November 30, 2011

Credit - Friend or Foe of the Poor? (November 30, 2011)

I wasn't able to make it through my first month experiencing the struggles of the working poor without staying out of debt . . . but, in retrospect, I wouldn't have it any other way.

As you can see for yourself in the Daily Report below, I am ending the month with $15.56 in debt due tomorrow.  To be honest, I'm tickled pink about being only that much in debt after 30 days.  That said, I have two comments . . . (i) I plan to be completely out of debt after the next month; and (ii) "tickled pink" is a very strange expression.  (Just saying.)

This past month would have been pure hell if I hadn't utilized a moneylender.  The credit terms I received was a maximum of $30 at rate of 1.5% per day  (i.e. 45% per month) compounded daily payable on the following day.  Some may think it was foolhardy to borrow at all, but those who think that have never tried living on an average of $7.50 per day (received daily).  Without borrowing I would have been forced to go shopping every single day, which would have meant more gas expenses and much less productivity due to the time spent shopping.  Much more importantly, I would have had to pay premium prices for everything as purchasing the bulk items and many of the sale items that served me so well would have been out of the question.   No bags of potatoes, no 2-for-1 bulk packs of chicken backs, no bulk pack of toilet paper, etc. Without credit available to me, I would have had to buy less, more often, and at expensive prices.

Don't be fooled . . . 1.5% interest per day compounded daily is dangerous, and so I had to make sure I paid it off as quickly as possible.  Seriously.  Due to compounding daily interest, if $30 were borrowed and no payments made . . . after one month $46.89 would be owing . . . after six months $437.53 would be owing . . . and after one year $6,874.26 would be owing.  Yikes!! Because of the dangerous interest rate, my strategy was very much to react to opportunities or hardships as they arose. 

The first month saw the following numbers . . .

*Actual "Disposable" Income - $203.50  This was comprised of $202.50 ($7.50 per day x 27 days . . . no income available for 3 days away on work related trips) plus the buck I won from a bet with my son.
*Actual Expenses - $219.06  This was spent as follows: $117.46 grocery (edible); $16.25 grocery (inedible); $21.09 gas; $35.95 unanticipated purchases (shovel, windshield wiper fluid, pain relievers); $22.50 entertainment - one meal out with friends; and $5.81 interest payments.
*Debt Owing (end of month) - $15.56

I'M SO EXCITED!!  The second month of this phase of the project introduces a different lending system based roughly on the Grameen Bank micro-finance model designed by Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Mohammed Yunus.  In this phase, I will have access to a one-time loan at the beginning of the month at 2% interest per month, non-compounding, with the principal repayable in four equal weekly installments plus the interest on the whole amount owing as at each repayment date.  The maximum credit available to me will be set at 60% of my anticipated monthly resources of $225 (i.e. $135).  Of course, I'm going to take the maximum loan since I cannot take more later, and I'll do my best to manage it wisely.

With this new system I am moving from being reactive to being able to plan ahead.  Knowing exactly how much I can borrow, and exactly how much is due, allows me to have cash flow to start the month plus create a budget based upon last month's experience. Therefore, with the new loan I will first repay the entirety of the old loan, and then do a stocking up grocery shopping trip with a whopping budget of $70. (I know . . . I'll be able to buy a lot!)  Then, each week I will have $6 for gas (which is more than I spent last month) and $20 for grocery items such as fresh fruit, veggies, and miscellaneous items that need replenishing.  Even after repaying the entirety of the new loan, I should still have a buffer of over $50 to cover small unanticipated items.  Of course, just as before, if anything big were to happen, then I'll need to deal with that when it arises.

So to answer the question . . . credit, properly managed, is a huge FRIEND to the poor.  Of course, there are many dangers with credit, but living in poverty is a life in danger regardless of credit.  Therefore, credit is a tool worth the risk as it can make life drastically better.

NOTE: The above support for credit is for good credit facilities such as the micro-finance model I described, NOT those credit providers that prey on the poor (high interest and easy access).

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Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 30 (November 30th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  216 lbs
Available Funds:   $0.00 (leftover) + $8.50 (Nov 30) = $8.50
Funds Spent Today:  $8.50 (loan payment)
Remaining Funds:   $0.00


New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Due Today: $23.83
Loan Payment:   $8.50
Outstanding Loan: $15.33 @ 1.5% per day . . . $15.56 due on Day 31

Items Purchased:   Nil
Free Stuff:  Nil

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $0.00 (i.e. 0.00 litres @ $1.089 per litre . . . 0.0 km @ 10 km/litre) + 1.73 litres (gas remaining) = 1.73 litres (17.3 km)
Driving Today:  0.0 km (i.e. 0.0 litres)
Gas Remaining:  1.73 litres (i.e. 17.3 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.
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Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

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November 29, 2011

On the Lighter Side (November 29, 2011)

It's ever so easy to be overwhelmed by needs in the world, and in doing so become a real downer to those around you.  And nobody likes a downer.

