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.)

HOW THE ELITE SABOTAGE BUSINESS, POLITICS AND HIGHER LEARNING

HOW THE ELITE SABOTAGE BUSINESS, POLITICS AND HIGHER LEARNING

(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.

(The following is a comment on and summary of the excellent book “Winners Take All” and how the elites have taken over the business, political and higher learning institutions of the world.  Following this blog post are important pieces of discussion pulled from the book-forewarning: this is about 25 pages long)

Many are disillusioned by the all powerful control elites seem to have both politically and financially on the world.  The book “Winners Take All-the elite charade of changing the world” by Anand Giriharadas provides thought provoking ideas (as presented below) on how elites have been able to achieve their goals.

The Gilded Age and major changes in citizens’ financial lives helped to propel the advent of elite MarketWorld thought leaders who believe and promote ideas that social change should be pursued principally through free market and voluntary actions, not public life, the law and reform of systems that people share in common.

MarketWorld is an ascendant power elite that is defined by the concurrent drives to do well and do good, to change the world while also profiting from the status quo.  It consists of enlightened business people and their collaborators in the worlds of charity, academia, media, government, and think tanks. It has its own thinkers, whom it calls thought leaders, its own language, and even its own territory – including a constantly shifting archipelago of conferences at which its values are reinforced and disseminated and translated into action.  MarketWorld is a network and community, but it is also a culture and a state of mind.

There are two kinds of thinkers who share a common desire to develop important ideas and at the same time reach broader audiences.

First are “thought leader” thinkers who tend to know one big thing and believe their important idea will change the world.  Thought leaders use spreadsheets and statistical analyses to share their ideas which are often in the future tense like Venn diagrams without noting that the lion’s share of each circle (have and have-nots) remains outside the overlap of win-win.  They give TED talks that leave little space for criticism or rebuttal, and emphasize hopeful solutions over systemic change while taking little risk.

Thought leaders have often presented problems in precisely opposite ways by using their power to cause us to “zoom in” and think smaller.  They focus on vulnerability of poverty, not the wage of inequality. They don’t like “social justice” and “inequality” words, but rather use “poverty” and “fairness” while speaking of “opportunity”.

It is possible to counteract thought leader thinking by getting people to care about problems first by “zooming in” on a vivid person and then getting them to care by “zooming out” from person to see a system.  These thinkers are the “public intellectuals” who as wide-ranging ‘critics’ feel they bear a duty “to point out when an emperor has no clothes”. They are the ones who might give some hope to changing the trajectory of elite MarketWorld thought leaders.

“Zooming in” is known as the “identifiable-victim effect”…..People react differently toward identifiable victims than to statistical victims who have not yet been identified.

The social psychological concept, the one involving “zooming out” is the formal term for the concept “assimilation effect”, and it occurs when people link the personal and specific to the surrounding social context.

Re poverty, inequality and charity:  poverty is a material fact of deprivation that does not point fingers, but inequality is something more worrying:  It speaks of what some have and others lack; it flirts with ideas of injustice and wrongdoing; it leaves many chasing work instead of building livelihoods; it is rational.

MarketWorlders believe poverty can be addressed via charity by writing cheques to reduce that poverty.  “But inequality you can’t, because inequality is not about giving back, but about how you make the money that you’re giving back in the first place.”  Inequality is about the nature of the system. To fight inequality means to change systems as a group of people. With charity the elite work ALONE.

The changes of feudal financial and Gilded Age systems helped to develop organized philanthropy (whose leaders earn million dollar salaries and get tax credits for their charities while getting to keep their wealth) and ideas that after-the-fact benevolence justifies anything-goes capitalism.  The elites today do this from behind private gates, schools, jets: private world-saving behind the backs of those to be saved. Passively they do not reject public solutions in theory, but pursue private ones in practice. The private sector doesn’t merely add to public spheres, they change the language in which public spheres think and act.  This market-based, monetized thinking over all other disciplines and conceptions of value have helped to quickly spur a rising anger, nationalism and right-wing populism.

Thought leader ideas have permeated higher learning institutions.  Young people are taught to see social problems in a “zoom in” fashion by confining questioning to what socially minded businesses they can start up (buy one, give one), but not inequality.  They are persuaded by surrounding cultures that only by learning higher learning protocols can they help millions of people.

The question that elites refuse to ask is:  Why are there in the world so many people that you need to help in the first place?  The very problems elites have self righteously only partially solved have caused unrest because they act and talk in ways that insult, alienate, and energize many of their fellow citizens.

And MarketWorld’s private world-changing, for all the good it does, is also marred by its own “narcissism.”

When society helps people through its shared democratic institutions, it does so on behalf of all, and in a context of equality.  Those institutions, representing those free and equal citizens, are making a collective choice of whom to help and how. Those who receive help are not only objects of the transactions, but also subjects of it–citizens with agency. When help is moved into private spheres, no matter how efficient , the context of the helping is still a relationship of inequality:  the giver and the taker, helper and helped, donor and recipient.

History is not a straight line but a circle of events which repeat themselves such as the Gilded Age.  Many right and left political leaders have bought into the elite thought leader mythology. Are we being moved again to a Gilded age scenario?

To counteract MarketWorld our political institutions–laws, constitutions, regulations, taxes, shared infrastructure:  these million little pieces provide a counterbalance to help hold our democratic (capitalist) civilization together.

CONCLUSION

The one sided financial hegemony that elites have created has been helped by cutting funding to IRS and CRA budgets.  This means there is less money to prosecute financial high crimes of the elite. Shared economies–like Airbnb–do not help those persons of race, singles and poor who do not own homes. The present day college financial scandal provides evidence to the elite greed and graft.   The FAA allowing Boeing to “self-inspect” and SNC Lavalin corruption are clear examples of the private sector going amuck in the absence of laws and regulations counterbalance.

One word comes to the mind of this opinion writer-”brainwashing”. The elites have done a very good job of ‘brainwashing’ the political, financial and higher learning powers that be. At the very least it is “gaslighting”.

Counterbalance of MarketWorlders requires major public action for inequality and social justice change.  It is all about balance between MarketWord and government/politic worlds.

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

 

WINNERS TAKE ALL-The elite charade of changing the world (Anand Giriharadas) Book

MARKETWORLD DEFINITION

Page 30 MarketWorld is an ascendant power elite that is defined by the concurrent drives to do well and do good, to change the world while also profiting from the status quo.  It consists of enlightened business people and their collaborators in the worlds of charity, academia, media, government, and think tanks.  It has its own thinkers, whom it calls thought leaders, its own language, and even its own territory – including a constantly shifting archipelago of conferences at which its values are reinforced and disseminated and translated into action.  MarketWorld is a network and community, but it is also a culture and a state of mind.

HOW DID WE GET TO WHERE WE ARE

P. 18  …In the years since, though, Georgetown and the US and the world at large have been taken over by an ascendent ideology of how best to change the world.  That ideology is often called neoliberalism, and it is, in the framing of the anthropologist David Harvey, “ a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.”  Where the theory goes, “deregulation, privatization,and withdrawal of the state from many areas of social provision” tend to follow, Harvey writes.  “While personal and individual freedom in the marketplace is guaranteed, each individual is held responsible and accountable for his or her own actions and wellbeing.  This principle extends into the realms of welfare, education, health care, and even pensions.” The political philosopher Yascha Mounk captures the cultural consequences of this ideology when he says it has ushered in a new ‘age of responsibility,” in which “responsibility – which once meant the moral duty to help and support others – has come to suggest an obligation to be self-sufficient”.

P. 19 ….Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher as political figures rose to power by besmirching the role of government.  Reagan declared that ‘government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”. Two centuries earlier, the founding fathers had created a constitutional government in order to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  Now the instrument had been created, an instrument that helped to make the United States one of the most successful societies in history, was declared the enemy of these things….What their revolution amounted to in practice in America and elsewhere was lower taxes, weakened regulation and vastly reduced public spending on schools, job retraining, parks, and the commons at large.

The political right couldn’t pull off its revolution alone, however.  That is where the need for a loyal opposition comes in. Thus neoliberals cultivated the left half of the political spectrum a tribe they could work with.  This liberal subcaste would retain the left’s traditional goals of bettering the world and attending to underdogs, but it would increasingly pursue these aims in market-friendly ways.  Bill Clinton would become the paterfamilias of this tribe, with his so called Third Way between left and right, and his famous declaration, regarded as historic from the moment it was uttered in 1996, that ‘the era of government is over.”

P. 20 …stirred by a desire to change things, their own ideas and the resources available to them tended to steer them toward the market rather than the government as the place where problems were best solved…that if you really wanted to change the world, you must rely on the techniques, resources, and personnel of capitalism.

P. 26….Sonal Shaw…. established the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation under President Obama.  That office, according to its website, was “based on a simple idea: we cannot drive lasting change by creating top-down programs from Washington.”  It was striking statement from a liberal government – but not an uncommon one in an age dominated by market thinking – and it reflected a theory of progress that the rich and powerful could embrace.

THE PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL (CRITIC) VERSUS THOUGHT LEADER

P.91-92….Two kinds of thinkers, who share in common a desire to develop important ideas and at the same time reach a broad audience.  One of these types, the dying one, is the public intellectual whom as a wide-ranging ‘critic’ and a foe of power, ….perhaps stays ‘aloof from the market, society, or the state,” and ….proudly bears a duty “to point out when an emperor has no clothes.”  The ascendant type is the thought leader, who is more congenial to the plutocrats who sponsor so much intellectual production today. Thought leaders tend…to “know one big thing and believe that their important idea will change the world”; they are not skeptics but “true believers”; they are optimists, telling uplifting stories; they reason inductively from their own experiences more than deductively from authority. They go easy on the powerful…..

Public intellectuals argue with each other in the pages of books and magazines; thought leaders give TED talks that leave little space for criticism or rebuttal, and emphasize hopeful solutions over systemic change.  Public intellectuals pose a genuine threat to winners; thought leaders promote the winners’ values, talking up “disruption, self-empowerment, and entrepreneurial ability.”

THREE FACTORS THAT EXPLAIN THE DECLINE OF THE PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL AND THE RISE OF THE THOUGHT LEADER

P. 92 Three factors explain the decline of the public intellectual and the rise of the thought leader.[1] one is political polarization….[2] another factor is a generalized loss of trust in authority…[3] the rising inequality has most altered the sphere of ideas.

….get pulled into MarketWorld’s orbit, how thinkers…are coaxed to abandon their roles as potential critics and instead to become fellow travelers of the winners….. Thinkers are invited to become the elite’s teachers on the circuit of “Big Idea”–TED, South by Southwest, the Aspen Ideas Festival….anything sponsored by The Atlantic.”  These thinkers often find themselves having become thought leaders without realizing it, after “a slow accretion of opportunities that are hard to refuse”.

P. 93 It could be…that even as plutocrats were providing these alluring incentives, less corrupting sources of intellectual patronage were dwindling.  On American campuses in recent decades, the fraction of academics on tenure track has collapsed by half. Newsrooms, another source of support for those in the ideas game, have shrunk by more than 40 percent since 1990.  The publishing industry has suffered as bookstores vanish and print runs dwindle.

MARKETWORLD IDEOLOGY

P. 27 …[History] Today’s problems were too hard for the government.  They had therefore to be solved through partnerships among rich donors, NGOs, and the public sector.  There was no mention of the fact that this method, by putting the moneyed into a leadership position on public problem-solving, gave them the power to thwart solutions that threatened them.

The solution of public problems through public action – changing the law, going to court, organizing citizens, petitioning the government with grievances went all but unmentioned.

P. 30 These elites [thought leaders] believe and promote the idea that social change should be pursued principally through the free market and voluntary action, not public life and the law and the reform of the systems that people share in common; that it should be supervised by the winners of capitalism and their allies, and not be antagonistic to their needs; and that the biggest beneficiaries of the status quo should play a leading role in the status quo’s reform.

P. 31….So successful is the belief in business as the universal access card for making progress, helping people, and changing the world that even the White House, with its pick of the nation’s talent, under Republicans and Democrats alike, grew dependent on the special talents and consultants and financiers in making decisions about how to run the nation.

P. 32 There was a case to be made that the very people being brought in to advise the government on the public good was implicated in many of the public’s most urgent problems.  Management consultants and financiers were critical protagonists in the story of how a small band of elites, including them, had captured most of the spoils of a generation’s worth of innovation.  The financial sector had extracted more and more value from the American economy, at the expense not only of consumers and workers but also of industry itself. More and more of the nation’s financial resources were swilled around Wall Street without taking the form of new investments by companies or higher wages for workers…..[Businesses had been taught] to optimize everything which made their supply chains leaner and their income statements less volatile.  This optimization, of course, made companies less hospitable to workers, who faced things such as layoffs,offshoring, dynamic scheduling, and automation as the downside of corporate progress.  This was part of why their wages stagnated while companies’ profits and productivity rose.

P. 33…. [This] seemed to contribute to the business world’s growing influence over social change.

P. 34….Many of them are trapped in what they cannot fully see. Many of them believe that they are changing the world when they may instead – or also – be protecting a system that is at the root of the problems they wish to solve.  Many of them quietly wonder whether there is another way, and what their place in it might be.

THE DARK SIDE OF THE FINANCIAL WORLDS OF THE ELITES AND THEIR PHILANTHROPY

P. 26...Wealthy donors [like the Beecks who made their money in mining business in South America]often had a financial interest in the world being changed in ways that left things like taxation, redistribution, labor laws, and mining regulations off the table.

P. 35…A charity called Portfolios with Purpose calls itself  “ a powerful platform combining healthy competition with giving” – a short phrase that manages to hit the notes of techno-utopianism, capitalism, and charity.

P. 36 (It goes without saying, for example, that if hedge funders hadn’t been enormously creative in dodging taxes, the income available to foreign aid would have been greater).

P. 40 The increasingly extractive financial sector is in part responsible.  That sector could be arranged in other ways, including tighter regulations on trading, higher taxes on financiers, stronger labor protections to protect works from layoffs and pension raiding by private equity owners, and incentives favoring job-creating investment over mere speculation.  Such measures should help to solve the underlying problem by preventing the capture of the gains from growing productivity….It would serve to further increase an abundant thing likely to be hoarded by elites (productivity), instead of a scarce thing that millions need more of (wages).

P. 41…”-there’s a lot of things for-profit end endeavors are not suited to do, where you need the nonprofit sector, you need the government sector.  But one of the things the for-profit section is great at is self-sustaining because you don’t have to be constantly fund-raising”.

P. 45 The new win-win-ism is arguably a far more radical theory than the “invisible hand”. That old idea merely implied that capitalists should not be excessively regulated, lest the happy by products of their greed not reach the poor.  The new idea goes further, in suggesting that capitalists are more capable than any government could ever be of solving the underdog’s problems.

P. 46 …They describe “philanthrocapitalists” as “hyper agents” who have the capacity to do some essential things far better than anyone else.

P. 47 ….the founder of the Collaborative Fund, a venture capital firm in New York [writes] – Once seen as sacrificial to growth and returns, pursuing a social mission now plays a role when attracting both customers and employees.” [He] used a Venn diagram to illustrate the investment thesis that his firm has created in view of this trend.  One circle was labeled “Better for me (self interest)”; the other was labeled ”better for the world” (broader interest).  The overlap was labelled “exponential opportunity.” A charitable interpretation of this idea is that the world deserves to benefit from flourishing business.  A more sinister interpretation is that the business deserves to benefit from any attempt to better the condition of the world…..P.53 But in…. Venn diagram, it is worth noting that the lion’s share of each circle remains outside of the overlap of the win-win –what mathematicians call the relative complement.

P. 51 …[leader of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation] he was told to stop using the phrase “social justice”.  [So he started to use the word “fairness”].

P. 52 ….Fairness seemed to be more about how people were treated by abstract systems than about the possibility of the winner’s own complicity.

….What these winners wanted was for the world to be changed in ways that had their buy-in – think charter schools over more equal public schools funding, or poverty-reducing tech companies over antitrust regulation of tech companies.  The entrepreneurs were willing to participate in making the world better if you pursued that goal in a way that exonerated and celebrated and depended on them. Win-win.

….leaves many chasing working instead of building livelihoods.

P. 54 …. the effects of a generation’s worth of changes in the lives of working class Americans, rooted in policy choices and shifts in technology and the world situation–including outsourcing, stagnant wages, erratic hours, defanged unions, deindustrialization, ballooning debt, nonexistent sick leave, dismal schools, predatory lending, and dynamic scheduling while doing nothing about these underlying problems.

P. 57 [quote from real life example] “Society tells me that I have to  go to school, get a good job, and then I’ll get a salary, because I am in America….And that’s what I did, and now I’m in debt.  And now I’m suffocating”. [Psychological stress and physical illness].

[Real life] story exposed multiple malfunctions in the machinery of American progress.  It implicated the country’s health care system and the problem of unaffordable drugs, its public transport system, its wage and labor laws; its food system and food deserts, its student debt crisis, its so-called great risk shift, through which corporate America has stabilized its own income statements over a generation of off-loading uncertainty onto workers, and the ways in which shareholders were running companies more and more for themselves, to the detriment of every other stakeholder.

P. 64 …VCs [venture capitalists] and entrepreneurs are considered by many to be thinkers these days, their commercial utterances treated like ideas, and these ideas are often in the future tense: claims about the next world, forged by adding up the theses of their portfolio companies or extrapolating from their own start-up’s mission statement.  That people listened to their ideas gave them a chance to lauder their self-interested hopes into more selfless-sounding predictions about the world. For example, a baron wishing to withhold benefits from workers might reframe that desire as a prediction about a future in which every human being is a solo entrepreneur.  A social media billionaire keen to profit from the higher advertising revenue that video posts draw, compared to text ones, might recast that interest–and his rewriting of the powerful algorithms he owns to get what he wants–as a prediction that “I just think that we are going to be in a world a few years from now where the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video.” [Mark Zuckerberg did this].

P. 67 …[Shervin Pishevar, a leading venture capitalist in Silicon Valley] was not only casting venture capitalists and billionaire company founders as rebels against the establishment, fighting the powers that be on behalf of ordinary people.  He was also maligning the very institutions that are meant to care for ordinary people and promote equality. He referred to unions as ‘cartels’…..

P. 74 ….the Ubers and Airbnbs and Facebooks and Googles of the world are at once radically democratic and dangerously oligarchic….

P. 77 As America’s level of inequality spread to ever more unmanageable levels, these MarketWorld winners might have helped out.  Looking within their own communities would have told them what they needed to know. Doing everything to reduce their tax burdens, even when legal, stands in contradiction with their claims to do well by doing good. Diverting the public’s attention from an issue like offshore banking worsens the big problems, even as these MarketWorlders shower attention on niche causes.

P. 82 [Silicon Valley]….proposing “a new kind of economy,” as one of its digital pamphlets put it: For all the wonders the Internet brings us, it is dominated by an economics of monopoly, extraction, and surveillance.  Ordinary users retain little control over their personal data, and the digital workplace is creeping into every corner of workers’ lives. Online platforms often exploit and exacerbate existing inequalities in society, even while promising to be the great equalizers.  Could the Internet be owned and governed differently?

“PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL” THINKERS

P. 82…..One heard from speakers ways of thinking that were all but barred from MarketWorld:  the idea that there were such things as power and privilege; that some people had them in every era and some people didn’t; that this power and privilege demanded wariness; that progress was not inevitable, and that history was not a line but a wheel; that sometimes astonishing new tools were used in ways that worsened the world; that places of darkness often persisted even under new light; that people had a long habit of exploiting one another, no matter how selfless they and their ideas seem; that the powerful are your equals as citizens, not your representatives.

The attendees didn’t confine their speech to win-wins.  They spoke of exploitation and abuse and solidarity. They spoke of problems.  They were not bound by the genteel MarketWorld consensus.

THE CRITIC AND THE THOUGHT LEADER

P. 87 …[Amy Cuddy, social psychologist at Harvard] …continued to work on….project to study how men’s hegemony, that most global of phenomena, adapts to local conditions so as to enroot itself.

P. 91-92 [Cuddy – with her Wonder Woman pose]…Without necessarily intending to, she was giving MarketWorld what it craved in a thinker: a way of framing a problem that made it about giving bits of power to those who lack it without taking power away from those who hold it.  She was, to use a metaphor she would later employ, giving people a ladder up across a forbidding wall–without proposing to tear down the wall.

HOW TO MOVE TOWARDS THOUGHT LEADER AND AWAY FROM CRITICAL THINKING

P. 97-100 …The culture was full of instruction….about how to become more hearable as a thinker–how to move toward the thought-leader end of the critic/thought leader continuum….You start to see a few basic dance steps in common–what we call the thought-leader three-step.

“Focus on the victim, not the perpetrator” is first of these steps…..the second step is to personalize the political….This second step was, in a sense, to do the opposite of what a generation of feminists had taught us to do.  That movement had given the culture the phrase “the personal is political”….”Personal problems are political problems”

…In our own time, the thought leaders have often been deployed to help us see problems in precisely the opposite way.  They are taking on issues that can easily be regarded as political and systematic–injustice, layoffs, unaccountable leadership, inequality, the abdication of community, the engineered precariousness of ever more human lives–but using the power of their thoughts to cause us to zoom in and think smaller.  The feminists wanted us to look at a vagina and zoom out to see Congress.  The thought leaders want us to look at a laid-off employee and zoom in to see the beauty of his vulnerability because at least he is alive.  They want us to focus on his vulnerability, not his wage.

The third move is to be constructively actionable.  It is fine and good to write and say critical things without giving solutions–but not if you want to be a thought leader….

P. 103 [paid speeches]…may be right that each speech is its own thing, not enough to corrupt an honest person on its own.  But can a speaking career as a whole never form something like “ties” that have some degree of permanence and a two-way flow of influence and information?

P. 104 The idea that thought leaders are unaffected by their patrons is also contradicted by their very own speakers bureau website, which illustrate how the peddlers of potentially menacing ideas are rendered less scary to gatherings of the rich and powerful.

P. 106 Thought leaders can find themselves becoming like poets speaking a tax collector’s language, saying what they might not say or believe on their own.  And the danger isn’t only in what they say in this new language, but also in the possibility that they might somewhere down the line stop thinking in their native one.

CAN THOUGHT LEADERS TRANSCEND THE PITFALLS OF THOUGHT LEADERSHIP?

P. 117 Amy Cuddy wants to believe the thought leader can use the tricks of her trade to transcend the pitfalls of thought leadership.  She wants to believe there is a micro way into the macro….She thinks the secret to cajoling them toward systemic reform may lie in blending two disparate concepts from her field.  One is about how to get people to care about a problem by zooming in on a vivid person.  The other is about how to get them to care by zooming out from person to see a system.

The first of these concepts is known as the “identifiable-victim effect”…..People react differently toward identifiable victims than to statistical victims who have not yet been identified.  Specific victims of misfortune often draw extraordinary attention and resources. But, it is often difficult to draw attention to, or raise money for, interventions that would prevent people from becoming victims in the first place.

P. 118 …Wondered if a thought leader could use feedback like this to her advantage.  If you want to talk about the structural power of sexism, first make people think of their daughters.

P. 119 ….possibilities of the second social psychological concept, the one involving zooming out.  She felt it might break up this limiting symbiosis. The formal term for the concept is the “assimilation effect”, and it occurs when people link the personal and specific to the surrounding social context.

P. 120 When a thought leader strips politics and perpetrators from a problem, she often gains a access to a bigger platform to influence change-makers–but she also adds to the vast pile of stories promoted by MarketWorld that tell us that change is easy, is a win-win, and doesn’t require sacrifice.

POVERTY VERSUS INEQUALITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CHARITY

P. 120 What the thought leaders offer Market World’s winners, wittingly or unwittingly, is the semblance of being on the right side of change.  The kinds of change favored by the public in an age of inequality, as reflected from time to time in some electoral platforms, are usually unacceptable to elites….

