October 11, 2021

Swiss residents to vote on $2,800 monthly basic income

Switzerland is considering a basic income for adults to help tackle the growing worldwide issue of rising income inequality.

The country will hold a referendum vote after a grassroots group submitted a petition with more than 100,000 signatures. They're hoping to grant adults an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,800), which could mean a nice, regular yearly cheque of $33,600 a year without having to work.

To kick off the call for a referendum, the group added a unique touch by delivering a truckload of eight million five-rappen coins, one meant for every resident in Switzerland, in front of a parliament building. A date still needs to be set for the vote.

Continue reading »

September 17, 2021

Being poor saps people's ability to think clearly: report

Those dealing with day-to-day financial challenges may face much more than just a shortage of cash -- their brains may be overtaxed as well.

The mental strain of living in poverty and thinking constantly about tight finances can drop a person’s IQ by as much as 13 per cent, or about the equivalent of losing a night of sleep, according to a new study.

Struggling this way consumes so much mental energy that there's often little room to think about anything else, which leaves low-income people more susceptible to poor decisions when it comes to managing money.

Previous studies have documented that poor people are less likely to take medications, keep appointments, or be attentive parents so the findings aren't a complete surprise. But the mental strain may be even stronger than many think.

"While the poor may be experiencing a scarcity of money, at some level what they may really be experiencing is a scarcity of bandwidth, of cognitive capacity,” the study's authors conclude. "It’s the situation that’s creating the stress."

Continue reading »

June 26, 2021

Homelessness an issue in Canada

HomelessWe should all be very grateful to have a roof over our heads.

My dad said that to me once, even though it was our car that we were living in.

Believe it or not, 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness every year.

A new report, The State of Homelessness in Canada 2013, found that homelessness costs the Canadian economy over $7 billion annually including the costs of health care, the criminal justice system, social services and the use of emergency shelters.

Continue reading »

February 28, 2022

Should thrift stores be limited to people in need?

You make a good salary and can afford to shop and buy new clothes at retail. But you really enjoy shopping at a particular thrift store, where you find great bargains even though you sometimes buy items that you really don’t need.

And there's the rub. If you buy something at that thrift store, and lots of middle class people do,  you’re probably taking it away from someone who needs it more than you ... and can afford it way less than you can.

Tough, a deal is a deal, and should be available to anyone who happens to find it. Or are you putting the screws to someone you don't even know and making their life just a tad more miserable in the process?

Continue reading »

January 30, 2022

Here's why it doesn't really pay to work any more: report

When is it better to earn $29,000 than to earn $69,000? When you’re a single mom living in Pennsylvania, it seems.

Describing what it feels to be the painful reality in America, Tyler Durden, the collective that writes to inflame at Zerohedge, concludes that "for increasingly more it is now more lucrative - in the form of actual disposable income - to sit, do nothing, and collect various welfare entitlements, than to work."

Here's another zinger: New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof recently wrote about families in the Appalachian hill country pulling their kids out of literacy classes since, if they learn to read and write, the parents are likely to lose their monthly stipend for kids with intellectual disabilities.

Durden is actually basing his argument on that of Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare for Pennsylvania, who published a paper last summer called Welfare’s Failure and the Solution, a scathing indictment of his own state's economic safety net.

Continue reading »

December 31, 2021

Game simulates the ongoing challenges of poverty

Sometimes, all it takes is one life-changing experience to land someone on the streets: a job loss, the death of a loved one, divorce, or some natural disaster.

CoinThat's the underlying message of Spent, an online point-and-click game game in which players are asked to make tough decisions while earning minimum wages, like those often found in retailing or fast food. 

The game was created by ad agency McKinney for pro bono client Urban Ministries of Durham to highlight the challenges and tradeoffs faced by low-income earners trying to break out of the poverty cycle.

The dilemmas in the game are based on real-life experiences of people served by UMD, which maintains a homeless shelter and outreach program for the disenfranchised.

Continue reading »


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...