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Only two things are guarenteed in life, and we're working on fixing that "death" one.

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September 16, 2010

The Time Value of Money

This is just a little thing I was discussing with a few other students, and thought it may be interesting enough to put up here. There is a saying, "Time is Money", I'm pretty sure its a widespread saying, of course, meaning that time is a valuable resource. Well, not everyone's time. I have had people insult me saying I take too long, time is money, and when I ask what profit-making job were they slacking off from to talk to me, they say they're off work, or unemployed, or whatnot. So not everyone's Time is as valuable as others, and even then, Time has peak hours of value.

So Time is a function of money, though not a straight-line equation. Of course, if reduced mathematically, anything that is related is also inversely, and reversely, related as well. Thus, "Money is Time". I looked a bit up, and for the most part, this is pretty true. Richer countries tend to have longer life expectancies, even if they retire at the same age. People can spend money at hospitals to get better, or at therapists to avoid psychoses, and eat healthier if they've the money to afford good food. Therefore, a funny catch-22 is created: To be able to live longer so you can do more things with your life, you need to work and lose out on your time in order to get money.

Yeah, this is kind of random, but I guess all life is here to make dollars, not cents. (Sorry for the pun)

September 14, 2010

International Affairs

Just this weekend, I was... Well, what is a nicer word than accosted? Oh, let's say fell into a discussion with an anti-choice ("Pro-life") petitioning group. This will get on topic quickly, I promise.

Backstory, you know, abortion has been completely and unrestrictedly legal in Canada for two decades, and we're still above certain more restricted countries on quality of life. While there was some scuffles over this, it went largely uncontested across the late 1990s and early 2000's. However, a surge of concern over it has arisen in recent years, with the USA's continuing debates giving a stepping stone for Canadian concern trolling. Coincidentally, a raising of globalization and internet occurs at the same time.

I do not wish to sound isolationist, after all, I too am a citizen of the internet, but I must wonder upon the reliance of American influence to spur Canadian action. We are inherently a reactionary country, economics-wise, since so much of our economy relies on American imports and exports. If people had a problem with it, why would they wait until America made a guffaw to do anything? Our reliance has also spurred us, with jolly old Harper, into a very Pro-American seeming stance on the international stage. I've recently been out of country, we don't get as warm a reception as we used to, and this is one of the primary causes.

I really think that this trend should be reversed, and Canadian culture saved a bit, the most ideal way to do so would be to establish stronger bonds with the European Union, economically, as well as increase our news sources. Increase our globalization into these areas, get their news, their viewpoints, their products. Asia as well, can't be ignored. We are a huge country with overseas access to pretty much the entire world. We should use it, and perhaps be able to maintain a semblance of our culture of peace, mediation, and open invitation to the world as the place where everyone is welcome and anyone can be successful, and not merely another Melting Pot America Clone.

As always, please, tell me your thoughts, I'll gladly chat in the comments on your views on this.

September 13, 2010

Money and Education

You've got to spend money to make money. It is a simple fact of life. Even beggers pay in opportunity costs of performing other possible work in order to get their money. Nothing comes without cost.

You do need to ask yourself, however, how much cost is the right cost?

I look over my tuition bills, and notice something comforting: I can afford to pay them. Half of my tuition, approximately, is covered by the government. Again, tax dollars. The LCBO doesn't make nearly enough to cover all this. :) But there are a number of people who would like the American system: Everyone pays their own way. Libertarians, mostly, but even some of the more FAR-right (if you catch my drift) leaning conservatives wish this as well. I disagree: People who go through tertiary education tend to get better employment than the average, the longer they take advantage of that benefit, the higher their wages later in life, again, on average.Of course, our highest tax brackets have an almost 50% tax rate, so those higher wages are really going straight back to the government, with interest as time goes on.

The Canadian Government, then, is much like a loan shark, paying off the hardest part of your student debt, so that when its investment, (you), matures, it gets a decent rate of return.

It is in the best interests, then, of governments to pay for their citizen's educations, as it both helps someone go towards their most suited career (choice of education with difficulty of courses weeds out the wimps for the harder stuff but allows all dedicated people through), without them worrying about money, but they will eventually pay it back with interest in their tax dollars.