P. 122 [Bruno Giussani, curator of TED organization].For example, ideas framed as being about “poverty” are more acceptable than ideas framed as being about “inequality”. The two ideas are related. But poverty is a material fact of deprivation that does not point fingers, and inequality is something more worrying:  It speaks of what some have and others lack; it flirts with the idea of injustice and wrongdoing; it is rational. “Poverty is essentially a question that you can address via charity.”  A person of means, seeing poverty, can write a check and reduce that poverty. “But inequality you can’t, because inequality is not about giving back. Inequality is about how you make the money that you’re giving back in the first place.”  Inequality is about the nature of the system. To fight inequality means to change the system. For a privileged person, it means to look into one’s own privilege. And, “you cannot change it by yourself. You can change the system only together.  With charity, essentially, if you have money, you can do a lot of things alone.”

PROGRESSION OF THOUGHT LEADER THINKING

P. 124 Many thinkers cut these moral corners and contort themselves in these ways because they are so reliant on the assent of MarketWorld for building their careers….”If they want to make potential benefactors happy, they cannot necessarily afford to speak truth to money.”

P. 125 It wasn’t necessarily malice or cynicism that sustained these patterns, but something more banal.  The people who served as tastemakers for the global elite were, like many, in an intellectual bubble…the sole way of thinking?  Everybody thinks the same way. In his world, he [Giussani] said, that meant an unspoken consensus (widespread but not total) on certain ideas:  Progressive views are preferable to conservative ones; globalization, though choppy, is ultimately a win-win-win-win; most long term trends are positive for humanity; making many supposed short-term problems ultimately inconsequential; diversity and cosmopolitanism and the free flow of human beings are always better than the alternatives; markets are the most realistic way to get things done.

What this…did was cause his tribe to “ignore a lot of issues that were relevant to other people and not to  us”, culture in a broad sense that then came back and is haunting us [in the form of] rising populist anger.

P. 139  [Sean Hinton, Economic Advancement Program]…..was learning the protocols to work his way into the arena of business….The protocols had grown out of corporate problem-solving, but increasingly MarketWorlders were employing them to elbow into the solution of social problems traditionally considered in other ways, by more public-spirited actors.  And the more people accepted the idea of the protocols as essential to public problem-solving, the more MarketWorld was elevated over government and civil society as the best engine of change and progress.

P. 140 ….young people…..are persuaded by the surrounding culture that only by learning the protocols can they help millions of people…..the bearers of the protocols elbow their way into the solution of social problems simply by offering their own style of diagnoses.

.It is possible to read into this that people are poor because of the absence of these linkages, not because of caste, race, land, hoarding, wages, labor conditions, and plunder, not because of anything anyone did–or is doing–to anyone else; not because of reversible decisions societies have taken.

[TechnoServe] Its managers come, in the main, from corporations, in areas such as investment banking, management consulting, health care, and fund management.

P. 141….Perhaps the clearest signal of…..faith in the power of the protocols to cure injustice–rather than, say, life experience–is the constitution of its board.  Of 28 board members listed online, 26 are white as of last check.

….If TechnoServe emphasizes the missing linkages between poor people and the right information, a rival firm…argues that too many good solutions are too small–another theory of what keeps people poor that, usefully, does not implicate the rich.

WHAT TO DO  ABOUT THE CRISIS OF INEQUALITY AND THE RISE OF ORGANIZED PHILANTHROPY

P. 154 …Ford Foundation and thus in the social justice business….

[from President of Ford Foundation]….letter….had raised, in sharp and provocative language, the question of what to do about the crisis of inequality.  This in itself was disturbing to many rich people, who preferred to talk about reducing poverty or extending opportunity, not about more thoroughgoing reforms that would perhaps require sacrifice….letter squarely blamed the very elites who give back to philanthropy for ignoring their complicity in causing the problems they later seek to solve.

P. 155….had broken what in his circles were important taboos:  Inspire the rich to do more good, but never, ever tell them to do less harm; inspire them to give back, but never, ever tell them to take less; inspire them to join the solution, but never, ever accuse them of being part of the problem.

….He was attempting to revise and update–or perhaps overturn–an old gospel that dates back to an era much like ours, a gospel that had itself transformed earlier American ideas of helping other people.

The late historian Peter Dobkin Hall….an authority on the American giving tradition, traces it back to the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, as the colonial trade in commodities magnified differences in wealth and created “an increasingly visible population of poor and dependent people for whom the public was expected to take responsibility.”

P. 156 A marked feature of American giving before the big age of philanthropy was the helping of the many by the many….

As the nineteenth century drew down, major changes in American life helped to develop this early tendencies into what is today called organized philanthropy.

P. 157 Around the turn of the nineteenth century, a new industrial capitalism flourished. Incredible fortunes were made in railroad, steel, oil, and other factors of a booming nation’s growth.  Much as is the case today, inequality widened as some seized on the new possibilities and others were displaced.  Anger bubbled, and populist impulses surged. The money that was being made in this earlier gilded age was, in the view of the many, unseemly in its quantities, unjust in its provenance, untenable in the power it conferred over a republic breaking out in new populist sentiments.  It was also fuel for new ideas about giving: “Growth in inequality might be a foe to civic comity, but it is a friend to private philanthropy. [Robert Reich].

The new form of charity birthed by this era was the private foundation, which, Reich argues, was different from the charities of the past, both in its scale and in nature.  It was an entity with broad and general purposes, intended to support other institutions and indeed to create and fund new organizations (e.g., research institutes), seeking to address root causes of social  problems rather than deliver direct services (work “wholesale” rather than “retail”), and designed to be administered by private, self-governing trustees, with paid professional staff, who would act on behalf of a public mission.  One other aspect of these foundations was new: their vast resources enabled them to operate on a scale unlike other, more ordinary endowments.

P. 158 These foundations, were, in other words, allowing a small handful of wealthy people like Carnegie and Rockefeller to commit monumental sums of money to the public good and thus gain a say in the nation’s affairs that rivaled that of many public officials….

Despite the scale of the new generosity, there were criticisms.  One had to do with how the money being given had been made.  The new foundations were troubling, as Reich puts it,”because they represented the wealth, potentially ill-gotten, of Gilded Age robber barons.”No amount of charities in spending such fortunes can compensate in any way for the misconduct in inquiring them, said President Theodore Roosevelt.  Memories remained fresh of Rockefeller’s less than benevolent monopoly in oil and less than benevolent allergy to labor unions.

P. 159 Other criticism focused on how the new philanthropy not only laundered cruelly earned money but also converted it into influence over a democratic society. Reich writes that the new foundations “were troubling because they were considered a deeply anti-democratic institution, an entity that could exist in perpetuity and that was accountable except to a hand-picked assemblage of trustees.”

P. 160-162 Andrew Carnegie…helped to found a new vision of philanthropy that not only rebutted the kinds of criticisms that he and others had faced, but effectively delegitimized critics and questioned their right to question….he argued that inequality was the undesirable but inevitable cost of genuine progress.  The “conditions of human life have not only been changed, but revolutionized,” he wrote. Inequality is a better thing than it may seem.

P. 161 This is the first step of the Carnegie’s intellectual two-step:  If you want progress, you have to let the rich people make their money however they can, even if it widens inequality.

P. 164 This is the compromise, the truce, distilled:  Leave us alone in the competitive marketplace, and we will tend to you after the winnings are won.  The money will be spent more wisely on you than by you.  You will have your chance to enjoy our wealth, in the way we think you should enjoy it.

Here lay the almost constitutional principles that one day would govern MarketWorld giving: the idea that after-the-fact benevolence justifies anything-goes capitalism; that callousness and injustice in the cutthroat souk are excused by later philanthropy; that giving should not only help the underdogs but also, and more important, serve to keep them out of the top dog’s hair–and above all, that generosity is a substitute for and a means of avoiding the necessity of a more just and equitable system and a fairer distribution of power.

P. 165 (gala for charity) ….The whole night is divided into two types of performances from the stage.  The young and the helped, mostly black and brown, repeatedly dance for their donors. Then, between performances, older white men are brought up to praise them and to talk about, and be applauded for, their generosity to the program.

Most of the [older white] men work in finance. They include the corporate raiders who, seeking to raise profits by cutting costs, having helped to do away with stable employment. They are the gentrifiers who have pushed real estate prices through the roof and made it harder for families like those of the young dancers to maintain a livelihood in the city.  They are the beneficiaries of tax laws that give carried interest a major break and help to keep the public coffers low and the schools attended by the city’s poor underfunded, thus driving them into the streets and occasionally, when they are lucky, into the charity’s arms.  But these men have been generous, and in exchange for their generosity, these issues will not come up.  No one will say what could be said:  that these precarious lives could be made less precarious if the kind of men who donated to this program made investments differently, operated companies differently, managed wealth differently,  donated to politicians differently, lobbied differently, thought differently about pretending to live in Florida to avoid a minor New York City tax–if, in other words they were willing to let go of anything dear.  It is one night in one city, but it speaks of a broad, unstated immunity deal: Generosity entitles the winners to exemption from questions like these.

WHAT ABOUT CORPORATIONS WHOSE PRACTICES ARE HARMFUL WHILE GIVING HUGE SUMS TO PHILANTHROPY?

P. 176 The Sacklers, Purdue Pharma, developers of OxyContin.

P. 180 Contrary to the picture of helpfulness and cooperation Purdue attempted to paint, Purdue’s employees were actively and secretly trying to prevent West Virginia from imposing any control on the sale of OxyContin.

P.182 ….How did the Sacklers build the 16th largest fortune in the country?…Another answer to that question might be:  by thwarting the guardians of the public good every time they tried to protect citizens….[John Brownlee, U.S. Attorney in Roanoke, Virginia] It was later reported that Brownlee had received an unusual phone call the night before securing Purdue’s guilty plea.  A senior Justice Department official had called Brownlee ..and “urged him to slow down”…Brownlee rebuffed his superior.  “Eight days later,” the Washington Post said, “his name appeared on a list compiled by Elston of prosecutors that officials had suggested be fired.”….It was part of a larger attempted purge of prosecutors by the administration of George W. Bush.  Brownlee kept his job; Elston (senior Justice Department official) lost his amid the controversy of the lists becoming public. And what had occasioned the phone call? According to Elston, his boss, a deputy attorney general name Paul McNulty, had asked him to place the call to Brownlee after receiving a request for more time from a defense lawyer representing a Purdue executive.

P. 185 Hooters [exploitation of women, but many, like Cole who started in Hooters restaurant would progress to upper management]

P. 187 This rather audacious rationalization mingled with other, more plausible-sounding ones such as that if there were going to be bad industries, good people should run them. “If in a free-market society there will be demand, whether it is for sugary products or alcohol or scantily clad waitresses in a restaurant concept, then it will exist.”

P. 188 Cole’s [Hooters] rationalization were strongly and sincerely held.  [If the President of the Ford Foundation] wanted to change the money-making system itself, to change how business is conducted, he was not only up against powerful corporate interests and their lobbyists.  He was up against the psychologies of thousands of people like Cole, and a way of looking at life that didn’t require cynicism or callousness to commit harm.  It was a way of viewing things that inured the viewer to the larger system around you, that made these systems not your problem.

P. 190-195   Laurie Tisch [heiress to Loews Corporation–Loews also purchased a cigarette company]

P .194 This difficulty in escaping the status quo was especially evident in Tisch when it came to the aspect of her fortune that gave her the greatest guilt: her cigarette money.

BRIDGING MARKETWORLD AND THE PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL WORLD

P. 171 At the heart of Carnegie’s message, as Walker [President of Ford Foundation] read it, was the idea of extreme inequality as “an unavoidable condition of the free market system” and of philanthropy as an effective remedy.,,,But then Walker began to go off script.  The giving world, he wrote, needed “to openly acknowledge and confront the tension inherent in a system that perpetuates vast differences in privilege and then tasks the privileged with improving the system.”

P. 173 “….In most areas of life, we have raised market-based, monetized thinking over all other disciplines and conceptions of value.

P.174 …Walker pondered at the pushback he got..–the pleas to “stop ranting at inequality,” to speak of “opportunity” instead.

P. 196 …Walker spoke highly of his own experience in the financial services industry.  It had given him ‘skills’–some of which, presumably, were the protocols he could now tell himself he had redeployed in service of the weak.  It taught him how to multitask, manage a complex portfolio of projects, assimilate data and turn it into insight, have discipline. He wasn’t flattering his audience.  He was reciting the reasons why so many people…, who aspired to help millions of people, went to places like KKR before embarking on their work of changing the world.

P. 197 Eventually, he got to subject at hand.  “We have in America and in the world a level of extreme inequality that–I don’t mean to be hyperbolic–but I think really threatens our democracy.  Because at the core of the American narrative, in our democracy, is a very simple idea of opportunity.”  That’s how he did it: poking them with a thought that might not have been their favorite, and then quickly meeting them where they were, with the language of opportunity, that MarketWorld staple.

…Now, in front of a new generation of the “barbarians at the gate,” he was meeting them where they were.  “The more inequality we get in our system, the less opportunity there is.” he said….

P. 198 [from audience questions] And his subtlety and their imperviousness had conspired to ensure that he was not really heard.

He had been addressing people still in the fearful, climbing season of their lives [young professionals trying to establish themselves].  To get to the “rainmakers’, he said, you had to be in more private settings….

This thought led Walker to the observation that America was becoming privatized now. The American public had their big conversation out there in the messy democracy, and the elite had its own ongoing intramural chat….

P. 199  Walker looked at America today and saw his rich friends building their metaphorical buildings with gates on the outside and discos indoors.  Gated communities. Home theatres. Private schools. Private jets. Privately run public parks. Private world-saving behind the backs of those to be saved.  “Life goes more and more behind the gate,” he said. “More and more of our civic activities and public activities become private activities.”

P. 200 [Walker, President of Ford Foundation joining PepsiCo board] …..The move attracted some criticism, in part because this warrior against inequality would now be earning more than a million dollars a year from the Ford Presidency and this new, very occasional role, and in part because he now bore formal responsibility for what Pepsi did, including the company’s continuing choice to sell its harmful sugary drinks.  The critics could console, or depress, themselves with the thought that he was far from alone: Several of his counterparts at the major foundations served on the boards of firms like Citigroup and Facebook. The fear was that, yet again, MarketWorld would infiltrate and win…But Walker promised and seemed to believe that he would change them, not the other way around.  “I will bring my perspective as the leader of a social justice organization.”

P. 206 ….Walker (said)…. the new UN Week (Clinton Global Initiative) lived at “this intersection of doing well and doing well was doing good.”

P.207 However, Walker said, it was also the case that “philanthropists and commercial enterprises saw in CGI a platform that they could leverage for both doing good and building their brands.”  As a result, self-service flirted dangerously with altruism at CGI, in Walker’s view.

P. 209 ….Eight events had free registration, eight sold paid registration, and forty-eight were invitation-only.  The ratio told a truth about the new MarketWorld UN week: When private actors move into the solution of public problems, it becomes less and less of the public’s business.

FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON’S PROGRESSION TO LIBERALISM

P. 201 Many of these people had been coming to Bill Clinton’s conference for years. Though they tended to label themselves as givers, philanthropists, social innovators, impact investors, at and the like, recent political upheavals has given their tribe a new name that was sticking.  They were coming to be known, by their friends and enemies alike, as globalists….Around the world, a suspicion seemed to be taking hold that jet-setters solving humanity’s problems in private conclaves was as much a problem as it was a solution.

P. 204  Clinton …(Yale Law School) …had embraced a liberalism that was….a “systems-building philosophy,” whose revelation was “that society, left alone, tended towards entropy and extremes, not because people were inherently awful but because they thought locally.” Private individuals couldn’t be relied to see the big picture of their society…but “a larger entity such as government could.” When he started in public office, Clinton believed public problems were best solved through public service and collective action. During the White House years, though, and even more decisively afterward, he had been won over by theory that it was preferable to solve problems through markets and partnerships among entities private and public, which would find areas of common cause and work together on win-win solutions.

P. 235 ….Clinton’s globalist dream was admirable, but it was also intolerant of other dreams.  It sought to make hard choices seem inevitable and uncomplicated. It sought to blur what happened to be good for the plutocrats in the room with was was good for ordinary people…It was among the things inspiring the revolt by making so many people feel barred from decision-making about the future of their own world.

P. 238 Still, his political opposition as president does not tell the full story of why recent decades have been so gruelling for millions of Americans.  Clinton, like Obama after him, was up against militant conservatives and libertarians, backed by plutocratic donors, who loathed the very idea of public, governmental problem-solving.  To be clear, that is the movement chiefly responsible for market supremacy’s takeover of America and the bleak prospects of millions of Americans. Yet the Republican party represented less than half of the nation, and the Democratic Party had a chance to stand for a robust alternative to market hegemony.  And you could say that it did to an extent–but it often did, under Clinton, and Obama, in a tepid, market-friendly, donor-approved way that conceded so much to government’s haters that the cause lost the fire of purpose.

……Jacob Hacker, Yale political scientist, who was once described as “an intellectual ‘It boy’ in the Democratic Party said, “Many progressives still believe in a role for government that is pretty fundamental, but they have lost faith in the capacity to achieve it, and they’ve in many cases lost the language for talking about it.”  Republicans, he said, are straight forward in their contempt for government. Democrats, especially those of the Clinton school of centrist, triangulating, market-friendly politics, don’t counter the contempt with a vigorous embrace of government…instead speak in a “gauzy” language….Even their proposed policies, though, reflect ambivalence:  health care for all, but not through public provision; help paying for college, but not free college; charter schools, but not equal schools….

P. 239 [Yale political scientist]...this hesitancy and “loss of faith” in government” has “hugely asymmetric effects on the two parties.”  He said, “For Republicans and the right, it is–for the most part, though not always–conducive to their aims, because if the government doesn’t do things, it can often be consistent with what they would like to see happen.  But for the left and the Democrats, it’s a huge loss, because their vision of a good society is one in which a lot of valuable public goods and benefits have their foundations in government action.”

….From an ex-president without legal power but still with the ability to galvanize a movement one could imagine a campaign, modeled on the Progressive Era, to pressure the government to put an end to this abusive profiteering.  Yet his proposed answer was to make it easier for the offending companies to make money selling healthy products.

“If you want to get them to do less harm, it requires innovation, because they will still have to make money, especially for publicly held companies,” Clinton said….The needs of the market came first.  Even a man who had spent his lifetime in politics felt a duty to be solicitous of the business person’s concerns…..

P. 241 Such attempts to work with government, though, were not the same as a conviction in the power of government, the supreme power of government, to better people’s lives….

P. 244 Through it all, Clinton saw truths in the anger bubbling up around him.  He saw how MarketWorld-style change crowded out the habit of democracy. He genuinely worried about young people seeing social problems and, unlike in his activist-prone generation, confining their questioning to what socially minded business they could start up.

CONFLICTS WITHIN MARKETWORLD

P. 210 …the question being asked was: Why do they hate us?  The “they” were the rootless cosmopolitans’ less-rarified fellow citizens, who in one place after another were gravitating to nationalism, demagogy, and resentful exclusion–and rejected some of the elites’ most cherished beliefs:  borderless, market cures for all diseases, inevitable technological progress, benign technocratic stewardship.

…..fellow MarketWorld elites had been drafted into a new class war.  It was no longer rich versus poor but rather people who claimed to belong to everywhere versus people stuck  somewhere–echoing his colleague’s notion of somewhere people and everywhere companies…What went wrong was that the Somewheres were simply no longer fooled by the Everywhere’s performance of concern and charity, and the numbers finally caught up with the Everywheres:  “No prizes for guessing which group is more numerous. No matter how many donations the global elite made, philanthropic and political, we could never quite compensate for that disparity.”

P. 212 [suggestion for change] A new approach has to start from the idea that the basic responsibility of government is to maximize the welfare of citizens, not to pursue some abstract concept of the global good.  People also want to feel that they are shaping the societies in which they live.

Jonathan Haidt [psychology professor, New York University] offered another theory of what went wrong in an essay…”If you want to understand why nationalism and right-wing populism have grown so strong and so quickly, you must start by looking at the actions of the globalists…In a sense, the globalists ‘started it.’”  They started it…because the “new cosmopolitan elite”…acts and talks in ways that insult, alienate, and energize many of their fellow citizens, particularly those who a psychological predisposition to authoritarianism.”

[This blog author’s words–The very problems the elites have self righteously only partially solved have caused the unrest].

P. 213 In Haidt’s analysis, globalism and anti-globalism are both cogent worldviews with valid concerns and data behind them.  There are advantages to a world of free and rampant human mingling and motion, and there are different advantages to stable, tightly bound communities. But…the globalists had so convinced themselves of the moral superiority of openness, freedom, and One World that they were unable to process the genuine fear these things aroused in millions of people.

P. 215-219 [examples of five political figures (Including Clinton)]  P. 220 It was striking to have five political figures share a stage and have not one moment of real argument.  They all seemed to suppose that the good society of entrepreneurs, whose success was tantamount to that of the society itself…

THE ARGUMENT FOR POLITICS

P. 220 One could forget, watching such a civilized group, that traditional politics is argumentative for a reason.  It isn’t that politicians don’t know how to be nice, but rather that politics is rooted in the idea of a big, motley people taking their fate into their own hands.  Politics is the inherently messy business of negotiating and reconciling incompatible interests and coming up with a decent plan, designed to be liked but difficult to love.  It solves problems in a context in which everyone is invited to the table and everyone is equal and everyone has the right to complain about being underserved and unseen. Politics, in bringing together people of divergent interests, necessarily puts sacrifice on the table.  It is easier to conjure win-wins in forums like this one, where everyone is a winner. The consensus was a reminder of all the kinds of people and perspectives that had not been invited in.

P. 222 Had the organizators of CGI truly been interested in why people resented the globalists, they could have invited…Dani Rodrik…an economist at Harvard….he had become one of the more incisive critics of how the globalists’ noble intentions undermine democracy.

”Today,” she [Theresa May, British Prime Minister] said, too many people in positions of power behave as though they have more in common with international elites than with the people down the road, the people they employ, the people they pass on the street.  But if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.  You don’t understand what citizenship means.

P. 223 …In other words, politics is about actual places, with actual shared histories. Globalism, chasing a dream of everyone, risks belonging to no one.

For Rodrik, it isn’t just that solving things at the global level (which, in the absence of world government, often means privately, which often means plutocratically) lacks legitimacy. Pushing things up into that realm gives globalists “moral cover or ethical cover for escaping their domestic obligations as citizens of their own national setting.” It is a way of doing good that allows them to ignore the fact that their democracies aren’t working well. Or, even more simply, it allows them to avoid the duty they might otherwise feel to interact with their fellow citizens across divides, to learn about the problems facing their own communities, which might implicate them, their choices, and their privileges–as opposed to  universal challenges ‘like climate change or the woes of faraway places like Rwandan coffee plantations.  In such cases, diffuseness or distance can spare one the feeling of having a finger jabbed in one’s face.

P. 225 …”In an ideal democratic world, where citizenship is fully exercised and participatory, it’s a process of domestic deliberation where you’re testing your idea against other domestic citizens…”

P. 226 …”The locus of politics, I think, is the key issue here,” he said.  “What is the right locus of politics, and who are the decision-making authorities?  Is it these networks and these global get-togethers? Or is it at the national level?”  Who should make change, and where should they make it?

P. 227 …..’Probably people who get together in these congregations [CGI] don’t think of what they are doing as politics,” Rodrik said.  “But of course it’s politics. It’s just politics of a different focus and has a different view of who matters and how you can change things, and has different theory of change and who the agents of change are.”…The problem with the globalists’ vision of world citizens changing the world through partnerships, Rodrik said, is that “you’re not accountable to anyone, because it is just a bunch of other global citizens like you as their audience.”  He added, “The whole idea about having a polity, having a demos, is that there’s accountability within that demos.  That’s what a political system ensures and these mechanisms don’t.”

The political system that Rodrik speaks of is not just Congress or the Supreme court or governorships.  It is all of these things and other things. It is civic life. It is the habit of solving problems together, in the public sphere, through the tools of government and in the trenches of civil society.  It is solving problems in ways that give the people you are helping a say in the solutions, that offer that say in equal measure to every citizen, that allow some kind of access to your deliberations or at least provide a meaningful feedback mechanism to tell you it isn’t working.  It is not reimagining the world at conferences.

