barely covered for singles, but $1,000 rent and $800 food and white goods is amply covered for senior couples.   Application of MBM of 1.4 for couples would equal $28,504 ($2,375 per month), not $40,720.  Cost of living for couples is not twice that of singles. Trump has also given double tax relief for couples.

For 2018, net income limit is $75,910 for singles and $151,820 for couples. Applying MBM of 1.4 or $106,274 net income limit for couples ensures tax fairness.

Singles are told by married persons that they can always reduce costs by moving in with someone else.  However, this does not solve the problem of financial discrimination of singles being forced to pay more taxes.

MULTIPLE GOVERNMENT BENEFITS ARE GIVEN TO MARRIED OR COUPLED PERSONS WITH AND WITHOUT CHILDREN

Conservatives, who tout individual responsibility,  have implemented tax avoidance programs privileging upper middle class and wealthy married or coupled households with and without children (add link) like pension splitting, Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) with no limits, Old Age Security (OAS) clawback targeting only top two percent, and tax loophole programs. They financially and socially discriminate against minority singles and poor households who generally do not have the income to take full advantage of these programs.  Wealthy never pay their fair share of taxes. The Canada Child Benefit does not take into account net worth and assets, so it privileges wealthy parents who have low incomes, paid for houses, and high net worth and assets who then retire early. These same benefits have been perpetuated by the Liberal Party because of fear of losing votes if tax fairness changes are made.

Married and coupled persons do not realize the financial power and privileging that has been given to them when they are able to apply benefits on top of benefits times two persons (family-tax-credits).  For example, it is shameful when married and coupled persons can get OAS, which is supposed to be part of the Canadian poverty reduction pillar, then take that money and max out their TFSAs while paying less taxes because they can pension split and not pay taxes on TFSA proceeds (TFSAs do not need to be included in income).

The local newspaper opinion letter on same day as above opinion letter thankfully recognizes widowed person, now homeless ‘single’ (doesn’t say she is age 65), who is begging for money because she can’t get on small town local social support 600 person waiting list.

Singles, including poor lone parent households, are not stupid and deserve to feel righteously angered.  (After all, they also have math skills since they went to same schools as their married/coupled counterparts).  Singles know as minority populations they are not respected in financial formulas to the same level as married or coupled households with and without children.

CONCLUSION

Personal responsibility with social justice imbalance can lead to selfishness and greed.  Personal responsibility with balanced social justice and financial formulas changes “me” to “we”. Less gaslighting and more financial and public policy formulas based on MBM, and including net worth and assets, on all benefits and taxation without political bias would ensure financial fairness for all Canadians.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.) This is a WordPress blog designed by a hired individual.

HOUSING BIGGEST LIFETIME EXPENSE, NOT CHILDREN. IS HOUSING ALLOWANCE THE ANSWER?

HOUSING BIGGEST LIFETIME EXPENSE, NOT CHILDREN.   IS HOUSING ALLOWANCE THE ANSWER?

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

(This discussion on the housing crisis was presented to a Conservative Member of Parliament for future consideration on federal budget consultations.  This is Part 1 of the presentation.  Further suggestions for budget considerations will be presented in next blog post).

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

First, affordable housing, affordable housing and more affordable housing.  Both Conservatives and Liberals have failed to provide solutions for affordable housing (Conservatives during their 40 year reign in Alberta had almost zero affordable housing, raised taxes for the poor from 8% to 10% with flat tax implementation and catered to the wealthy while having no financial plan for managing revenues from oil wealth, and therefore, were unprepared for the oil price crash-Peter Lougheed excluded).

FACT CHECK:  FOREIGN HOME OWNERSHIP AND MULTIPLE HOME OWNERSHIP

Canadian residents spent $2.2 billion on Florida real estate in the 12 months ended June 2014, making them Florida’s No. 1 international buyer of residential real estate (canadian-snowbirds). About half of Canadian buyers spent less than US$200,000 on Florida purchase and just 16 per cent paid more than US$400,000.  About half of Canadians purchased a condominium/apartment and 38 per cent bought a single-family detached home.  More than half (53 per cent) of Canadian buyers intended to use their Florida home as a vacation property (resulting in empty houses during part of year), 14 percent planned to rent it out, 17 percent said they will do both. Forty per cent of Canadian buyers purchased real estate in Florida, 23 per cent in Arizona, and 10 per cent in California. Dollar value of Canadian sales for 2009 $8.9 billion, 2010 $17.1 billion, 2011 $13.0 billion, 2012 $15.9 billion, 2013 $11.8 billion, 2014 $13.8 billion (total $80.5 billion in six years).  Fifty percent of sales were in four states of Florida, California, Texas and Arizona.

Both foreign home ownership in Canada and Canadian foreign home ownership in USA equal $80 billion (Canadian foreign home ownership is $80 billion in six years).  There is so much hype about foreign home ownership in Canada, but Canadians are so hypocritical that they can’t look in their own backyard regarding snowbird foreign home ownership in USA, having their Canadian homes empty for six months of the year and spending their money in USA for six months.  What does this mean? – those Canadians who are not so fortunate to be snowbirds like the poor are paying more to support the taxes and GDP of Canada.

Toronto – 121,100 people in the GTA owned at least one other home in 2016. Question: how many Canadians own multiple properties in Canada and USA (snowbirds) while in any given year 200,000 to 300,000 Canadians face homelessness?

Information from the following article provides an interesting perspective on housing:  (Renter-Struggle-Ultimate-Housing-Problem)

‘More than four million Canadian households — about 30 percent of total households — rent.

Without federal help, low-income renters’ struggle to find homes worsens.  There is, however, a lot of federal money reserved for homeowners. Owners selling their principal residence are exempted from capital gains tax, a tax break worth about $5 billion a year.

The federal government offers this aid for owners despite the fact they earn more than renters. Owners make more than twice as much as renters do at $67,522 a year, according to the last long form census in 2006. Owners also have 37 times the median net worth of renters, thanks to their homes, at $513,000, according to 2012 CMHC numbers. This wealth gap widens over time.

“The great thing about ownership is that you have an asset for when you retire… Politicians use the line that if you work hard and buy a house you’re going to be OK,” said the University of Toronto’s Hulchanski. “But what about renters? The rest of you are just lazy? And you’re going to suffer now? You’re going to suffer when you get old?”  Hulchanski calls the neglect of renters and prioritization of homeowners discrimination.  “That’s no way to organize society.” ’

HOMEOWNERSHIP

  • New data from the 2011 NHS (National Housing Survey) showed that 69.0% of households in Canada, or 9.2 million of 13.3 million, owned their dwelling.
  • Four in five (82.4%) couple-family households owned their dwelling, while less than half (48.5%) of non-family households (singles) owned their dwelling. Just over half (55.6%) of lone-parent households owned their dwelling.

