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We Invest the Way We Vote

I am not sure if this is an expression said by someone, but this seems to be the case. I am not calling out my friends to the South either, Canadians (and everyone really) are just as guilty when it comes to “going to vote“, we make uninformed decisions, and thus we invest the way we vote

invest the way we vote

Some Things to Think About

What do I mean? In both cases, we make a hurried, uninformed decision after being unduly influenced by people who have their own agenda on why they want you to do it. Typically the decision may even be made at the last-minute, using your “gut” to decide.

In both instances, this is insane! If you are voting, and it is solely you going into a box, with a pencil and making a mark for someone, that someone else told you to vote for, that is not how the democratic system is supposed to work. Similarly if you go to a financial planner, who throws together a bunch of financial or investing ideas that you either don’t understand (or worse don’t want to understand) and you blindly agree to it, that is not how financial planning works!

Get educated about both topics, and make an informed choice, don’t just “do it because I need to do it”, because you will rarely make the right decision (and if you do it will have more to do with luck). Financial Literacy we are starting to talk about, Political Literacy needs to be pushed as well. Oh and the argument, there is too much information to decide, I don’t buy it.

November may be Financial Literacy month, but that does not mean you should wait until then to start educating yourself, make sure we prove wrong the statement, we invest the way we vote.

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“OK, everyone take a Valium”

Political Fun in Canada

Written in 2011 after the Jack Layton Orange Wave took over parliament, and there was hope for change (or fear of it), in the air. Before the 2nd Generation of Trudeau-mania, and the start of the Tory Teens, what a different time it was.

This is the caption to a classic Aislin cartoon from 1976 just after the Parti-Quebecois swept into power provincially (scaring the hell out of all of Canada), and it seems a very good sentiment for Monday’s election results as well.

Yes, we have seen some breathtaking political changes (or tom-foolery) that will make the next sitting of Parliament very interesting, but at the end of it how much has really changed? My guess is that initially things will not be changing that much, but we shall also see a lot of political neophytes learn the parliamentary process, and we will see whether the Liberal party can “come off the mat” and resurrect themselves for the next election (due in 2015 evidently (August?)).

Drawing, cartoon | O.K. Everybody take a valium! | P090-A_50-1004
OK, everybody take a valium!

My personal Highlights from election night:

  • The NDP Tsunami in Quebec just goes to show that the Quebec political forum is the most interesting in all of Canada. Where else could absentee or student candidates win by a landslide?
  • Seeing the Bloc get wiped off the map is good as well for the federal discourse. Some are saying separatism in Quebec is dead, I say there are a lot of political pundits who have said that over the years, but they haven’t been right  yet.
  • Huge voter turn outs were good to see. I had to actually stand in line to vote in my riding, which I really enjoyed seeing.  Yes, we ended up re-electing our MP (a Tory), but still good to see folks exercising their democratic right.

At the end of it all, the Tories really didn’t promise much economically in terms of big changes, just some possible family tax break promises if they can balance the budget in a few years, which would be nice if they follow through.

In Ottawa the city there is a concern that the balancing of the budget might be on the back of the Civil Service, but if that was the case, why did the Ottawa area elect so many Conservatives? Interesting.

At the end of it all, the caricature of the late Monsieur Levesque sums it all up very well, “OK everybody take a Valium!“, relax, it’s going to be an interesting few months (or years for that matter).

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Wow, I am Old

Stats Canada put out it’s yearly population estimates for 2009, with the data showing sex and age correlations, and all I can say is I am starting to feel a lot older.

The Median age of a Canadian as of July 1, 2009 was 39.5 years (up about 0.2 years from last year and 3.1 years from 1999). This seems to suggest that the statement that the Canadian Population is aging (as a group) is a correct statement. Why are we getting older as a population?

Fertility rates persistently below the generation replacement level, and an increasing life expectancy are the main factors explaining the ageing process of the Canadian population.

Interesting since in my household we have 4 kids, so we have effectively a doubling fertility rate. The guess is that the Median Age by the 2030s may reach 44.0 years old (by then I’ll be in my 60s), and thus we all get that much older.

Working Age Population?

Yes the working age population is getting older (the median is at least) and this comprises the group of folks between 15 and 64 years old (I’d love to retire before 64, but my guess is I’ll be retiring much later than that). The median age in this group is 40.5 years old, which explains why more and more working folks are worried about: Pensions, Medical benefits and retirement savings plans.

Working Age Median
Working Age Median

The Big Table

This table I really like because it shows what I kept hearing, that women live longer than men, and from age 50 onward there are more women of that age group than there are men.

Age groupTotalMaleFemale
Total33,739,85916,732,47617,007,383
0 to 4 years1,837,724943,435894,289
5 to 9 years1,799,302925,703873,599
10 to 14 years1,974,5801,011,814962,766
15 to 19 years2,252,1251,153,3341,098,791
20 to 24 years2,321,4351,192,5831,128,852
25 to 29 years2,347,9471,185,6181,162,329
30 to 34 years2,261,7151,131,6961,130,019
35 to 39 years2,302,9911,160,6121,142,379
40 to 44 years2,484,7031,251,7611,232,942
45 to 49 years2,790,0651,402,7561,387,309
50 to 54 years2,575,4141,282,9371,292,477
55 to 59 years2,216,8101,093,2231,123,587
60 to 64 years1,887,602925,914961,688
65 to 69 years1,407,085681,686725,399
70 to 74 years1,080,820507,295573,525
75 to 79 years907,974408,798499,176
80 to 84 years675,584275,225400,359
85 to 89 years412,696143,441269,255
90 to 94 years155,19843,951111,247
95 to 99 years42,1089,52732,581
100 years and over5,9811,1674,814

What is also interesting to me is that there are over 1,000,000 Canadians 80 years and older and 5,000 of them 100+ years old, wow. All I need to do now is that I have enough money to live that long, and then figure out how to live that long. My firm belief is that death is the leading cause of mortality, but I am willing to listen to counter-arguments.