Thus, it is ever so important to keep things in perspective by allowing the light to shine into even the dark places.  And just so no one mistakes me for an old crotchety dude with a lemon stuck in his pie hole (which, for the record, no one has . . . yet), today's blog is dedicated to some of my favourite lighter feeling blogs of the last 5 months.  Enjoy!!



Top 3 Most Loved Fun Blogs (based upon number of views)

#1 The Wisdom of the Littlest Pig (Video by That Poverty Guy)

#2 Flaming Undies (Video by That Poverty Guy)

#3 Encouragement





Top 3 Fun Blogs that Want More Loving

#1 Caught with My Pants Down . . . Literally!

#2 Alien from Another World

#3 Crisis Curbed by Kindness




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Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 29 (November 29th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  217 lbs
Available Funds:   $0.00 (leftover) + $9.00 (Nov 28) = $9.00
Funds Spent Today:  $9.00 (loan payment & purchases)
Remaining Funds:   $0.00


New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Due Today: $29.48
Loan Payment:   $6.00
Outstanding Loan: $23.48 @ 1.5% per day . . . $23.83 due on Day 30

Items Purchased:   $3 Gas
Free Stuff:  Yummy Soup for Lunch (leftover at Church from ACW event)

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $3.00 (i.e. 2.75 litres @ $1.089 per litre . . . 27.5 km @ 10 km/litre) + 0.58 litres (gas remaining) = 3.33 litres (33.3 km)
Driving Today:  16.0 km (i.e. 1.60 litres)
Gas Remaining:  1.73 litres (i.e. 17.3 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.
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Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

November 28, 2011

Living on the Edge (November 28, 2011)

Living on the edge.  It sounds . . . exciting . . . thrilling . . . care free . . . courageous.  Guess again.  If you're talking about living on the edge of poverty then the descriptions are a little less glorious.  Try . . . nerve wracking . . . often boring . . . burdensome . . . and unfortunate.  I can hear the little children now, "Oooooh . . . Mommy, when I grow up I want to be struggling financially!" Not.

I'm essentially one month into Phase II of That Poverty Project - Struggles of the Working Poor. I've been reflecting on my experience thus far, but I can also draw upon my additional life experience in being part of the working poor.   Allow me to elaborate on my descriptions above.  Nerve wracking - when you have very little in the way of resources it takes a lot of energy trying to decide what you can or cannot spend your precious funds on, and then being so close to the "line" is like a waiting game for the other shoe to drop.   You can drop your whole load (all $20 of it) on groceries, and then find yourself waiting for "that thing" to arise that you cannot afford but which must be dealt with. Often boring - not surprisingly, I have found that one has way fewer options as to what to eat and what to do when one has little, and so it can get monotonous.  Burdensome - everything that could cost money feels heavy . . . very heavy.  Things like buying a shovel becomes a major purchase (I had to get one today), and anything bigger becomes unfathomable.  Unfortunate - living on the edge of poverty is usually not courageous as usually one doesn't do so intentionally.  Poverty is not really one of those things that most of us would choose as a lifestyle.

So how does it compare with living in a tent for 3 months?  It's different.  Whereas my time in the tent was more difficult physically (colder, more walking, and feeling grungy), my time with really limited resources seems more continuously troublesome from a psychological perspective.  Being in the tent certainly brought on mind games that attacked my self esteem and caused me to be down from time to time.  However, I didn't experience much anxiety compared to what I am experiencing right now.  That said, a lot of the anxiety comes from knowing that it is worse being on the street, and not wanting to get to that point.  So, I guess I would have to choose the struggles of the working poor over being homeless on the streets . . . but not by much.

"Living on the edge" is a very apt descriptor for the struggles of the working poor.  It's a constant balancing act.  What can I afford?  What can I put off paying for the time being?  How can I deal with this situation that has just arisen?  One could easily argue that such questions are a normal part of life.  Yes, but there is freakishly large difference for those who are around the poverty line as opposed to those who are not . . . NO NET.  Most people in the developed world may not like the curve balls that life can throw at them, but they have an ability to absorb them because they have a protective buffer.  However, in poverty there is no buffer, no safety net. 

That's where we can come in.  We . . . society . . . community groups . . . churches . . . you and I.  We can be there to help people when they fall.  As a group, we can decide that no one will be without their basic human rights being met.  It's what we would want done for us if we were in their shoes, isn't it?  Simply knowing that someone will help would sure relieve a lot of anxiety that comes from living on the edge.

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Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 26 - 28 (November 26th – November 28th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  218 lbs
Available Funds:   $0.00 (leftover) + $8.50 (Nov 26) + $1.00 (found) + $9.00 (Nov 27) + $7.50 (Nov 28) = $26.00
Funds Spent Today:  $44.20 (loan payment & purchases)
Remaining Funds:   $0.00 (see New Loan)


New Loan:  $18.20 (Nov 28)
Loan Due Today: $28.89 (Nov 26); then $19.68 (Nov 27), then $10.84 (Nov 28)
Loan Payment:   $9.50 (Nov 26); $9.00 (Nov 27); $0.00 (Nov 28)
Outstanding Loan: $29.04 @ 1.5% per day . . . $29.48 due on Day 29

Items Purchased:   Shovel, Windshield Wiper Fluid
Free Stuff:  Nil

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $0.00 (i.e. 0.00 litres @ $1.089 per litre . . . 0.0 km @ 10 km/litre) + 2.18 litres (gas remaining) = 2.18 litres (21.8 km)
Driving Today:  16.0 km (i.e. 1.60 litres)
Gas Remaining:  0.58 litres (i.e. 5.8 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.
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Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

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Free Rice - The Game That Feeds The Hungry

How many of you spend time at work (during your break, of course) playing games that have absolutely no productive value whatsoever? Or are you in the opposite camp that believe that computer games are a complete waste of brain cells?  NOT ANY MORE!!!

