Happy May day

Well, May day was actually on Saturday, but for we working folk, May Day should be celebrated on Monday, to show the Bourgeoisie Aristocracy, that the working man will one day rise up and shake off the shackles that they are held in (or something like that, I have forgotten too much of my Karl Marx to do this justice).

Last week we in Canada observed a day of mourning for those workers killed on the job (Wednesday I believe) and the flags were actually at half-mast, which I hadn’t noticed before, but again, I view that as a worthwhile observance (given how dangerous many jobs can be, and how easy it is for a workplace accident to take a worker’s life).

On the good news side of things, the Government is making noises that the deficit for this year may not be as bad as they thought with:

  • More income from folks who are finding jobs (and thus paying taxes).
  • Less outputs, by folks not collecting EI (because they are working), but also by choking off spending in the Government as well.

This is where the Government gets a double whammy with unemployment, not only does their income decrease, but their spending increases pretty much in direct proportion which makes for a very bad balance sheet. The one lucky point they have is that lending rates are so darn low these days, they are not getting bashed over the head with interest payments from the National Debt (well not as badly as say in the 80’s when interest rates were around 20%).

Does this mean we are “recovering”? Maybe, again, we’ll not know for sure for another couple of years, when we can look back and say, “Yes that definitely was a recovery we were experiencing”.

In Ontario the HST has started appearing. even though it really only starts until July 1, however if you were going to buy a yearly Health Club subscription, you’d start paying it as of today (sort of). Interesting how the media is painting this as some kind of catastrophe, and attempting to whip up public sentiment, but I guess that is what their job is as well. Watch for the HST coming to your home very soon (if not right now), if you live in Ontario or BC.

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Coming Week Financially

This coming week could be quite interesting for many different reasons but here are just a few.

Labour Numbers

Stats Canada will be publishing a new Labour Survey this week and we shall see if the drain of jobs continues in Canada. From what I saw last week at a job fair I attended, I would suggest the unemployed numbers will be higher. Remember the February unemployment rate was 7.7%, but that may roll higher, in my opinion.

Earnings

Many firms are announcing their earnings this week, which could either crush the mini Bull market that started last week or it could help things keep going, with nice surprises (like RIM’s announcement last week). The upswing in the market may keep going, but how big it will be (or whether it is a sucker’s rally) remains to be seen.

 

Lent is almost over

How goes your Lenten financial project? Mine is doing ok, but remember that Easter is the New Beginning you might be looking for as well. In Christianity, Easter is really the “big thing” (not Christmas), and it is an excellent time to start something new as well, so keep that in mind this week as well. Setting goals and keeping your focus on them is how you will succeed in your Financial Journey.

Tax Deadlines

Remember either in Canada or the U.S. your income tax filing deadlines loom. This long weekend coming up might be an excellent time to finish that off, and tick off another box on your list of things to do (or you can go out and rake leaves, either one needs to get done).

Pity the Billionaires

Forbes announced their list of billionaires and the number of alleged Billionaires is down sharply from last year’s number from 1,125 to 793.  How many “billionaires” are now collecting Unemployment Premiums? What do you do with a Billion dollars? Would any of them like to adopt me or my kids? These are all good questions to ponder on a Monday.

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Video: The Great Depression

The NFB has a very Canadian perspective on the Great Depression and how things were in Canada at the time.

The talk of riots and how many people were unemployed is a very sobering story to hear, given the current situation the world is in. Seventy two hour work weeks? Profiteering? The Capitalist system must get it’s house in order?

Hmmm, maybe this sounds a little TOO familiar.

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Election Plank: Household Income

One of my favorite topics to discuss with anyone political is: why is it that the Canadian Tax system seems to be skewed against the single income family?

Most of the time the response I get back is a lot of “baffle gab” about supporting families through social programs, etc., however that is not what I am saying.

If you gave a couple (be they married or not) an ability to pool their income and income split (as they currently can with pension income after age 55), you might be surprised at what comes of this. If I was able to income split with my spouse (when I was employed at least) the amount of tax I would have paid would have been staggeringly less than I did as a single income earner, even with the paltry tax credit for the “Married tax credit”.

I have done numerous articles on this one (and have caused some interesting discussions in the comments as well), so I won’t rehash the numbers, but I think if the government gave families or couples the capability to income split or income balance (if that made sense) and had the concept of the Household Income, I tihnk they might see:

  • More single income families, since it would make more sense for a spouse to stay home instead of taking a lower paying job.
  • Higher employment numbers, since there would be many people who would stop looking for work, as they are more of a family asset as a tax shelter.

Haven’t had any politicos appear on my doorstep yet, but given I am home all day long, I feel sorry for the first one to show up on my doorstep.

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How do we measure happiness as part of the economy?

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy is asking that very question. How can the economic measures done include the relative happiness of the populous in the economic growth ?

Interesting question but who cares? If there is economic growth the relative happiness of any single worker has very little to do with any of this, that is the nature of the free market system. I am not saying that employers and governments should not care about happiness of workers in their companies or their countries, what I am saying, is: They don’t. The only time the relative happiness of employees or workers ever comes into play is when there is a scarcity of those employees and then the Employers must then make sure their employees are happy (to retain them).

Case in Point

Over my thirty years working various jobs my best examples of what makes people happy is simply whether they get good pay raises,whether their direct boss or the people they work with are good to work with, and whether they enjoy their direct job. I have been lucky in that most of my bosses have been reasonable folk and the folk I work with the same, so my only “happiness” monitor was and is money.

How do I make more money? I really don’t know. Years when I think I have been effective, I have had little or no pay raise, years where I feel I have failed I have been rewarded highly (and vice versa). If someone could train me in how to increase my Happiness by increasing my income, I’d be even happier. If anyone cares to comment on getting a raise, I am interested in hearing your Happiness and Pay Raise stories.

Anecdote

Two years in a row I went into my “pay adjustment” discussions with my boss expecting raises and both times I got not much:

  • The first year my company had not done very well and the stock had dropped a fair amount and the statement I got from my boss at the time was, “How can you expect a raise look at the stock price?
  • The next year, the same boss and I went into our adjust meeting, the stock had rebounded the company was doing much better and when I asked about why my raise was about the same as the previous lean year, given the stock price had rebounded, I got the statement, “The Stock Price, has nothing to do with your relative pay raise“.

Bosses say the darndest things don’t they?

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