Dr. Ben Carson (appointee of Trump who was put in charge of housing but knows nothing about housing) made statement that many of the poor create their own poverty.  This statement is so false.  Politicians, private enterprise, corporations and society have purposefully or unknowingly pushed singles and poor families further towards poverty by making them pay more.  Whether it is purposeful or unknowing still makes the perpetrators guilty of complicity in benefiting middle class and wealthy more.

Housing is a prime example.  Singles and poor families pay more for housing while being shoved into smaller and smaller spaces.  Examples of inequality of Canadian values in housing are as follows:

  • One condo development in housing complex includes 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio 552 sq. ft. micro-condo with starting price of $299,900 or $543 per sq. ft.  Three bed, 2.5 bath, 2 patios, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos in same complex are priced from $649,900 to $749,900 or $355 to $409 per sq. ft.  Ultra-deluxe model master bedroom suite with his and hers closets and spa bathroom covers entire third 600 sq. ft. floor.  Third bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo and sells for $150 to $200 less per square foot for two-thirds more space.
  • Vancouver 100-square-foot apartments equivalent to size of two jail cells rent for $570 a month (again most likely to be occupied by singles).  Renters in the 50 units share 11 bathrooms and laundry facilities over the four floors (and no kitchens?).

Where is the critical thinking of ripple effects where owners (most likely to be singles) of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest, insurance and real estate fees on less house and likely less take home pay for their biggest lifetime expense?

Which of those who spout family values as a personal issue believes females should go traipsing outside of their apartments to use bathroom in middle of the night? Who believes it is humane to stick anyone into a 100 square foot or smaller units (90 square foot units in Vancouver) plus charge excessive rents?

Who makes the decisions behind loan-shark or pay day loan type pricing where financial targeting of the most vulnerable occurs?  It is private enterprise, land developers,  cities (government), and greedy ‘what the market can bear’ persons that make these decisions.  Where does the bafflegab of neighbor helping neighbor, personal discipline, caring, responsibility and respect fit into these decisions?

HOUSING IS BIGGEST LIFETIME EXPENSE, NOT CHILDREN

Housing is a necessity regardless of whether or not households have children.  If lifetime length of paying for housing is from 20 to 80-90 years of age, then housing is a basic necessity spanning over sixty to seventy years.  Look at any Living Wage study, and it will show that as number of persons decrease per household, the greater the proportion of income will be spent on housing, yet most government benefit programs target only families with children or senior married or coupled households, thus leaving single person and poor households out of financial formulas.

If a household pays $1000 rent per month, then housing may cost $720,000 over a lifetime with nothing to show for it financially while supporting greedy real estate owners who pass their greed unto renters (and often ignoring renter psychological impact of excessive internal and external noise, being kicked out by landlord under guise of needing to renovate so prices can be raised, and dingy secondary suites, etc.). That is three quarters of a million dollars ‘lost’ to the  renter over a lifetime!

Homeowners after twenty five years and $1400 mortgage per month will likely have a $300,000 paid for house ($15,000 down payment and 3.70 interest rate for 3 years amortized at 25 years) which may or not increase in value as part of their assets and wealth financial portfolio (minus maintenance and house taxes)  They have the ability to move up or down in housing as dictated by their lifestyles changes.

Raising children covers only twenty to twenty five of those years, but both the Conservatives and Liberals have brought in child care benefits that benefit only households with children and in some cases child care benefits even pay entire mortgage and rental housing for these households.  Pension splitting government benefits apply only to senior married or coupled households.

Rent controls, rental vouchers don’t work and the greed of “what the market can bear” will not control the outrageous upswing of housing prices.  Charity is not the answer as charity masks the problem, but doesn’t solve it.

HOUSING ALLOWANCE

The Liberal proposal for a housing allowance is a step in right direction.  Instead of Liberals and Conservatives continuing their infighting and vote getting tactics, how about doing right thing and making housing allowance a permanent solution throughout entire lifetime, just like healthcare?  How about involving all political parties in defining a solution, now wouldn’t that be a novel idea? Housing allowance should be based on not just income, but also assets and wealth. Those who own their homes outright or more than one home should get zero assistance for housing allowance.  Housing is a human right.

One suggested housing allowance (renting or mortgage) formula based on of equivalence scales or LIM (Low Income Measure) (equivalence-scales) could include starting point of $500 (based on 1.0 LIM value) per month for one adult person household, $700 (1.4 LIM value) for two adult persons households or one adult, one child households and $1,000 (2.0 LIM value) for two adult, two children household. Amounts would be based on level of income AND assets and wealth). Households who have fully paid for ownership in housing, own more than one home and/or have ample wealth would get zero dollars for housing allowance.

CONCLUSION

Housing is a basic human right and is just one element of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need.  The inaction by politicians, governments, private enterprise and society on housing, especially in the so called free democratic world, is an egregious moral and ethical affront to the most vulnerable of our society.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

‘EMPTY HOUSE SPECULATOR’ SYNDROME EQUALS THEFT AND UNETHICAL INVESTING

‘EMPTY HOUSE SPECULATOR’ SYNDROME EQUALS THEFT AND UNETHICAL INVESTING

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.) Post updated June 28, 2017.

Garry Marr’s Financial Post May 8, 2017 article “Spectre of empty houses haunts Canada’s two most expensive housing markets” (expensive) states that in Toronto ‘some believe vacant homes exist on a widespread basis, bought up by a stream of investors so consumed by speculation – or just a safe place to park their money – that they can’t even bother to rent out their properties in markets where the going rate can easily top $3 per square foot…..data seems to indicate there were as ‘many as 66,000 vacant units in Toronto in 2016 equivalent to 5.6 per cent of the city’s total stock of 1.2 million private dwelling units’.  If one calculates this based on a family of four one could guess that about 16,500 families are missing out on Toronto housing.  But wait, the article goes on to say that of the empty homes, 90 per cent are condos or apartments. If condos and apartments are more likely to be bought/rented by singles and poor families, then this would mean singles and poor families are more likely to be hurt by the empty units and Toronto housing crises.

