Well this was not what I was going to write about today but…..
What does it mean to be poor, to live below the poverty line in a prosperous nation?
A Worried Student lives in England, London area I am assuming by some of their posts and I in the Canadian north. He is a young university student making, i will say less, and myself a highly paid programmer / electronics tech in the oil and gas industry in British Columbia’s North East.
Two different worlds? yes. Two different ideology? I do not know. The same question? yes. The same answers? probably not.
I tried to find an average yearly wage the defined poor, in Canadian terms. I remember this was a dollar value some time in my past but I could not find it in my search of the WWW datamine. I have read anything from 10k to 20k per year. The 20k per year was given for a family of four.
Now in the mid 1980’s my family of four lived on about $15k CDN a year. We were not poor or at the poverty line. At least in my point of view. Could not afford to drive a car, most of the time. Rode public transport, biked and I walked when the bus did not run. We did our grocery shopping on the bus with two small children. Oh what fun we had. But we did not want for anything. We did not have all the toys and we could not go to all the shows but we had food on the table and went to dollar movies on Saturday Afternoon.
Now what I did find on the web is something called LICO (Low Income Cut-off) What the **** is that. Some governmental jargon made into an Acronym meant to mislead. Well if not mislead at least allow us to sleep better. The people below this line are not poor nor in poverty but fall below the low-income cut-off for tax purposes. Or something like that.
Guess what; it seems this value is dependent on the minimum wage. It appears that the minimum wage is set to keep people at or about the poverty line. Why would a society do this to itself?
Now another reason that they set the LICO at the minimum wage is so we can tell the world that everyone in Canada gets paid enough to keep themselves out of poverty. Well this might be my cynicism showing.
Where I live $20k a year would not keep a family of four out of the poor house. A two bedroom apartment costs $1k monthly, if you are lucky, heat and hot water included, however you still have electricity and phone. Then of course come food and other household expenses. A car would be out of the question and public transportation is sadly lacking; meaning it starts late, ends early and does not run at all on Sundays and Holidays.
What about internet, cable TV, and other luxuries? Well we are talking about the poor here right? Forget it. No answers here I am sorry to say.
My sons share a townhouse and their last electric bill, which includes heat and hot water was $800 for two months. What a hit that was for them but they are not alone in this. On the plus side they share the housing and they both earn more than minimum wage. This amount would be same rate for the family of four living at the same place and if only one was working and making minimum wage what would they have done.
Life of crime may look pretty good right about now.
Should we do something about it? Should we leave something as important as this to the politicians?
More to come, I guess.
Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much. Smile!