P. 228 It isn’t necessarily that simple.  A pair of Stanford sociologists...investigated the question and came up with a surprising answer.  When elites solve public problems privately, they can do so in ways that disrupt it.  The former occurs when elite help “contributes to and enlarges the public goods provided by the state, and attends to interests not readily provided for by the state.”  But the same elite help, backed by the same noble intentions, can instead “disrupt” democracy when it “replaces the public sphere with all manner of private initiatives for special public purposes.”  These latter works don’t simply do what government cannot do. They “crowd out the public sector, further reducing both its legitimacy and its efficacy, and replace civic goals with narrower concerns about efficiency and the markets.”

WOMEN’S EQUALITY

P. 232 Women’s equality, it was now said, was a $28 trillion opportunity.  This had become a near-constant refrain in the MarketWorld–some permutation of the words “women”, “equality”, and “trillion”.  If the logic of our time had applied to the facts of an earlier age, someone would have put out a report suggesting that ending slavery was great for reducing the trade deficit.  “Of course, you should do it because it was the right thing to do, but there’s a strong business case.”…..In other words, of course you should do it because morality is enough, but since we all know morality isn’t actually enough, you should know that the business case is fantastic.

HOW THE PRIVATE SECTION CHANGED THE PUBLIC SPHERE

P. 234 ….The private sector didn’t merely add to the public sphere activities.  It got to change the language in which the public sphere thought and acted.

P. 247 [Henry Crown Fellowship of the Aspen Institute] …The fellowship is a prestigious finishing school to assist the transition from making it in business to making the world a better place.  Its mission is to mobilize a “new breed of leaders” to “tackle the world’s most intractable problems.” But it defines leader in a particular way:  “All are proven entrepreneurs, mostly from the world of business, who have reached a point in their lives where having achieve success, they are ready to apply their creative talents to building a better society.”

P. 248 [Founder of Freelancers Union]…She originally wanted to serve as a broker to help these workers [Uber drivers and magazine writers] buy health insurance as a group.  Then she realized it would be easier and more effective if she simply created the health insurance company herself.  But the economy wasn’t set up for people like (her). A company not run purely in shareholders’ interests risked lawsuits from its investors.  The dominant interpretations of corporate law,….has since the 1970s came to regard companies’ first duty as being to earn a profit from shareholders.

THE RISE OF B CORPORATIONS (BENEFIT)

P. 249 (B corporations) ….do business in a different way….Andrew Kassoy…batted around ideas for addressing this problem, and at last alighted on the vision of creating a parallel capitalist infrastructure, next to the traditional one, in which companies could be more responsible and conscious, and nonetheless raise money from capital markets and comply with the law.  Thus was born the B Corporation, or benefit corporation, as it is also known….

P. 250 …started a nonprofit called B Lab, which gives better-behaved businesses a certification based on a rigorous analysis of their social and environmental practices …Ben and Jerry’s….

…hoped that by certifying conscious companies, they could change the larger system of business….but in the MarketWorld way, they didn’t take on the system directly.  They simply sought to cultivate examples of a different way….

….But now,….B Lab was in the midst of a rethinking process, which was guided by his conviction that “what got us here is not going to get us where we’re going.”

P. 251 The thorniest questions…involved whether to stick to the MarketWorld mantra of “make good easier,” or whether instead to seek to make those who commit harm to pay a higher price–which meant changing the system of business for everyone, fighting in the arena of politics and law rather than the market, and elevating the stopping of bad business over the encouragement of good business….

For example, one of B Lab’s great victories had been the creation of a parallel corporate law, first enacted in Maryland and then adopted in other states, that allowed companies to embed a social mission into their work without fear of legal trouble such as shareholder complaints…Was it more important to make it easier for Etsy to do good, or rather to make it harder for ExxonMobil to do harm?  Was it possible to do both?

Kassoy felt drawn toward the systems work, even though he had devoted the last decade to the other approach.  “I’m not be sure everybody would say this, but I believe there’s a huge role for government regulation of business.  We’re not going to change everybody. We’re not changing human greed. Businesses act badly.”  There were, in particular, “extractive industries where just the existence of the industry” means harm and social costs being dumped on humanity.  “We’re not getting rid of all of those things”…

The United States had millions of corporations and, after a decade of B Lab’s evangelizing, just hundreds of B Corps.  Kasoy, saw now, more clearly than he did at the company’s founding, that solving problems like inequality, greed, and pollution would require more than making good easier.

P. 253 …B Corps were championed all over MarketWorld….the founders were regularly praised by recognized “thought leaders”.

CONFLICT BETWEEN POLITICAL LIBERALS AND MARKET SOLUTIONS

P. 252 He [Andrew Kassoy] was not the only MarketWorlder coming around to the thought that their ways of operating might be inadequate to the actual work of changing the world, or even just one’s own country.  These MarketWorlders, though, often lacked an understanding of how actual change did work, or they felt, sometimes dubiously, that pursuing the other kind of change called upon skills they lacked.  If government was the place you went to change systems, what could they as individuals do? They could petition the government.  They could join movements fighting to change law and policy.  But,…many in MarketWorld were daunted by this approach. He had the feeling that many in MarketWorld do that in their grounding in the norms of business made them ill-equipped for the realm of politics, where win-lose was normal and where fights often had to be picked instead of mutually agreeable deals being struck….It was peculiar, this idea of activism as manipulation; it sounded more like an excuse for not working on systems than a reason.

…..I don’t think that what we’re doing can change capitalism by itself.  But I do believe that what this does is creates a model.” On other days, Kassoy wasn’t so sure about this logic.  He kept coming backing to regulation. “I’m a big-government kind of a person,” he said.  “I believe there’s a very strong role for the state. And I don’t know how to make that happen.”

P. 253 Kassoy’s ambivalence is what Jacob Hacker, the Yale political scientist, seems to have in mind when he speaks of political liberals who are philosophically committed to government, to the public solution of public problems, but who have absorbed, like secondhand smoke, the right’s contempt for public action.  While people on the right believe actively in the superiority of market solutions, liberals like Kassoy do so passively–passively in that they do not reject a public solution in theory, but pursue a private one in practice….And so no one’s really told us government is a good thing for a very long time.” Saying this seemed to make Kassoy reflect on whether he had unwittingly become the last link in this change of liberals consolidating the war on government by proffering private solutions to public problems.

P. 255-256 failure of big banks

CRITIQUE OF MARKETWORLD

P. 256  Chiara Cordelli, an Italian political philosopher at the University of Chicago….sought to unravel some of MarketWorld’s self-justifications.

Take, for instance, the view that MarketWorld has a duty, and right, to address public problems–and indeed, to take a lead in developing private solutions to them.  This…was like putting the accused in change of the court system. The questions that elites refuse to ask, she said, is: Why are there in the world so many people that you need to help in the first place?  You should ask yourself: Have your actions contributed at all to that?….And, if yes, the fact that now you are helping some people, however, effectively, doesn’t seem to be enough to compensate.”

P. 257 Cordelli was speaking of both the active committers of harm and the passive permitters of it.  The committers are what she calls “the easy cases.”…”If you have campaigned against inheritance tax, if you have directly tried to avoid paying taxes, if you supported and directly, voluntarily benefitted from a system where there were low labor regulations and increased precarity,” then, she argues, “you have directly contributed to a structure that foreseeably and avoidably harmed people.”  That is “direct complicity.”

As for the people who don’t help run Goldman Sachs or Purdue Pharma, who live decent lives and attempt to make the world slightly better through the market, Cordelli called them the harder cases….She saw in each of these types of efforts not a single moral act but two.  Alongside the act of helping was a parallel act of acceptance.

P. 258-260…. Economic reasoning dominates our age, and we may be tempted to focus on the first half of each of the above sentences–a marginal contribution you can see and touch–and to ignore the second half, involving a vaguer thing called complicity….

P. 261 As harsh as her criticisms might sound to  them, Cordelli is giving…. others in MarketWorld a way out.  She is confessing, on their behalf, what some of them privately fear to be true: that they are debtors who need society’s mercy and not saviors who need its followership.  She is offering what MarketWorlders so adore: a solution. The solution is to return, against their instincts and even perhaps against their interests, to politics as the place we go to shape the world.

P. 262-263 ….Businesspersons calling themselves “leaders” and naming themselves solvers of the most intractable social problems represent a worrisome way of erasing their role in causing them.  Seen through Cordelli’s lens, it is indeed strange that the people with the most to lose from social reform are so often placed on the board of it. And MarketWorld’s private world-changing, for all the good it does, is also, for Cordelli, marred by its own “narcissism.”…..

When society helps people through its shared democratic institutions, it does so on behalf of all, and in a context of equality.  Those institutions, representing those free and equal citizens, are making a collective choice of whom to help and how. Those who receive help are not only objects of the transactions, but also subjects of it–citizens with agency. When help is moved into the private sphere, no matter how efficient we are told it is, the context of the helping is a relationship of inequality:  the giver and the taker, the helper and the helped, the donor and the recipient.

When a society solves a problem politically and systemically, it is expressing the sense of the whole; it is speaking on behalf of every citizen.  It is saying what it believes through what it does. Cordelli argues that this right to speak for others is simply illegitimate when exercised by a powerful private citizen.  “You are an individual”, she said. “You cannot speak in their name.  I can maybe speak in the name of my child, but other people are not your children.”

“This is what it means to be free and equal and independent individuals and, for better or for worse, share common institutions,” she said.  Our political institutions–our laws, our constitutions, our regulations, our taxes, our shared infrastructure:  the million little pieces that uphold our civilization and that we own together–only these, Cordelli said, “can act and speak on behalf of everyone.”  She admitted, “They often don’t do that.” But that isn’t the way out that MarketWorld so often makes it out to be.  “It’s our job,” Cordelli said, “to make them do that, rather than working to weaken and destroy those institutions by thinking that we can effectuate change by ourselves.  Let’s start working to create the conditions to make those institutions better.”

P. 266 …Goldman Sachs- sponsored lunch…in which the company’s do-gooding was trumpeted and its role in causing the financial crisis went unexamined.

AUTHOR ANAND GIRIDHARADAS’ REMARKS

P. 267 This book is the work of a critic, but it is also the work of an insider-outsider to that which it takes on….

P. 268 (His Professor at Harvard)….was the first to plant in me the the thought that money had transcended being currency to become our very culture, conquering our imaginations and infiltrating domains that had nothing to do with it. (END OF POST)

TFSA (CANADA) – RAMIFICATIONS OF FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION AND ABUSE OF THE PLAN

TFSA (CANADA) – RAMIFICATIONS OF FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION AND ABUSE OF THE PLAN

(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 case study outlines how a financial advisor has shown it is possible for Canadian TFSA holders with large accounts to evade paying income tax for a number of years (15) and use benefits intended for low income persons by circumventing the low income assistance programs.

HISTORY OF TAX FREE SAVINGS ACCOUNT (TFSA)

The TFSA was introduced in 2009 by Stephen Harper, Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, and Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance.

The maximum annual contribution room at present is $6,000 per year and is indexed to the Consumer Price Index in $500 increments to account for inflation.  The 2015 Progressive Conservatives raised the contribution limit to $10,000 and eliminated indexation for inflation.  However, the newly elected Liberal government re-implemented the pre-2015 contribution limit of $5,500 for 2016 which will be indexed for inflation after that.  As of January 1, 2019, the total cumulative contribution room for a TFSA is $63,500 per person and $127,000 for couples and for those who have been 18 years or older and residents of Canada for all eligible years. Any unused contribution room under the cap can be carried forward to subsequent years, without any upward limit.  There are no limits on withdrawals from TFSA accounts. TFSAs are not declared as income and, therefore, are not taxed.

CASE STUDIES FOR COUPLE MICHAEL AND JULIE,  UNATTACHED PERSON MICHEL AND UNATTACHED PERSON PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEE

(1) THEY WANT TO SPEND $50,000 PER YEAR IN RETIREMENT.  DID THEY SAVE ENOUGH? By Mark Seed, My Own Advisor and Owen Winkelmolen, PlanEasy) LINKS

Michael and Julie (they-want-to-spend-50000-per-year-in-retirement-did-they-save-enough)  $600,000 paid for home and a million dollars in retirement savings.

Sources of Income chart for Michael and Julie (Sources-of-Income-50000-per-year-.png) – they want to retire on $50,000 per year at age 55 – shows how they can avoid paying taxes for 15 years while using benefits intended for low income persons.

Net Worth chart for Michael and Julie (Net-Worth-50000-per-year-post-September-5-2018.png) at age 100 they will still have an enormous amount of wealth, especially in TFSA accounts.

(2) ALL THE FRUGALITY IN THE WORLD WON’T LET THIS 34 YEAR OLD RETIRE AT 45 by Allen Allentuck LINK                                                                                Michel (all-the-frugality-in-the-world-wont-let-this-34-year-old-retire-at-45)

(3) PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEE BASED ON THE REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE (SINGLE)

Financial Profile Page 1 revised Jan. 2019 post

Financial profile TFSA holder2 page 2 revised Jan. 2019

CAVEATS – Financial information for couple in this report is limited.  It is difficult to determine if this is a real life case scenario or an example made up to illustrate what is possible for $50,000 retirement income.  As stated in the report the investment returns for TFSA remains constant for each year which is not the case in real life. It also is not possible to assess if real estate value will go up or down. It appears the couple have no children.

Financial profile for unattached individuals –  Michel’s food cost seems high (unless he requires a special diet and males require more calories). It appears he has no condo fees so he probably has expenses like condo maintenance.  Public service employee profile is based on snapshots of real life experiences of unattached persons. For the most part it closely matches the financial profile of Michel.  Food costs are replaced by mortgage costs.

Financial profiles are incomplete.  For example, expenses like medical eye and dental care and saving for vehicle replacement are not listed.

DETAILS OF CASE STUDIES FOR MARRIED COUPLE MICHAEL AND JULIE (Ontario), AGE 35 AND UNATTACHED INDIVIDUAL MICHEL, AGE 34 (Quebec)

Retirement age – Michael and Julie want to retire at age 55.  Michel wants to know if he can retire at age 45 and travel the world.  Many married couples have the ability to retire at age 55. Some would say Michel’s desire to retire at age 45 is unrealistic.  His financial advisor states that regardless of how frugal Michel is he will not be able to retire before the age of 60. Why is that unattached persons always have to be frugal and work longer?

Retirement income – Michael and Julie want a retirement after tax income of $50,000 at age 55.  Michel’s financial advisor states he unequivocally has to work to age 60 to achieve a retirement after tax income of $40,000.  There is that frugality once again!

Investment Amounts at present time – Michael and Julie’s account at present time totals $570,623 in TFSA and $423,706 in RRSP.  They have continually maxed out their TFSA accounts. Overall their portfolio has a 70/30 mix of stocks and fixed income.  A 6% rate of return on stocks and a 2.5% rate of return on fixed income is assumed for the article. They already have at age 35 a total close to a million dollars so it is difficult to figure why the amount wouldn’t be in excess of well over a million dollars in twenty years time at age 55.

Michel has $24,329 in TFSA and $90,701 in RRSP.  Calculations for retirement income are based on a 3% rate of return.

Investment Amounts at time of retirement – Estimate for Michael and Julie is stated in 2018 dollar value, not value at time of retirement, so value at retirement should be well over $1 million.  Total capital estimates for Michel at age 60 are $895,000.

Housing – Michael and Julie own a $600,000 house which they expect to own outright at time of retirement at age 55.  They plan on selling their home around age 80 and moving into an apartment or condo to rent. That might add $30,000/year to their expenses but they will have freed up almost $600,000 in real estate assets (minus 5% transaction fees).

Michel has a $165,000 condo.  He has a $97,000 mortgage with 24 years remaining amortization. At present rates, the mortgage will be paid when Michel is 58.

Income – Michael and Julie’s income is not stated, but it must be quite high to achieve the investments and $600,000  house they have at the present time. Michel has an income of $70,000 which is well above the median and average incomes for unattached individuals.

Vehicle –   Value of vehicle for couple is not stated.  The value of Michel’s vehicle is $2,500 which must be pretty much a “junker”.

How Michael and Julie will achieve their goal of retirement income of $50,000 as outlined in article

Because all their retirement savings are inside registered accounts such as their TFSAs and RRSPs, Michael and Julie have a lot of control over withdrawals and allows them to reduce taxes and optimize government benefits like CPP, OAS, and GIS.

To start, Michael and Julie will withdraw just enough from their RRSP to maximize the basic tax exemption, the rest of their income will come from their TFSA. This mix of RRSP and TFSA withdrawals (with no other income sources) will help them pay virtually zero taxes for the first 15 years of their retirement.  This will take them from ages 55 to ~ age 70.  (In the process they will have gained  almost $135,000 in benefits from paying no taxes for 15 years and reduced the income taxes on their estate to nearly zero.  At time of death their investment portfolio will consists mainly of TFSA.)

There are two other ways they can optimize their taxes and benefits during retirement.

The first is to reduce their taxable income between ages 64 and 71 by drawing primarily from TFSA. By starting OAS at age 65, but delaying CPP to age 70, their TFSA withdrawals will allow them to be eligible for GIS, GAINS, GST and Trillium benefits which are supposed to be only for low income persons (definitions provided below). Between ages 65 and 72 these benefits meant for low income persons will add $108,305 to their retirement income.

The second way they can optimize their taxes and benefits is to slowly shift their RRSPs into their TFSA each year. By taking advantage of the lowest tax bracket, they can slowly draw down their RRSPs at a low tax rate and shift these investments into their TFSA. Moving money into their TFSA makes these funds easily available in the future and reduces the taxes on their final estate.

Once they reach age 65 their withdrawal rate on investment will drop dramatically as Old Age Security (OAS) and other government benefits kick in. Then it drops again at age 70 when their Canada Pension Plan benefits begin.  By delaying withdrawal of CPP at 65 years to 70 years the rate of return on CPP will increase by 8.4% per year. By delaying CPP to age 70, they will receive 42% more than if taken at 65.

How Michel will achieve his goal of retirement income of $40,000 at age 60

From the article:  “The problem of early retirement is twofold: Not only must one build up savings faster, but those savings have to last a longer time than they would with later retirement.

In Quebec, a man we’ll call Michel, 34, works in financial services. He earns $70,000 a year and takes home $3,640 per month after many deductions for taxes and benefits. Frugal in his spending, cautious in his investing, he wants to retire at age 45 with $40,000 income per year after tax. Assuming a 3 per cent return rate after inflation, that implies he will be able to add $1 million to present savings in 11 years. On present income, it’s unlikely.

Michel’s goals will be hard to achieve even by 50, the planner says. The earliest he can retire with a $40,000 income after tax is 60. Assuming that he can achieve and maintain a 3 per cent annual return after inflation, then in 26 years his RRSP with a present value of $90,701 and $10,800 annual contributions will have risen to a value of $612,000. With the same assumptions, his TFSA with a present value of $24,329 and $6,000 annual contributions including catch-up additions to fill space will have risen to a value of $283,800. His total capital available for retirement income will total $895,800.

Assuming a 3 per cent return before tax, his RRSP and TFSA capital at 60 would generate $40,475 per year based on an annuitized payout that would exhaust all capital and income in the following 35 years to his age 95.

If he waits until age 65 and were to draw QPP (Quebec Pension Plan) of 64 per cent of a theoretical maximum benefit of $13,600 in 2019 dollars per year at age 65, $8,704, his total income would be $49,179. Retiring early makes attaining this maximum unlikely even with scheduled increases in CPP/QPP contributions and benefits, a planned 52 per cent boost to be phased in starting Jan. 1, 2019. After 20 per cent average tax, he would have $39,343 per year or $3,280 per month. At age 65, he could add Old Age Security benefits, currently $7,210 per year for total income of $56,389 before tax. Still using the 20 per cent rate, he would have post-tax income of $3,760 per month.

Calculations show that even if Michel retires at age 60, 26 years from now, he would have to live very modestly. Retiring at 60 and starting QPP benefits with a 36 per cent discount would have a drastic cost on his total lifetime benefit from CPP. The amount he will give up each month compared to the full age 65 benefit, about $5,000 per year, will have cost him $171,500 with no compounding for the following 35 years. It is a very high price to pay for what amounts to a five year bridge to full benefits at 65.”

ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL PROFILES

Housing – Couple has $600,000 house and Michel has $165,000 condo.  Depending on what part of Ontario couple is from this is probably par for housing.  For Michel it is possible that in parts of Quebec housing can be purchased for lower prices. However, Michael and Julie will probably have much higher investment possibilities when they sell their house versus when Michael sells his condo.  One can bet that couple has a better lifestyle in their house than Michel in his condo. In many parts of Canada it would extremely difficult for an unattached individual to purchase housing under $200,000.

Accumulation of wealth – It is unmistakable that couple is able to achieve so much more in wealth than unattached individual even when unattached individual has a relatively high income and is frugal in his spending.  At age 35 they are already millionaires. The net worth information in the article is not clear on how much net worth is expected to increase between present date and retirement at age 55. The Net Worth table appears to use the same net worth at present and at age 55 – about $1 million in real estate and RRSP and $600,000 in TFSA.  At age 75, after paying no income tax for 15 years and using benefits that are supposed to be for low income persons, values appear to be about the same. However, what is shocking is how even though RRSP and non registered accounts have virtually been depleted at age 100 the TFSA has increased in value to over $2 million. The reader is encouraged to view the tables at the links provided above.  They provide a striking picture of how income tax collection is flatlined at $0 and how net worth increases over time to age 100 instead of being depleted.

It is impossible for unattached persons, no matter how wealthy they are, to ever achieve the wealth that is possible for couples because it costs more for singles to live and they must save a greater retirement amount for one person as opposed to two persons.

Taxes – Many of the financial profiles of unattached individuals with Michel’s income show he would probably pay a rate of 20%.  Couples who are able to use tax avoidance vehicles like pension splitting are often shown to pay income tax at rates as low as 10%.  For Michael and Julie they are able to not pay income tax for 15 years. It is an understatement to say that couples, even wealthy ones, seem to pay less income tax because of manipulation of marital benefits, pension splitting, etc.  Unattached individuals are bearing the brunt of the Canadian tax system which purposely favors married persons over unattached persons.

LESSONS LEARNED

Financial advantages of couples over unattached individualsJust how many times can it be said that according to Market Basket Measure it costs more for unattached individuals to live than couples without children (if single has value of 1.0, the value for a couple without children is 1.4, not 2.0).  Couples without children are able to maximize their net worth over unattached individuals because of marital benefits, ability to multiply wealth times two (TFSA) and compounding of investments times two. All things being equal it is virtually impossible for unattached individuals to achieve the same financial wealth as couples even though it costs more for singles to live.

TFSA revised 2019 copy 1

TFSA outrageously is a goldmine for the wealthy and the married – TFSA has been in place for ten years.  Maxed out TFSA now total $127,000 for couples and $63,500 for unattached individuals.

It is astonishing how Michael and Julie and Michel have been able to reach their TFSA amounts at present time with maxed out contributions.

It stands to reason that the wealthy are more likely to exponentially increase the value of their TFSAs especially if they are more risk tolerant in investment plans than low income persons.

Vetting of Income for GIS and other low income applications – Interest and investment income does have to be declared on low income applications.  However, TFSA investments are not declared as income ever. This is what allows the wealthy to circumvent the financial restrictions on who can receive assistance the low income assistance programs.

Hypocrisy of TFSA declaration of non income –  This may be harsh but TFSA not needing to be declared as income creates anger and despair for those who do not have the means to contribute to TFSA.  TFSA holders who purposefully use benefits not intended for the wealthy could be called TFSA grifters or chiselers – grifters or chiselers are con artists; in this case they swindle people and governments out of money but all within legal limits of the law.

Hypocrisy of those who demonize public pensions – Many, including far right Conservatives and proponents of private enterprise versus government jobs, berate those who receive public pensions, especially defined benefit plans .  Many of these persons are financially illiterate by stating the taxpayers pay for these systems. The real truth is that defined benefit plans are made up of employee, employer contributions and well managed investments.

