Here’s some quasi-scientific evidence of something I’ve noticed in Toronto. I think there are a lot of people (like me) whose Toronto homes are often vacant. It’s a sign of inequality of incomes/wealth.
My one-bedroom apartment in Toronto is vacant more than half the time.
The young family that lives next to me seems to be there only half the time. They have a loud toddler. It’s easy to tell when they’re home. I’m guessing they’re using it as a pied-a-terre.
My granddaughter has a friend who lives near her school but whose family also has a home in Scarborough.
I can’t think of what a good regulatory approach to this situation should be. The objective would be to redistribute the existing supply of housing in order to meet the needs of families who can’t afford adequate housing. Taxing perpetually vacant condos
might work. Taxing merely under-used condos and apartments would be hard to do and probably wouldn’t change behaviour much – just tick off people like me.
Public shaming would be effective. For example, change the rules for overnight parking so that occasional residents like me have to display a big parking permit in their windshield that says, “I’m partially responsible for the affordable housing crisis.” That approach wouldn’t address the absentee condo owners.
Better would be incentives for people to rent out their living space when they’re not using (the government would subsidize AirBnB listings? That doesn’t sound right, but why not if it brings extra supply on to the market?)
Remember John Dean, from the old days? At the time he struck me as one of the (rare) good apples in a bad bunch.
Dean’s observations here, from the CBC’s “Power and Politics” show, are excellent. Inquiring minds will be rewarded by waiting till the end of the interview (or advancing the tape to 7:12)….”How’s this going to end?”
(For better or worse, CBC’s video player includes several non-skippable public service messages.)
This is a great analysis of the big and growing wealth gap between us Baby Boomers and our kids.
Author Tamsin McMahon attributes this generational wealth gap to a combination of “financial discipline, public policy and good timing”.
- “Good timing”? Better to call it luck, as in winning the “ovarian lottery“.
- “Public policy”? “Turnout among younger voters is notoriously low, so politicians naturally target their campaigns to the seniors who actually show up on election day.”
- “Financial discipline”? With good timing and public policy on our side, we Boomers didn’t need no stinkin’ financial discipline. That was for our parents.
Seniors and the generation spending gap.
This is another stupid article from MoneySense*. Jonathan Chevreau claims that current regulations requiring seniors to annually withdraw minimum amounts from their registered plans are unfair in this era of low interest rates and longer lifespans. Using simple math he illustrates that the averaged retiree’s registered plan will be reduced to near zero by age 90-95. And he’s right. But it’s not a problem.
It’s not a problem because the hypothetical retiree’s savings are not reduced to near zero. It’s his/her registered savings that are reduced. The non-registered savings are increased as funds are transferred from the registered plans.
The regulations that Chevreau complains about don’t require the retiree to dispose of the funds in the retirement account – the requirement is to withdraw a proportion of funds from the registered account and pay tax on that portion. The after-tax balance still belongs to the retiree.
Chevreau knows better. I’m at a loss to explain why he failed to explain that the “retirement rule” is no more than a phased-in taxation of the amounts that have been tax-sheltered for many years.
* the last stupid article was the one that understated senior’s housing expenses and failed to distinguish between home owners and renters.
Some good advice on recognizing and responding to the symptoms of a stroke a non-traditional source – a personal finance blogger, Asset Builder.
Imagine waking up in the morning with difficulty moving your arm. You assume your arm was in an unusual position while you slept. You wait for it to get better.
But it doesn’t.
Please, read the entire article for background on the importance of recognizing the symptoms of stroke, and remember F-A-S-T:
If you experience
- Facial drooping
- Arm drifting
- Speech difficulty, then it’s
- Time to call 911.
Don’t delay. As Dr. Janardhan reminds us, “Time is brain.”
via Asset Builder.
Despite his protestations to the contrary, this guy (whose name I’ve already forgotten) is “crazy, posturing—or worse”, but he makes a lot of good points about how and why geezers should moderate their health care expectations and practices.
Let me be clear about my wish. I’m neither asking for more time than is likely nor foreshortening my life. Today I am, as far as my physician and I know, very healthy, with no chronic illness. I just climbed Kilimanjaro with two of my nephews. So I am not talking about bargaining with God to live to 75 because I have a terminal illness. Nor am I talking about waking up one morning 18 years from now and ending my life through euthanasia or suicide. Since the 1990s, I have actively opposed legalizing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. People who want to die in one of these ways tend to suffer not from unremitting pain but from depression, hopelessness, and fear of losing their dignity and control. The people they leave behind inevitably feel they have somehow failed. The answer to these symptoms is not ending a life but getting help. I have long argued that we should focus on giving all terminally ill people a good, compassionate death—not euthanasia or assisted suicide for a tiny minority.
I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.
I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop.
His arguments, detailed in his article, would be much more persuasive if one didn’t have to wade through the self-serving bullshit and aggrandizement.
via Why I Hope to Die at 75 – The Atlantic.
The August 16, 2014 issue of The Economist editorializes about the America’s “exploitative” college sports system. It labels the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) as a monopsonic cartel – “using market power to obtain cheaper inputs – to squeeze its vulnerable employees.”
The Economist identifies several problems that would result from trying to fix the situation by retro-fitting a commercial payment scheme into college athletics. “A better approach would be to go after the cartel’s silent partners: the NBA and the NFL.. The power to implement this solution lies with the professional players’ unions, who collectively bargain league-entry rules. So far, they have been all too willing to sell future members down the river in exchange for concessions that benefit current ones. That can change. Activists could aim their public-relations campaign at the unions as well as the NCAA, and amateur players could try to sue them for undermining their interests. Professional players are already rich. It is high time for their representatives to demand that younger athletes win the same right to be paid for their labour as every other worker.”
via American college sports: Justice for jocks | The Economist.
Quoting from the Washington Post column,
“The problem is that, perhaps because of tax incentives and ignorance about the financial returns from real estate investments, Americans are buying more house than they need or, in some cases, derive pleasure from.”
This problem is in addition to the previously identified phenomenon of Americans sacrificing their retirement savings in order to buy houses in neighborhoods they can’t afford.
via Catherine Rampell: Americans think owning a home is better for them than it is – The Washington Post.
How myopic is this quote – from a study by The Urban Institute, cited initially in the NYT and debunked here in Ecomonitor.com
“If a person delayed the purchase of a home to age 40 instead of buying at age 30, that might result in a $42,000 loss in home equity by the time she reaches 60, given trends in wealth accumulation over the past few decades.”
Trends in wealth accumulation over the past few decades were driven by Boomers. Those days are gone. The party is over. The good ship Aloha has sailed.
Ecomonitor provides some solid rationale for renting, not buying, a home.
via EconoMonitor : EconoMonitor » Bizarre New York Times Article on Lousy Finances of the Young Gives Undue Prominence to Housing as an Investment.