Matt Levin’s Los Angeles Daily News May 13, 2017  ‘Amid state housing crisis, why 2 out of 5 millennials still live at home’ (millennials) article states ‘State lawmakers have introduced more than 130 bills this legislative session to try to solve California’s housing affordability crisis, proposing everything from 150 square-foot apartments to a $3 billion affordable housing bond’.  ‘Nearly a decade removed from the depths of the Great Recession, a staggering 38 percent of California’s 18 to 34-year-olds still live with their parents, according to U.S. Census data. That’s roughly 3.6 million people stuck at home.  If “unlaunched” California millennials formed their own state, they would be entitled to more electoral votes than Connecticut, Iowa or Utah.  If they formed their own city, it would be the third largest in the country’.  California’s population is slightly larger than Canada’s population.

‘Huge demand for tiny rental units in Vancouver’, by Bruce Constatineau in 2014 (rental) talks about  a 100-square-foot unit for $570 a month and there’s a waiting list of people wanting to rent other units when they become available.  In another development there are units as small as 90 square feet where each unit contains a tiny sink and fridge (no cooking facilities and windows?).. Renters in the 50 units share 11 bathrooms, and there are laundry facilities on each of the four floors.  Apparently  the mini-sized apartments attract a wide range of renters — from ages 19 to 56 — who want to live on their own with a downtown Vancouver address.  Budget-minded renters…..can find similar-sized or even smaller cubbyholes downtown for anywhere between $400 and $600 a month.  It is further stated than In order to make them affordable, they need to be very small, condensed units with shared washrooms. That’s just a fact of life.  Really?  The pictures of these units speak a thousand words.

Edmonton, Alberta is also considering construction of 100 square foot units.

Empty house speculator syndrome is equivalent to unethical investing and theft since the empty units have been taken off the market and are not available for occupancy.  Ethical investing excludes chocolate companies that use child labor. Children are taught it is wrong to ‘take candy from babies’, shoplifters are jailed for minor thefts and yet it appears to be okay for speculators to ‘steal’ housing all within legal limits of the law.  The present housing market is based on greed.  Greed begets greed and greed trumps family values.  In housing singles are worth less than other members of the family unit.  The bar has now been reset to a new low where it is okay for them to live in spaces equivalent in size to two jail cells (average jail cell is 45 square feet and provides ‘free’ accommodation and meals, but you can’t leave).

The complete disregard of the housing crisis is heightened by Dr. Ben Carson, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development USA, who states poverty is a “state of mind” and Trumpian politics which rob the poor to pay the rich.  Liberals and Conservatives in Canada are no different.  The housing crisis is not a “state of mind”, but rather has been brought on by inadequate rules and regulations on housing, failure to increase the minimum wage to a living wage and the upper middle classes and wealthy paying less and getting more for housing and tax loopholes.

Housing is a basic human right as determined internationally in the “Universal International Declaration of Human Rights” and “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” and is one of the principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need. In Canada there appears to be no shame in robbing singles, poor families and indigenous people of their housing.  Housing investors, politicians and families need to take a look in the mirror and reset their moral and ethical compasses to ‘true North’ re housing crisis.

LESSONS THAT SHOULD/COULD BE LEARNED

Where are the parents of millennials?  How can they allow the housing crisis and their children to be housed in 90 square foot units and smaller?  Where are the family values for housing?

Where are the governments, politicians and city counsels that have allowed the housing crisis to take over and last so long?  Where are the rules and regulations to prevent the building of ridiculously small units with price gouging rents?

Why do singles, who are more likely to live in small spaces, always have to pay more per square foot, sometimes outrageously so ($570 for 100 square foot unit)?  The upside-down pricing of housing (affordable-housing) where the smaller the space, the higher the price is per square foot needs to stop.  Doubling the price on rent equals pure greed and unethical investing.  Why do the upper middle class and wealthy pay so much less per square foot for their housing?  The estimate for the amount of house taxes, etc. that is collected by not making the wealthy pay their fair share per square foot must be astounding.

How do occupants of these small spaces learn life lessons, such as cooking for themselves, buying food and managing finances?

The minimum wage needs to be raised to an indexed living wage (cause-and-effect-of-financial-policies).  Building affordable housing will not solve the problem if the minimum wage is not raised.

Humane principles-there are many humane associations and principles related to animals, so where are the humane principles for humans re housing – 100 sq. ft. at $570 rent is not humane.

Where are the rules and regulations on how small a space can be developed, such as a minimum of 350 square feet, so at least there can be a bathroom and cooking facilities within the unit?  Surely, there must be point where it is is not financially feasible for developers to develop small units with minimum square footage in relation to the cost of building the unit and also provides dignity to occupants of these units.

Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards (Housing-Minimum) – the following condensed excerpt provides information on some Alberta standards for housing.

Space for Sleeping purposes (overcrowding): The owner of a housing premises shall not permit it to become or remain overcrowded. (a) A housing premises shall be deemed to be overcrowded if: (i) a bedroom in it has less than 3m2 (32ft2)of total floor area and 5.6m3 (197ft3) of air space for each adult sleeping in the bedroom, (ii) in the case of a dormitory, the sleeping area in the dormitory has less than 4.6m2 (49.5ft2) of floor space and 8.5 m3 (300ft3) of air space for each adult sleeping in the sleeping area, or (iii) a habitable room in it that is not a bedroom but is used for sleeping purposes in combination with any other use has less than 9.5m2 (102ft2) of floor space and 21.4m3 (756ft3) of air space for each adult sleeping in the habitable room. (b) For the purposes of calculating this section, a person who is more than 1 year of age but not more than 10 years of age shall be considered as a July 20, 1999 9 Revised June 30, 2012 Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards © 1999–2012 Government of Alberta 1/2(one half) adult and a person who is more than 10 years of age shall be considered as 1 adult; (c) This section does not apply to a hotel/motel.

Food Preparation Facilities:  (a) Every housing premises shall be provided with a food preparation area, which includes: (i) a kitchen sink that is supplied with potable hot and cold water and suitably sized to allow preparation of food, washing utensils and any other cleaning operation; and (ii) cupboards or other facilities suitable for the storage of food; and (iii) a counter or table used for food preparation which shall be of sound construction and furnished with surfaces that are easily cleaned; and (iv) a stove and a refrigerator that are maintained in a safe and proper operating condition. The refrigerator shall be capable of maintaining a temperature of 4 degrees C. (400F). (b) Shared Kitchen Facilities Occupants of a housing premises with more than one dwelling may share food preparation facilities provided that: (i) the food preparation facilities are located in a common kitchen room, (ii) the occupants have access to the common kitchen room from a public corridor without going outside the building, (iii) the common kitchen room is located on the same floor as, or on the next storey up or down from the floor on which the dwelling unit is located, July 20, 1999 10 Revised June 30, 2012 Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards © 1999–2012 Government of Alberta (iv) the food preparation facilities shall not serve more than eight persons, and (v) the refrigerator shall provide a minimum volume of two cubic feet of storage for each intended occupant.