Persons who are members of public pension plans must contribute a substantial amount (10%) of their income to the plan, pay taxes as contributors and pay taxes when benefits are received.  Many who do not have a choice or choose to contribute to public pension plans cannot contribute fully to TFSAs because their incomes do not allow them to contribute to both pension plans and TFSAs.

Public pensions are not a given.  They can fail if investment managers make bad decisions and if companies decide to abandon public pensions in bankruptcy.

The Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) is a defined benefit plan, so do these same beraters want to abolish CPP?

Those who are able to maximize their TFSA should also pay taxes on their TFSA investments before they demonize public pensions.

Future consequences and collateral damage if TFSA remains the same – Ability to contribute to TFSAs have now been in place for eleven years.  If the plan is not changed so TFSA is declared as income and taxed then the wealth spread between the rich and poor will increase exponentially.  Only the need to help the middle class is being discussed by some political parties. The middle class is already being transformed into the upper middle class and wealthy while singles and the poor (boondoggle-for-singles-and-low-income) are being pushed further into poverty by the actions of these same political parties.  There will be no middle class.

Every year that goes by with no revisions to the TFSA will ensure elimination of the middle class and singles and poor families getting poorer.  Every year that goes by with the upper middle class and wealthy not paying any tax on TFSA investments and these accounts growing to incredible wealth will ensure bankruptcy of the Canadian economy.  How are schools, hospitals, roads going to be built if there is an insufficient tax base to support the building of these projects?

COMPARISON OF TFSA TO OTHER PLANS (how-does-the-tfsa-stack-up)

All TFSA plans are designed to supplement and manage income from other forms of savings.  It appears only the USA, UK, South Africa and Canada have tax free savings plans.  It also appears Canada has the most generous plan with the only limit being annual contribution limit.

The USA Roth IRA has similar contribution limits ($6,000 for those under 50 and $7,000 age 50 and over) but Americans can only make the maximum contribution if their gross income is below a specific threshold – in 2019 the threshold for unattached person modified adjusted gross income limit is $122,000 or less.  Contributions limit is reduced for income between $122,000 to $136,999 and is completely eliminated for income over $137,000. For joint filers (couples) the income limit is $193,000. Contribution limit is reduced for incomes $193,000 to $202,999 or less and is completely reduced for incomes $203,000 or more. US residents have to wait a ‘seasoning’ period of five years, and be at least 59-½ years of age, before they can withdraw tax-free from a Roth IRA.  TFSAs are primarily multi-purpose vehicles while Roth IRAs are primarily meant for retirement savings.

The fine print on Roth IRA contributions limits (roth-ira-contribution-limits) is that contributions cannot be more than individual’s taxable compensation for the year. That means that if taxable income is $3,000, the cap on Roth IRA contributions is also $3,000 for that year. If there aren’t any taxable earnings during the year, there can’t be any contributions.  The one exception is the spousal IRA which allows a nonworking spouse to contribute to an IRA based on the taxable income of the working spouse.  Roth IRA distributions aren’t included in income in retirement so are not taxable. Monies earned from investment are tax-free.

Persons age  59½ or over may withdraw as much as wanted as long as Roth IRA has been open for at least 5 years.  Persons under 59½ years of age may withdraw the exact amount of Roth IRA contributions with no penalties.  However, the earnings from the principal cannot normally be withdrawn prior to age 59½ without paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

It should be noted that the Roth IRA has an equivalence scale method built in similar to the Market Basket Measure.  The couple limit of $193,000 to $202,999 is not twice that of the unattached person limit of $122,000 to $136,999.

SOLUTIONS

If Canada as a country does not want to go bankrupt as a result of tax not being collected on TFSAs it is incumbent upon government and politicians to change policies so that TFSA cannot grow to unabated levels.  Also, Market Basket Measure (MBM) must be applied to TFSA formulas so that income does not benefit married persons over single unattached persons. The US Roth IRA does this. Why can’t the same be done for the Canadian plan?  The US Roth IRA does not allow the wealthy over specified limits to have a Roth IRA at all. Also, change the plan so that only contributions can be withdrawn early without penalty like the Roth IRA. Lastly, the nonsensical ability to withdraw contributions from the plan and then at a later top them up again benefits only the wealthy.  Once a contribution is made it should be not able to be topped up again when withdrawn.

Donald Trump’s ignorance on MBM and similar equivalence scale measures is demonstrated by his income tax amount reductions to double for couples to that of unattached persons instead of applying equivalence scale values of 1.0 for singles and 1.4 for couples.

It is unfathomable that Stephen Harper, an economist and Leader of the Progressive Conservatives and the PC Party, would not have taken into account the future ramifications and collateral damage that this plan would cause in creating every widening separation of the rich from the poor as the years go by.

How do governments and politicians change discriminatory financial plans that have been in place for many years without backlash from the privileged and those who feel entitled even with the discrimination?  Which political party will take this on?

For God’s sake, politicians, political parties and those who demonize social programs need to educate themselves on costs of living for unattached persons and poor families versus wealthy couples and consider full ramifications of how to avoid financial discrimination now and into the future.  If heed is not taken to the above then be prepared for the anger as has already been displayed by the poor throughout the world. You have been forewarned!

DEFINITIONS

GAINS – Ontario Guaranteed Annual  Income System may provide a monthly, non-taxable benefit to low-income seniors to between $2.50 and $83 in 2018.

GIS benefit – Guaranteed Income Supplement provides a monthly non-taxable benefit to Old Age Security (OAS) pension recipients who have a low income and are living in Canada.

GST credit – The goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps individuals and families with low and modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay. It may also include payments from provincial programs.

Trillium benefits – Ontario Trillium Benefit combines three credits to help pay for energy costs as well as sales and property tax: Northern Ontario Energy Credit, Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, Ontario Sales Tax Credit.  Beneficiaries need to be eligible for at least one of the three credits to receive the benefit.

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

CARBON TAX AND PRICING WILL FAIL BECAUSE OF CONSUMER AND POPULATION GROWTH EXCESSES

CARBON TAX AND PRICING WILL FAIL BECAUSE OF CONSUMER AND POPULATION GROWTH EXCESSES

(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.)

Many naysayers say carbon pricing will not reduce emissions and instead will pinch household budgets, kill jobs and enrich governments.  They may be right about carbon pricing, but not for the above stated reasons.

One form of carbon pricing is charging high emitters and giving rebates back to families or consumers.  However, the naysayers will never tell the whole truth – 80 percent of emissions from a barrel of oil comes from consumption and 20 percent is generated from production of the crude.

Non renewable energy emitters or types of ‘dirty’ energy will not define the major growth or decline of emissions. The first major definer of emissions will be consumerism, the second will be increasing world population.  USA consumer spending equals 70% of economy, Europe 55% and China 40%. The world’s population is estimated to top nine billion people by 2040, and the demand for energy will increase by 27 per cent. For the environmentalists and environmental protesters, which persons will they deny energy to so that they can have green energy which possibly will not meet the energy needs of growing populations?

The most egregious and hypocritical of climate deniers and consumerism are the wealthy through climate of greed and denial of their greed.

One example is the Chinese Communist hypocrisy and oxymoron of absence of social classes and money –  all (or nearly all) property and resources are collectively owned by a classless society and not by individual citizens.  Yet there has been a sharp increase in the number of ‘new wealth’ individuals.

Even though there are restrictions on what monies can be taken out of the country and Chinese leaders clamping down on extreme ostentation displays, wealthy have found ways, as many wealthy do, to circumvent rules.  One city they have chosen to display their wealth (vancouversun) (because they can’t display their wealth in China) is Vancouver for purchase of multiple mansions and luxury vehicles.  Metro Vancouver has been nicknamed supercar capital of the world. The University of B.C. has been nicknamed the University of Beautiful Cars.  The owners of these same vehicles also buy condos whose only purpose is to house these vehicles.

Betsy DeVos, Trump appointee for education, displays her wealth in ownership of 22,000 square foot summer house and $40 million yacht (just one of nine yachts and boats).  Most of Trump appointees are wealthy Republicans who choose to use excessive consumption of energy while denying climate change.

The wealthy, hypocritical environmentalists, environmental protestors and those who just don’t care choose to ignore their energy consumption by owning and using multiple housing, cottages, recreation vehicles, and exotic world travelling for starters. These include Canadian snowbird places (snowbirds) like Arizona where housing on both sides of the border sits empty for six months of the year while still consuming energy to keep the places operational.  Additional non renewable resources are used to build these structures. Housing speculators buy housing waiting for prices to increase but never rent them out (unethical).

The wealthy also choose to ignore the anger human ramifications to their conspicuous consumption.  Studies (“The Spirit Level” wikipedia) have found people are literally less healthy in societies with large gaps between the rich and the rest. People in unequal countries are more prone to chronic stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, despair, unnecessary spending, obesity, and heart disease.

One solution for consumerism is reduce the consumerism and possibly heavily tax luxury consumption.  One solution for slowing the increase of world population is to only have number of children that will replace the number of adults, one child per adult.

There is no perfect green solution for emissions.  Solar and wind solutions use rare earth minerals, kill birds and bats and cause illnesses in some humans (ncbi).  An Ontario community-based self-reporting health survey, WindVOiCe, identified the most commonly reported industrial wind turbine-induced symptoms as altered quality of life, sleep disturbance, excessive tiredness, headache, stress, and distress. Other reported effects include migraines, hearing problems, tinnitus, heart palpitations, anxiety, and depression.  In addition, degraded living conditions and adverse socioeconomic effects have been reported. In some cases the effects were severe enough that individuals in Ontario abandoned their homes or reached financial agreements with wind energy developers.

Energy companies have done great work in reducing emissions through technological and efficiency improvements such as zero emissions refineries.

CONCLUSION

Environmentalists and environmental protesters need to focus on consumerism, not just pipelines and oil spills.  Naysayers of climate change and carbon pricing need to get real and speak the whole truth, not just partial truths.  Consumerism greed and increasing world population will define whether or not emissions will increase or decrease.

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

REGRESSIVE TAX EXPENDITURES FINANCIALLY DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SINGLES AND POOR FAMILIES

REGRESSIVE TAX EXPENDITURES FINANCIALLY DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SINGLES AND POOR FAMILIES

(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 purpose of this blog has been to highlight the gross financial discrimination singles and poor families face in this country.  However, many including governments, families and married persons fail to understand or choose to ignore the real financial truth. The discovery of information on regressive tax expenditures has provided an “OMG moment” because it supports what we have been saying since the beginning of this blog.  It provides solid information that poverty is not a figment of the imagination and is not created by the poor. Instead, wealth has been purposefully created for the top 50% of Canadians by government policies, especially regressive tax expenditures.

Blog article discussion on “Out of the Shadows” appears at beginning of article. Reproduction of “Will federal tax review lay the groundwork for real tax reform in the next budget?” appears at the end of this article.

PRELUDE

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) “Out of the shadows” (loopholes) report published December, 2016 ‘examines the distribution of benefits from Canada’s 64 personal income tax expenditures where data is available, ranking them from least to most progressive.  A tax measure can be said to be relatively progressive if more than half its benefits go to the lower half of income earners. Likewise, a tax measure is regressive if most benefits go to Canada’s higher-income earners’.  (It should be noted that the 64 expenditures by no means covers all of the possible expenditures as evidenced by those not reviewed that are listed in Appendix II Excluded Tax Expenditures).

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY -Excerpts from CCPA report pages 5 – 7

ONLY 5 OF THE 64 EXPENDITURES ARE PROGRESSIVE

Only five –  the working income tax benefit (only one—the Working Income Tax Benefit—exclusively supports Canada’s working poor), non-taxation of the guaranteed income supplement, non-taxation of social assistance, the refundable medical expense deduction, and the disability tax credit can be described as relatively progressive, with a maximum benefit of $1,100 or less.

THE REMAINING 59 EXPENDITURES ARE REGRESSIVE AND COST $100.5B IN 2011

The remaining 59 regressive tax expenditures cost the federal government $100.5 billion in 2011 while providing more benefit to those above the median individual income level.

FIVE MOST REGRESSIVE TAX EXPENDITURES PROVIDE 99% BENEFITS TO TOP HALF

The five most regressive tax expenditures provide 99% or more of their benefit to the upper half of income earners. These tax expenditures pension income splitting, dividend gross-up, stock option deduction, credit for partial inclusion of capital gains, and foreign tax credit cost the government between $740 million and $4.1 billion each per year, totalling $10.4 billion in 2011. Four of these five tax expenditures have no maximum individual value, while pension income splitting where 83% of the benefit goes to the top income decile maxes out at $11,700 per person. That is 10 times the maximum benefit to Canada’s poorest from the five progressive tax expenditures.   If those loopholes were closed, the federal government could use that money to eliminate university tuition and create an affordable national child care program.

IN 2011 TAX EXPENDITURES COST ROUGHLY AS MUCH AS ALL INCOME TAXES COLLECTED

In total, personal income tax expenditures cost $103 billion in 2011, which is roughly as much as all income taxes collected that year ($121 billion). It is also not much less than what the federal government spends annually to pay for the Canada Pension Plan, employment insurance, the GST credit, the universal child care benefit, the Canada child tax benefit and the national child benefit supplement combined ($113 billion).

TWO TAX SYSTEMS, SHADOW SYSTEM FOR THE RICH, THE OTHER FOR POOR AND MIDDLE CLASS

Existing tax expenditures, on the other hand, provide on average a $15,000-per-person benefit to the richest Canadians. By comparison Canada’s poorest Canadians receive only $130 from tax expenditures and $1,130 from all federal income transfers.  In essence there are two federal transfers systems in Canada: one for the poor and middle class, and another shadow transfer system for the rich. Each system transfers roughly the same amount of money.

RECOMMENDATIONS RE MODEST STEPS TO ELIMINATING MOST REGRESSIVE AND EXPENSIVE TAX EXPENDITURES

  1. The annual tax expenditures report from Finance Canada should include the distribution of tax expenditures across the income spectrum.
  2. Tax expenditures should be included explicitly as costs in federal government financial reporting, including the main estimates, federal budget and fiscal updates.
  3. The federal government should target annual savings in tax expenditures of 5% (worth $5.1 billion a year) through the closure, capping or phasing-out of the most regressive loopholes.  This would take 20 years for total elimination.
  4. Policy-makers should continue to examine tax expenditures through a broad income inequality or vertical equity lens, and to consider the totality of these expenditures as a grossly unfair shadow transfer system for Canada’s richest tax filers.

REPORTING OF EXPENDITURES AND TRANSFERS OCCUR UNEQUALLY

(Page 9) Reporting of expenditures versus transfers – …. Moreover, while the cost of tax expenditures are individually estimated, they are not evaluated in the aggregate or compared to other large federal expenditures like federal income transfers. The latter are updated regularly and incorporated into public documents like the federal budget, main estimates and fiscal updates. Tax expenditures, on the other hand, are relegated to federal tax expenditure and evaluation reports that are published separately and frequently overlooked.

ASSESSING PROGRESSIVITY VERSUS REGRESSIVITY

(Page 10)  Progressivity versus regressivity-…..While it may be tempting to think of one set as progressive and the other regressive based on the types of activities they target, this is not how tax systems are generally judged. Assessing Canada’s tax expenditures through a vertical equity lens allows us to precisely determine what income groups benefit the most.

NET WORTH AND ASSETS LEFT OUT OF ANALYSIS

(Page 11) Report readily admits that ranking scheme focuses exclusively on current annual income and ignores other potential measures of progressivity that one might consider, such as measures based on wealth or lifetime earnings.

Blog author’s comment:

In this blog we have commented many times on how tax expenditures are handed out to the wealthy when they don’t need it because their net worth and assets have not been taken into consideration in financial formulas.

TAX EXPENDITURES PERCENTAGE OF BENEFITS TO BOTTOM HALF

(Page 12) Table 1  shows 2011 Tax Expenditures Cost, Distribution and Progressivity and % of the 64 benefits to bottom half.  (The percentage of each individual expenditure is generally below 30% to the bottom half.)

FIVE MOST PROGRESSIVE (VERTICALLY EQUITABLE) TAX EXPENDITURES

(Page 15-17) Only five of Canada’s 64 expenditures are more beneficial for lower-income earners and therefore more positive in terms of correcting income inequalities. These are the working tax credit, non-taxation of the GIS and spousal allowance, refundable medical expenses, non-taxation of social assistance benefits and disability tax credit…..These five most progressive tax expenditures have a few things in common. First, there is either an explicit maximum individual benefit or the value is based on another program that itself is capped…..Second, the maximum benefit is paid out in the lower half of the income spectrum and tapers out afterwards…..Finally, three of the five tax expenditures are related to seniors, including the non-taxation of GIS benefits, the disability tax credit and the refundable medical expenses supplement…..

Blog author’s comment:

This is the way assistance for low income Canadians should work, thus promoting financial fairness for all  Canadians.

FIVE MOST REGRESSIVE (VERTICALLY INEQUITABLE) TAX EXPENDITURES

(Page 18) ….The vast majority provide more benefit to the richest half of Canadians. To narrow it down to five (dividend gross-up and tax credit, partial inclusion of capital gains, foreign tax credit for individuals, employee stock option deduction, and pension income splitting), those tax expenditures providing 99% of their benefit to the highest-earning Canadians are isolated (14 of 64 expenditures) then sorted by cost.  The first thing that stands out in Figure 2 is the marked difference in distributional impact of Canada’s regressive and progressive tax expenditures. The benefits of the former (regressive) are clearly concentrated in the richest decile, with little or no benefit leaking down even to Canada’s middle-income earners and absolutely nothing for the poorest Canadians. In the latter (progressive) category, benefits generally peaked in the third or fourth deciles, but they also spread beyond this zone, frequently also into the upper deciles.

PENSION SPLITTING MOST REGRESSIVE TAX EXPENDITURE

(Page 18-19) The most regressive tax expenditure, which comes with a cost to government of $975 million annually, is pension income splitting. This tax measure allows a couple to shift up to half the pension income of the higher-earning spouse to the lower earner at tax time. The lower-earning spouse would still pay tax on the amount transferred, but at a lower marginal rate.  (Figure 4) This transfer effect is why the distribution shows negative bars in deciles four through seven: lower earners will pay higher taxes as pension income is transferred, but presumably net family taxes will be lower.

Benefits from pension income splitting are concentrated at the very top, with 83% of the value of the expenditure going to the richest decile. In contrast with the other most regressive tax expenditures, there is maximum benefit to this tax expenditure of $11,675 when $128,800 of pension income is transferred from a higher earner to a spouse with no income. While capped, this maximum benefit is 10 times more generous than any of the five most progressive tax expenditures.

Blog author’s comment:

Re pension splitting zero per cent (0%) of senior single person households and equal income married or coupled partners receive any monies from this expenditure.  Poor families (bottom half) receive virtually no benefit because they have less income to split than the wealthy.

DIVIDEND GROSS-UP, STOCK OPTION DEDUCTIONS AND PARTIAL INCLUSION OF CAPITAL GAINS

(Page 19-21) There are commonalities among these regressive loopholes whose benefit is most concentrated among the richest half of Canadians. For one thing, three of the five regressive expenditures are related to capital ownership; that is to say, to the ownership, purchase and sale of stocks, real estate, businesses and the like. This is not an activity most Canadians take part in, let alone have to worry about at tax time. Second, four of the five tax expenditures have no maximum value and the fifth has a very high maximum. This also has the effect of concentrating benefits among those with more money to spend.

Blog author’s comment:

These three tax loopholes are available only to the wealthiest Canadians because they are the the only ones with the means to partake of these loopholes.  When the wealthiest Canadians have these three tax loopholes why do they need even more loopholes? Article “Will federal tax review lay the groundwork for real tax reform in the next budget?” at the end of this blog post provides a very good comment on what could be done to reduce these tax loopholes.

Dividend gross-up and tax credit

(Page 24) The fifth most expensive tax expenditure is the dividend gross-up and tax credit, which cost $4.1 billion in 2011. As discussed above, the credit is also among the top five most regressive expenditures, with 92% of the benefits going to the richest decile.

(Page 25) In another comparison, recovering three-quarters of what is lost to the dividend gross-up each year could eliminate tuition for undergraduate university students, or it could halve the cost of long-term care for aging Canadians.  Tax expenditures are the same as any other real government spending: they are a fiscal choice governments make and can unmake if they want to. The money that today goes to padding the incomes of Canada’s rich could tomorrow go to eliminating poverty and reducing income inequality.

(Page 20) This tax expenditure gives shareholders of Canadian firms receiving a dividend a credit for what the corporation already paid on its profits, so that those profits are not “double taxed.”…..Seen in this light, Canada’s tax expenditure for corporate dividends looks very much like special treatment for the already very wealthy.  The dividend gross-up has no maximum value, as it is related to the amount of Canadian eligible dividends paid to any individual.

Blog author’s comment:

Re:    Good discussion on “Big 3” regressive tax expenditures (dividend gross-up, stock option deduction and credit for partial inclusion of capital gains) that overwhelmingly benefit rich Canadians is given in article “Will federal tax review lay the groundwork for real tax reform in the next budget?” shown at the end of this blog post.  (These expenditures alone cost a combined $12 billion annually – more than enough to pay for, say, a national pharmacare program).

FIVE COSTLIEST TAX EXPENDITURES

(Page 22-25) Though they may not be the most regressive, based on the criteria established above, it is worth commenting on how all five of the most costly personal tax expenditures (Credit for the Basic Personal Amount, net Registered Pension Plan or RRP expenditure, net Registered Retirement Savings Plan or RRSP expenditure, non-taxation of Capital Gains on Principal Residences, and Dividend Gross-up and Tax Credit) still provide far higher benefits to those in the upper income deciles than those in the lower half of Canadian income earners (see Figure 3).

At the top of this list is the basic personal amount all Canadians can claim as tax-free income on their tax forms ($10,527 in 2011). This tax expenditure costs an incredible $29 billion a year. To put that number in perspective, roughly a quarter of every tax dollar collected in 2011 was returned through the basic personal amount.  This tax expenditure is roughly equivalent to having an additional tax bracket under $10,527 at 0%, despite the fact that the other tax brackets are not considered tax expenditures. That being said, changing the basic personal exemption would have major implications. Besides being the most expensive, this tax expenditure is the most evenly distributed, at least in this category, with a third of the benefit going to the bottom half of Canadians. The maximum benefit in 2011 was $1,579, accessible to everyone who paid income tax, and received by virtually everyone in the fifth decile and above. The universal application of this tax expenditure to all taxpayers, particularly in the top half of the income distribution, is the reason it is so expensive.

The second and third most expensive tax expenditures are the registered pension plans (RPP) and the registered retirement savings plans (RRSP), which cost the government $16 billion and $9 billion a year respectively. The benefits of these tax expenditures are slightly more concentrated among Canada’s highest-income earners, who receive 57% of the benefit from RPPs and 63% of the benefit from RRSPs, and in both cases there is little benefit outside of the top three deciles.

(The complete discussion of RPP and RRSPs in the report has not been included here).….It is often difficult to contextualize the opportunity costs of spending billions of dollars on a tax expenditure. For comparison’s sake, the combined net loss from the RRSP and RPP tax preferences is $26 billion a year. This is three times the $9 billion spent on the GIS and spousal allowance, which are dedicated to reducing poverty among low-income seniors.  By spending only a third of the government revenues lost to RRSP and RPPs every year we could eliminate seniors’ poverty in Canada.

To evaluate the effectiveness of this tax-shifting strategy, Figure 4 shows the distribution of benefits for contributors compared to the distribution of RRSP withdrawals. Assuming that contribution and withdrawal trends continue in terms of percentage benefit, and not in terms of aggregate amounts, it is clear the richest decile will benefit the most. The richest decile sees 57% of the benefits from contributions, but only pays back 31% of the tax on withdrawals. RPPs have a slightly worse distribution, with the top two deciles seeing a net lifetime benefit. Even on a lifetime basis, instead of a cash-flow basis, the top decile sees the most benefit given current trends.

The fourth most expensive tax expenditure, non-taxation of capital gains on a principle residence, cost the government $4.7 billion in 2011. This tax expenditure is of very little use to the bottom half of the population, which sees 10% of the benefits.