Some time back the World Food Programme came up with a brilliant on-line trivia game that feeds hungry people while it entertains and educates those who are playing.  Check out this one-minute promo video . . .



So when the boss asks what you did "on your break" (wink, wink), you can honestly say that you fed the hungry.  Maybe you'll get a promotion?


Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

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November 27, 2011

Advent Conspiracy

It's very rare that I post a blog on a Sunday, but today I'm making an exception.  Why?  Because in the Christian calendar it is the first Sunday in Advent (i.e. the start of a new Church year), and the start of the journey towards Christmas.  And, what does Christmas bring to mind???  An invitation to conspire, of course.

The attached video really caught my attention as it pulls us back from commercialism and closer to the true meaning of Christmas.  It also reveals an astonishing fact about Christmas shopping that I suspected but did not have the details.

Will you be part of the conspiracy on behalf of those in need?


Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

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November 26, 2011

Close Call (November 26, 2011)

Phew!  That was too close.  I almost experienced a hit that would have crippled me for the rest of this phase of the project.

Sprain my ankle again?  Suffer an illness requiring expensive meds?  Get in an accident?  No, none of those . . . THANKFULLY.  My wife's vehicle needs new tires.  It was taken in because one of the tires had a slow leak.  We thought it had picked up a nail or something, but  found out that the tires were beginning to split.  Had it been my vehicle receiving this diagnosis then it would have changed the whole course of things for this project.


What would have happened if it were my vehicle that needed new tires?  The cost would likely be in the range of $700 - $800, well over my current credit limit of $30.  So with credit unavailable as is the case for many people, another option would be to get another job . . . but that is also outside the parameters of the project.  This, too, is realistic as many working poor are already working to the max or unable to get further employment.  So the only alternative I can see is to try to live with the problem.

I would have to limit my driving as much as possible in order to delay the inevitable tire failure.  This means going through the heart of winter in the Canadian Rockies without access to a vehicle most of the time, and without access to public transportation.  For some this could spell unemployment as lack of transportation would mean inability to fulfill job responsibilities.  Fortunately, my job is not reliant on having transportation available . . . but it would mean walking a lot more and having a lot less time available on days when I would have driven.  When I did drive, to get groceries for example, it would mean doing so with increase risk to myself, my vehicle, and potentially others.  Not a good situation.

I've mentioned it before, and I'll say it again . . . life on the edge of having barely enough resources to cover your needs is stressful.  If I had to be looking after children on this budget, it would be exponentially tougher.  Kids don't only represent more mouths to feed and bodies to clothe, but also a whack of more potential hits that could de-rail the family's finances (eg. school costs, medical issues, replacing clothes frequently, extracurricular pressures, etc.).  No one chooses to live on the edge . . . it's not enjoyable.


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Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 25 (November 25th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  219 lbs
Available Funds:   $1.35 (leftover) $9.50 (Nov 25) = $10.85
Funds Spent Today:  $39.74 (purchases)
Remaining Funds:   $0.00 (see New Loan)


New Loan:  $28.89
Loan Due Today: $0.00
Loan Payment:   $0.00
Outstanding Loan: $28.89 @ 1.5% per day . . .  $29.32 due on Day 26

Items Purchased:   6 Apples, 6 Bananas, 4 Sm.Tomatoes, 6 Noodle Soup, 400 g Red-Skin Peanuts (bulk), 2 Warehouse Pack Chicken Backs & Legs (BUY ONE GET ONE FREE!!), 6 Eggs, Loaf of Bread, 220 g Salt & Vinegar Chips & 6-Pack Cheap Beer (GREY CUP!!), 1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce (HALF PRICE!!)
Free Stuff:  Nil

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $0.00 (i.e. 0.00 litres @ $1.089 per litre . . . 0.0 km @ 10 km/litre) + 3.58 litres (gas remaining) = 3.58 litres (35.8 km)
Driving Today:  14 km (i.e. 1.4 litres)
Gas Remaining:  2.18 litres (i.e. 21.8 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.
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Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

Tip of the Iceberg - Poverty in Canada

A state of emergency has been declared in a northern Ontario community.  Earthquake?  Fire?  Flooding?  None of these . . . POVERTY.  It is a First Nation community, but that is irrelevant.  No Canadian (or anyone for that matter) should be subject to the living conditions found in this community - decrepit housing, lacking sufficient sanitation and electricity, unsafe heating equipment, and inadequate safety systems.