Where do you fit in this table?

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Financial Apocalypse Predictions

Written just after the Financial Apocalypse of 2008 and long before H1N1 and the COVID19 Pandemic of 2020, but still an interesting perspective.

“I told you this would happen…”, seems to be the battle cry from most Financial “Hacks” out there (at least the talking heads that have appeared on various news outlets for the past few months). “I predicted this would happen 2 years ago…”, or whatever platitude they spout is their self-aggrandizing statements. However, financial apocalypse predictions , happen so often who can believe them ?

I Predicted It Too!

Yes, I will even state that things were going to go bad as early as 5 years ago, so I must add myself to the growing list of folks who “… knew this was going to happen…”. I have said all along that the whole financial system was going to go in the tank, and I can find postings that said that!

The truest statement from all this rhetoric is this, “Economists and Financial Pundits have predicted 14 out of the past 3 recessions… “,

(Anonymous).

I Predicted Other Financial Catastrophes Too!

Anybody who knows me, knows I have predicted my lay off from my previous employer since about 2001 (so for the past 7 years, until I actually did get laid off), and sure enough I was right.

But was I? There were about 17 rounds of layoffs between the period where I started stating in dire terms how I was about to get laid off (how close I was to getting laid off during those rounds, I have no idea) and finally I landed in the “wrong place at the wrong time” and my predication came true. A sensible person might point out that my actual predication “percentage” is about 1 in 17 or about 5% to round it to a nice number, however, I eventually was RIGHT!

These Financial Pundits seem to think if they have stated something and it happens, they are experts, but if I state something relatively possible over and over, it will most likely happen. This does not mean if I keep predicting I will win the Lottery and retire it will happen (but if it does, you read it HERE first!), but if I state that it will Snow in May in Ottawa, eventually one year it will happen (and I will be an Environmental Pundit with extraordinary intuitive powers!).

Give it a Rest, and Who Cares?

I really don’t care who predicted this financial mess, and I can’t see why anyone would be proud if they did (unless they managed to manipulate the stock market to make a fortune, in which case they most likely will get stoned in the Marketplace). Prognostication in any field of endeavor is always at best “an educated guess”, but many time ends up simply being a “wild ass guess” instead.

Now, if someone would step forward and say they predicted that the Arizona Cardinals were going to be in the Super Bowl this year, now that would be an amazing prediction!

Leave the predictions to the Gypsies and their Tarot Cards and Tea Leaves, simply plan for the Worst and Hope for the Best is the way to go financially (in terms of prognostication).

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Economic Update: Take that Fat Cats!

Jim Flaherty came through with an interesting and, I would say, very optimistic Economic Update (mini-budget, whatever) yesterday that aimed for something that all voters love to see under financial siege, Government Agencies and MP’s.

No Debt Financing?

With some very creative and optimistic accounting, the Finance Minister is promising to try to have either balanced budgets or very small surpluses up to 2013, which is very contrary to what most economists are saying is possible in the current economic instability (i.e. Financial Apocalypse).

Flaherty did couch his optimism with the following cold statement:

“Any additional actions to support the economy will have an impact on the bottom-line numbers in our next budget. These actions, or a further deterioration in global economic conditions, could result in a deficit.”

So he isn’t saying there will be deficits, just that there will be measures taken to avoid debt if possible.

Take that Ottawa Fat Cats

Ottawa Fat Cat
That is a fat cat

No, that is not a real Ottawa fat cat, it’s my cat from when I lived in Kitchener, but he is a good metaphor for the “Fat Cats” in Ottawa.

Some of the measures against the “Ottawa Fat Cats” taken will be:

  • Elimination of the $1.75 per vote allowance to support political parties that receive more than 2 per cent of the vote, staring April 2009. I really like this one, because all of the politicians are howling about it, so it must be a good thing.
  • Wage controls holding increases to public servants, including MPs and senators, to 2.3 per cent for last year and 1.5 per cent for each of the next three years. I really like this one, because the MP’s are mad about this as well, and the public service doesn’t like it either.
  • Slash cost overruns on government travel, hospitality, conferences, exchanges and political services, this sounds like something they should have been doing already? What exactly were they doing before this, wait, I don’t want to know the answer to that one, so please don’t answer.
  • Provincial equalization payments are gauged to the average GDP growth over a three-year period. Can’t wait to hear Dalton McGuinty tirade about this one.
  • No mention of any extra taxes, but since this is not a budget, then I guess nothing has to be mentioned about that (yet).

Other Steps

Some pro-active steps being taken are:

  • Giving $350 million in equity into the Export Development Canada and another $350 million in equity into the Business Development Bank of Canada. Interesting, guess I should send my resume in there since they might be hiring soon.
  • A scary one for soon to be pensioners is allowing federally regulated pension plans to spend 10 years instead of five to make solvency payments if necessary. This is a slippery slope I think and it could end up like some of the private pensions that are woefully underfunded these days.
  • Only allowing seniors to withdraw $7,500 instead of $10,000 from their Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs), which is supposed to slow the cashing in of stocks and mutual funds I guess.

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