Friday, 31 March 2017

The Middle Class Illusion

Are you middle class?

Do you know where the middle class falls within society? Is it someone who earns up to $120,000 or someone averaging around $50,000 annually? 

Surprisingly, many people do not really know, they believe they fall within the middle class, when in reality they may either be on the fringe of the upper tiers of society or just on the edge of being termed lower class or working poor.

This can be both confusing and very misleading when it comes to how people vote and more importantly, who they follow on the basis of the policies specifically targeted for the middle class.

The Canadian middle class has much like its American counterpart, helped sustain our country and also advance it. As a member of the middle class, an individual should have the ability to balance their finances between essential needs, luxury purchases and also savings.

I have come to the understanding that as a result of this definition, the middle class will naturally change as time progresses. For example, what we define as a wealthy sum of money today, may have once been defined as a lifetime worth 20 or even 30 years ago.

Where does this lead us though? How does a changing middle class affect the direction of our country? 

 If you simply look around at the average level of employment gained by the majority of Canadians and the quality of that employment, it is easy to see that we are approaching a major shift in how we classify our middle class.

Let's look at millennial's for example, they are currently working on average between 2-3 jobs in order to get by or balance their personal budgets. This means that money being put aside for savings is either very low or unavailable, which would also explain why debt levels among many Canadians is also skyrocketing. When you don't have enough funds to pay for the mortgage and keep up with the demands of your personal social life, coupled with the banks offering cheap loans, it is no surprise that many Canadians are biting in an attempt to maintain a certain standard of living.

Take this even further and I believe you can see how south of the border, Americans were able to elect someone like Donald Trump. Let me explain it for you in more detail, when you have individuals who believe they are apart of the middle class, who then either lose their employment or are faced with a reduction in employment, they become desperate. The label of middle class is not only an honour for many, but one with responsibilities to maintain a higher standard of living. Today that means you're buying that smart phone, purchasing a new car and ensuring you have the latest in decor and fashion for both yourself and your family.

Where this is getting us in trouble is regarding how unsustainable it is. We cannot continue to rely on cheap debt in order for us to fund the craze of our current society. How can we as a country guide the development of families and their children, when people cannot simply get by on their own without a reliance on cheap debt?

So, as a result, people will do whatever they can to keep the illusion going. They will vote for those who promise to make everyone middle class and who will fight for them, even if they happen to be a member of the very 1% that is currently supporting one of the largest divides in income known to mankind. They will resort to fear and distance themselves from others, because it is easier than accepting the fact that much of the problems we are currently facing regarding our economy, are problems that did not happen overnight. They are problems that stem from the greed of the few and the apathy of the many, where people accepted something not because they agreed with it, but rather because it came easy and with supposedly little baggage.

Now throw in a global economy and further automation and this problem becomes a much more dire issue for many. Statistics Canada estimates that within the next 10 years, between 1.5 and 8 million Canadians will lose their employment to some form of automation. While these numbers encompass a large range between them, they seem to be advancing the demise of our current way of life.

All is not lost though!!!!

In order to ensure that our economy does not further push itself over the cliff of bankruptcy, people need to do one simple thing...and that is take more accountability over themselves and their government.

Instead of going about their day believing they are the middle class or worse yet that they are rich and famous, people need to understand that it is perfectly fine to not have it all and be number 1.

Not everyone becomes a doctor, lawyer or wealthy CEO. Which means for the majority of us, we need to find employment that not only gives us some level of enjoyment, but also fits within our current lifestyle. More importantly, we need to begin living again, not like the Kardashians, but like human beings. Go for walks, talk to strangers on the street and demand more from those who lead you, further more, fight to become someone who leads if you believe you have solutions that can help others.

One side effect of believing we are all middle class and our reliance on this illusion of unlimited resources, is that we have also put more reliance on someone else to fix our problems. No longer are you seeing people taking accountability for their own actions or issues and this is a big problem. If you aren't happy, you need to figure out why and do something about it, not an easy task, but life isn't as easy as your credit card might sometimes make you believe.

Also, if you don't like your government, do something about that too. Take Justin Trudeau's Liberals, many people believe their direction for our country is too reliant on debt, while this belief is a blog post in and of itself, these same people rely on complaining about the issue, rather than taking action to contribute towards resolving it.

Keep fighting for what you want in life, but do not let people masquerade their own agenda in order to keep you bright eyed and dazed in an illusion. If we do not take charge of the direction our country is heading, someone else almost always will and that will most likely lead us further down the road of a reduced quality of life and more Canadians wondering what happened to it all.

Until Next Time!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Don Meredith and Another Senate Scandal!

I have been hearing a lot of discussion regarding newly disgraced Senator Don Meredith and his scandal revolving around sexual relations with a teenager. It seems like the Senate in general cannot go too far without some form of scandal either following it or outright being created by it.

Senator Meredith has created a lot of discussion in the media lately, not simply because of the act he has committed, but also because of the colour of his skin. Being a visibly black man in a position of power, many people feel that calls to dismiss the Senator or have him resign are actually a sign of the systemic racism still prevalent in our society.

Senator Don Meredith- Canadian Ally Photo

While I do agree that elements of systemic racism still do exist in many positions of power, I have to disagree with the comparison being used regarding Mr. Meredith. This is mainly because of the nature of the incident and also the character that Don Meredith represents in his position in the Senate.

For those unaware, Don Meredith is not only a member of the Canadian Senate, but also an ordained minister that works with the GTA Faith Alliance, which ironically targets youth crime. This makes the incident regarding the teenage girl a double whammy, as we now have an individual who supposedly uses faith to guide youth, while also holding membership to an appointed position that represents Canadians.

To have used his power over this girl in such a way, truly admits a violation in the ethics that a minister and Senator should adhere too.

To understand this issue without looking at race, one must not only question the actions of the Canadian Senate, but also reflect on what the Senate means to Canada?

We have a body of individuals, who do not become elected in their position, they do not have to campaign or win over the hearts and minds of individuals within their respective riding's. Instead, these individuals are appointed by the government to represent Canadians and ensure a fair process is adhered to regarding the passing of legislation.

Such a position as a result should not be taken lightly, as it requires an individual to responsibly act on behalf of Canadians, while also being a role model to those same Canadians.

In recent years, the Senate has unfortunately had a lot of negative press regarding mishandling of different affairs within it. Up until now, many of those accused have been relinquished of their charges and have either paid back any errors in their dealings or have walked away. Mind you, many of these incidents have revolved around the handling of money ( Cue the Mike Duffy Bill). Where Don Meredith differs is that he has had a sexual relationship with consent from the other partner, who happened to be 16 when it all began.

So, the question remains...Can we sweep this type of activity under the rug and continue business as usual, or does the fact that a female youth was involved make the act unforgivable?

A View of the Canadian Senate

The NDP recently campaigned on the notion of dissolving the Senate, as many Canadians have lost faith in it due to recent scandals. Both the Liberals and Conservatives have dismissed this idea as they have promised reform, but have usually just kept things the same, with little to no changes made.

Regarding Don Meredith's case however, will Canadians sit by idly going forward? Can we truly say that the Senate has lived up to it's end of the bargain and should continue with a business as usual attitude?

That is the million dollar question moving forward, as our current government and any incoming future governments must decide their own #PoliticalRoadMap in order to establish the direction of their governance.

What do you think? Have you heard of this scandal in the news? Do you believe any action regarding a youth should be handled with no prejudice?

Leave a comment below and discuss how this affects your perception of the Canadian Senate.

Until Next Time! 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Justin Trudeau and Budget Zen

Justin Trudeau isn't worried, in fact he is living in the moment and in the now. His budget for 2017 showcases just how zen he is about the Canadian economy and how positive he is about the future.

While no new major spending was announced today, the budget centers around caution and patience, which is understandable . With Donald Trump next door, Canadian policy makers really have no idea what might be realistic regarding the American economy. So, as a result of this, Trudeau has opted to take a more relaxed and cautious approach to fiscal spending.

So What Exactly Does It Do? 

Today's budget put a positive emphasis on the development and training of tomorrow's workers. This is evident primarily in the spending assigned to the tech industry and R&D alone. What does this mean for the average middle class Canadian now? Not much, but it does provide direction for the country at large, as the government is essentially investing in an area that it believes will surpass in providing good paying and stable employment. I mean, with all of this talk regarding automation in the manufacturing sector coupled with the fluctuation in resource prices, it is no surprise that the government wants to begin investing more in the tech sector, which essentially will feed the creative energy needed in both new and existing startups.

The only downside to this spending is that it spends today for something tomorrow, which isn't even a full guarantee by the way.  While it is good to try and get ahead of the competition in anything, it is also a huge risk. What if the Americans or Chinese or Japanese or Germans or someone else under cuts us and is able to garner enough to attract our talent away? In an ever connecting world via technology, someone working with a focus on the technology sector can essentially work anywhere on the planet. Worrying about this now is as unproductive as investing in coal as a renewable resource, it not only makes sense, but is impossible to predict just yet, so we are left with the positive move of just putting money there and going with it.

What should worry Trudeau more than anything is the political target placed on his back. Actually, the target was already there, it is just growing larger, much like that deficit that is going to be posted for 2017.

$28 billion deficit being posted for 2017, added together with the roughly $29.7 billion from last year equals trouble for Trudeau. In only two years, the Trudeau government has already gone above and beyond the initial prediction of a $10 billion deficit by almost $60 billion!

We as a country need to remember that while the government can easily handle deficit and debt, it is the future generations of Canadians that will be working towards paying off that same debt. While a few good revenue sources can help lessen the burden, we need to ensure that our government is using debt in an effort for something more important and not just wasting it.

On the right, Conservatives will argue that Trudeau is not in touch with Canadians and that his spending is helping anyone besides Canadians. On the left, the NDP will point out that much needed social spending is not even present and anything proposed doesn't come close to supporting Canadians in need of health care and child care. Not to mention that emergency funding is not targeted towards the Indigenous communities that desperately need it.

In closing. the budget was very underwhelming and safe. Granted that the government and much of the world is still awaiting what Donald Trump has planned next door, I was still hoping that money would be put into programs that could make everlasting change for all Canadians. Only time will tell how drastic our policies will have to be made in order to address any changes that the Americans propose for their own country. Until then, lets hope Trudeau has a few aces up his sleeve that will bring in some more money. If his attitude today says anything, he seems to be living in the now and with a lot of zen, lets hope he doesn't forget that many Canadians are not currently living with the same attitude.

Until Next Time!