It would be a serious mistake to think that this is the only community in Canada facing these dreadful conditions.  Further, it would be a mistake to think that communities in these circumstances are isolated situations . . . as opposed to being extreme symptoms of the larger problem of poverty in Canada.  The good news is that we can address these problems and all related poverty issues if we, as a country, decide to make it a priority.

Kudos to the Member of Parliament for the area, Charlie Angus, who is responsible for the following two videos.  The first video is his impassioned plea to Parliament asking the Canadian government to do something to help this community at risk.  The second video is an actual look at the community itself.






There is good news as the federal government has bowed to the recent pressure to act, and provided a further $2.5 million to build more housing in the community.  What about the immediate needs that must be addressed?  Fortunately, the Red Cross has stepped up to help address the immediate needs. 

Anyone able to help can make financial donations online at www.redcross.ca, by calling 1-800-418-1111 or through your local Canadian Red Cross office. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked "Attawapiskat" and can also be mailed to the Canadian Red Cross, Ontario Zone, 5700 Cancross Court, Mississauga, ON, L5R 3E9.


Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

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November 25, 2011

Encouragement (November 25, 2011)

When it comes down to it . . . one of the biggest components of this project is encouragement.  Encouraging people to use their time, talents, and treasure to do just a little bit more in alleviation of poverty.  Encouraging those in need to have hope since people all over the world are working diligently to provide desperately needed assistance.  And, encouraging everyone to raise our voices to leaders everywhere to make the eradication of poverty a top priority.  Yes, poverty can be eradicated.

I don't do this work in order to be thanked or praised . . . but, that said, it sure is nice when it happens.  Encouragement acts to fill our tanks and helps us through the tough times.  I was humbled and felt completely privileged to have received wonderful encouragement from YMCA (Calgary) in being one of their Peace Medal recipients for 2011.  This honour is very much appreciated.

However, this recognition is directly related to every person that follows That Poverty Project on Twitter, Facebook, through the media, or this blog.  Therefore . . . thank-YOU!

Here's the video clip shown to the audience prior to awarding the medal to me, followed by the text of my short acceptance speech.  We were limited to 1-minute . . .which was extremely difficult given my verbose nature!  Please read it as if I were speaking directly to you.




"I stand before you . . . a grateful man.

I'm grateful to YMCA (Calgary) for recognizing the work of That Poverty Project.

I'm grateful for the encouragement from my wife, Janet; my kids, Ben and Jenna; as well as family, friends, and followers.

I'm grateful for the support from organizations like The Mustard Seed Street Ministry.

I'm grateful to God for the abundance that exists in the world sufficient to meet the basic human rights of EVERYONE . . . and that step by step these resources are getting to those in need.

I'm grateful to the growing re-awakening of compassion amongst the general public.

The challenge of poverty and peace ahead of us is great, but I believe that humanity is up for it.  I believe that we are essentially good, and that WE CARE about others.  I believe there is a growing consciousness making poverty alleviation and true peace a priority.

Each one of us is gifted and able to make a world of difference in the life of another . . . and so I am ever so grateful for each of you.

I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.  Thank-you!"


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Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 20 – Day 24 (November 20th to November 24th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  219 lbs
Available Funds:   $0.00 (leftover) + $12.00 (Nov 20) + $9.50 (Nov 21) + $0.00 (Nov 22) + $0.00 (Nov 23) + $7.50 (Nov 24) = $29.00
Funds Spent Today:  $27.65 (loan payments + purchases)
Remaining Funds:   $1.35


New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Due Today: $21.33 (Nov 20), then $12.51 (Nov 21), then $3.06 (Nov 22), then $3.10 (Nov 23), then $3.15 (Nov 24)
Loan Payment:   $9.00 (Nov 20), $9.50 (Nov 21), $0.00 (Nov 22), $0.00 (Nov 23), $3.15 (Nov 24)
Outstanding Loan: $0.00 @ 1.5% per day . . .  $0.00 due on Day 25

Items Purchased:   $3.00 purchase of my portion of a family meal, $3.00 Gas
Free Stuff:  Food while away on work related trip (thus $0 income those days)

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $3.00 (i.e. 2.75 litres @ $1.089 per litre . . . 27.5 km @ 10 km/litre) + 0.83 litres (gas remaining) = 3.58 litres (35.8 km)
Driving Today:  0 km (i.e. 0.00 litres)
Gas Remaining:  3.58 litres (i.e. 35.8 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.
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Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

November 23, 2011

Water - A Precious Resource

I dare ya to watch this video and then go to your tap and not be grateful for the water that flows so freely from it.  It is so easy to take water for granted when you have lots of it.



Interested in learning about the easy process to purify water so that it is safe to drink? In the following video, Dr. Greg Allgood describes the process . . .




Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

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November 22, 2011

The Story of Broke

This video represents interesting thinking about the way things are, why they are the way they are, and creatively approaches how they could be better.  While it specifically refers to the USA, the same message applies equally to Canada as well as other countries.  I appreciated it's positive approach to our future.




Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

November 21, 2011

Waking Up

I found this video message written and performed by Nick Macedo a compelling reminder to wake up.  I hope you do, too!


Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

November 20, 2011

The Morality Molecule (Paul Zak - TED Talk)

What if we could put something in the water that increased empathy amongst the population?  What if you could design a "love bomb" to shower people everywhere with trust?  What if we could take pills that increased morality and society's generosity towards others?  Seriously.  Sign me up for that world . . . a world with less conflict, more respect for each other, and no poverty.

Sound far fetched?  Maybe, but that's where my mind went upon hearing about Paul Zak's discovery that oxytocin produced naturally in the body is what he calls the "morality molecule".  Conversely, he has found that testosterone increases selfishness and the need to punish others.  In this TED Talk video Paul Zak shares about his research.  While his presentation style is a little laid back, the subject matter is absolutely riveting.



Paul Zak's Bio

You heard the man . . . "Dr. Love" prescribes 8 hugs per day. 
Pitter patter, let's get atter.


Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

November 19, 2011

Counting Pennies (November 19, 2011)

Today's your lucky day!  You get a sneak peak into my brain . . . perhaps one of the scariest places you'll ever be.  For avid followers of my blogs you likely know this to be true.  (See Flaming Undies, The Wisdom of the Littlest Pig, etc.)

Actually, today's mental exercise is not scary as much as it is mundane (sorry to disappoint!), BUT ever so necessary.  I'm taking inventory in order to be able to project what the next number of days may entail with respect to food and gas, and determine whether I can expect expenses in this regard.  Specifically, I'm looking ahead through Thursday as I will be out of town for work (leaving Monday and returning Thursday), and I need to make sure the essentials are taken care of.  If I weren't on such a tight budget, this sort of analysis would not be necessary . . . but it also gives you a glimpse at my daily meals, etc.

Food Inventory (as at 1:27 PM November 19, 2011) - 2 apples, 2 bananas, 2 noodle soups, approx. 350 g of minute oats, approx. 100 g of rotini, 1 can of beans in tomato sauce, 1 can of whole mushrooms, 85 g of smoked oysters, loaf of bread, 6 eggs, head of lettuce, 1 sm. vine tomato, 4 really sm. roma tomatoes, 1/2 purple onion, sm. block of gouda, ranch dressing, approx. 4 lbs of potatoes, 4/5th of a tub of margarine.

Daily Meal & Gas Planning (from the afternoon of Saturday Nov 19/11 through Thursday Nov 24/11) -

Saturday, November 19/11
Lunch - noodle soup, banana
Dinner - 2 eggs on toast (with cheese slices), small salad (lettuce, vine tomato, onion, ranch dressing), potatoes
Gas Required - none
Groceries Needed - none
Daily Income - $5.50 (already spent on groceries and gas earlier in the day)

Sunday, November 20/11
Breakfast - porridge, apple
Lunch - 2 eggs on toast (with cheese slices), fried mushrooms (1/2), banana
Football Game Treats - smoked oysters, gouda cheese
Dinner - beans, potatoes, fried mushrooms (remaining 1/2), small salad (lettuce, 2 roma tomatoes, onion, ranch dressing)
Gas Required - none
Groceries Needed - none
Daily Income - unknown (avg. $7.50) apply to outstanding loan

Monday, November 21/11
Breakfast - porridge, apple
Lunch & Dinner - provided via work travel
Gas Required - paid for by work
Groceries Needed - none
Daily Income - unknown  (avg. $7.50) apply to outstanding loan

Tuesday, November 22/11 & Wednesday November 23/11
All Meals - provided via work travel
Gas Required - paid for by work
Groceries Needed - none
Daily Income - NONE (due to being away and all needs provided)

Thursday, November 24/11
Breakfast - provided via work travel
Lunch - noodle soup
Dinner - 2 eggs on toast (with cheese slices), small salad (lettuce, 2 roma tomatoes, onion, ranch dressing), potatoes
Gas Required - 0.8 L (already have)
Groceries Needed - apple for breakfast Friday (then bigger shopping trip on Friday)
Daily Income - unknown (avg. $7.50) apply to outstanding loan (hopefully paid off in full)

Summary - If nothing out of the ordinary arises, I should have enough groceries (except buying an apple on Thursday) and gas to see me through until I go shopping on Friday.  Plus, it is hoped that my loan will be full paid by Thursday.  Sounds good to me . . . now to see if it will actually work out that way.