The fifth most expensive tax expenditure is the dividend gross-up and tax credit, which cost $4.1 billion in 2011. As discussed above, the credit is also among the top five most regressive expenditures, with 92% of the benefits going to the richest decile.

…..Tax expenditures are the same as any other real government spending: they are a fiscal choice governments make and can unmake if they want to. The money that today goes to padding the incomes of Canada’s rich could tomorrow go to eliminating poverty and reducing income inequality.

TAX EXPENDITURES SHOULD BE TREATED AS A SYSTEM

(Page 26 – 28) 26 Beyond ComparIng Canada’s individual tax expenditures for their progressivity or regressivity, we should be treating these tax expenditures as a system, as we might federal income transfers. In that case, we can apply the same equity lens to the tax expenditure system in the aggregate to determine if the totality of these measures increase or decrease income inequality in Canada.

Based on the analysis above, the answer should be clear: if 59 of Canada’s 64 tax expenditures are regressive (i.e., they benefit the upper half of income earners more than the lower half), we should expect the system as a whole to fail the equity test. In fact, the total cost of these regressive measures is astonishing….As such, only broad conclusions are drawn from the aggregation of tax expenditures. From a policy perspective, if raising money from closing tax expenditures is the goal, a piecemeal approach is unlikely to provide as much benefit as a more comprehensive tax policy reassessment…..

The standout conclusion we come to from aggregating all personal tax expenditures is that that system is very expensive, costing the government $103 billion a year. As shown in

Table 2, this is only slightly less than the $121 billion collected in federal personal income taxes in 2011. Think about that: almost every dollar collected in personal income taxes is immediately given back through tax expenditures. Put another way, if revenues currently forgone through personal income tax expenditures were collected, the federal government would roughly double the amount of money at its disposal for other priorities.

…..While both tax expenditures and traditional income transfers result in effective transfers and are of roughly the same aggregate cost, their distribution differs dramatically, as shown in Figure 5. Federal transfers peak in the fourth decile for those with incomes between $17,000 and $22,000. The average combined federal transfer is $8,400 a person, which is mostly made up of transfers from CPP and GIS/OAS.

Blog author’s comment:

This author has talked about tax loopholes being addressed only in a vertical fashion by governments and policy makers.  This has created financial silos (continued-financial-illiteracy) where impact of one loophole is not assessed in totality with other loopholes. However, loopholes are compounded on top of loopholes.  For, example wealthy get full OAS who then put this money into their Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) and then don’t have to report investment income from TFSA as income.  Financial formulas should be assessed both on a vertical and a horizontal level. Add link on financial silos.

FEDERAL TAX TRANSFERS ARE SMALL FOR LARGEST COMPONENT OF SINGLES AND LONE PARENTS

(Page 28 – 29)  FEDERAL TRANSFERS are surprisingly small for the poorest deciles when you consider that most programs target the poorest and clawback transfer payments as incomes rise. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the distribution is based on individual and not family incomes (see Appendix I for more on this). So someone earning no income would fit in the poorest decile even if their spouse made a million dollars a year.

The second, more worrying reason is that many of those in the poorest deciles are either single parents or single adults. Almost all of the federal transfer money paid to the poorest two deciles is for child-related benefits and goes mostly to single-parent families where the parent is almost always a woman. For single adults, or adult couples without children who are not seniors, the only available federal transfer is the GST credit, which maxed out at $253 per person in 2011.

FEDERAL TRANSFERS peak in the fourth decile, but they are slightly skewed to richer Canadians as they provide benefits all the way to the top of the income spectrum.  In fact, those in the richest decile, with incomes over $84,000 a year, receive slightly more on average from federal transfers ($1,300) than the average person in the poorest decile ($1,200). This is entirely due to higher CPP payments to the top deciles. Those in the ninth decile, where incomes sit between $61,000 and $84,000 a year, receive on average $2,500 a person twice as much as those in the poorest decile.

TAX EXPENDITURES, on the other hand, have a dramatically different distribution, with benefits highly concentrated (39%) in the richest decile, where the average transfer is $15,000 a year. That amount is double the $8,400 those in the fourth decile receive in government transfers (largely to support low-income seniors). Put another way, tax expenditures provide 11 times more benefit to the richest people in Canada than government transfers do for the poorest (those making under $4,000 a year).

From an aggregate perspective, therefore, the $103 billion lost annually to tax expenditures is an embarrassing failure of Canadian tax policy. With the same amount of money the government could send an annual cheque of at least $21,800 to all Canadians, completely eliminating poverty.  The money spent on tax expenditures also has an opportunity cost: it means funds are not available for physical infrastructure or to improve social program, both of which have a much higher economic multiplier in driving economic growth.

Blog author’s comment:

This blog is based on highlighting the financial discrimination of singles (ever singles and divorced early in life persons).  The above segment is refreshing in that it supports what we have been saying over the past few years.

TWO EQUAL SYSTEMS OF EQUAL VALUE-TAX INCOME TRANSFERS SYSTEM FOR POOR AND MIDDLE CLASS AND TAX EXPENDITURE SYSTEM FOR THE RICH

(Page 30) In essence, we have in Canada two federal support programs of roughly equal value: income transfers for the poor and middle class, and tax expenditures for the rich. The first (federal transfers) benefits the lower-middle class the most, but spreads widely from the very poorest to the very richest. The second (tax expenditures) benefits mainly those at the top, a shadow transfer system for Canada’s rich.

CONCLUSION (Page 31)

The unequal dIstributIon of tax expenditures remains a critically under-examined problem in Canada, particularly given their enormous cost on par with both personal income taxes collected and total federal government transfers and contribution to income inequality. Given the sheer size of these tax expenditures, it is amazing they are not listed as government spending in federal budgets and fiscal updates.

For every dollar moved into one of Canada’s individual tax expenditures, an equivalent amount is foregone in federal revenues. Since there is no cap on many of the most expensive and most regressive tax expenditures, this arrangement skews benefits toward Canada’s richest, who are more likely to have extra money to put aside (for retirement, investments, etc.). Lifetime caps, as exist for the small business capital gains exemption, would help smooth out the distributional inequities in these expenditures and lower costs for government.

Tax expenditures individually are not purposeless. Sometimes they are meant to encourage behaviour, such as saving for retirement. Sometimes, as with the dividend gross-up, they are driven by concerns about equity (the “double taxation” of dividend income in this case), though almost always in the horizontal sense of treating similar people equally under the tax code.  The vertical inequity of this measure, 91% of whose benefits go to the richest 10% of Canadians, is totally ignored.

APPENDIX I – METHODOLOGY (Page 33-36)

(Reading this section in its entirety is worthwhile to understand how statistics were used to develop the report – the following is a brief excerpt from the report).

All values in this report are in 2011 dollars. All tax rates, tax expenditure values, transfers and any other values are as they were in 2011 unless otherwise stated….

All distributional analyses in this paper are conducted for individuals 18 and over based on total income before taxes but after transfers, not families. Examining individual distribution may overstate the concentration of people in the bottom deciles, as it will split up families where one spouse earns an income and the other does not. In a situation where the former takes home, say, $1 million annually, they would end up in the top decile while the latter is in the lowest decile in this distribution. This may tend to overstate the destitution of those in the lowest income deciles on an individual basis. However, taxes are evaluated on an individual basis and Canada Revenue Agency data, in particular, is only available on an individual basis. Future research could better examine the distribution of tax expenditures across the family income distribution in Canada…..

Third, economists are particularly concerned about richer tax filers attempting to avoid any tax changes, whether from marginal bracket rate increases or changes in tax expenditures. There is particular concern that wealthy Canadians will migrate, for instance to the U.S., in a “brain drain” response to higher Canadians tax rates. Natural experiments have shown a surprising lack of migration in response to higher top marginal tax rates…..

A more likely reaction to the closure of certain tax expenditures might be an increased use of related alternatives. For instance, if RRSP contributions were no longer tax deductible, wealthy Canadians might switch those contributions to TFSAs, where a tax preference still exists. This switching of moneys between tax expenditures may mean the total cost would not be recovered even if that tax expenditure were completely closed. The more tax expenditures that exist, the more choice there is as any one tax expenditure is closed. However, as fewer tax expenditures exist, the more likely it is that the closure of any additional tax expenditure will lead to the full cost of the tax expenditure being recovered. Behavioural reaction will tend to decrease the overall cost of tax expenditures. Neither the Finance Canada reporting on tax expenditures nor this report attempts to estimate the behavioural reaction to the closure of tax expenditures.

The final possibility for avoiding taxes, besides moving and switching tax expenditures, is simply to avoid them illegally. The solution here is more straightforward: hire more tax auditors to provide better enforcement of the rules that already exist. More disclosure and international co-operation of tax agencies is also critical in closing the potential for abuse in tax havens.

APPENDIX II EXCLUDED TAX EXPENDITURES (Page 41)

Table 4 details tax expenditures that are not analyzed in this report (approximately another 64). In general, these were excluded either because distributional data or else the estimated value of the expenditure were not available. A few expenditures were excluded for other reasons……Finally, as this report only focuses on expenditures related to personal income taxes, expenditures involving businesses were also excluded from the analysis (see the details in Table 4).

HIGHLIGHTING PROBLEMS OF MAXIMUM INDIVIDUAL VALUE RE TRANSFERS VERSUS EXPENDITURES

While income transfers are tightly controlled as to the maximum value a person can receive and who in the income spectrum receives them, many of the most regressive and expensive tax expenditures do not have a maximum individual value. (Page 15-17) There is either an explicit maximum individual benefit or the value is based on another program that itself is capped…..Second, the maximum benefit is paid out in the lower half of the income spectrum and tapers out afterwards.

(Page 18) The first thing that stands out in Figure 2 is the marked difference in distributional impact of Canada’s regressive and progressive tax expenditures. The benefits of the former (regressive) are clearly concentrated in the richest decile, with little or no benefit leaking down even to Canada’s middle-income earners and absolutely nothing for the poorest Canadians. In the latter (progressive) category, benefits generally peaked in the third or fourth deciles, but they also spread beyond this zone, frequently also into the upper deciles.

HOW INCOME IS REPORTED IN THE REPORT – (BLOG AUTHOR’S COMMENT)

A major shortfall of this report is using income deciles based only on individuals.

Information from page 33 states ‘All distributional analyses in this paper are conducted for individuals 18 and over based on total income before taxes but after transfers….. However, taxes are evaluated on an individual basis and Canada Revenue Agency data, in particular, is only available on an individual basis. Future research could better examine the distribution of tax expenditures across the family income distribution in Canada…..”

(Example: Figure 2, Page 19) For the CCPA report it appears income deciles are divided into nine deciles for income from $0 to $84,000 and tenth decile for incomes over $84,000.  The sixth decile shows values of $30-$38K, seventh percentile $38-$48K, eighth decile $48-$61K, ninth decile $61-$84K and tenth decile $84K+.

It is possible to obtain some information on income levels for single person and two or more person households from Statistics Canada – Upper income limit, income share and average income by economic family type and income decile (statcan).

In 2016, income single person household reported in constant dollars were total decile income $35,400, sixth decile $31,000, seventh decile $37,700, eighth decile $45,400, ninth decile $57,800 and highest decile $96,800.

In 2016. incomes for two or more person households reported in constant dollars were total deciles $89,600, sixth decile $84,300, seventh decile $97,400, eighth decile $113,600, ninth decile $137,400, and highest decile $211,600.

(Constant dollars refers to dollars of several years expressed in terms of their value (“purchasing power”) in a single year, called the base year income).

The CCPA report uses $84K+ as the dollar value for the tenth decile, whereas, Statistics Canada shows it not possible for single person households to achieve incomes of $84K+ for any of the deciles below and including the ninth decile.  Incomes of $84K+ for two or more person households can be achieved in the sixth decile.

Stated another way Statistics Canada (statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien) states couples with children had a median after-tax income of $94,500 in 2016, up 5.6% from 2012. Lone-parent families had a median income of $44,600, while couples without children had a median after-tax income of $76,400. Unattached non-seniors had a median after-tax income of $30,400.

Vanier Institute, Modern Family finances published Jan., 2018 states individuals in Canada whose incomes were in the top 10% had a total median before ­tax income of approximately $93,700 in 2015 ($75,200 after taxes). This represented approximately  3.1 million Canadians in 2015.

The CCPA report states more work needs to done on separating incomes of single person households from two or more person households.  From page 28, a more worrying reason is that many of those in the poorest deciles are either single parents or single adults. Almost all of the federal transfer money paid to the poorest two deciles is for child-related benefits and goes mostly to single-parent families where the parent is almost always a woman. For single adults, or adult couples without children who are not seniors, the only available federal transfer is the GST credit, which maxed out at $253 per person in 2011.

Based on the above information on income deciles, more work needs to be done analyzing singles versus family incomes to achieve financial fairness for singles and lone parents.

FINAL COMMENTS BY BLOG AUTHOR

In 2011, 39% of the benefit of all tax loopholes went to the richest 10% while the bottom half of income earners only saw 16% of the benefit.

As stated on page 30, federal transfers benefit the lower-middle class the most, but spreads widely from the very poorest to the very richest. Tax expenditures benefit mainly those at the top, a shadow transfer system for Canada’s rich.

As stated on page 25 of the above report tax expenditures are the same as any other real government spending: they are a fiscal choice governments make and can unmake if they want to. The money that today goes to padding the incomes of Canada’s rich could tomorrow go to eliminating poverty and reducing income inequality.

Also, transfers are tightly controlled since there is a maximum value a person can receive and who receives them.  Many of the most regressive and expensive tax expenditures do not have a maximum individual value.

Examining tax expenditures by income inequality alone will not totally solve the inequality problem.  Net worth and assets as well as income needs to be included in financial formulas.

The financial inequality that exists between single person households and two or more person households and between poor and wealthy families needs to be addressed through inclusion of net worth and assets, Market Basket Measure and maximum individual value limits in financial formulas.  These should be included in an aggregate format, not on an individual basis to reduce distributional inequities.

Wealthy persons should not be receiving tax expenditure monies when they don’t need it.  Net worth and Assets added to financial formulas would help to ensure monies are distributed in a graduated format and gradually diminishing to zero for the wealthy.

Market Basket Measure (MBM) (gov.br) should also be used in financial formulas to ensure financial equality based on number of person in households so that marital status bias with and without children is excluded. It costs more for singles to live than two person households without children.  This scale counts an unattached individual as 1.0, and adds 0.4 for the second person (regardless of age), 0.4 for additional adults, and 0.3 for additional children.

Pension income splitting, a blatantly financial discriminatory program against single person households, was implemented in 2006 by the Conservatives, specifically Stephen Harper.  Market Basket Measure shows it costs singles more to live, so why was pension splitting given to married or coupled households and to be used by primarily wealthy couples?

Maximum individual value limits on tax expenditures gradually reduced to zero for the wealthy would ensure financial equality and fairness.  Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) were introduced in 2008, again by Conservatives, namely Stephen Harper.  This has to be one of the most egregiously discriminatory programs against singles and the poor.  It is possible for the wealthy to have huge net worth and assets and low incomes excluding huge TFSA investment amounts which do not need to be declared as income.  They can then claim poverty and receive OSA without clawbacks, and even possibly the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) which is supposed to be a poverty reduction program for the very poor.  Lifetime caps, as exist for some small business formulas, would help smooth out financial inequities between the poor and the wealthy and lower costs for government.

Many regressive tax expenditures have been implemented by Conservatives (some also by the Liberals).  The Conservatives always talk about cutting taxes, but never talk about balancing tax cuts with reduction of tax expenditures and benefits for the wealthy.

The Liberal Party to their credit has reduced or eliminated Tax Expenditures for both business and personal financial systems.  On the personal tax side they refused to implement Conservative proposal for personal income splitting and increasing TFSA contributions from $5,500 to $10,000 per person.  They have also eliminated Child Arts and Child Fitness Tax Credits. On the business tax side (businesses were not addressed in the CCPA report), the Liberals have addressed financial inequalities in income splitting (“sprinkling”) and passive income.

Business income splitting (“sprinkling”) allows some families to use private corporations to sprinkle income among family members to spouse and/or children who are often in lower tax brackets than the primary owner/manager and thus the family’s total tax bill would be reduced.

For example, one of the changes means beneficiaries of business income splitting have to be actively engaged in the business and work in the business at least an average of 20 hours per week.  Since singles in their financial circle are basically financially responsible to themselves (no spouse, no children), “income sprinkling’” is of no benefit to single marital status entrepreneurs so they will pay more tax.  Tax fairness needs to be ensured regardless of marital status and how income is earned.

In short, the new rules for passive income mean that once a private corporation builds up multi-million dollar passive investment assets, its business income will no longer qualify for the federal small business tax rate (which is being lowered to 9 per cent), and instead be taxed at the regular corporate tax rate (which is 15 per cent).   The amount of business income that qualifies for the small business tax rate would be reduced depending on how much annual passive income is declared above $50,000 — and eliminated completely once passive income rises above $150,000. 

Political parties concerned about social justice (Liberals and NDP) need to be more vocal about regressive tax expenditures and why changes are needed to promote income and tax equity.

 

https://canadafactcheck.ca/tax-fairness/ Excerpts from article “Will federal tax review lay the groundwork for real tax reform in the next budget?”.  Links have been removed, links may be reviewed in article online.

While little known to the general public, the review is of enormous importance. Every year, Ottawa spends about $110 billion on programs such as health transfers to the provinces, the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, and other line item programs that comprise the federal budget. These expenditures, as with all direct spending, are put before Parliament for examination. Through this “Estimates” process, information on the costs and impact of these programs is available to the public.

Far less visible and transparent is the roughly $100 billion the federal government forgoes annually in so-called “tax expenditures”. These exemptions, deductions, credits, rebates and surtaxes are not subjected to the same kinds of parliamentary accountability mechanisms that are applied to more direct government spending. Moreover, many of these expenditures (including all exemptions and deductions), while legally embodied in the federal tax code, have huge implications for the fiscal situation of the provinces in that they also define the tax “base” against which all personal and corporate income taxes are levied at the provincial level.

Given the sheer scale of these tax expenditures, there is a strong argument for subjecting this hidden tax spending to the same oversight and public debate as any other spending. This is especially true given just how regressive (i.e. favouring the affluent) many of these expenditures are. If the government wants to provide billions of dollars in tax breaks to the richest Canadians, it should have an obligation to justify these gifts to the vast majority of Canadians who don’t benefit from such largesse.

The last comprehensive evaluation of the federal tax system was the Carter Commission of 1966. It’s clearly time to take a top to bottom look at our tax system to see if it is the truly progressive system the public deserves.

Exactly who benefits from these tax expenditures?

While the true magnitude of federal tax expenditures remains somewhat murky, what we do know is cause for concern. For example, a recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) shows that, while some of these measures benefit the general population, many others benefit most those who need help the least. In fact, of the 64 tax breaks on which solid data are available, all but five provide more benefit to the top half of earners than to the bottom.

In particular, the three most regressive loopholes (the stock option deduction, the dividend gross-up, and the partial inclusion of capital gains), give enormous breaks to the very rich without doing much for the majority. According to the Department of Finance, these expenditures alone cost a combined $12 billion annually – more than enough to pay for, say, a national pharmacare program.

Here’s a brief look at the “Big 3” regressive tax expenditures that overwhelmingly benefit rich Canadians.

The stock option deduction is an offshoot of the 50% capital gains inclusion rate (see below) and cost the federal treasury $840 million in 2016. It is for employees who, as part of their compensation, are given the option to buy company stock at a set price (e.g., today’s price). If the stock rises in the future, an employee can still buy the stock at their set price, but sell it at the going price and generate a capital gain equal to the difference between the two prices. As with capital gains, only 50% of the price differ­ence from a stock option transaction of this sort is taxable, and there is no threshold above which the government taxes 100% of the capital gain.

Another regressive tax expenditure is the dividend gross-up and tax credit. With an annual cost to government of $4.64 billion in 2016, it is also one of the most expensive. This tax expenditure is extremely concen­trated, with 91% of the benefit going to income earners in the richest decile. But, again, the decile analysis actually understates the concentration. A paper by Brian Murphy, Mike Veall, and Michael Wolfson estimate half of all benefits actually go to the top 1%. Corpor­ations pay corporate income tax on their profits, which can be paid out as a dividend to shareholders.

A third extremely regressive tax expenditure is the partial inclusion of cap­ital gains which cost the government $6.68 billion in 2016. The tax expenditure for partial inclusion of capital gains applies to an in­dividual who buys a stock or other asset at one price and subsequently sells it for more, realizing a “capital gain” in the amount of the difference between the two prices. It is only the capital gain, and not the entire sale price, that is eligible for taxation. And thanks to this tax expenditure, only 50% of the value of that capital gain is considered taxable income.

With 92% of the benefits going to the top 10% — and very little for anyone earn­ing less than $84,000 — the concentration of benefits related to the partial inclusion of capital gains is similar to that for the dividend gross-up. However, additional analysis by Murphy et al. shows the concentration of this tax expenditure is much worse than a decile analysis suggests. In fact, the very richest 1% of tax filers reap 87% of the benefits.

Is there the political will to scale back capital gains related tax expenditures?

There is also a question as to whether the Trudeau government has the political will to really crack down on the most regressive expenditures given that there are powerful employer and financial interests supporting them.

For example, upon being installed as finance minister, Finance Minister Bill Morneau declared tax fairness his top priority. Yet his record on the issue is mixed. He at first vowed to close the loophole on executive stock options (a Liberal Platform item), perhaps the most objectionable such tax break, but then changed his mind under heavy industry pressure.

The challenge for Morneau is that the government has also promised to make Canada more innovative and attractive to investors. Some supporters of an innovation agenda argue that capital gains taxes hurt innovation by limiting the amount of money in the economy that is free to be re-invested in new projects. There are also numerous voices warning federal Liberals to rein in any proposed tax-the-rich agenda in light of plans by the Trump Administration and the Republican controlled Congress to dramatically reduce personal and business taxes.

On the other hand, policy experts who are concerned with income inequality see tightening up investment-related tax expenditures as a key target given that it is primarily higher-income Canadians who have the means to generate significant additional revenue from investments.

Do we really need regressive tax expenditures to spur innovation and growth?

The argument that tax related investment incentives are required to spur innovation and growth has many doubters – and not just amongst those concerned with inequality. These “pro-growth” critics of the exemptions argue that it is strategic government leadership and public investments that are most critical to building innovative economies. These critics also argue that what is needed it to build on the work being done by publicly funded bodies such as the National Research Council.

In support of this view, the influential UK economist Mariana Mazzucato has shown that publicly funded research as well as direct support for strategic corporate investments through agencies like Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have been central to the growth of innovative capacity in the United States. Corporate research and development and venture capital often follow in the wake of ground-breaking public sector entrepreneurship.

Mazzucato’s book, The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, cites impressive evidence in support of this thesis. For example, the parts of the smartphone that make it smart—GPS, touch screens, the Internet—were advanced by the U. S. Defense Department. Tesla’s battery technologies and solar panels came out of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Google’s search engine algorithm was boosted by a National Science Foundation innovation. Many innovative new drugs have come out of the U.S.’s National Institute for Health (NIH) research.

Many innovation experts agree that there is plenty of room to expand direct public investments to compensate for any scaling back of private capital gains incentives. These experts suggest that strategic long-term public investments need to be made across- a much broader range of sectors than is currently the case……

Where does pension fund investment fit in? See article for details.

What are the options for real tax reform?

It goes without saying that there are many options on a continuum somewhere between getting rid of the Big 3 exemptions entirely (an extremely unlikely scenario regardless of which party forms the government) and maintaining a status quo in which the rich get almost all the benefits.

…..focus on practical measures that could scale back the stock option and partial capital gains exemption.  With regard to the stock option deduction, the Department of Finance estimates that 8,000 high-income Canadians deduct an average of $400,000 from their taxable incomes via stock options. This accounts for 75% of the deduction’s fiscal impact, which was $840-million in 2016. Most of these 8,000 high-income earners have stock options built into their compensation packages and take advantage of these stock option provisions on a reoccurring basis. Needless to say, only a minority of those who exercise stock options in this manner are employed by a start-up – the ostensible reason for allowing stock options in the first place.  There are a number of approaches to stock option deductions that would let the federal government reduce the extreme regressiveness of the deduction, while not penalizing Canada’s startup community.

One approach would be for the federal government to provide a one-time only $750,000 exemption on stock options. This would treat stock options in the same way as one-time capital gains for shares held in a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC) for at least two years.

The $750,000 exemption gives stock option holders significant financial benefits and, at the same time, eliminates a policy that allows well-compensated executives (such as those at Canada’s large banks and insurance companies) to exercise options on a regular basis without any limits.

For startups, a $750,000 exemption is attractive because it is large enough to use as a recruitment tool in a market where there is intense competition for talent…..

There is also plenty of room to gradually phase in an increased capital gains inclusion rate. Such a phased-in increase would be entirely consistent with the history of the exemption. From 1972 to 1988, Canadians had to pay tax on 50 per cent of their capital gains. The inclusion rate was increased to 66 2/3 per cent in 1988, rose to 75 per cent in 1990, before dropping back down to 66 2/3 per cent on Feb. 28, 2000 and then further reduced on Oct. 18, 2000 to 50 per cent, where it has remained to this day.

In other words, a five-year phase-in of an increase in the inclusion rate to 75% (i.e. a 5%/yr. increase) would be just another “up” phase in the ongoing ups and downs in the inclusion rate since the introduction of a capital gains tax in 1972. Certainly no reason for investors to panic!

And keep in mind that, under these proposals, some capital gains would remain entirely tax-free, such as the gain on the principal residence or the gain where appreciated publicly-traded securities are donated to a registered charity.

Conclusion

In the coming budget, the federal government has a historic opportunity to undertake truly progressive tax reform that will finally bring a measure of fairness to Canada’s convoluted tax code. If done properly, the tax expenditure review currently being undertaken will present strong evidence that in the name of fairness, the extraordinarily regressive capital gains related tax expenditures can be scaled back somewhat and that public and pension fund investment can make a growing contribution to Canada’s growth and innovation performance.

The opportunity is there – but will the Trudeau government seize the moment? (End of reproduced article)

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

 

BIG LITTLE LIES OF SIMPLE TAX (FLAT) RATE

BIG LITTLE LIES OF SIMPLE (FLAT) TAX RATE

(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 was prompted by a right wing think tank article that once again promotes a flat tax and big little lies that it is already progressive and should replace the progressive tax system.  It was submitted to a local newspaper in shortened format, but was not published.

The article ‘Many misconceptions surround single tax rate’ is reprinted in its entirety at the end of this post along with reader comments.

EVALUATION OF SIMPLE (FLAT) TAX

This right wing author says he is the originator of the simple tax.  In fact, he has changed the name of the flat rate to the simple tax as per explanation given in article as reprinted at the end of this post.  The simple tax of 10% was adopted by the Alberta Conservative Government in 2001.  

While it is true the personal exemption rate was increased during implementation of the simple tax, during their forty year Alberta reign the Conservatives failed to raise the minimum wage to meaningful levels.  (Reality check:  The wealthy also get to use the personal exemption rate.)  One of the best big little lies or gaslighting of this author occurs when he fails to tell the truth that during the implementation of this simple tax the tax rate for lower income persons was changed from 8% to 10%.  There was no Alberta Advantage for lower income earners as a result of the tax rate being increased at the same time personal exemption rate was increased.

He once again spews lies on single tax being progressive.  He says tax paid by the wealthy are a gift to those who pay little or not tax.  Oh, puh-leese.

He states low income earners pay no tax, but fails to mention wealthy never pay their fair share.  He fails to mention the many tax federal and provincial tax loopholes and benefits which filter down to the wealthiest taxpayers.

The wealthy, for example, put their Old Age Security (OAS – a poverty reduction pillar that is only clawed back on top two percent) into TFSAs that are not declared as income.  Forty per cent of Canadians have net worths over $750,000.

The poor pay plenty by suffering financial and mental stresses while trying to pay for basic human necessities on provincial minimum wages which remained static for many years.  Low income earners cannot take advantage of tax loopholes and benefits because they do not have the income to do so.

CONCLUSION

Instead of ‘Conservative gaslighting pants on fire’ half truths, he needs to speak full truths on tax loopholes, benefits and minimum wages.  Progressive versus simple tax and ‘taxes explained in beer’ provides further discussion on fallacies of the simple tax for low income earners (tax-system-explained-in-beer-analogy). (End of post).

Reprint of simple tax article is given below.

‘MANY MISCONCEPTIONS SURROUND SINGLE TAX RATE’, Mark Milke, May 12, 2018 (https://www.pressreader.com/canada/calgary-herald/20180512/281702615355933)

Alberta’s cancelled single tax rate is in the news again after the United Conservative Party passed a policy resolution wanting it back.

 

That was followed by Twitter wars, interviews and commentaries about that tax, much of it uninformed or making obvious points.

 

I know something about the single rate tax system. I wrote about it in a 1998 submission to the Alberta Tax Review Committee, which recommended it be adopted, which it was in 2001.  I favour its return one day, but when spending is controlled and the budget is balanced.

 

Class warfare warriors have long mischaracterized Alberta’s single rate tax, so let’s clear up some misconceptions.

Let’s start with why it is called a single tax and not a flat tax. Because a true flat tax system would mean that no basic exemption exists — that everyone pays the same proportion of tax relative to income. That would be a bad idea. But that was never Alberta’s tax system. It is also why the political and media myth that the single tax was not progressive is nonsense.

 

In 2014, the last year the single-rate system was in effect, Alberta’s basic provincial personal exemption was $17,787. Income earners below that paid nothing in provincial income tax.  As for everyone else, at $25,000 in income, 2.9 per cent went to provincial income tax. At $50,000, the rate was 6.4 per cent. A $100,000 income was taxed 8.2 per cent. The single tax system was progressive.

 

Next up, the silly notion that the single rate tax was a giveaway to the wealthy. Note the language. It assumes money belongs to government and not those who earn it. In that view, any tax relief is a gift. That inverts a more sensible view from citizens to politicians: We will pay reasonable and justifiable taxes, but don’t assume our earnings are your property.

 

A relevant fact: Higher- and middle-income Albertans pay most of the income tax, not those with lower incomes. That is why the former and not the latter would gain in any tax relief scenario.

 

For example, using tax data from 2014, those earning under $50,000 counted for 57.3 per cent of all tax filers and paid just 7.6 per cent of all provincial income tax.  Of note, almost 1.8 million Albertans were in that under $50,000 group in 2014, but nearly half (845,690 Albertans) quite properly paid nothing in tax due to low incomes. (Another 8,290 at higher levels also did not pay provincial income tax for various reasons, such as maximizing previously unused RRSP deductions.)  Those who earned between $50,000 and $100,000 counted for 27 per cent of all tax filers and paid 30.6 per cent of all provincial income tax.

Albertans whose incomes were more than $100,000 accounted for 15.7 per cent of Alberta’s tax filers; they paid 61.8 per cent of all provincial income tax. Point: If one’s argument is that the wealthy should pay a hefty share of Alberta’s income tax burden, the $100,000-plus crowd in Alberta already did (a proportion higher both of tax filers and of total taxes paid than in any other province).  Thus, any substantive tax relief will naturally benefit that group.

 

Here’s the summary: Even when the single rate tax was in effect, Alberta’s over $50,000 tax filers already paid 92.4 per cent of all provincial income tax. And even for those who earned less than $50,000, more than half — more than 920,000 Albertans — paid all the income tax collected from that group.

 

When someone claims a single tax is a giveaway to higher incomes, the rhetoric has it backwards: The gift is actually from more than 2.2 million Albertans at all income levels in 2014, to the more than 850,000 Albertans who quite properly, mostly due to low incomes, paid nothing for the cost of government.

 

READER COMMENTS

#1 – Don’t bother with hard numbers Mark. It doesn’t fit the left wing rhetoric. Math is too hard for them. Lies and innuendo is the tool of the left. And 100k + income earners only paying 62% of the tax. No, Canadians want those earning more than 100k a year to pay 100% of the tax. That way, they get closer to their dream of equality of outcome. The last thing you want to do is stump a Canadian with real facts.

#2 – Your most salient point is that money belongs to those who earn it….not the government. I accept that if we want the social services we now enjoy taxes must be collected. But it must be fair and not punitive, which it is right now.

#3 – Whenever taxes are reduced, the high tax payers will always get the biggest break. Usually the biggest complainers of this move, are the socialists who pay very little tax. When Alberta implemented the single tax rate they increased the personal exemption, if the provincial or federal governments really wanted to help low income earners, just raise the exemption Trump increased the personal exemption for everybody, which means the low wage earners got a major tax break from trump. Currently are personal taxes are twice as high as the US, so why would any professional want to live in Canada compared to the US from a tax perspective.  (End of article).

(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.

TAXES: FLAT VS. PROGRESSIVE AND DEBUNKING “THE TAX SYSTEM EXPLAINED IN BEER”

TAXES:  FLAT VS. PROGRESSIVE AND DEBUNKING “THE TAX SYSTEM EXPLAINED IN BEER”

(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.)

Prelude:  Yet again, the tax system explained in beer story is used to ludicrously and simplistically explain the tax system, and no less by the USA White House.  We have been wanting to do a blog post on flat and progressive tax systems comparisons, so here it is. 

The story about “The tax system explained in beer” (democratic) has been flitting around the internet since 2001.  Apparently no author can be identified for the article. The analogy makes the argument that since wealthy people pay the most in taxes, they will also receive the most benefit from a tax cut. It also suggests that wealthy people will leave the US if they are made to pay more in taxes.

It appears that how the reader interprets the article is based on ‘right’ or ‘left’ political thinking, flat versus progressive taxation systems and social democracy or not.

On October 30, 2017 Sarah Huckabee Sanders, USA White House Press Secretary began her daily press briefing pitching USA Trump tax cuts by reciting the article.  Then she said,  “And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how our tax system works,” Sanders continued. “The people who are being paid the highest taxes will naturally benefit from a tax reduction but not the largest benefit. Taxing them too much and they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier. This is a silly story but it illustrates a very important point. Our tax cuts and reforms will create a fair system that works better for everyone. It will make our country the friendliest in the world for American families trying to build a better life for their children. And for American companies seeking a competitive edge. I will be happy to get that story to everybody so you can get those numbers later. Again, I know that may be an oversimplification but it paints a very good picture of the tax system.”

From the analogy the information is condensed as follows, ‘the premise is every day ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.  If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it goes something like this…’ (first four people are the poorest).  Based on their incomes, the ten men would pay:

  • The first four men (poorest) would pay   $  0
  • The fifth would pay                                  $  1
  • The sixth would pay                                $  3
  • The seventh would pay                           $  7
  • The eighth would pay                              $12
  • The ninth would pay                                $18
  • The tenth man (richest) would pay          $59  (for a total of $100)

Everyone is happy with this arrangement, until the owner throws them a curveball. Because they are such good customers, he reduces the bill to $80.  It is decided it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, so each man would now be paying:

(Blog author comment:  Truly funny, the totals add up to $79, not $80, so it appears the bar tender will be short changed by $1.)

  • First four persons        $  0
  • Fifth person                 $  0 (100% saving on prior payment)
  • Sixth person                $  2 ( 33% saving)
  • Seventh person           $  5 (28% saving)
  • Eighth person              $  9 (25% saving)
  • Ninth person                $14 (22% saving)
  • Tenth person                $49 (16% saving) for a total of $79

However, the men begin to compare their savings with those who get the least in percentage of savings complaining the most.

The wealthy get all the breaks. Wait a minute, yelled the first four men, we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor. The nine men yelled at the tenth and made him feel bad so the next time the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks and the nine sat down and had their beers without him. When it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They no longer had enough money between them all to even cover half of the bill.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.’  (End of analogy).

Reader comment:  ‘Yes, the perilous story of the wealthy person who will leave it all behind if the taxes go a percentage point too high…all his businesses, his customers and his suppliers, all his family, his home, his social networks, his local culture, his kids schools, why he’ll just pick up all of that and magically whisk it away to some other place with a lower tax burden for free.  The only thing the story is missing to start with is “Once upon a time…” like all fairy tales’.

 

ANOTHER EXPLANATION OF THE ABOVE ANALOGY

Taken from the following article:   “SA Tax System Explained Through Beer” (based on South African Rand) tax-system-explained-through-beer

‘Economies are not one-liners. We’re talking about systems here – and you can’t talk about taxation and spending without talking about “where did the money come from”.

So let me attempt to re-tell that parable.

Ten Men Walk Into A Bar…And One Of Them Owns The Brewery.  Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to R100.  If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

  • The first four men (poorest) would         R  0
  • The fifth would pay                                 R  1
  • The sixth would pay                                R  3
  • The seventh would pay                           R  7
  • The eighth would pay                              R12
  • The ninth would pay                                R18
  • The tenth man (richest) would pay          R59 (for a total of R100)

So, that’s what they decided to do.

There are many reasons why the richest man agreed to pay the bulk of the bill, but the important one is that he owned the only brewery in town, and the barman would buy all the beer from him.

The seventh, eighth and ninth men all worked in the brewery, and earned salaries according to their skill level. The sixth and fifth men owned farms which supplied the hops – although they didn’t earn particularly well, because the brewery was the sole buyer and it negotiated quite stiff rates.

The remaining four men were farm labourers who earned enough to eat, but not enough to drink.

The way that the brewery man saw it: the drinks must flow in order for the barman to be in business and sell the beer that the brewery produced.

The ten men were also very protective of their beer industry, and would run any newcomers out of town. This meant that the ten men were the only real regulars at the bar, and the only real source of its income.

So to keep the bar in business and the town happy and the drinks flowing, the richer men would pick up most of the tab. And happily, most of the bill would end up back in the brewery man’s hands anyway.

So the ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the barman threw them a curveball. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by R20”. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just R80.

What he didn’t say is that there had been a bumper season of barley, so the brewery had produced its beer fairly cheaply that month – and the brewery owner had offered the barman a substantial discount on the beer in order to get rid of it.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men? How could they divide the R20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realized that R20 divided by six is R3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so

  • The fifth man, like first four, now paid           R  0 (100% saving)
  • The sixth instead of R3 now paid                 R  2 (33% saving)
  • The seventh instead of R7 now paid            R  5 (28% saving)
  • The eighth instead of R12 now paid             R  9 (25% saving)
  • The ninth instead of R18 now paid               R14 (22% saving)
  • The tenth instead of R59 now paid               R49 (16% saving) for total of R79

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free.  But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the R20 saving,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,”but he got R10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a rand too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get R10 back, when I got only R2? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”

In their rage, the nine men decided to boycott the bar.

The next night only the tenth man showed up for drinks so he sat down and had the beer on his own. But when it came time to pay the bill, he discovered something important. 90% of the beer had gone unsold, and the barman was threatening to return the stock to him in the morning.

And if the situation remained unchanged, then the barman was planning to shut up shop, and the brewery would have to close, and then everyone would be without jobs.

And that is how our economy works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction, but the wealthy also have a vested interest in keeping consumers at the table.

That consumption drives the economy and gives value to the businesses that they own. And the hard truth is: if anyone decides to leave the table, then it’s likely that everyone will lose. And it’s really hard to keep everyone happy.

It’s complicated.’ (End)

EXAMPLE OF PROGRESSIVE FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL 2017 FOR ALBERTANS

For this blog author, the initial article is based on true stupidity and over simplification of the tax system.  In this blog article, an example is used to explain the Canadian and provincial tax system based on a progressive tax system versus a flat tax system. These calculations are examples only.  Also, final taxes will vary based on personal deductions, other deductions, tax credits and loopholes not included here.

The following information outlines the 2017 progressive tax system for Canadian and Alberta families of two or more using 2011 Stats Canada information on incomes for Quintile 1 to 5.  For the tax calculation, the highest income for Quintile 1 to 4 rounded off was used plus an arbitrarily assigned income of $350,000 for Quintile 5.

CANADIAN DISTRIBUTION OF INCOME (from MoneySense 2015 All Canadian Wealth test (moneysense.ca/save/financial-planning/the-all-canadian-wealth-test-2015/)

 

 

  • Quintile 1 up to $38,754
  • Quintile 2 $38,755 to $61,928
  • Quintile 3 $61,929 to $88,074
  • Quintile 4 $88,075 to $125,000
  • Quintile 5 $125,001 and over

Upper income point of quintiles

  • Quintile 1 $  39,000
  • Quintile 2 $  62,000
  • Quintile 3 $  88,000
  • Quintile 4 $125,000
  • Quintile 5 $350,000 (arbitrarily assigned value)

tax

 

 

ANALYSIS

First, it must be stated that all persons identified in the quintiles will not pay the full tax shown in the table since personal deductions, other deductions and tax credits have not been applied.  Also, the ability to use tax loopholes and credits, (more likely to benefit wealthy the most) have not been applied.  Examples are TFSAs (no tax savings on principal amounts, but savings are realized on tax free investments and interest earned on principal) and RRSPs (reduced taxes on employment income for yearly RRSP amounts, but will pay taxes on withdrawals from RRSP, for example, in retirement when income is likely to be less than when employed).  Combined principal amounts for TFSAs for couples now totals almost $100,000 (tfsa-boondoggle-for-singles-and-low-income-canadians).  It is almost 100% certain that couple earning $39,000 will not be able to contribute to TFSAs and RRSPs.

Also, calculations are based on the combined total income for one or two earners in family of two or more.  Taxation will vary based on income earned by each spouse and tax rules for family income.

It is interesting to note percentage of after tax income without application of any other deductions for Quintile 1 to 4 families of two or more persons averages between 70% and 75%, while percentage of after tax income for the richest Quintile 5 $350,000 arbitrarily assigned income for family of two or more is about 60%. The 60% after tax income, however, will increase substantially with the deductions, and tax avoidance, loopholes and credits that wealthy are able to use.

After tax income with no deductions for family of two or more earning $350,000 will be at least $211,078 or $17,590 per month (as compared to only approximately $2,400 per month for Quintile 1 family of two or more persons).  Families earning $39,000 with equal incomes between the spouses at 2,000 annual worked hours each works out to about $10/hr.

If 2015 old flat tax rate of 10% for Alberta is applied to Quintile 5 person earning $350,000 the total tax would only be $35,000 instead of $43,383.  What a difference a progressive tax makes!  The average person does not understand that the first dollar earned is taxed lower than the last dollar earned in the progressive tax system.  The person earning $350,000 pays the exact same tax on the first $125,000 of pay as the person making only $125,000.  That is what makes progressive taxes fair.

From MoneySense article the top income for unattached individuals for Quintile 1 is $18,717 (as compared to $38,754 for family two or more persons), Quintile 2 $23,356 ($61,928 for family two or more persons), Quintile 3 $36,859 ($88,074 for family two or more persons), Quintile 4 $55,498 ($125,000 for family two or more persons), and Quintile 5 $55,499 and over (over $125,000 for family two or more persons).  Analysis shows incomes of families of two or more are at least double or more to that of unattached individuals.  It is almost 100% certain that unattached individuals in Quintiles 1, 2 and 3 will not be able to save by contributing to TFSAs and RRSPs (unless RRSP is a forced contribution through employer).

Income does not include assets that the upper class and wealthy might have such as paid for $600,000 and up housing, investments, etc.

CONCLUSION

Michael Lewis, author of “The Undoing Project” book, describes how a Nobel Prize-winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.   Two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s work created the field of behavioral economics which revolutionized thinking of how the human mind works when forced to make judgements in uncertain situations.  An example is outcomes of surgery where there might be a 5% chance of death versus 95% chance of surviving the surgery.  When patients are presented with 95% chance of survival rate rather than 5% death rate, they are more likely to go through with the surgery.  The same judgement should apply to tax system based on beer analogy.

For upper class and wealthy, please don’t ‘cry me a river’.  Wealthy need to look at what they have left after taxation instead of what is being taken from them in taxation.  Only when all the tax loopholes, offshore tax havens, and privileging through tax credits like Tax Free Savings Accounts TFSAs that benefit wealthy the most are eliminated so that there is a level playing field and fairness between poor and wealthy, only then can the wealthy ever complain that they are being taxed unfairly.

The wealth gap between the rich and poor needs to be lessened by increasing the minimum wage to an indexed living wage and eliminating the tax deductions, loopholes and tax credits that benefit the wealthy the most (selective-democratic-socialism).

Regarding the ‘The Tax System Explained in Beer’ analogy, we will take the South African Rand analogy as being the more accurate of the two analogies, thank you very much!

Postscript: For those who wish to read more on the debunking of tax system explained in beer analogy, the following online article and reader comments is a great one – (Reality) Check, Please:  Why the Restaurant Analogy Doesn’t Work (Restaurant-Analogy-Doesnt-Work).

UPDATE OCTOBER 31, 2018 – We are very grateful to a reader who pointed out that an error was made in the calculation of information in the table.  The table has been updated.  The update decreases the tax that is paid in the $350,000 Alberta income category.

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

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS, SINGLES AND THE POOR

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS, 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.)

The following discussion (about 15 pages in length) on affordable housing was submitted in response to a request for input to a national survey on affordable housing. The link for ‘Let’s Talk Housing’ survey is included at the end of this post.

It appears that some of points from this discussion were included in the final results of the survey such as

  • Including singles in definition of family by using specific wording of “individuals and families” not just “families”
  • Including affordable housing as a human rights issue
  • Including quality of life such as laundry facilities.

Issues that appear to not having been addressed are single seniors having own bedroom and bathroom that doesn’t cost more for them than for married or coupled seniors.

There still seems to be a mentality for seniors to age in place even with expensive houses that they can’t afford (tax credits on home renovations and assistance in paying house taxes).  Those with considerable net worth and assets should be excluded from housing subsidies of any kind.

NATIONAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGY

TO: National Housing Strategy Team, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp., 700 Montreal Road, Ottawa, ON K1A 0P7

To Whom It May Concern:

First of all, thank you for the opportunity to respond to your housing strategy.  In this response, two categories that have been identified will be addressed – Affordable Housing and Vulnerable populations.

CATEGORY – AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Blog “financial fairness for singles.ca” talks about affordable housing.  One of the reasons for unaffordable housing is what author calls UPSIDE DOWN HOUSING. Excerpt from blog is as follows:

UPSIDE DOWN HOUSING

Why does it seem more difficult for individuals/singles and low income persons to purchase affordable housing?  For possible reasons why, consider the following scenarios.

One example, condos presently being developed in Calgary by a developer in one housing complex includes 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio micro-condos of 552 sq. ft. with starting price of $299,900.  Two patio, 2 bed, 2 full bath, 2 story 1232 sq. ft. condos were already sold out so price not available.  Then there are 2 patio, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos priced from $649,900 to $749,900.  Apparently, ultra-deluxe model has master bedroom suite covering entire third 600 sq. ft. floor.  The third floor bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo.  When price per square foot is calculated, micro-condo is selling for $543 per sq. ft. while three bed condos are selling from $355 to $409 per sq. ft.

So who is more likely to buy micro-condos?  Possibly low income couples, single parent with one child, or environmentally conscious, and probably an individual/single person.  Who gets to pay $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  Ripple effects are owners of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay for biggest lifetime expense.  When it is sold, will seller recoup buying price?

While singles are living in their small spaces (average size of new studio, one bed and one bed/den new condo combined being built in Toronto is 697 sq. feet), majority of Canadian married/coupled people families are living in average 1950 sq. foot houses (2010) with large gourmet kitchens, multiple bathrooms, bedrooms for each child and guests, basement, garage, yard, and nice patio with barbecue, etc.

To further magnify the issue, lottery in major northern Alberta city has first grand lottery prize of $2,092,000 for 6,490 sq. ft. house ($322 per sq. ft.), second grand prize of $1,636,000 for 5,103 sq. ft. house ($321 per sq. ft.), and third grand prize of $1,558,000 for 5,097 sq. ft. house ($306 per sq. ft.).  First house has elevator, games/theatre area, kid’s lounge, gym, and music room. Second house has hockey arena with bleacher seating, lounge and bar.  Third house has spa, gym, yoga studio, juice bar and media room.  The wealthy get all the extras and pay only $306 per square foot.  This is upside down housing.  Need anything more be said about the wealthy? They usually get more while paying less and acquiring choicest spots.  (Another example is penthouse suites that sell for proportionately less dollars per square foot than a small condo unit on lower floors of a building).