Washroom Facilities:  Except where exempt by regulation, every housing premises shall be provided with plumbing fixtures of an approved type consisting of at least a flush toilet, a wash basin, and a bathtub or shower. (a) The washbasins and bathtub or shower shall be supplied with potable hot and cold running water. (b) The wash basin should be in the same room as the flush toilet or in close proximity to the door leading directly into the room containing the flush toilet. (c) All rooms containing a flush toilet and/or bathtub or shower shall be provided with natural or mechanical ventilation. Shared Washrooms (d) Occupants of a housing premises with more than one dwelling unit may share a flush toilet, wash basin and bathtub or shower provided that: (i) the occupants have access to the washroom facility without going through another dwelling or outside of the building; and (ii) the facility is located on the same floor as, or on the next storey up or down from the floor on which the suite is located; and (iii) each group of plumbing fixtures (toilet, washbasin, bathtub or shower) shall not serve more than eight persons.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

CAUSE AND EFFECT OF FINANCIAL POLICIES PROMOTING FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

CAUSE AND EFFECT OF FINANCIAL POLICIES PROMOTING FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog has attempted to describe some of the many government, politician, business and family financial policy decisions that lead to financial discrimination of singles and the poor.

The question that can be asked is:  “Is there a  cause and effect relationship to these decisions?”

From Wikipedia and other online sources (study) the definition of ‘cause and effect’ is follows: – Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is the agency or efficacy that connects one process (the cause) with another process or state (the effect), where the first is understood to be partly responsible for the second, and the second is dependent on the first. In general, a process has many causes, which are said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of many other effects.

A cause-effect relationship is a relationship in which one event (the cause) makes another event happen (the effect). One cause can have several effects. Cause-Effect Criteria – In order to establish a cause-effect relationship, three criteria must be met. The first criterion is that the cause has to occur before the effect. If the causes occurred before the effects, then the first criterion is met.  Second, whenever the cause happens, the effect must also occur.  Consequently, if the cause does not happen, then the effect must not take place. The strength of the cause also determines the strength of the effect when criterion two is met.  The final criterion is that there are no other factors that can explain the relationship between the cause and effect.

A cause is why something happens.  An effect is what happens.

While no scientific ‘cause and effect’ relationship (i.e. fishbone diagrams) has been applied in this blog, certainly many of the financial discriminatory effects of policy decisions (or causes) have been described.  Some of these effects are listed below.

Boutique tax credits

  • Every political party has introduced tax credits to give financial benefits to certain members of the population more than others. June 16/16 (credit)

Business policies

  • Financial decisions by businesses such as not wanting to have minimum wage increase and not wishing to pay proposed increase of CPP employer contributions continue to help disintegrate the financial well being of singles and the poor. Sept. 12/16 (canada-pension-plan)

CPP

  • Financial discrimination of the CPP plan.  Aug 31/16 (plan)

CPP enhancements

  • Financial discrimination of CPP enhancements includes higher income earners only paying 8 percent instead of 11 percent CPP contributions on earnings between $72,000 and $82,700. Sept 12/16 (canada-pension-plan)

Family tax credits

  • Marital manna and family tax credits given over the years have continually increased the financial discrimination of singles and the poor.  Many of these benefits have been implemented by the Federal Conservative government over the last decade and perpetuated by the Federal Liberal party since coming into power in 2015 as well as provincial parties.  Aug 2/16 (credits)

Housing Affordability

  • Just 1,048 new affordable housing units in Calgary have been built over the past 14 years; the need for affordable housing was great in 2002 and it remains so today (most of these years were under provincial forty year reign of the Conservative party). July 17/16 (housing)
  • Homelessness – Two thirds of shelter beds in Canada are filled by people who make relatively infrequent use of shelters and are more likely forced into shelters by economic conditions (due to structural factors, the state of housing and labour markets that destine the very poor to be unable to afford even minimum-quality housing)…attacking housing affordability from the other side, by reducing housing costs, would also be effective….vast majority of homeless shelter users are single. May 23, 2016 (homelessness) and July 17/16 (housing)

Housing Upside Down Pricing and Financing

  • Upside down pricing of housing where purchasers of smaller units pay more per square foot means they will proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay. Nov. 19/15 (upside-down)

Income tax privileging for the middle class and the wealthy

  • Tax cuts on both federal and provincial levels have targeted the middle class and the wealthy while making poor pay same amount or more in taxes.
  • Alberta flat tax of 10 percent increased from 8 percent for low income. May 23/16 (homelessness
  • Federal tax by federal Liberal party decreased by 1.5% for those earning between $45,282 and $90,563. Aug. 23/16 (family)

Lost Dollar value

  • Lost dollar value list was created to show lost dollars experienced by singles because married or coupled persons are able to achieve more financial benefits.  Some of these include pension splitting, reward programs and Employment Insurance (EI). April 10/16 (value)

Marital manna benefits

  • 1% spousal lending rate, spousal RRSP, TFSAs times two with no cap on total amounts accumulated over years are all within legal limits of financial laws – Six Reasons….(six)

Marrying for money pays off

  • Study shows persons who marry and stay married accumulate nearly twice as much personal wealth as a person who is single or divorced.  Jan. 17/16 (pays)

Maternity and parental benefits

  • Studies have shown that middle class and wealthy families benefit more from maternity and parental benefits.  Many poor families cannot afford take full maternity and parental leave.  August 23/17 (family)

Minimum wage/living wage

  • Decisions and arguments to not increase minimum wage or implement living wage have a dramatic impact on financial well being of singles and the poor.  May 4/16 (discriminatory) and Sept. 12/16 (canada-pension-plan)

Net worth and assets

  • When net worth and assets are not included in family benefit formulas, benefits are often given to those who need these benefits less (middle class and the wealthy) than the poor who have less net worth and assets.  August 17/16 (assets)

OAS recovery tax (OAS clawback)

  • OAS clawback benefits wealthy couples and some widows the most.  OAS for couples only begins at net income of $145,618 ($72,809 per person) thus allowing them to receive full OAS of $13,760 as a couple.  Not many senior singles (except some widowed persons) who could ever hope to achieve a net income of $72,809. Aug. 29/16 (oas)

Pension splitting

  • Pension splitting benefits only wealthy married or coupled family units.  Singles don’t get to pension split. Jan. 31/16 (government) and May 4/16 (selective).