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Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 17 – Day 19 (November 17th to November 19th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  216 lbs
Available Funds:   $0.00 (leftover) + $9.00 (Nov 17) + $7.50 (Nov 18) + $5.50 (Nov 19) = $22.00
Funds Spent Today:  $22.00 (loan payments + purchases)
Remaining Funds:   $0.00


New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Due Today: $37.42 (Nov 17), then $28.42 (Nov 18), then 21.01 (Nov 19)
Loan Payment:   $9.00 (Nov 17), $7.50 (Nov 18), $0.00 (Nov 19)
Outstanding Loan: $21.01 @ 1.5% per day . . .  $21.33 due on Day 20

Items Purchased:   $1.60 Gas, 2 Apples, 2 Bananas, 2 Noodle Soups, 4 Sm. Roma Tomatoes
Free Stuff:  Hot Chocolate (went for “coffee” with a friend)

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $1.60 (i.e. 1.44 litres @ $1.109 per litre . . . 14.4 km @ 10 km/litre) + 0.59 litres (gas remaining) = 2.03 litres (20.3 km)
Driving Today:  12 km (i.e. 1.2 litres)
Gas Remaining:  0.83 litres (i.e. 8.3 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.
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Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

November 18, 2011

JFK and Luke's World

It's a double-header!  Two short, very diverse videos for the same low price . . . FREE.

The first video is a speech given by President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago, but the words ring as true today as they did then.  The words are set against the backdrop of some amazing pictures, which has been produced to celebrate 50 years of USAID.  Most importantly, I think these words both challenge us as well as give us hope.


The second video takes us behind the closed door into Luke's world.  Luke is an 11 year old growing up in poverty in London. He has dreams, he has some smarts, but he has a challenge ahead of him if he is going to escape poverty.  It's important that when we watch this video or anything for that matter, that we do not allow our compassion to be impeded by judgement of others.  In this case, one may make judgements about Luke's mother . . . or father . . . or his older sister.  But we don't know their story or what caused them to make the decisions that they did.  All we know is that they are in need, and Luke's future depends on not being abandoned by society.  Every community has a Luke . . . or several of them.  All children should be given every opportunity to reach their full potential.


 
Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

November 17, 2011

Humanity Should Be Fair (November 17, 2011)

Life may not be fair . . . but humanity should be.

The well-known saying . . . "life isn't fair" . . . really gets under my skin.  I get it.  Bad things happen in life which are beyond our control, and which we do not deserve.  And, in the realms of the natural world, I may not like it but I can accept it.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, droughts and illness can act like wrecking balls destroying the lives of people in their path.  Bad things can happen to good people.  Sad, but inevitable.  However, that same phrase should not be applied to acts of people, or man-made institutions, or economic systems. I absolutely cannot accept "life isn't fair" as a rationale for some people being given the short straw by others.  In these latter situations, it's not "life" at fault but rather people, and the saying transforms from a statement of fact about the inevitable to an excuse for bad behaviour, bad planning, or some other form of injustice.

Aided by the simplicity I've experienced in this project, the deprivation of some creature comforts I've endured, and having personally glimpsed the vulnerability that comes from need . . . I've been able to see some truths that are there to be seen but often clouded by "stuff".  I've felt what it is like to be a hard working person with little in the way of the "spoils" that many in rich societies like to associate with hard work, and faced the taunts of those who have hurtful and erroneous perspectives with respect to those in poverty.  I've come to appreciate the individuality of every circumstance, and that we must see the person inside the circumstance.  And, most of all, I've come to recognize that man-made unfairness is a huge factor in many people's fall into poverty and in the entrenchment of the poverty cycle.  Yes, poverty is a justice issue.

The following are but three macro level expressions of unfairness that we see in the world around us today.

#1 Implementation of Austerity Measures on the Most Vulnerable.  Country's may go broke, but there is plenty of wealth within those countries.  There is no reason in the world that the physical well being of anyone should be threatened by cutbacks. (See interesting comment on foreign aid in these economic times by UK's Prime Minister Cameron.)  On Star Trek, whenever the USS Enterprise was in crisis, Captain Kirk would always divert all power to life support systems and shields . . . the protection of life was of utmost importance.  However, in austerity measures we often see budget lines being cut equally so that ministers of government have the same burden to bear. Ironically, the impact on people is anything but fair.  Equality without fairness is an empty concept.  Through austerity measures in various countries, social services will be cut, aid will be cut, and whole segments of the population will be in dire need.  What happened to the lesson learned from Captain Kirk (i.e. common sense)?  In times of trouble we should be bolstering life support systems - social services, education, health care, and aid.  Those who are most in need should not be kicked when they are down.   

#2 Disregard for the Occupy Movement.  Without a doubt, the message from Occupy protesters is mixed and often lacking clarity.  However, it would be a huge mistake to disregard the level of discontent that has been expressed worldwide via this movement. (See article in this regard from the National Post.)  During my conflict resolution training, I learned that there were always two things to which one must pay special attention - (i) a need being expressed (since all conflict boils down to an unsatisfied need) and (ii) an expression of strong emotion (as emotion is the best signal that we are getting close to the heart of what is important to a person).  If nothing else, the Occupy Movement has been an emotional expression of frustration over unfulfilled needs in the context of massive inequality within our society.  Unfairness.  