Average square footage of Canadian house is 1950 sq. ft. (2010) so how can a developer socially, morally and ethically justify charging $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  “CREB now”, Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, 2015, page A5, talks about Calgary developer selling 440 sq. ft. condos in north inner city tower for $149,000 ($339 per sq. ft.) in 2012 and 440 sq. ft. condos in south inner city tower for $219,000 ($498 per sq. ft.) in 2015.  Two and three hundred sq. ft. condos are now being sold in Vancouver and Toronto for around $250,000 ($1250 and $833 per sq. ft. respectively).  In many cases salaries for low income and singles has not risen to same level, nor has Canadian housing prices for the middle class and rich ($400,000 and up).

How is any of this different than loan-sharking or pay day loans where targeting of the most vulnerable occurs?  Does no one see a pattern here where the wealthy pay $300 to $400 per square foot, but singles and poor families are forced to live in smaller spaces while paying more per square foot for them?

Further financial unfairness occurs when individual/single homeowners without children are forced to pay education taxes, but parents pay only fixed rate based on value of their home regardless of number of children.  For ‘nineteen kids and counting’ it is possible parents are only paying a few cents a day for their children’s education.  Some married/partnered seniors with kids are looking to have education tax payments eliminated from their house taxes.  For families with children, logic implies parents should pay education tax throughout their entire lifetimes, or individuals/singles without kids should not have to pay education tax ever.  However, families don’t seem to be able to apply financial logic of their own finances equally to the financial realities of their single children.  And, many families do not want to pay school fees.

There are many more examples of financial unfairness, but just the above few show how financial world for low-income families and individuals/singles has been completely flipped upside down and topsy-turvy.  Have governments, society, and our publicly and privately funded education systems failed us so miserably and family/corporate greed taken over with critical thinking, social/ethical responsible thinking sinking to all-time lows?  Since when is it okay under present financial system for families to accumulate wealth and huge inheritances while their low income and single children are not able to support themselves on a day to day basis?

Young individuals/singles not yet married are facing huge financial hurdles because of low incomes, less full time jobs, enormous education debt, and out of control housing costs.  Families (parents), governments, society, corporations, businesses to date have failed to provide support and responsibility that is needed to ensure all Canadian citizens are able to financially take care of themselves without financial parental aid, inheritances of parents and without bias of gender, race or marital status.

In this so called civilized, enlightened country of ours, it appears that citizens of value are only upper middle-income families and the wealthy while individuals/singles with and without children are being annihilated from financial, political, and everyday living scenes (MADE INVISIBLE). If families have such high family values, shouldn’t family values and moral social values take precedence instead of being trumped by almighty dollar greed and philosophy of charging what the market can bear and more?

Low income families, individuals/singles and young adults not yet married who can apply simple math and critical thinking skills are in financial despair and angst knowing that they, as the most vulnerable citizens of this country, have been targeted and pawned to pay more for housing than middle class families and the wealthy.  It is the duty of politicians elected by the people, for the people to represent all Canadian citizens, not just vote getting middle class families.

OUTSIDE THE BOX SOLUTIONS FOR PRICING OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Solution 1 – for a housing complex as identified in the above outrageous pricing example, prices should be set where the base price of the unit with the smallest square footage cannot be more than the base price of the unit with largest square footage within the complex. Any changes and upgrades by the buyer would be added to the base price. (In the above example the base price of the 552 square foot condo could only be $355 per square foot to match the cheapest price of the biggest per square foot unit in the complex).  Should there be laws and fines applied for these outrageous prices?

Solution 2 – Charges for house taxes, education taxes, and real estate fees should be balanced between square footage and price of the housing unit?  Where housing prices follow a fair pricing formula as shown in Solution 1, this could provide financial fairness where fees are based on largest unit and become proportionately less on smaller units.

Solution 3– charge a fee such as a carbon tax fee for units greater than a certain number of square feet. For example, allow a maximum size of 2500 square ft. for a housing unit (assumption is that there is no need for excessive amounts of square footage in housing). For anything greater than 2500 square feet, charge an extra fee to the buyer with an incremental increase in the fee for every additional 500 square feet of space. (The wealthy have been paying less and getting more square footage while using non-renewable resources plus water at an alarming rate, i.e. 5000 square foot log cabin using twelve logging trucks filled with harvested logs and a showhome that has seventeen sinks). The monies collected from these fees could be used to build more affordable housing.

As stated in a recent real estate article, Watermark, a deluxe complex in Calgary is selling an ‘inspired’ (so stated in article) 8,644 sq. ft. estate home and its guest house for $3.45 million or $399 per square foot which is less per square feet than 600 square foot condo mentioned above. Article goes on to say that beyond homes, Watermark garners interest with both natural and manmade beauty. It has 17 cascading ponds and more than five kilometers of interconnected walking and bike trails. Then there’s the central plaza with its 1,000 sq. ft. pavilion, kitchen, barbecues, a sports field and NBA-sized basketball court. One family’s daughter is looking forward to booking the plaza and using the outdoor kitchen for her birthday party. The family goes on to state that space between homes and low density was also very important so they weren’t looking into someone’s back yard. This same complex has a show home with 17 sinks.

Another real estate article talks about another family with three children moving from 1900 sq. ft. house to a 2,837 sq. ft. house with price starting from $900,000s. They are moving because they need more room for the kids as they grow. Their new house will provide 567 sq. ft. per person at a starting price of approximately $317 per sq. ft. Yet again other articles state that owners are happy they don’t have condos in their backyard (NIMBYism) and their children can experience nature from their own bedrooms.

Further advice usually given by married people states singles can live with someone else if they can’t afford housing when they are already living in studio, one bedroom apartments, and basement suites. Senior singles who have lived productive lives while contributing to their country want and deserve their own privacy and bathroom. Many senior assisted living dwellings have in recent years built more spaces for singles who with one income pay more for that space than married/coupled persons. Just how long should shared arrangements go on for (entire lives?) instead of correcting underlying financial issues?

Following examples show dignity and respect for singles (and low income families). Attainable Housing http://www.attainyourhome.com/, Calgary, allows maximum household income of $90,000 for single and dual/parent families with dependent children living in the home and maximum household income of $80,000 for singles and couples without dependent children living in the home. Living Wage for Guelph and Wellington livingwagecanada allows singles dignity of one bedroom apartment and a living wage income that is 44% of a family of 4 income and 62% of a family of two (parent and child).

While singles are living in their small spaces (average size of new studio, one bed and one bed/den new condo combined being built in Toronto is 697 sq. feet), majority of Canadian married/coupled people and families are living in average 1950 sq. foot houses (2010) with large gourmet kitchens, multiple bathrooms, bedrooms for each child and guests, basement, garage, yard, and nice patio with barbecue, etc.

Above mentioned blog has also tried to attach lost dollars that singles face directly every date in relation to married and coupled family units with and without children.  The following lost dollar value is in relationship to housing.

LOST DOLLARS VALUE LIST

For a 700 square foot condo where price is $50 more per square foot than lowest price of largest condo in complex, it can be assumed that the purchaser will be paying $35,000 more than purchaser’s base price of largest condo, if the price per square foot is $100 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying be paying $70,000 more, if the price per square foot is $150 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying $105,000 more and so on. The amount of house and education taxes, real estate fees and mortgage interest will also incrementally increase.

Our Lost Dollar Value List in blog (lost-dollar-value) –  when lost dollar value for real estate is added to the list, $50 was  used as the example not including gestimate loss for taxes and real estate fees, interest charges based on $50.00 per sq. ft.

APPROPRIATE HOUSING DEFINITION

Singles are often told they can always go ‘live with someone’ if they have problems with affordable housing.  The CMHC should be aware of the following definition of appropriate housing.  Housing dignity and respect as well as quality of life according to this definition specifies that singles deserve a bedroom of their own.  (One bedroom actually meaning one bedroom, not just a murphy bed in a 200 square foot condo, shows dignity and respect for singles).  It is the belief of this author that appropriate housing for a senior single means senior singles deserve a bedroom and a bathroom of their own.  After working for forty years for their country without the marital manna benefits given to married or coupled family units, senior singles deserve at least this much.

Appropriate Housing definition is stated as follows – Under the Social Housing Accommodation Regulation (alberta page 11), such housing is considered overcrowded if more than two people must share a bedroom, with at least one individual in each of the other bedrooms, and if an individual over 18 “must share a bedroom with another member of the household,” or someone over the age of five has to share a bedroom with “an individual of the opposite sex.”  (Spouses or partners sharing a bedroom don’t count)…..”Affordable housing is intended to be appropriate housing-appropriate to needs of families.   If children age in place or additional children are welcomed into a family, they can transfer within the system…subject to availability.”  

Blog “financialfairnessforsingles.ca”also addresses psychological impact where appropriate.  The following discusses the psychological impact for housing.

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT

There seems to be very little understanding of the psychological impact that decision makers and policy makers have on singles regarding housing.

Many families live in houses where their young children have separate bedrooms, and likewise, there is a trend towards ‘man caves’ and ‘she sheds’ so family members can have ‘alone’ time, but when children become single adults, singles are consistently told that they can live with someone if they have financial problems with housing while paying more.

And, of course, singles never have claustrophobia, so it is okay to stick them in small spaces for which they have to pay more. And singles never have problems with noise, so it is okay for them to live in small units in less desirable areas close to airports and railway tracks, etc. (As one single person moving from one unit to another stated in a real estate article “I was very impressed with the pricing and the fact that they’re doing concrete floors and walls “. Concrete is said to restrict noise. “I work on Saturday mornings and a lot of people like to stay up a little later on Friday and Saturday nights”. With thinner walls, he adds, it is easier to hear “people in the hallways coming and going. It is not the end of the end of the world, by any means, but I am looking forward to something quieter above and below”. But for this person, the decision was less about sound and more about getting something larger, with better specifications and closer to work-moving from 615 sq. ft. two bedroom condo to 715 sq. ft. two bedroom condo. “The bedrooms are a little bit bigger with an ensuite. I really liked that and I liked the fact that it has a washer and dryer so I don’t have to go to the laundromat.”

Singles deserve same standard of living as married/coupled persons, i.e. having washer and dryer in their own home instead of having to go down a dark hall or to basement in complex to do laundry or paying outrageous prices per load at a laundromat.

When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to creating memories for their children, entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families, but apparently adult singles don’t have friends and families or dreams, so it is okay for them to live in micro condos, some as small as 200 square feet, where it is pretty much impossible to entertain or have friends and families stay with them except maybe by having a bunk bed chained from the ceiling.

SOLUTION

Singles and low income persons need to become more aware of financial unfairness by taking pricing down to the lowest common denominator, i.e. price per square foot and speak out about the financial atrocities being directed towards them. They need to start questioning why they are being targeted to pay more while getting less.  (While it is recognized that it is expensive to raise children, adult to adult it is also unfair to make one segment of the population like singles and the disadvantaged pay more than another segment).

By your own definition in ‘Let’s Talk Housing”, you state  -” Zoning by-laws that encourage affordable, mixed-income and mixed-tenure communities are one way to ensure the inclusion of all Canadians in a variety of social, economic and cultural opportunities”.  So how about putting ‘money where your mouth is’ and eliminating financial housing discrimination for singles and the poor that is upside-down and by truly making the wealthy pay their fair share?

 CATEGORY- VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

SINGLES/INDIVIDUALS ARE RARELY  INCLUDED IN FINANCIAL DISCUSSIONS AND FORMULAS

By your own definition in ‘Let’s Talk Housing”, you state vulnerable populations include seniors, persons with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, newcomers, homeless, lone parent families, indigenous households, youth, veterans.

Why are singles never included today in financial discussions and formulas?  Families are only mentioned.  What this means is that singles are discriminated against by virtue of exclusion and invisibility.  As stated by your definition in sentence above, singles are not included except if they fall into categories of disabilities, homeless, or youth.  Into which of these populations do singles between the ages of 25 and 65 fall?  Your own definition of vulnerable populations does not include them.

SINGLES ARE INAPPROPRIATELY CLASSIFIED

Singles are inappropriately classified when the ‘catch-all’ word ‘singles’ is used to include single parents, widowers, ever singles (never married, no kids), early in life divorced and late in life divorced singles all in one word.  Canada Revenue Agency has clear definitions for singles and widowed persons.  Yet, financial planners, government agencies, businesses often consider widowed people to be singles when they are not.   Single parents do get some government transfer benefits, which is as it should be.  Widowed persons are given benefits, while ever singes are rarely given any benefits except in abject poverty.  Widowed persons are more likely to own their own homes and have more net worth than ever singles.  Early in life divorced persons are less likely to be able to accumulate net worth and wealth than late in life divorced persons.

Blog article “False assumptions – ‘Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out’ – December 2, 2015” is  a perfect example of how a financial analyst has inappropriately talked about singles in his article when he is actually talking about widowed persons.  Widowed persons are often perceived to have more social value  simply because they were married and have produced children in comparison never married singles and early in life divorced singles without and without children.  This discrimination often leads to never married and early divorced in life singles being left out of financial decisions because they have been made to be invisible.

FINANCIAL ILLITERACY AND IRRESPONSIBLE CONCLUSIONS OF DECISION MAKERS IN HOUSING SOLUTION

Who Really Owns Homes

In your information, you say 69% of Canadians own their own homes, but what you don’t say is the majority of home ownership is by married or coupled family units.  The sad reality is that singles are less likely to own their own homes because they simply can’t afford it.  You say that seniors are a part of the vulnerable population.  In reality, senior singles (not widowed persons and married or coupled persons) are more likely to be part of the vulnerable population.

According to Statistics Canada 2011 articles “Living Arrangements of Seniors” and “Homeownership and Shelter Costs in Canada” (12.statcan) and (12.statcan.gc) ‘approximately 56.4 per cent of the senior population (5 million total seniors in 2011) live as part of a couple and about 24.6 per cent of the senior population live alone (excludes those living with someone else, in senior citizen facilities and collective housing).

Approximately 69 per cent of Canadians own their own home.  About  four out of five (82.4%) married/coupled people own their own home, while less than half (48.5%) of non-family households (singles) own their dwellings.  Just over half (55.6%) of lone-parent households own their dwelling. “  (It stands to reason that more senior married/coupled and widowed persons will own their own homes, while senior singles–‘ever’ single and early divorced–are more likely to have to rent placing them in greater income inequality and a lower standard of living and quality of life).  Regardless of housing tenure, the proportion of non-family households and lone-parent households that paid 30% or more of total income towards shelter costs was about twice the proportion of the couple-family households’.

We are going to repeat this statement again:  Regardless of housing tenure, the proportion of non-family households and lone-parent households that paid 30% or more of total income towards shelter costs was about twice the proportion of the couple-family households’.   This very statement reinforces the fact that singles need to be included in the definition of vulnerable populations.

Singles are constantly told to ‘go live with someone’ when they have difficulties paying for housing; meanwhile married/coupled and widowed persons may be living in their big houses (enjoying the same lifestyle they had before pre-retirement) and seeking help with paying their taxes while refusing to move to a less expensive dwelling when they have financial difficulties.

Seniors who own their homes want to remain in their homes as long as possible versus renters

You state in your information that seniors want to remain in their homes as long as possible.  You also state renters, on the other hand, can benefit from lower monthly costs and more flexibility when they want to move.

Several comments – there are many seniors who have huge net worth in their homes, can’t afford to live in them, and yet want to remain in them.  They have such a sense of entitlement that they are seeking help with paying house taxes, and now politicians are looking to give them financial help with upgrading their homes.  The above statements show no regard for the psychological impact of renting for singles and the poor.  Just how long do you think renters should stay in one place – ten, twenty, thirty years- for example, as seniors without renovations and upgrades taking place in their rental units?  The likely answer that you and everyone else will give to this is that they can always move.  Moving in psychological impact is stressful, plus moving is expensive (your statement regarding ‘flexibility to move for renters’ is a negative, not a positive).

Families don’t take their own advice which they dish out to singles.  Senior couples or widowed don’t want to give up their big houses, but ask for reduced house taxes and senior education property tax assistance programs (Calgary Herald, “Not Now” letter to the editor, August 26, 2015).  If you can’t pay your house taxes, how about moving to smaller place or go live with someone (tit for tat)?  If families with kids don’t pay education property taxes as seniors, then homeowners who have never had kids should not have to pay education taxes throughout their entire lives.

Financial analysts and decision makers have in their end points created such a sense of entitlement and greed that many believe home equity should not be treated as an asset and, even more ludicrous, as a retirement asset.

Blog post ‘Continued Financial Illiteracy and Creation of Financial Silos Benefitting Married/Coupled Persons Equals Financial Discrimination of Senior Singles-Part 2 of 2’ (part-2-of-2) is author’s response to one such article:  February, 2016 the Broadbent Institute in Canada and Richard Shillington of Tristat Resources published the report:  “An Analysis of the Economic Circumstances of Canadian Seniors” (broadbentinstitute)

Quote from report :  ‘ …..Many of those who argue that there is no looming pension crisis have included home equity as a liquid asset.  This analysis has not treated home equity as a retirement asset because the replacement rate analysis has as its objective an income that allows one to enjoy a lifestyle comparable to that which existed pre-retirement.  We do not include home equity here because we accept that the pre-retirement lifestyle for many middle- and moderate-income Canadians include continued homeownership”, (Page 19)’.

(blog author’s response to this statement) ‘It is ludicrous that this report does not treat home equity as a retirement asset.  Those who have to rent are at a much greater financial disadvantage than those who own their own home’.

Singles with mortgage or rent face serious financial obstacles regardless of what age they are.  Young are facing outrageous housing and mortgage costs.  Senior singles who have to rent face serious quality of life issues when their rent is beyond what  they can afford.  Also, financial analysts state that most singles cannot have a mortgage and save at the same time, they only can do one or the other.

What some politicians’  and other responses have been so far

Blog author has been blogging about financial discrimination of singles for almost a year and has been attempting to contact government and politicians regarding this issue.  Here are a couple of absurd responses received so far (none have been positive).

One politician said that if singles are having problems with affordable housing, they can seek assistance.   Community Housing in Alberta is a subsidized rental program, but to qualify assets and belongings cannot exceed $7,000.  Really, $7,000? (Assets in pension funds, registered retirement savings plans, or registered retirement income funds are not included in calculation of assets.  So this means, subsidized housing can be given to those with considerable assets).   Another answer stated that maybe charitable and social agencies need to include singles in assistance that is already provided to low income persons and single parent families.  Really?  This is another slap in face answer that does nothing to solve the affordability housing problem for singles.

Singles continually get told by married or coupled persons that singles can go live with someone if they have problems with being able to afford housing.  At a session on affordable and inclusive housing, blog author was told as much by one gentleman from around Springbank (one of most expensive areas to live in Canada) who was so proud that he was able to winter every year in Arizona.

When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families.  They talk about about how their ‘hearts are eternally and inexplicably changed’ when bearing their children, but same hearts appear to become ‘hearts of stone’ when these same children become adult singles, low income or no income persons and families.

It often appears that desired results have been achieved for what married/coupled persons and families think are appropriate for singles.  Singles can now sleep in spaces that are two hundred square feet in size.  It seems these same people no longer consider singles to be their children or part of the family.  Instead, the state of business has overtaken the value of family to the point of unadulterated greed.

Singles deserve better in affordable housing solutions.  When they talk to government, decision makers and families about lack of affordable housing, they are met with anger, shunning and deaf ears.  They are given the response that it is ‘what the market can bear’.

Every adult with marital status of being single deserves a living wage and a dignified place to live that is equal to adults in families.  Every adult with marital status of being single deserves to be included in financial formulas that are equal in benefits to adults in families.  Every adult with marital status of being single children of families deserves to treated with same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled children in same family.

Single employables (singles and single parents) deserve the same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled persons with and without children.  Singles and single parents (white, aboriginal and of immigrant status) deserve to be included in financial formulas at the same level as married or coupled persons with and without children.

Financial discrimination of singles is accepted in mainstream and is, indeed, celebrated.  Article like “It Pays To Be Married” (marrying-for-money-pays-off) implies married/coupled persons and families are more financially responsible.  From “Ten Events in Personal Financial Decathlon Success” (financialpost), the Family Status step says: ‘From a financial perspective, best scenario is a marriage for life.  It provide stability for planning, full opportunities for tax planning and income splitting and ideally for sharing responsibilities that can enhance each other’s goals and careers.  One or two divorces can cause significant financial damage.  Being single also minimizes some of the tax and pension advantages that couples benefit from’.  How nice!

CONCLUSION

  1.  It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families don’t recognize singles and continue to violate one of the basic principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need, that is shelter.
  2. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families don’t recognize singles and continue to violate what has been deemed by international organizations to be a violation of the Human Rights of all Canadian Citizens, that is housing.

(From Wikipedia) “The right to housing is recognised in a number of international human rights instruments. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living. It states that:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) also guarantees the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living.

In international human rights law the right to housing is regarded as a freestanding right. This was clarified in the 1991 General Comment no 4 on Adequate Housing by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The general comment provides an authoritative interpretation of the right to housing in legal terms under international law.”

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

  1. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families continue to be uneducated (illiterate)and completely unaware of what it costs singles to live in comparison to families in relation to equivalence scales.  
  2. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families discriminate based on marital status.  Discrimination based on marital status is a also a violation of human and civil rights.
  3. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families continue to exclude singles from financial formulas and housing solutions.  Singles need to be included in all financial formulas.
  4. Equivalence scales (equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living) – if there anything that is can be so eye-opening in describing how financially disadvantaged singles are in comparison to families for cost of living, it is equivalence scales.  Member of National Housing Survey need to educate themselves in this regard.
  5. Real estate fees have reached an outrageous level of unaffordability.  These fees, in addition to outrageous housing prices, need to be addressed.

In present political system, singles are losing financial ground.   Words ‘individuals’ or  ‘singles’ rarely come to the financial lips of politicians, families or media.   What is needed is to bring financial issues of singles to same financial table as families and to make positive changes for both parties.  Singles who have worked for forty years, never used EI and helped to support families through wedding and baby gifts, education taxes and other taxes so that families can have maternity and parental benefits, child benefits, widow and survivor benefits, etc. deserve same financial respect as families.  Singles never get any thanks and are never recognized for their contributions.  The only benefits singles ever receive is if they are in abject poverty.  Singles are not asking for more financial benefits than families, but equivalency to family benefits as applicable as shown in equivalence scales.  They deserve this as citizens of this country.

Quite frankly, with all the rhetoric, surveys, solutions and bafflegab, this author is very pessimistic and believes CMHC and others involved in this project are going to fail, and will fail miserably.  Unaffordable housing will not be resolved UNLESS THE MINIMUM WAGE IS RAISED TO A LIVING WAGE AND TO A LIVING WAGE THAT IS INDEXED TO INFLATION.  Success will only be achieved if innovative solutions AND a living wage occur simultaneously.   Everything that occurred in the last decade by government, businesses, and families in regards to financial solutions has benefitted only the upper middle class families, not singles and the poor.  (Blog post on CPP enhancements, August 31, 2016 further supports how lack of minimum wage and schizophrenic programs further discriminate against singles and the poor-CPP a federal program while minimum wage is a provincial program).

List of some of the blog posts regarding housing and financial discrimination of singles and the poor:

  1. False assumptions – ‘Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out’  (false-assumptions)- December 2, 2015 -describes how one financial analyst shows singles lose out on married or coupled family unit tax advantages, lose out on tax and pension systems tilted to benefit couples, lose out on benefits, face higher tax bill, and face OAS recovery tax.  The sad fact is that this financial analyst was talking about widowed persons, not ever singles.
  2. Senior Singles pay more – Parts 1 to 4 – December 5 (senior-singles), Dec. 9 (part-2), Dec. 12 (part-3), and Dec. 22, 2015 (part-4), – show the many ways that senior singles pay more and get less over their married or coupled family unit counterparts.
  3. To rent or own affordable housing – that is the question January 10, 2016 (to-rent-or-own-affordable-housing)
  4. Continued Financial illiteracy of financial gurus equals financial discrimination of singles – Part 2  February 28, 2016 (financial-illiteracy) – blog author’s perspective on yet another financial analyst (Broadbent Institute) providing incomplete facts about what it costs singles to live, inappropriate classification of singles, and not including home equity as a retirement asset.
  5. Incomplete reporting of news and media articles promote financial inequality of singles to married/coupled persons March 24, 2016 (financial-inequality-of-singles-to-marriedcoupled-persons– inability to say the word ‘single’ or ‘individual’ promotes financial discrimination of singles.
  6. Lost dollar value list to date – April 10, 2016 lost-dollar-value-list) (attached table – please see article for full description of items) lost dollar value table
  7. Singles deserve affordable housing and financial fairness for singles April 13, 2016 (singles-deserve-affordable-housing)– talks about a San Francisco single person who created a private sleeping space in the living room of an apartment he shares with other roommates (one bedroom apartments rent for $3,670 a month).  He sleeps in a wooden box (he calls it a ‘pod’) that is eight feet long,  four and a half feet tall and probably about five or six feet wide)
  8. Rental or affordable housing – misconceptions about psychological impact on singles April 20, 2016 (affordable)
  9. Real financial lives of singles April 24, 2016 (real-financial-lives-of-singles-and-financial-discrimination-of-singles) –  shows financial profiles of three married or coupled family units and three ‘singles’ from various backgrounds
  10. Homelessness in Canada bigger problem for singles and poor single parent families May 23, 2016 (homelessness-in-canada-bigger-problem– study on single employables comprised of singles and single parents and how they are having a very difficult time surviving on low wages and lack of affordable housing
  11. Affordable housing not party of Conservative Party definition July 17, 2016 (affordable-housing-not-part-of-conservative-party-definitionappropriate housing definition and how Conservative party after 40 year reign in Alberta contributed very little to affordable housing during the oil boom)
  12. Improper definition of single status promotes financial discrimination August 7, 2016 (improper-definition-of-single-status-promotes-financial-discrimination)
  13. Equivalence scales August 17, 2016 (equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living see article for further description of scales and application in Canada)equivalence scales
  14. History of family tax credits over decades are financially discriminating to singles Part 2 of 2 August 23, 2016 (history-of-family-tax-credits-over-decades table – see article for full description)

family tax benefits over lifetime

The above table shows benefits available to a married or coupled family units with children from time they are able to use maternal and parental benefits to time of death of one spouse (yellow, blue and green fill in).  Single parents only have benefits related to their children (orange fill in).  Married or coupled family units without children have all the benefits related to having a spouse or partner (navy fill in).  Ever singles and early divorced singles have none of the benefits available to married or coupled family units (fill in is blank because they have none of the benefits of spouse #2.  In addition, they are often are unable to max out RRSP and TFSA contributions).  (While late in life divorced singles have none of the benefits for spouse #2, they may have been able to accumulate more net worth and assets while they had a spouse or partner).

15.  Boutique tax credits pushing singles into poverty Part 1 of 2 June 23, 2016 (boutique-tax-credits) and Part 2 of 2 July 3, 2016 (part-2-of-2) – shows how family tax credits given to families with high net worth (brought in by Liberal party this year) are financially discriminatory to singles and are actually pushing them into poverty

16.  Six Reasons Why Married/Coupled Persons are Able to Achieve More Financial Power (Wealth) than Singles (six-reasons – see article for further description – for marital manna benefits an example of a gourmet ice cream cone where married/coupled persons get additions of chocolate sauce and sprinkles, but singles only get the ice cream and cone)

“LETS TALK HOUSING” survey link (letstalkhousing)

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

DOING THE MATH ON FAMILY TAX CREDITS SHOW FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF POOR, LOWER MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES AND SINGLES-Part 1 of 2

DOING THE MATH ON FAMILY TAX CREDITS SHOW FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF POOR, LOWER MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES AND SINGLES-Part 1 of 2

(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.)

The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) consists of tax-free monthly payments that began in July, 2016 and provide maximum annual benefit of up to $6,400 per child under the age of six, and up to $5,400 per child ages six through seventeen.  This benefit is income-tested (but not net worth and assets tested), such that the amount depends not only on the family income, but also on the number of children and their ages.  (These amounts start being reduced when the adjusted family net income (AFNI) is over $30,000 and also is dependent on number of children in the family.  On the portion of adjusted family net income between $30,000 and $65,000, the benefit will be phased out at a rate of 7 per cent for a one-child family, 13.5 per cent for a two-child family, 19 per cent for a three-child family and 23 per cent for larger families. Where adjusted family net income exceeds $65,000, remaining benefits will be phased out at rates of $2,450 and 3.2 per cent for one-child family,  $4,725 and 5.7 per cent for two-child family, $6,650 and 8 per cent for three-child family and $8,050 and 9.5 per cent for larger families on the portion of income above $65,000).

The following scenarios from “Doing the child benefit math” by Jamie Golombek (financialpost), Financial Post September 30, 2016 shows financial evaluation performed by Jay Goodis from Tax Templates Inc.  This evaluation shows the impact of CCB on various levels of income in 2016, the after-tax cash they would keep along with their effective tax rates.

Scenario 1 – Low-income family

A Manitoba family has two kids under five and two working parents, each earning $15,000 of employment income. They are eligible for the entire CCB of $12,800; after paying CPP, EI, and a bit of tax, they net $39,560 of cash.

What would happen if one parent was able to work more, or was to get a higher paying job, such that she now made $25,000 — an increase of $10,000?  While she’s still in the lowest federal and Manitoba tax brackets, once you factor in the loss of CCB, the additional tax, CPP, and EI, her take-home extra cash is only $5,563, resulting in an effective marginal tax rate of a whopping 44 per cent (39 per cent if you ignore the additional CPP and EI contributions.)

As Goodis observed: “The CCB skews the progressive tax system and imposes a high effective tax on low income earners with children.”

Scenario 2 – Median-income family

A British Columbia couple has two children under the age of five. Their family’s income, consisting solely of employment income, is $76,000 split equally between each spouse. Their $12,800 of CCB is reduced to $7,448; and after federal and provincial taxes, CPP, and EI, the family nets $69,135 of cash. In other words, even with the clawback of some of their CCB, the couple has kept 91 per cent of their earned income.

Scenario 3 – High-income earner

Finally, consider an Ontario professional with three kids, two under five and one teen, earning $200,000 annually.  His CCB will be about $750 for the year.  If he were to earn an extra $1,000 of income, he would keep only just under $400 of it, resulting in an effective marginal tax rate of just over 60 per cent once the loss of the CCB is taken into account. (His status is not stated, assume he is a single parent?)

child-benefit-math-3-scenarios

ANALYSIS

With a fuller analysis of the information the following assumptions can be made:

  1. Minimum wage-most minimum wages in provinces range between $10 and $11 per hour, so it is hard to imagine that family in scenario 1 (low-income family) only makes combined income of $30,000.  At 2,000 annual hours of work per year per person, each person’s hourly rate only equals $7.50.  One must assume they are working part time jobs and are unable to find full time work.  Net income after deductions and with CCB of $39,560 still equals net hourly wage of only about $10 per person.   (The other possibility is that this family is wealthy by having huge net worth and assets that are not considered in the CCB and, therefore, do not need to work at full time jobs). For scenario 2 (medium-income family) the net wage after deductions and with CCB earned per hour equals about $17 per person.  For scenario 3 (high-income earner) and assumed 50% tax plus $750 CCB on $200,000 the net wage earned per hour equals about $50 per person.
  2. Income tax reductions-in scenario 1 (low-income family) get none of the 1.5% Liberal tax reduction because each of their incomes do not fall in the $44,401 and $89,401 range.  The same applies to scenario 2 (medium-income family).  Scenario 3 (high-income earner) gets the 1.5% tax deduction for income between $44,401 and $89,401.  Only upper middle-class families with individual spouse’s income over $44,401 to $89,401 would quality for income tax reductions in these scenarios.
  3. Canada Pension Plan (CPP)-both scenario 1 and 2 families will not receive maximum CPP retirement benefits because their individual incomes fall below the 2016 YMPE $54,900 individual income level.  In scenario 3 (high-income earner), he will earn full CPP benefits.  (Fact:  Canada Child benefit tax-free income will not require CPP contributions, so income excluding CCB was used for calculation of CPP retirement benefits.
  4. Canada Child Benefit (CCB)-For scenario 1 (low-income family) this family receives full Canada Child Benefits.  For scenario 2 (medium-income family) reduction is $4,275 and 5.7% for $76,000 income for total $5,352 CCB reduction. Reduction for scenario 3 (high-income earner) is $18,200 minus $6,650 and 8% for $200,000 income which equals total $17,450 CCB reduction.
  5. Understanding other calculations-For scenario 1 (low-income family) it is stated that an additional $10,000 in income would ‘produce take-home extra cash of only $5,563, resulting in an effective marginal tax rate (tax rate paid on last dollar of income and rate likely to be paid on next dollar of income-it is usually more than what is actually paid because basic exemptions, etc. have not been taken into consideration) of a whopping 44 per cent’. (Fifteen percent federal income tax on $10,000 equals $1,500, about 12% Manitoba provincial tax equals $1,200 and 13.5% Canada Child Benefit reduction on $10,000 equals $1,350 for a total of $4,050 not including additional CPP and EI payments).In scenario 3 (high-income earner, ?single parent) it is stated that with only an additional $1,000 income he would keep just under $400 of it, resulting in an effective marginal tax rate of just over 60 per cent once the loss of the CCB is taken into account.  When one takes into account that he is possibly taking home over $8,000 per month, it is likely that he will be able to max out his RRSP and TFSA accounts and will have maximum CPP benefits on retirement at age 65 if he works 40 years as well as RRSP and TFSA accounts to supplement his retirement income).
  6. Under-reporting of actual benefits received-Marginal tax rate-Since Canada operates on tax brackets, taxpayer will pay more tax when more is earned. However, it’s worth noting that tax rate paid is based on the income in each bracket. So the marginal tax rate doesn’t reflect the total that is paid on income. In fact, what taxpayer actually ends up paying, in terms of a percentage of income, is probably going to be lower than the marginal tax rate.  It should be noted that further possible provincial child assistance and family employment, GST rebate benefits and basic exemptions are not included in these examples.  Therefore, each scenario likely has more benefits than have been described in the examples.

CONCLUSION

As stated above by the financial analyst, statement is repeated here again:   “The CCB skews the progressive tax system and imposes a high effective (marginal used in these examples) tax on low income earners with children.”  Unfortunately, they create financial silos by including only one benefit without taking into consideration of the effect of other benefits.  In this post, attempt was made to include Liberal income tax deductions and possible retirement benefits to provide a better ‘across the board’ analysis of how upper-middle class families and wealthy benefit most.

While many families may view the CCB to be a wonderful program, boutique tax credits when taken into consideration with other programs can be shown to be less financially beneficial to low income and middle income families, especially with a stagnant minimum wage.  A stagnant minimum wage (minimum-wage) with a Canada Child Benefit may provide a better income for low income families for twenty or twenty five years during child-rearing, but will result in lower Canada Pension Plan benefits for seniors during their twenty years as seniors.  A higher minimum wage during child-rearing years will result in a higher income during child-rearing years, lower CCB along with higher CPP during senior years.  It is in the eye of the beholder and financial analysts to determine which is the better scenario.  A higher minimum wage appears to be the better scenario.

Another negative thing that can be said about the Canada Child Benefit program is that reductions of the benefit appear to decrease slightly with the addition of each child (resulting in a little more CCB being paid out with addition of each child).  This progression in CCB reductions appear to not follow equivalence scales (finances) where it is shown that cost of living per family does not increase times each additional child, but rather decreases per addition of each child.  (Example: cost of living square root equivalence scale one adult 1.0, two adults 1.4, two adults one child 1.7, two adults two children 2.0, two adults three children 2.2).  In scenario 2 (medium-income family) CCB benefit would be $3,598 for 1 child under 5, $7,448 for 2 children under five and $11,670 for three children under 5.  So, in fact scenario 2 family with three children would receive $292 more per child than family with one child even though equivalence scales show the cost of living per child is less for three children than it is for one child.

As has been stated in past blog posts, both the Liberal and Conservative parties, while handing out marital manna benefits and family benefits, have at the same time handed out benefits that favor upper-middle class families and wealthy the most. (Singles get none of these family credits and are unable to purchase homes and max out RRSP and TFSA accounts unless they have substantial incomes.) Some of these benefits include Liberal income tax reductions, maximum CPP benefits and exclusion of net worth and assets testing while failing to increase the minimum wage to an indexed living wage.  Politicians and governments continue to financially discriminate against singles and the poor while allowing the upper-middle class and wealthy to increase their wealth.

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

STAGNANT MINIMUM WAGE AND LOW INCOME IMPACT ON CPP ENHANCEMENTS

STAGNANT MINIMUM WAGE AND LOW INCOME IMPACT ON CPP ENHANCEMENTS

(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.)

Occasionally there are events or things in life that will ‘rock you to your core’, ‘knock your socks off’, or ‘set you back on your heels’.  On writing for this blog, one of these things or events is the minimum wage or low income and what an impact this has on financial lives of the poor and low income regards to proposed CPP enhancements.

From Department of Finance, “Background on Agreement in Principle on Canada Pension Plan Enhancement” (fin.gc) for proposed enhancement of CPP states the following:

‘Today, middle class Canadians are working harder than ever, but many are worried that they won’t have put away enough for their retirement.  Each year, fewer and fewer Canadians have workplace pensions to fall back on.  To address this, we made a commitment to Canadians to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in order to help them to achieve their goal of a strong, secure and stable retirement……

There will be gradual 7-year phase-in below the Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE), followed by a 2-year phase-in of the upper earnings limit….

The maximum amount of earnings subject to CPP (from 2023 to 2025) will be increased by 14%.  The upper earnings limit will be targeted at $82,700 upon full implementation in 2025…..

In 2023, the CPP contribution rate is estimated to be 1% higher for both employers and employees on earnings up to the YMPE.  Beginning in 2024, a separate contribution rate (expected to be 4% each for employers and employees) will be implemented for earnings above the then prevailing YMPE.

All working Canadians will benefit from an enhancement of the CPP. This enhancement will increase income replacement from one-quarter (25%)  to one-third (33%) of pensionable earnings.

As the CPP enhancement will be fully funded, each year of contributing to the enhanced CPP will allow workers to accrue partial additional benefits. In general, full enhanced CPP benefits will be available after about 40 years of making contributions. Partial benefits will be available sooner and will be based on years of contributions.’

The following information regarding the middle class has been taken from (theglobeandmail):

A 2013 internal government document, entitled “What We Know about the Middle Class in Canada,” draws the lines more precisely, deeming the middle class as those whose after-tax income falls between 75 per cent and 150 per cent of the national median – which, using 2012 figures, would include any family taking home $54,150 to $108,300 a year.  “Family,” however, is a catch-all demographic that includes couples of all ages, with or without children, single or double-earners, and single parents. Single people are excluded entirely – one of the fastest growing groups in Canada and a big chunk of the middle class – whose income, using the same government calculation above, would fall between $21,150 and $42,300…..This is one reason why so many millionaires (44 per cent of those who responded to a recent survey by CNBC) outrageously define themselves as middle class when, in fact, once your personal income closes in on $200,000, you leap into the top 1 per cent of earners in Canada….(and top twenty per cent have salaries over $116,000).

Average income (before taxes and transfers) by quintile, all family types, 2013

  • Lowest: Up to $13,000
  • Second: $13,100-$37,000
  • Middle: $37,000-$66,500
  • Fourth: $66,500-$111,600
  • Highest: $111,600 and up

Source, Income Statistics Division, Statistics Canada

What the numbers say: Income levels have fluctuated over the last four decades, with lasting growth concentrated among the wealthiest. In 2011, the incomes of the bottom three quintiles were still lower than in 1976, adjusting for inflation. The top 40 per cent had jumped ahead, with the largest gains made by the top 20 per cent. Compared with 1976, they were the only Canadian households who saw their share of income rise….

What the numbers say: Between 1999 and 2012, the median net worth of Canadian families rose nearly 78 per cent, from $137,200 to $243,800. Most of this wealth is concentrated in housing, especially for lower-income groups. This new wealth wasn’t evenly distributed, however. Gains were higher, the wealthier the family. While median net worth grew by 107 per cent for the richest families, for the bottom 20 per cent it rose just 14.5 per cent. Within the middle class, richer Canadians also did better – the upper middle income saw their worth grow by 90 per cent; the lower middle income by 60 per cent…..

Baby boomers are working longer than expected, debts are rising, and grandma’s housing bonanza is pricing her grandchildren out of the real-estate market, especially in big cities where the best jobs are increasingly concentrated. Paul Kershaw, who studies generational equity at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, has calculated that Canadians in their late 20s and early 30s will have to save, on average, five years longer to produce a down payment, and work one month a year more than their peers in 1976 to cover their mortgage. And according to a June report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, thirty-somethings are the only age group with a lower overall net worth in 2012 than they had in 1999…..’

READER COMMENT on above article:

‘This is the reality of Canadians in their twenties and thirties.  They are buffeted on the one hand by a regressive Service Sector (Service Sector-more than fast food outlets- includes banking, insurance, and information technology) senior management style reminiscent of pre industrial revolution feudal management and owners who believe that the 15% federal tax is excessive and should be demolished.  On the other hand these all important Canadians under forty years are hopelessly burdened by the same senior management who are responsible for policy that has created unmanageable long term student debt, unconscionable large mortgages with no long term rate matching to amortization and no defined benefit pension plans….the existing Bank Act and Insurance Act as well as Competition Law provides ample power for an enlightened government to bring fairness to our most important asset – Canadians under forty years old’.

MoneySense (middle-class)data based on Stats.Can. 2011 figures – Middle 20% pre-tax income for unattached individuals is $23,357 to $36,859 and for families of two or more $61,929 to $88,074.

In 2013, Stats.Can. data shows median after-tax income for unattached singles over 65 to be $25,700 and under 65 to be $29,800.  For female lone parent families $39,400, for two parent families with children $85,000 and senior families $52,500.

Living Wage Dollars (politicians) (a basic wage that keeps poor working Canadians off the streets) for 2013 Guelph, Wellington and 2012 Grande Prairie range from $19,284 to $25,380 for unattached singles and $56,796 to $62,844 for two parent, two children family unit.  Living Wage for Guelph/Wellington for 2015 has been set at $16.50 for family unit of two parents and two children. The City of Vancouver employee living wage for 2016 is $20.64.  The calculated living wage for Toronto family unit of four for 2015 is $18.52.

Minimum wage in 2015 (minimum) in provinces looked like this – British Columbia $10.25, Alberta $10.20 ($11.20 in Oct. 2015), Saskatchewan $10.20, Manitoba $10.70, Ontario $11.00, Quebec $10.35, New Brunswick $10.30, Nova Scotia $10.60, Prince Edward Island, $10.35, Newfoundland $10.25, Yukon $10.72, Northwest Territories $10.00, Nunavut $11.00.  For 2016, provincial minimum wage ranges from $10.65 to $13.00.  Very few provinces index minimum wage to inflation.  The Alberta NDP party who came into power in 2014 promises to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2018.

The following table shows CPP contribution and benefit rates from 1987 to 2025.  Future proposed rates are shown in yellow.  It is interesting to note that the maximum CPP pension payout does not equal 25% of the YMPE.  Rather it seems to average around 24%.  Where did the remaining dollars go – perhaps for administrative costs?  Payout for 2025 has been calculated at 32% rather than 33%.

cpp-enhancements

ANALYSIS

  1. Minimum wage or living wage in relation to CPP enhancement – A minimum wage averaging between $10.00 and $11.00 in Canada or approximately $20,000 and $22,000 annual wage for 2,000 worked hours per year means these employees working for forty years will receive virtually nothing in CPP payments in comparison to those employees whose maximum CPP YMPE will be $82,700.  If the estimated amount of CPP after forty years of contribution for $82,700 maximum YMPE will equal about $2,000 per month, then the CPP benefit for $20,000 annual salary could be estimated to be 25% or $500 per month.  Even with a living wage of $20.00 per hour or $40,000 annual salary for 2,000 worked hours will possibly only equal 50% or $1,000 (equivalent to rent or mortgage) CPP benefit per month.  Just what incentive is there for the poor and low income to work when the YMPE will rise to a level that is higher than the middle quintile income of  $37,000-$66,500 and when one of the criteria is working for forty years?  While it is understood that incomes will likely rise over the next forty years, past history has shown that it will repeat itself by not increasing the minimum wage to a living wage equally in proportion to CPP contributions and benefits.  Ever singles and early divorced singles without children deserve better when they  have worked for forty years, never used EI, never used family benefits like maternity or parental benefits, child rearing dropout credits, child benefits and widowed person benefits along with all the marital manna benefits (pension splitting). Question to be answered:  Will the minimum wage along with OAS and GIS rise to same level that CPP YMPE will rise and will they be indexed to same level (33% would be nice) so that CPP, OAS and GIS benefits for the poor and low income will be at least a living wage level throughout their senior lives?
  1.  Upper-middle class will benefit the most while the poor and low income Canadians have been left out of the formula – Politicians and governments continue to coddle the middle class and especially the upper-middle class (so stated by financial government officials themselves in above article “middle class Canadians are working harder than ever”).  The Canadians who will benefit the most from the proposed CPP YMPE are the top two quintiles earning $82,000 and up per year (fourth quintile $66,500-$111,600 average income for all family types as shown in above statistics).  As the CPP YMPE rises at a level that is exponentially higher than the average income level of the middle class, so will the CPP payouts rise at a level that is exponentially higher for the upper middle class.  In the table shown above, the yearly YMPE has risen at a relatively steady rate for each year.  Examples:  The YMPE rose $600 for years 2000 to 2001, $1,200 for 2015 to 2016 and proposed $1,100 for 2022 to 2023.  The YMPE will take a dramatic jump of $7,100 ($67,800 to $74,899) for 2023 to 2024 and $7,800 ($74,900 to $82,700) for 2024 to 2025.  The YMPE, which used to be more ‘middle of the road’ middle class, will now rise to upper middle class levels just like all other defined benefit plans in this country, the higher the salary-the higher the benefit.   (Widowed persons of higher income deceased spouses also benefit more from these plans, but have not made contributions equal to the pension payouts, even though as widowed persons they are now technically single).  It almost certainly can be guaranteed that annual incomes will not increase by that amount for any of the lower income groups and especially for the poor and low income groups.  Pension plans in this country have been made schizophrenic and financially upside-down when they are controlled by the federal government, but minimum wages are controlled by the provinces, while ensuring the wealthy will get wealthier and the poor will remain poor.
  1.  Four things that need to happen to eliminate financial discrimination of CPP enhancements – What is the incentive for ever singles, early divorced singles and poor families to work when government, politicians and businesses purposely implement financial policies that work against them?? Four things need to happen – one. raise minimum wage to a living wage with indexing; two, exponentially increase indexing of OAS and GIS to same level of $82,700 CPP YMPE; three, eliminate marital manna benefits that privilege high income families such as pension splitting and revise programs such as OAS recovery tax so they truly do progressively eliminate OAS according to income for the upper-middle class; and four, review all retirement benefits and retirement programs in totality and with each other (both on federal and provincial level) to prevent creation of financial silos that privilege the wealthy few.

SOLUTION

In addition to the above four items, how about adding six years of CPP benefits to total years worked for singles (ever singles and early divorced singles, excluding widowers), equivalent to child rearing dropout credits? (Added Sept. 26, 2016 but then, singles already work forty years so that idea won’t work.  So how about applying the equivalence scale of 1.4 to the CPP benefits that singles have earned while working)?  It is a known fact that it costs unattached singles more to live (senior-singles-pay-more) than married or coupled family units.  The Canada Revenue Agency knows who singles are as they have indicate themselves as such on their income tax submissions.  Now, wouldn’t that be a novel idea to eliminate financial discrimination and promote financial fairness for singles?

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