It's a very left idea, nigh socialism left really, which is why I thought it was odd that such an approach, if used thoroughly for Long Term, would significantly aid in reducing the overall debt of a country. Just a thought experiment, but these little things can be fun too.

And your fun fact of the day: Coca Cola is the number one soft drink producer in Germany, because it built plants for soldiers during WW2 that still run today. It was also exempt from the sugar rationing unlike its competitors. Without WW2, Coca Cola would not exist as it does today. Very random, but small and weird factoids like this just accumulate.

September 10, 2010

My Away Time

Two apology posts in a row. Yikes.

Well, I mentioned I was a university student. That first week back always takes me by surprise, no matter how many times it happens. I'm set...ish now. I should have a regular update for you tomorrow.

September 2, 2010

My apologies about the long post

See the topic, I realize upon re-reading that I am incredibly, stupidly verbose. In the interest of saving space and bandwidth, does anyone here know how to set up that "click to read more" function? It should help in the long run. :)


Life and Taxes, Part 2

A follow up from yesterday, Taxes, Part 2. Now, fair warning, I do vote NDP, it may colour my views a bit. Yeah, yeah, an accountant NDP. Laugh it up.

The benefits of taxation:
I have an issue with libertarians. I mean, sure, there are a few things that I think the government would be better off buggering off about, like that horrible ACTA bill, but for the most part, libertarians don't really get the whole picture. You never see a poor libertarian, after all. They're all mysteriously wealthy. IE, the ones with the least to lose from implementing their system, and screw the rest.

Taxes go from (ideally) the rich to the masses. That is why a stepped system exists: Those who can afford to help others are basically forced into donating to charity. Look outside. If you're anything like in Canada, you will likely note a street outside your house, paid for by taxes. If you're in the suburbs, or even some urban places now, you will note trees alng the sidewalks. That's taxes too, albeit at the municipal level. You will note that you can see outside, that it isn't covered in smog. Taxes on emissions keep it that way. If its winter, that snowplow that just re-filled your driveway was also paid for with taxes, and no matter how much that annoys you, you will still be thankful when you have access to the highway on your way to work. Notice how there isn't too much garbage piling up on the driveway? That's taxes too. Hundreds of everyday conveniences we take for granted are paid for by our taxes. Notice the lack of people robbing your house. Yup. Cops are paid for by taxes too. So is the fire department.

And I'm sure even some (weaker) libertarians would agree, emergency services, yeah, that's okay spending (some disagree, but I maintain they are insane). But what of secondary emergency services? This is a big difference between the States and Canada. In the States, prisons are private, profit aiming machines. Really, 20 years for some relatively harmless drugs? It's a slap on the wrist here. We focus instead on more dangerous crimes, and rehabilitation, and by keeping it to more sinister folks, are able to keep prisons from being (too) overcrowded and forcing dangerous murderers to go free because another person was found smoking a joint... This is inherent in the way taxes are spent, it shows the priorities of the country. The USA focuses on money, Canada, on people. This is further exemplified in hospitals and health care. It should not be considered a surprise to most that the USA ranks #37 on health care in the world (according to the World Health Org), a ton of room for improvement. When you're closer to Croatia than Canada in quality of healthcare, you need to get that looked at. Of course, it's a pre-existing condition. :p I'll lay off the massive paragraphs on how much better our healthcare system is, though, it isn't very Canadian to pour salt on wounds (even if salt is an antiseptic).

 So there's a few things that taxes go to that support us. But of course, most people would say "Yeah, I love my inherent health insurance, and my roads, and my firefighters. It's one of two things I hate: Either the military spending, or the gov't employment spending."

Now, I can't speak for military, because it is such a hotly contested section. Fairness issues, plans, secret societies, it's just a whole can of worms. Instead, I move to tax money sent to white-collar workers. Tax dollars wind up making Gov'ts (all three levels combined) into the number one employer in Canada. And all those people still pay taxes, to employ yet more people. Most of them have decent living wages, you know, 40k a year, rising up to just over 110k when you hit the highest levels (again, thank you CRA for posting your wage rates online for that factoid). Not quite the hundreds of millions CEOs in private industries make, but you know, not too bad either. And it gets half taken back in taxes anyways. :) The leaders, they get probably get a bit more than that highest bracket, but much like the States, the real money isn't the tax dollar wage, but the bribes they get. Oh, sorry, "campaign contributions". Gotta be politically correct here. The money is spread thin across a huge number of facets. And it is vast sums of money. In 2006, the CRA took in 222.2 billion dollars (Citation Here). Taking into account economic growth and inflation, it is likely close now to 365, or a billion dollars a day collected. A billion dollars. A day. For Canada, not the States. Now, I can begrudge them paying 0.04% of a single day's income to the prime minister as his yearly wage (assuming it is the same as the President's: 400k), but with that much coming in, how much really is going to the (as Sakurita put it last post) "fat cats", and how much is coming back to us, just in forms we ignore? Next time you go to a public park, stand there for a second, and ask yourself as you watch the children playing in it, one taking a puff from a healthcare-funded inhaler, but all laughing with safe streets and clean fields, just out of government-funded school, looking forward to government subsidized university and dreaming of getting into government funded spacesuits or doctor coats, or even just the child tax benefit to offset loss of income from pregnancy, and ask youself: have your tax dollars been well spent?

We all may have issues with them, but I would still say having taxes is still better than the alternative.

September 1, 2010

Life and Taxes

Taxes. Yeah, I hear that cringe from everyone right now. It is such a wonderful word, in that it inspires so much emotion for two simple syllables. For some reason, it isn't as powerful in its base forms, Tax and Taxation, but say "taxes" and people begin to recoil.

I'm going to be putting up a post tomorrow on the benefits of taxes, yes, some do exist, which should apply to most countries. But here, I'm talking about Canadian taxes, and why you shouldn't be afraid of them. Sorry Americanos, this one is for the little guys.

Canada does its best to create a fair taxation system. It is marginal, stepped, and prorated, ensuring you don't pay more based on unfortunate circumstances. This is one thing that while I was working as a tax helper, I had to explain a fair bit. The stepped system means the more you earn, the more you pay. I think the USA is similar in this regard.  However, that higher rate (and here I'm not sure if it is the same down south), applies only on that higher amount of money. Whether you make 10K or 10,000K a year, that first 40K is always taxed at 15% federally. Only the amount over 126K (and change, whatever) gets taxed at that highest bracket level. You have the same advantage as all Canadians at any given income level, in that those will less are taxed the same up to their amount as you did in that bracket. Getting a dollar more per year to put you in a higher bracket shouldn't punish you, after all, that would be stupid.

Most people get others to do their taxes for them, but it is really easy to do them yourself if you've got a simple return: one or two slips, even three different ones, and its still pretty straightforward. The T4 has a box 14, which says "put this amount on line 101" right above it. And at box 16 that says "put on line 308". It's basically just moving numbers from one piece of paper to another. If you are a single-job person who goes to only a single bank, or in school and just want to save up your education credits, you might as well save your money, and it is your money, and file it yourself. At least give it a look-over, it's a lot of money people spend on tax preparers, and if you're doing a simple return, it's probably in your best interest to do it yourself.

If you don't know if you qualify for a credit, heck, call them. The number's on their (the CRA's) website. They should be happy more people are interested in filing tax returns, data is what matters after all... Or comment here. I might know what you're talking about. (NO GUARANTEES!) Not quite a google-quality ad for tax preparation, but I can at least click you in the right direction and cite the guide pages for you.

To those who are unemployed, because they study or are finding themselves or are NEETs or whatever, you guys have no excuse. It's a free hundred bucks a year for filing out some paperwork in Ontario from your Sales Tax Credit.

And to the USAires and the rest of the world (there's a few out there), sorry about this not applying to you, the next probably will, but tax preparers are likely the same in every country; if you're getting them to do it, look it over once, and see if you can do it yourself. Be independant, it will help in the long run.