#3 Repeating Mistakes of the Past by Continuing to Do What We Have Been Doing.  Hundreds of years ago, the economy was based very much on land ownership and the wealth that went with it.  When landowners felt the uprising of those within their domain who wanted a better life along with recognition of their rights, they appeased their subjects for a time colonizing more land that would provide more wealth and thereby enrich the lives of those who were rising up. However, this resulted in the oppression of others elsewhere.  Eventually, this system broke down and a market based system emerged.  Now, we are seeing the problems that arise when there is a ruling class in the market system . . . the concentration of wealth, widening gaps of inequality, abuse of the system by some of the wealthy at the expense of the most vulnerable, etc.  All of these evils are caused by the removal of fairness from the system.  However, the push so far has been to address these problems by bailouts on the backs of the poorer majority and expansion to new markets (i.e. market colonization).  This may only appease the problem for a time, and cause others to feel the oppression of being the bottom rung on the ladder.  In the past, the only thing that ultimately settled the problem was fairness; and it will be the only thing that can satisfy the problems and unrest at the moment.  To paraphrase Einstein, it's insane to do the same things over and over and expect different results.

We CAN overcome all of these problems.  And, it's not rocket science.  However, we do need the powers that be to step aside from their own agendas, their own comforts, and to see what is good for the greater whole.  Our economic system is not bad, but it is broken . . . we may need to take a few steps back and make some adjustments, but I believe it can be fixed.  There are important basic needs unsatisfied that need to be met.   It is time to take a look at where we are and ask some important questions.  What are our priorities?  What is in the best interests of the whole?  Are our systems, budgets, and current focus reflecting our priorities and best interests?  Once we have gone through this exercise, the solutions will fall into place.

Let's be fair.  It's the least we can be, especially if life isn't.

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Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 16 (November 16th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  216 lbs
Available Funds:   $0.00 (leftover) + $6.50 (Nov 16) = $6.50
Funds Spent Today:  $20.77
Remaining Funds:   $0.00 (see New Loan)


New Loan:  $14.27
Loan Due Today: $22.60
Loan Payment:   $0.00
Outstanding Loan: $36.87 @ 1.5% per day . . .  $37.42 due on Day 17

Items Purchased:   $2 Gas, 3 Apples, 5 lbs Potatoes, 3 Sm. Tomatoes, 1 Head of Lettuce, 3 Bananas, 1 Noodle Soup, Shampoo, 12-Pack of Toilet Paper
Free Stuff:  Nil

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $2.00 (i.e. 1.80 litres @ $1.109 per litre . . . 18.0 km @ 10 km/litre) + 0.19 litres (gas remaining) = 1.99 litres (19.9 km)
Driving Today:  14 km (i.e. 1.4 litres)
Gas Remaining:  0.59 litres (i.e. 5.9 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.

SPECIAL NOTE:  As of November 16th, and for the duration of this month of the project, a credit limit of $30 has been imposed on That Poverty Guy.  Accordingly, his "overdraft" of $7.42 must be paid back by November 17th at the latest. The credit limit will be reviewed on December 1st when the next month of Phase II begins.
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Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU


November 16, 2011

Eating Humble Pie (November 16, 2011)

On Monday, I started my blog with "Blech!" and then went on to whine about how hard done by I was feeling.  Don't get me wrong, I was definitely in a yucky state of mind and felt pretty bad . . . but it's time to eat a little humble pie.  Click here if you want to read that blog called "Sick, Tired & Broke".

It wasn't until after I posted the blog that a couple of things happened to shake me up and put things in perspective.  First, I received a telephone call from a wonderful woman with a heart of gold, who happens to be a single Mom of two kids.  She works multiple jobs to simply get by.  Recently, she was able to pull together a small buffer of a few hundred bucks (which took several months to save) only to have her car tires ruined and have to replace them to the tune of $700!  Why did she call me?  She wanted to know if there was anyway that she could help me.  Help ME???  I should be offering to help her!!! Like I said, she has a heart of gold.  Second, I saw a Facebook conversation between two ladies offering moral support to each other in their difficult financial walk as single Moms.  Both live on federal benefits that are simply not sufficient while also needing to rely on food hampers, clothing circles, and child support (that is often late or missed).  Both have to worry about losing the roof over their heads.  Yikes . . . what the heck was I complaining about!?!

The plight of the single mother and her kids is not talked about nearly enough.  These families are disproportionately in poverty in both the "developed" world and the "developing world".  Even here in wealthy Canada, the median net worth of single-mother families in 2009 was $17,000 (the lowest net worth of any family type in Canada . . . and less than 25% of the median net worth of single-father families). Source - Canadian-Nurse.com  According to one report also from 2009, 51.6% of single-mother Canadian families live in poverty.  Source - Women's Legal Education & Action Fund 
The reasons cited for this situation include caregiving responsibilities, pay inequity, and inadequate government programs. 

In order to alleviate poverty one has to address the plight of mothers.  Study after study has shown that investment in girls and women has a positive impact on poverty, the welfare of the family, and development of communities.  I came across a very interesting study today put out by Save the Children entitled the The 2011 Mothers' Index in which all countries are ranked according to where it is best to be a mother, woman, or child.  Norway ranks #1 as the best place to be a mother (Canada is #20; USA is #31), while Australia is #1 place to be a woman (Canada is #14; USA is #24), and Sweden is #1 place to be a child (Canada is #24; USA is #34).  Afghanistan ranks in last place in all of these categories. 