Reward programs, company perks, money benefit programs, and fee schedules benefit families the most

‘Selective’ social democracy

  • There has been much that is good about democratic socialism, but there also has been some negative outcomes .  One outcome is ‘selective’ democratic socialism where certain members of society receive more social benefits than others. May 4/16 (selective)

Senior singles pay more

  • Senior singles often ‘pay more, get less’ because they are not included equally in financial formulas.  Singles also help support widowed persons and survivor pension plans. Dec. 22/15 (senior) and June 2/16 (retirement)

Singles not included or improperly identified in family definition

  • Ever singles (never married, no kids) are often not properly identified in family definitions.  Widowed persons and single parents are not ever singles.  Widowed persons and single parents are afforded some benefits that ever singles do not receive.  Dec. 2/15 (false) and Aug. 7/16 (definition)

CONCLUSION

It is very clear from the many examples above that government, politician, business and family financial policy decisions are often made in isolation and in financial silo fashion.  Continuation of these practises without a clear path to proper evaluation of all ‘across the board’ financial formulas and their ‘cause and effect’ on each other will only lead to perverse financial privileging of the middle class and wealthy while continuing financial discrimination of ever singles, early in life divorced singles, single parents and the poor.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

SINGLES NEED TO LEARN HOW TO ARTICULATE FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES

SINGLES NEED TO LEARN HOW TO ARTICULATE FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

In last post of July 25, 2016 (program) it was shown how the new Canada Child Benefit program is a source of discontent for families and how financial discrimination of singles continues.

This post also showed how singles feel they have been left out of the financial process and how most families will bash singles whenever they express despair about this fact. (Ever singles and early divorced singles without children are made to help pay for Canada Child Benefit while families with high net worth are still able to profit from the Child Benefit and other benefits).

As has been stated many times by this blog author, families will talk about about how their ‘hearts are eternally and inexplicably changed’ when bearing their children, but same hearts appear to become ‘hearts of stone’ in financial matters when these same children become adult singles, low income or no income persons and families.  These disadvantaged persons are tossed out or are made to be less important in financial formulas and decision-making processes.  It is like families become financially dissociated or detached from their children, siblings and relatives that are single without children. Singles are made invisible and excluded from financial formulas by families, politicians and governments.

In last post comments from singles on the Canada Child Benefit were itemized.  The one common theme running through all these comments is the dissatisfaction with financial discrimination, but no articulation of what needs to change.  When singles are commenting online or by other means, comments without substantiation will just produce more financial bashing of singles.

SINGLES NEED TO LEARN HOW TO ARTICULATE HOW THEY ARE BEING FINANCIALLY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BY:

Educate, educate, educate while stating facts– It is a sad fact that most families, businesses, financial gurus, politicians and government  will not have a clue about what singles are talking about when it comes to financial discrimination.  Most will get that glazed look in their eyes and state it costs less for singles to live and children are more important. And unfortunately, the education of others will have to occur over and over again until there is maybe one fact that will stick to achieve an ‘ah, ha’ moment.  Also, singles will need to be prepared for anger, defensiveness and a whole range of other negative emotions from people they are trying to educate.

Show examples – This cannot be stressed enough.  It is often the examples that will produce understanding of the financial discrimination of singles.  For example:

 show copy of ‘Six Reasons Why Married or Coupled Persons Able to Achieve More Financial Power (Wealth) than Single Persons’ (six-reasons)

—show an outline of your budget

—give copies of articles that show how much it costs singles to live

 show examples of how financially privileged families are becoming with benefits like the Child Benefit program (tax-credits)

 show examples of how financially privileged families have become with the benefits upon benefits they receive.  (An example of benefits upon benefits is this statement:  From time couple with children is married to time one spouse dies couple will have possibly received shower, wedding, baby gifts, paid maternity/paternity leave, child benefits, TFSA/RRSP benefits times two, RESP grants, reduced taxes, pension-splitting and possible survivor death benefits. Singles get none of these benefits while supporting families through payment of taxes to support these benefits-show this statement when talking about financial privilege of families).

 show visual examples of graphs, pictures, etc. that give information on all the benefits that one family unit will receive over the family unit comprised of single persons, for example, financial silos (financial-illiteracy)

 show statistics from studies like ‘Living wage for Guelph and Wellington 2013 (Report) that itemize what it costs a single person to stay off the streets.

—become knowledgeable about different levels of status of singles (marital status).  For example, rebuttals will often state singles are included in financial formulas, when in fact, the only singles more likely to be included are single parents and widowed persons. (Updated August 7, 2016)

 Provide solutions – Provide solutions to financial decision makers, one example is to use cost of living equivalence standards (singles) for financial formulas.  It is a false statement to say that cost of living for a single person is one half of a married or coupled family unit of two. Rather, some statistics show cost of living for family unit of a single person is approximately 70% of a married or coupled family unit of two.  Singles deserve equal representation in financial formulas according to what it costs them to live.

– Spread the word – Tell other singles about financial discrimination, and above all, lobby all decision makers (families, businesses, politicians and government) about inclusion of singles in financial formulas.

– Get out and vote!  All financial lives matter.  Stop the financial discrimination of singles!

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY FINANCIALLY DISCRIMINATORY FOR EVER SINGLES AND EARLY DIVORCED/SEPARATED PERSONS

RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY FINANCIALLY DISCRIMINATORY FOR EVER SINGLES AND EARLY DIVORCED/SEPARATED PERSONS

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

This blog post was updated on December 1, 2017 replacing 70% information with 1.4 equivalence scale for couples to that of singles, not 2.0.

So here we go again, several organizations, primarily Chambers of Commerce and financial planning and insurance associations, have taken out a full page in newspapers across the country for an article called “It’s time for national cooperation on retirement income security” and is addressed to Federal, Provincial and Territorial Finance Ministers (clhia).  In this article, widowed elderly are highlighted over single elderly seniors in regards to living below the poverty level.

The article talks about being proud of Canada’s retirement system.  It then goes on to say: ‘That said, there are pockets of our population who are not as well-prepared for retirement as they could be.  These shortfalls are specific to certain segments of our populations. Hence, any ‘one-size-fits all’ approach could prove harmful to the economy as a whole and be unnecessary for many.We believe that the time has come to take a targeted approach to addressing any shortfalls.  Such an approach should be national in scope..  It should be fair, so that it doesn’t introduce inter-generational transfers or require over-saving where it is not needed.  It should be cost efficient and easy to implement.  It should minimize administrative burdens for employers.  And it should be good for the economy.

There are three specific segments not on track to maintain their standard of living in retirement:

  1. A small percentage of lower-income Canadians live below the poverty level, particularly the widowed elderly.  The commitment in the federal budget to increase Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments will provide some assistance in easing this situation  But more could and should be done, such as eliminating the claw-back for a surviving spouse under the Canada/Quebec Pension Plan.
  2. Up to 25% of modest-income Canadians (say above $27,500) are not on track, largely because they do not save outside of the public system and/or do not have workplace plans.  This group could benefit most from a modest increase in C/QPP contributions that would help meet their needs.
  3. Up to a third of higher-income Canadians are not on track to maintain their standard of living in retirement because they do not have a workplace plan or don’t maximize their participation in one, or they do not have sufficient private savings.  This group as well as all Canadians should have access to a retirement plan at the workplace, where it is easiest to save.

The undersigned urge all government to pursue a national, multi-faceted approach to improve retirement income security for all Canadians’.

The article is then signed by fifteen different organizations.

Statistics show that in 2014 there approximately 6 million seniors age 65 and over.  From BMO “Retirement for One-By Chance or By Design” (bmo) in 2008, approximately 57 percent of seniors were married; of the remaining 43 per cent of single status, 30 per cent were widowed and 13 per cent were divorced/separated or never married (ever singles).

BMO goes on to say that one of the realities for ever singles is that they lack survivor benefits.  The following table shows that ever singles and widowed persons, both with employer pensions will still probably have the same income.  For widowers with a spouse who also had an employer pension, the widower will have a higher income level from spousal employer pension survivor benefit.

income advantage senior widow over ever single2

Persons who become widowed are now ‘single’ so why should they receive special privileges like no income claw back for surviving spouses?  What do ever singles and early divorced/separated persons get that is comparable?   Studies repeatedly show that according to equivalence scales (equivalence-scales) it costs a married/coupled person family unit without kids 1.4 times that of a single person household, not double..

This blog has published several posts where it has been shown that financial advisors have no clue about the financial affairs of ever singles and early in life divorced/separated persons.  One wonders what  financial experience Chambers of Commerce have that they can comment on the financial affairs of singles.

Once again, the widowed elderly have been highlighted as an area of concern while ever singles and early divorced/separated persons are left out of the financial discussion.

There is complete financial illiteracy by most people on what it truly costs to live as a single person.  The post ‘Real Financial Lives of Singles’ (singles) gives five case studies, four of which contribute to employer pension plans, and one widowed person who has considerable wealth and is concerned that he can no longer pension split and may have his OAS clawed back.  Even with an employer pension plan it is not easy for singles to have a decent financial life.  Another post ‘Continued Financial Illiteracy of Financial Gurus Equals Financial Discrimination of Senior Singles’ (senior-singles) shows the financial silos that have been created by governments where married/coupled persons as one family unit and some widowed persons as one family unit receive more financial  benefits than ever singles and early divorced/separated persons family units.

To ensure financial equality between singles, widowers and married/coupled persons, the following measures need to be taken:

    • change financial formulas so that senior couples receive 1.4 equivalence scale only of whatever is given to a single senior person household as it costs more for single senior person household to live than it does married/coupled family units because of economies of scale
    • financial formulas should be revised to include all senior persons regardless of marital status in one financial formula.  To eliminate financial silos that benefit married/coupled persons most, delete benefits already given to married/coupled persons such as pension splitting (benefits the rich most) so that there is a level financial playing field for all regardless of marital status. (It is understood that it is expensive to raise children and  benefits given for children should last for first twenty years of the life of the child. However, beyond the twenty years of the children, any other benefits given to married/coupled persons should be deleted or revised to a rate of 1.4 to that of a single person)
    • create a side-by-side list of all possible benefits under categories of married/coupled, widowed and single and analyze what each category gets in benefits.  Financial formulas should be created equally for all categories, not just the married/coupled and widowed.
    • delete allowance benefit that has been ruled to be discriminatory by the courts
    • education, education and more education on financial literacy for singles.  Think tanks, financial gurus and married/coupled people need to educate themselves on what it really costs singles to live.
    • financial benefits should be income-tested for all family unit types.  Income testing should include housing and savings.  It is likely to cost ever singles more to live as they are more likely to rent while widowers are more likely to own their own homes.
    • all financial formulas for singles should include ever singles, early divorced/separated persons and widowers on an equal basis.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

COMPANY PERKS BENEFIT FAMILIES MORE THAN SINGLES CAUSING FINANCIAL UNFAIRNESS

SOME COMPANY PERKS BENEFIT FAMILIES MORE THAN SINGLES (SINGLES ARE SUBSIDIZING THESE PROGRAMS)

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

The Province of Alberta has once again released its Top 70 Employers for 2016.

In addition to the usual maternity, paternity leaves, day-care etc., perks that benefit families more than singles include the following:

  • Academic scholarship program for children of employees who are interested in pursuing post-secondary education, up to $1,000 per child. (This is in addition to federal and provincial education benefit programs).
  • Helps newcomers gain Canadian work experience with short-term internships, offered in partnership with Immigrant Services and Centre for Newcomers. (While it is recognized that this is a good thing for immigrants, this program should be offered equally to Canadians.  Immigrant families are favoured over single immigrants in relocation programs to Canada).
  • Compassionate top-up payments for employees who are called upon to care for a loved one. (The problem with this is often the definition of “loved one”.  It is often very inclusive to only close members of the family).
  • Parent employees with college-bound kids have access to an academic scholarship program, as well as summer, co-op and internship employment programs. (This program is again very inclusive to parent employees).
  • Academic scholarship program to encourage children of employees to pursue post-secondary studies (up to $3,000 per child). (While this employer does offer first perk of long-term development of its employees through tuition subsidies for courses taken at outside institutions (up to $5,000), parent employees get second perk for their children on top of  third perk of federal and provincial education benefit programs for their children).
  • Offers parents-to-be a generous subsidy for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments up to $5,000.

Almost all employers offer some form of compassionate/bereavement programs (and this is a good thing).  However, these are often restricted to  close family members and in-laws.  Families often fail to recognize that they have double benefits as these programs compensate both sides of the family.  Singles tend to use less of these benefits, and therefore, it could be said that they are subsidizing families in this regard.  Singles through their taxes also support the mother/baby hospital care, maternal/paternal leaves and EI (employment insurance) programs for parents.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

GOVERNMENT CPP BAFFLEGAB MORE IMPORTANT THAN FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND QUALITY OF LIFE

GOVERNMENT CPP BAFFLEGAB MORE IMPORTANT THAN FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION AND QUALITY OF LIFE OF CANADIAN SINGLES

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

There has been much discussion lately as to whether the CPP (Canada Pension Plan) system should be changed.  The objective of the government is for country to live in a society that takes care of its citizens.  The reality is that some citizens are being taken care of more than others, that is the rich and married/coupled persons while singles and low income are being financially discriminated against.

EXAMPLES OF FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION

  • TARGETED TAX RELIEF PROGRAMS FOR SENIORS-The Federal Conservative government has a targeted tax relief program where a single senior can now earn $20,360 and a senior couple $40,720 before paying federal income tax.  Program claims that approximately 400,000 seniors (or 7 to 8% of total Canadian seniors) have been removed from the tax rolls altogether.  This so called tax relief for seniors allows federal tax relief for senior singles equal to $1,697 per month and for senior couples $3,393 per month.

The tax relief for senior singles hardly covers a rent or mortgage payment of $1,200 and $250 for food per month (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need), but amply covers this amount for a senior couple.  For a couple $1200 for rent or mortgage and $500 for food leaves $1693 (or 50% of $40,000) for other necessities and medications and maybe even a nice little vacation all tax free.

It is a well-known fact that singles require more income to that of a married/coupled persons living as a single unit.  In Equivalence scales (Statistics Canada 75F0002M – Section 2 ‘The LIM and proposed Modifications’ (75f0002) (equivalence-scales) if singles are assigned a value of 1.0, then couples require 1.4 times for income, not 2.0. $20,360 times 1.4 equals $28,504 ($2,375 per month) (updated November 18, 2017).  If the federal government cared about income equality and quality of life for senior singles, it would increase the tax free amount for singles.  By not applying equivalence scales to  income for senior singles, they lose $678 a month or approximately $8,000 Lost Dollar Value annually in quality of  life to married/couple retired persons.  (From age 65 to 90, this amounts to $20,000).

When income for senior married/coupled persons is over $40,000 they again get another benefit, that is pension splitting, which singles cannot use increasing quality of life for married/coupled persons over senior singles.  This is a tax benefit piled on top of another tax benefit.

The number of senior ‘ever’ singles (never married, no kids) and divorced/separated persons comprises only about 13 per cent of the population, so how much would it cost to bring the quality of life for these citizens up to the standard of tax relief for married/coupled persons?  The answer is ‘not very much’ in comparison  to what has been given to  married/coupled senior persons.

“Ever” singles are told every day they are worthless and worth less than married/coupled persons even though they have worked 35 – 40 years subsidizing mother/baby hospital care, EI paternal/maternal leave, education taxes even though they have had no children and paid more taxes than families.

  • GOVERNMENTS IGNORE COURT RULINGSRe Allowance Program and Credits, (policyalternatives) 2009 Policy Brief, “A Stronger Foundation-Pension Reform and Old Age Security” by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, page 4, states this program discriminates on basis of marital status as confirmed by case brought under Charter of Rights where federal court agreed program was discriminatory, and ruled it would be too expensive to extend program on basis of income regardless of marital status.’  So what is happening?  Age eligibility for Allowance will change from 60 to 62 beginning in 2023 with full implementation in 2029.  In this democratic, civilized country let’s just ignore federal court rulings and continue a $? million discriminatory program.  Article suggests that ‘OAS (Old Age Security) and GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) combined should be increased to at least bring it up to after-tax LICO (Low Income Cut Off) for single individuals.’  And why should married/coupled people get discriminatory marital status benefits where unused credits like Age Credits can be transferred to spouse?

Gross financial discrimination for singles occurs when governments choose to completely ignore court rulings.  Lost Dollar Value to singles:  unable to calculate.

  • PENSION SPLITTINGIt is immoral and ethically irresponsible for governments to deny that pension splitting benefits the wealthy most.  For families who can be exempt from paying 10 – !5 percent income tax on $100,000 and maintain the same income level during retirement as they had during their working years, even though they have less expenses during retirement, is financially discriminating to  singles who cannot pension split.  (This information was revised April 10, 2016 – Lost Dollar Value:  From estimate on income splitting, it has been suggested that income splitting would provide tax relief of $103 for income $30,000 or less and $1,832 for income of $90,000 and over or an average of $794 overall.  If $800 ($794 rounded off) is calculated times 35 years (age 65 to 90), then Lost Dollar Value will equal $28,000.)
  • HOUSING-Financial gurus seem to be leaning towards renting instead of home ownership.  This creates further hardship  for singles and the low income.  If young married/coupled persons are being told that they will probably need to rent because housing prices are out of reach, where does this leave singles and low income persons?  Trend now is towards tiny houses with composting toilets and tanks for storing water, but the rich don’t want to see tiny houses in their backyards.

Try telling singles and low income person that renting is the better alternative when they pay more per square foot and quality of housing is lower than that of houses for families.  If they have problems with not enough income for housing, they are told they should go live with someone.  These people ought to try ‘walking in the shoes’ of singles living in one room or communal situations, where because of low income, they don’t have their own bathroom, and it becomes a ‘dog eat dog’ world where others will, for example, steal food because there is not enough money to buy food. (cprn.org)

The housing market (rental and ownership) is financially completely upside down.  Instead of the rich and middle class paying more for the greatest amount of square footage, they are paying less for the greatest amount of square footage and niceties associated with that.  Singles and low income will be living in hovels, thus violating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs principle.

  • IF MONEY IS THERE YOU WILL SPEND IT, IF IT IS NOT, YOU WON’TFinancial studies have come to  conclusions that for people in the lowest income quintile on average have replacement rates of 100 percent, implying their real standard of living actually rises after retirement.  This is such a lie and is totally irrelevant to singles and low income persons.  If there is a poor quality of life before retirement, there still will be a poor quality of life on 100 percent replacement income for singles that does not meet the 1.4 income equivalent (updated November 17, 2017) to that of married/coupled persons living as a single unit.

CONCLUSIONS

Governments, decision makers, some financial advisers to the government. and think tanks are financially illiterate about the financial discrimination of singles.

It seems to be more important for governments to ensure that upper-middle class and upper class maintain their standard of living than it is to treat singles fairly.

Unprecedented growth in value of houses will result in huge tax-free wealth for families and married/coupled persons to the financial detriment of singles and low income.

Marital manna benefits like pension splitting has created a nanny state where married/coupled persons want it all and once these benefits are in place, it is very difficult to get rid of them.  Married/coupled persons have been made irresponsible by their own government.  They are not living a lower life style in their retirement.  A further question is whether these programs will be financially sustainable.

Assumption that retirement income only needs to replaced at 70 percent, for example, does not hold true for both singles and married/coupled persons, because singles require 1.4 income equivalent to married/coupled persons living as a single unit (updated November 17, 2017).  Twenty thousand dollars a year is not an adequate quality of life retirement income for Canadian senior singles.

GOVERNMENTS NEED TO ADDRESS FINANCIAL EQUALITY FIRST FOR ALL CANADIAN CITIZENS REGARDLESS OF MARITAL STATUS, THEN TWEAK CPP.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

FINANCIAL GURUS FINANCIALLY ILLITERATE ABOUT SINGLES’ FINANCES

FINANCIAL GURUS FINANCIALLY ILLITERATE ABOUT SINGLES’ FINANCES

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to be used as personal or financial advice.)

In the definition of family, for example Canada Revenue Agency, ‘ever’ singles and early in life divorced/separated persons are included in the definition of family, but in financial discussions by financial gurus they are often ‘kicked out’ of the family.

Financial gurus are often financially illiterate and discriminatory in the financial affairs of singles.  The most often egregious examples of this is the exclusion of  ‘ever’ singles and early in life divorced/separated persons from their blogs and studies.  The following three examples are used as a basis for this post.

Example #1

(false-assumptions-four-ways-seniors-singles-lose) The December 2, 2015 post “False Assumptions of Article ‘Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out’” talks about false assumptions and false categorization of singles by Ted Rechtshaffen’s October 13, 2012 article “Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out”.  In this article he states how widowed persons financially lose out in tens of thousands of dollars because they are no longer part of a couple.   He suggests that tax systems should be made fairer for only widowed and later in life divorced/separated persons.  ‘Ever’ singles and early in life divorced/separated persons were left out by exclusion because definition of single status was incorrectly used.  (Ted Rechtshaffen is president and wealth advisor at TriDelta Financial, a boutique wealth management and planning firm) (http://www.tridelta.ca/)

Example #2

(thebluntbeancounter)  The Blunt Bean Counter blog by Mark Goodfield article “The Burden of Singledom” May 6, 2014 is a response to a single person who stated his blog series on retirement was no help and was indeed obscene (this was stated in his blog) to her as a single person.  He is a Chartered Professional Accountant who readily admits that his blog is for everyone, but in particular high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations.  He states that the target audience was not singles or low income Canadians for the retirement series.  There is no problem with this statement; however, he asked Rona Birenbaum to do a guest post, a well-known and often quoted financial planner who also typically deals with high net worth clients.  Her article, ‘The Burden of Singledom’ again gave no meaningful advice beyond what is already known by singles.

Example #3

Dr. Jack Mintz is the President’s Fellow of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.  Jack Mintz and Philip Bazel published an article in February 2014 called “Income Adequacy among Canadian Seniors:  Helping Singles Most” (policyschool.ucalgary)

In the article the following statements are made:

‘Policies should be directed at these most vulnerable single seniors, such as enhancements to the GIS top-up program targeted at those seniors with the lowest incomes, and increased survivor-benefit rates under the Canada Pension Plan.’

’When the income inadequacy of singles and married couples is evaluated using LICO (Low Income Cut-Off), we find a significantly higher incidence of elderly singles with income under $20,000 below the LICO threshold (52.6 percent) when compared with the LICO incidence of elderly households containing a married couple below $40,000 (15.7 per cent for households containing a couple with one elderly, and 6.3 per cent for households containing a couple with two elderly)’.

Such a statement shows financial illiteracy to the finances realities of senior singles as it costs them 70 per cent of what it costs a married/couple persons to live as a single unit.  A better alternative would be to forget the marital manna benefits directed to survivors or widowed persons and treat all senior singles whether they are ‘ever’ singles, divorced/separated or widowed persons as equals with top-ups equal to 70 percent of married/coupled person units.  The 52.6 per cent for singles versus 15.7 and 6.3 per cent for married persons mentioned in above quote shows an enormous spread between the two and is proof of this.  Financially, while in a coupled state, widowed persons appear to have a pretty good quality of life while singles below LICO appear to never have an equivalent quality of life.

(Many low income singles do not have close family members to live with and when they are forced to cohabitate in non-family situations, they often live in undesirable situations such as other household members stealing food, etc., “Social Housing Waitlists and the One Person Households in Ontario”)  (to-rent-or-own-affordable-housing-that-is-the-question)

Seniors living with family is an expense to the family unit.  However, senior singles living on their own have to incur not only 100% of the living costs, but also 70% of the costs of married/coupled persons as a single unit.

Financial gurus state that 70 per cent replacement of pre-retirement income is the standard norm for retirement.  Statistics Canada analysis has found that gross replacement rates vary by income but typically is about 70 percent.  People in the lowest 20 percent income quintile have replacement rates of 100 percent, implying their real standard of living actually rises after retirement. However, the real truth common sense evaluation of these findings show that married/coupled people financially benefit more than singles and divorced/separated persons.  A higher income level for the low income single person is still a low level income.  Financial gurus seem to think that when Canadians have an equal or greater income during retirement than while they are working, that is okay.  Try telling that to low income Canadian ‘ever’ singles and early in life divorced/separate persons who have not received the same benefits and are unable to save at the same rate as families or married/coupled persons during their working lives and, therefore, have lower retirement income.

(senior-singles-pay-more-part-4-of-4-response-to-reader-letters) An example of retired ‘ever’ singles and early in life divorced/separated singles receiving less is the December 22, 2015 blog “Senior Singles Pay More, Part 4 of 4”  showing that in a targeted tax relief program single seniors pay no tax on up $20,360 income, while married/coupled seniors pay no tax on up to $40,720 income.  (It costs more for singles to live person to person that it does for married/coupled persons.  This program barely covers the rent for a senior single, but allows married/couple senior to live a much better financial lifestyle).  A further example is the 10 per cent increase of the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) for low income single seniors in the 2015 budget. One person has indicated that this has amounted to an increase of only $17 per month.

Conclusion

  1. Financial gurus like Chartered Professional Accountants, writers of blogs, members of think tanks and financial planners need to educate themselves and include all singles in their discussions, not just widowed persons and later in life divorced/separated singles.
  2. Financial gurus need to insure singles of all types are given fair and equal financial status in financial formulas and decision making.
  3. Financial gurus need to become educated on what it truly costs ‘ever’ singles and early in life divorced/separated persons to live.  It costs these persons 70 percent of what it costs married/coupled persons to live as a unit.  These extra living costs need to be included in financial formulas and financial decision making.

The blog posted here is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.