We need to help those in need wherever we can, make mothers and children priorities, and speak out on their behalf to our leaders. 

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Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 15 (November 15th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  216 lbs
Available Funds:   $0.00 (leftover) + $8.00 (Nov 15) = $8.00
Funds Spent Today:  $8.00
Remaining Funds:   $0.00


New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Due Today: $30.27
Loan Payment:   $8.00
Outstanding Loan: $22.27 @ 1.5% per day . . .  $22.60 due on Day 16

Items Purchased:   Nil
Free Stuff:  Lunch (as part of work), Cup of Tea

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $0.00 (i.e. 0.00 litres @ $1.129 per litre . . . 0.0 km @ 10 km/litre) + 0.49 litres (gas remaining) = 0.49 litres (4.9 km)
Driving Today:  3 km (i.e. 0.0 litres)
Gas Remaining:  0.19 litres (i.e. 1.9 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.
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Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

Hans Rosling and the Magic Washing Machine (TED Talk)

I love this video . . . not "like" . . . LOVE. 

Hans Rosling, Global Health Expert and Data Visionary, gives a perspective on the world and development to which we really must pay attention.  Entertaining, informative, and succinct. I laughed, I cried, I learned a lot.  (Okay, maybe I didn't cry . . . )



Want to see more Hans Rosling?  Check out . . .

Want to read about the gong show that was my first attempt at hand washing my clothes
during Phase One of That Poverty Project when I was living in a tent?


Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

November 15, 2011

The Matternet Vision

I LOVE NEW IDEAS . . . it'll be interesting to see if something like this will work.  I'm not sure, but nothing will change unless we get creative.  The economy needs fixing, development is a priority, and the most vulnerable are the hardest hit.  We must keep trying new things.

Albert Einstein reminded us that . . .
"We can't solve a problem with the thinking that created it."


Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

November 14, 2011

Sick, Tired & Broke (November 14, 2011)

Blech!  That about sums up how I feel at the moment. Today I'm feeling quite run down . . . constant low grade headache, back spasms, and exhausted.  So, please, take my attitude with a grain of salt (. . . which is about all the salt I can afford).

I recognize that I have it pretty good, relatively speaking.  I have a roof over my head, food in my tummy, and friends and family.  In fact, when you look it that way I am wealthy compared to most in the world.  Plus I'm not fearing for my life, and am free to speak, worship, and congregate as I please.  HOWEVER, today I am feeling like  . . . pardon my language . . . crap.   Living each day counting your pennies, eating less than you want and differently than you want, and taking a hit financially when ANYTHING comes up is a real pain in the derriere.  At some point, it starts to affect your mood. 

My hit today was not only feeling under the weather, but then having to borrow money in order to get some relief.  The headache started yesterday and persisted today, and why should I not be able to get the relief most of my neighbours can afford . . . some ibuprofen?  Plus, I have some genetic back problems that I have had under control in recent years with exercise and stretches, however it has acted up in the last two days.  Unfortunately, after testing various remedies over the years, the only truly effective relief I have found for my back is Robaxcet.  So I had to purchase some generic issue of the muscle relaxant today in order to avoid what often happens next when it gets this bad . . . i.e. waking up tomorrow morning and not being able to stand.  I feel no other choice but to incur the expense and the debt.  I'd love some herbal tea, too, but I'll forgo that luxury.

Here's the worst part . . . as small as my debt is I have great difficulty seeing how I will pay it off and stay out of debt.  And that means only one thing in my books . . . this level of income is only tenuously sufficient for a single person (and completely unsustainable if more than one person has to live on it).  Yes, it's still early on in this phase of the project, but that's the writing on the wall that I am seeing at this moment.

Wah, wah, wah . . . I know I'm feeling sorry for myself . . . and thanks for putting up with me while I complain.  Tomorrow will be better . . . and if you disagree then please keep it to yourself as that is what I need to believe in order to get through today.

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Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 13 and 14 (November 13th - 14th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  216 lbs
Available Funds:   $0.00 (leftover) + $0.00 (Nov 13) + $3.00 (Nov 14) = $3.00
Funds Spent Today:  $10.25 (generic Robaxcet/Ibuprofen)
Remaining Funds:   $0.00 (see New Loan)


New Loan:  $7.25 (Nov 14)
Loan Due Today: $22.57
Loan Payment:   $0.00
Outstanding Loan: $29.82 @ 1.5% per day . . .  $30.27 due on Day 15

Items Purchased:   Generic Robaxcet/Ibuprofen

Free Stuff:  2 Loaves of Bread, 1 Can of Mushrooms, 1 Can of Beans, 1 Dozen Eggs, Half Block of Butter, 2 Leftover Cooked Steaks  (All of these were leftovers at a Men`s Breakfast that were directed to me.)

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $0.00 (i.e. 0.00 litres @ $1.129 per litre . . . 0.0 km @ 10 km/litre) + 0.49 litres (gas remaining) = 0.49 litres (4.9 km)
Driving Today:  0 km (i.e. 0.0 litres)
Gas Remaining:  0.49 litres (i.e. 4.9 km)

*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU