May 30, 2012

My World Turned Upside Down

It used to be that, living pay cheque to pay cheque, I was poor . . . at the bottom of the heap.  Poor me.

It used to be that, weighing over 230 lbs, getting down to 200 lbs would be the lowest weight I could reasonably go . . . any less would be "too skinny".  Not-that-overweight me.

It used to be that, being very conscious about my appearance, seeing a "dirty" homeless person made me take a wide berth around them . . . wondering how someone could allow themselves to get to that state.  Better-than-that me.

It used to be that, being a steak lover, I "needed" to eat meat with every dinner . . . it's how I'm made.  Carnivore me.

It used to be that . . .

I could go on and on, but suffice to say that as a result of this last year's experiences my world and many of the things I used to think have been turned upside down.

I now know that, even living pay cheque to pay cheque, I am more affluent than many . . . near the top of the global heap.  Grateful me.

I now know that, weighing less than 185 lbs, 200 lbs is the highest I should reasonably go . . . any more would be unhealthy.  Going-to-try-and-keep-the-weight-off me.

I now know that, having looked after myself the best I could in the circumstances of living without, every "dirty" homeless person is a real person like me with a real story . . . doing the best they can and not wanting to be in that state.  Embarrassed-about-the-way-I-used-to-think me.

I now know that, having survived essentially without meat for 3 months, I need (and crave!) fruits and vegetables as much or more than meat.  Omnivore-with-meat-in-moderation me.

I now know that . . .

The many other learnings, some of which have been in previous blogs and some of which will surface in my consciousness in the coming weeks and months, are a blessing for which I am eternally grateful.  It is my hope that some of that which I have learned in the last year has resonated with readers and illuminated their blessings; and that in some way this journey has shone light into the reality of those in need to the end that we may all work together to ensure that everyone has enough.

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

May 21, 2012

Wuzzup Poverty Guy???

Yikes!!  It's been far too long since my last blog.  What the heck has been going on?!?  What has That Poverty Guy been up to?!?  Why so many question and exclamation marks???  ( . . . there I go again.)

The third phase of the That Poverty Project continues . . . having now gone 80 days eating World Food Programme refugee rations and only 11 days to go.  (See Phase III Begins! for details.)  As of this morning, I've lost 35 lbs since the start of this phase on March 1st.  And, that's 46 lbs lost since the beginning of the project last July.  I'm handling temptation very well, but the cravings are heating up again.  Surprisingly to me, while I am looking forward to a nice steak, a big salad and fruit are topping the list of food I'm desiring.  But food and weight loss aside, there are a few things that have come to light which have been occupying my time as of late.

Click Here to go to the Action to End Poverty in Alberta website.
#1 Seeking Support for Action to End Poverty in Alberta.  I made a presentation to Canmore Town Council about That Poverty Project, and they unanimously approved endorsing a provincial campaign to encourage the provincial government to adopt a preventative poverty reduction strategy. 
#2 Community Discussion on Poverty.  A short while ago, with the support of St. Michael's Anglican Church, I put out the call for participants to start a conversation in my local community about poverty.  I had expected some participation by local not-for-profit organizations and had hoped for maybe 20 people.  So you can imagine my delight when over 50 people registered, including representation of about 30 local groups.  The gathering was a day long event in which we heard from Joe Ceci, Coordinator for Action to End Poverty in Alberta, identified poverty issues affecting our community, and discussed some initial ideas to address the biggest issues (affordable housing, employment issues, food and necessities security, transportation issues, etc.).  From here, I will be compiling an interim report on the status of poverty in my area which pulls together the matters discussed along with other information gathered in the community, and then makes some recommendations for action.

#3 Krausert for Council.
  Alberta had a provincial election recently, and Canmore's mayor was elected to the legislature.  In response, two of Canmore's Councillors resigned to seek the Mayor's job.  Accordingly, there will a byelection on June 19th for Mayor and two Council seats, and I will be running for one of the Council seats.  The theme of my campaign is "Building Community for Everyone".  Wish me luck!

That's it for now . . . I need to go make some rice.  :)

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO.

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

April 28, 2012

Life and Poker

I was channel surfing recently when I landed on a televised poker game.  I happen to enjoy poker, especially when winning, and so I watched for awhile.  At some point it occurred to me that  . . . poker is an excellent analogy for life.

Hear me out . . .
  • Everyone brings to the table their unique set of skills and talents.  Some are great players, some are adequate, and some are really not cut out for the game whatsoever.  Of course, not being a good poker player means you won't survive long at the table.  Does that make the bad poker player a bad person?  Of course not, yet at the table and in life those who can't play "the game" well are often ridiculed and shamed.

  • Every person at the table has pockets of different "depths".   Some can lose and simply put their hand in their pocket to re-load.  Others . . . not so much.

  • Big stacks can absorb huge losses and still survive.  However, even small losses can be fatal to the short stack.  Who feels the most pain . . . a billionaire suffering losses of hundreds of millions or a single Mom living cheque to cheque facing an unexpected car repair and therefore cannot afford to pay her utilities?

  • Poker can be unfair, if not downright cruel.  Even if you get great cards and make good decisions you can still lose the hand.  And, the opposite is equally true.  Sometimes, much to the chagrin of others, someone with a mediocre hand and doesn't know what they're doing can get lucky.

  • Whereas big stacks can afford to be patient, wait for some good cards, and pick their spots; the short stack has to act immediately, often pre-maturely, with whatever cards he or she is dealt while hoping for a little luck before the forced bets drain away their chips. 

  • Sometimes the big stack is able to use its relative wealth to bully others and win hands that are not very good.  Advantage big stack . . . and the rich get richer.

  • Even if the players at the table are of fairly equal skills and have equal depth of pockets  (neither of which happens very often, if at all) . . . everyone gets different cards dealt to them.  Even good players can only do so much with bad cards.  You can be the sharpest knife in the drawer but a series of bad luck can still wipe you out.

Of course, this analogy breaks down on one crucial point . . .

Poker is just a game, but life is for keeps.  Whereas I have no problem with big stacks in life, I am concerned about people getting knocked out of the game.  Even if a person is responsible for their predicament, bad decisions should mean that they will never have a big stack not that they will be sentenced to hunger or homelessness.

(By the way . . . if you happen to think that life IS a game . . . chances are you've got a big stack.  Just saying.)

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

April 14, 2012

Since You Asked . . .

I received a question on Twitter today, the answer to which was certainly going to be way, way, way more than 140 characters.  Thus today's blog. 

The question was essentially . . .

What is social justice, and how much does it cost to achieve it?

Social justice isn’t something you “achieve”, like reaching the top of Mt. Everest.  Rather, social justice is more akin to a perspective or a framework for decision making and behaviour.  In this regard, social justice should be seen in the same light as environmentalism or morality.  It’s more about how you approach the summit.
The objective of social justice is the same and equal rights for all people everywhere.  For me, an important document in defining rights is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights produced by the United Nations.  Amongst these rights are the right to food, clean water, shelter, education, health care, earning a living, etc.  Just like justice, social justice is often more clearly defined in the breach.  Oppression, discrimination, denial of necessities, actual or de facto slavery, taking advantage of others . . . all of these are blatant contraventions of social justice.
Given the nature of social justice, one cannot quantify the cost to achieve it for three reasons.  First, as stated, it is not something that is once and for always “achieved”.  Second, it is not an end as much as it is an ongoing process.  Third, to frame the question in this manner is to forget that through social justice many benefits are achieved, which I would argue greatly outweigh any costs associated with pursuing social justice.  However, if forced to answer the question, I would say that benefits of freeing people from abuses, oppression, and denial of rights is worthy of any cost; but the increased economic productivity of people who benefit from social justice initiatives offsets any and all costs along the way.
Turning Specifically to Poverty Eradication
Now, if one were to look at particular endeavours that fall under the social justice umbrella, such as poverty eradication, then one could start to put a price tag on achieving such.  Many studies looking at poverty in the developed world indicate that poverty eradication would actually SAVE money. Given that the high cost of servicing poverty and the huge indirect costs of poverty to health systems, legal systems, and lost productivity; it actually costs LESS to eradicate poverty.  It’s not a matter of spending more, but a matter of spending better. 
With respect to poverty in the developing world, the cost to eradicate the biggest elements of poverty have been determined to be only a fraction of what the world spends on other things, such as military.  For example, at the turn of the millennium it was estimated that the additional cost to ensure everyone everywhere had education, clean water and sanitation, basic health, sufficient nutrition, and safe reproductive health for all women would be $40 Billion.   However, at the same time, the world spent $780 Billion on military.  (these cost estimates come from The State of Human Development, UN Human Development Report 1998)
In other words, whether in the developed or developing world, poverty eradication is within our grasp . . . and within our budget.

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

Click Here to See What You Can Do

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

April 11, 2012

Our Crazy World

WARNING:  Some readers will be troubled by that which follows.  It is those readers, perhaps, who should take it most to heart.

When hearing about That Poverty Project for the first time, some people simply shake their head, look me in the eye, and bluntly state the obvious - "You're CRAZY!"  While respecting their honesty, and not able to argue the verity of their observation, my response has always been . . .

"You know what's crazy? 
Living in a world with sufficient resources
to feed everyone and yet having almost
a billion hungry people . . . THAT's crazy. 
Having millions of people die every
year, thousands every day, from
preventable diseases . . . THAT's crazy.  
Some having more than they could
ever need in 10 lifetimes while
others not having enough to
get through the day . . . THAT's crazy."

We live in a crazy world.  Seriously, I'm not being funny or indulging in euphemism.  I'm also not being judgemental, just stating fact.  Crazy.  Insane.  Madness.  I believe that in much of the world the prevailing consciousness, or lack thereof, is unhealthy, unbalanced . . . delusional.

I'm not alone in this belief.

Famed spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, has spoken of the insanity in the world.  In "A New Earth" (New York, Dutton, a member of Penguin Group USA Inc., 2005), Tolle summarized (at pp. 11-12):

"The collective manifestations of the insanity that lies at the heart
of the human condition constitute the greater part of human history. 
It is to a large extent a history of madness.  If the history of humanity were
the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would
have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity
to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against
his perceived "enemies" - his own unconsciousness projected outward.
Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals."

And, this is not a statement of the past which we have outgrown or matured beyond.  Quite the opposite.  Just prior to the above quote, Tolle concluded (at p. 11):

"We only need to watch the daily news on television to realize that
the madness has not abated, that it is continuing into the twenty-first century. 
Another aspect of the collective dysfunction of the human mind is the
unprecedented violence that humans are inflicting on other life-forms
and the planet itself - the destruction of oxygen-producing forests and
other plants and animal life; ill-treatment of animals in factory farms; and
poisoning rivers, oceans, and air.  Driven by greed, ignorant of their
connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behaviour that, if
continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction."

Hmmm.  I don't know about you, but my vote goes towards changing the way we think so as to avoid our own destruction.  Paradigm shift good.  Own destruction bad.

Along this same vein, successful Hollywood director, Tom Shadyac, has recently released a thought provoking documentary called "I AM" that interviews many of the world's great minds to get to the root of the challenges facing the world today.  In the film a number of realizations emerge.  First, contrary to prevailing thought about our "separateness" from one another, humans are naturally communal, social creatures who are actually hardwired for empathy and connection with one another.  Accordingly, acting contrary to our very nature while proliferating separateness is unhealthy and destructive.  Second, Shadyac observes that society has changed in how it sees accumulation of wealth.  Whereas at one time a person who accumulated more than they personally needed was seen as mentally ill, they are now exalted.  He drew upon examples in nature to show how any plant or animal that consumes more than it needs soon results in its own destruction and death, and noted how cells in the human body that over consume are called cancer.  "I AM" makes the very clear statement that we must recognize the "mental illness" that has consumed society in denial of our very nature while embracing a healthier, more sustainable approach to the benefit of all.

None of this is new.  Similar messages have been delivered by the great teachers from a variety of traditions for thousands of years.  We are walking down a path that is destructive, unhealthy, unsustainable.  Unfortunately, as any kid will tell you as he walks down the breakfast cereal row at the grocery store, what's good for you doesn't necessarily taste the best.  But really . . . does greed, selfishness, and over consumption taste good?  Just like the kid may change his mind about the cereal he likes after repeated trips to the dentist; so, too, we need to seek healing and different thinking when we see the poverty, inequality, and suffering unleashed by our desires.

Some of us are hyper-sensitive to the needs of one another.  Hyper-aware of the pain being inflicted upon one another.  Hyper-conscious of the inconsistencies between values and actions . . . between that which we say we believe and that which we do.   Ironically, in trying to bring attention to the prevailing madness that is widely accepted as normal, some of us are called "crazy".

The world is but a room without walls (albeit rubber walls may be needed).  We are one.  We are all connected.  Pain anywhere is our pain.  When will we awaken to this reality?

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO.

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

March 23, 2012

Coming Clean

Recovering from depression is not unlike
climbing out of a well.
"Is this project going to mess up Sean's head?"

That was a concern raised by my Uncle Dave last July when I started the project.  He knew that I've battled with anxiety and depression in the past, and hoped that doing these experiences wouldn't knock me for a loop, psychologically speaking.  I assured him at the time that I was feeling great, had lots of good tools at my disposal to combat anxiety and depression, and that I had a fabulous network for moral support.  Oh, how naive I was!!

Yes, naive.  How could anyone live amongst abundance and deprive themselves in a variety of ways over extended periods of time not be affected by it?  In hindsight, the real question isn't "if" living outside, or struggling to get by, or eating basic rations for 3 months each will mess one up, but "how much" it will mess them up.  Of course, there are those who appreciate these lifestyle choices and will thrive in them.  However, for the vast majority of us who have come to not only appreciate but rely upon our creature comforts, it would mess us up to some extent.

I've decided to come clean about the true extent of the impact this project has had on me.  For the last three months I've been suffering and recovering from a low grade depression.   Depression is an illness . . . not a weakness . . . not a figment of one's imagination . . . and a potentially fatal illness at that.  Just like many other potentially fatal illnesses, like diabetes or heart disease, it can be treated very effectively.  However, just when I should have been extra vigilant because of the stressors I was experiencing, I dropped my guard and the combination of the time of year (seasonal affective disorder) along with not doing the things that I know help me (regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and taking down time rather than being "on" 24/7) knocked me on my butt.  That said, I've been able to gut it out and keep working, but it has been incredibly difficult at times.

Why conceal my depression?  The short answer is . . . I don't really know.  There are many factors that I suspect played into it.  First, the illness itself is isolating and self-deprecating.  In other words, the depressed person believes he or she is weak . . . and who wants to broadcast weakness???  Second, somehow I convinced myself that the depression had nothing to do with my experiences but rather that it was a susceptibility I brought to the table in advance.  But, really . . . it is something a lot of people bring to the table!  Some people suffer mental illness and it results in them living in poverty, and many may find themselves in poverty and then suffer from mental illness because of it.  Third, and probably the most likely factor I didn't write about it, I felt I couldn't write about it until I had healed sufficiently.  That said, I did drop some clues along the way in previous blogs . . . "Inside an Anxiety Attack" and "I'm S.A.D. . . . and My Oilers Suck". 

So why come clean now?  I had an "a-ha" moment . . . or perhaps is what a "duh" moment.  People must be made aware at how devastating depression can be, and the HUGE role it can play in keeping people in the muck once they find themselves in poverty.   If I could get depressed, when doing these experiences voluntarily and have the tools and training to stave off depression, then the 99.9% of people who find themselves in poverty involuntarily are sitting ducks.  Once a person becomes depressed . . . they have less energy (if any at all), their get up and go has got up and went, they think poorly of themselves, and they tend to isolate themselves from any support networks.  In other words, the depressed person in poverty becomes deprived of all of the tools they need in order to get out of poverty and they become entrenched.

The good news is that there are organizations working city streets and in communities that help people regain their mental health as they are helped back on their feet and out of poverty.  (e.g. The Mustard Seed in Calgary)   We just need to support them more so that they can reach even more people.  And, even better, we need to put in the societal safeguards that keep people from falling into poverty in the first place.

Oh . . . and in revising my answer to my Uncle Dave's concern . . . "Yes, absolutely.  How could it not?  But, if more people get involved in being part of the solution to eliminate poverty, then it is a price I have been willing to pay."

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

March 17, 2012

The Insidious Nature of Scarcity Thinking

Being fear-based, scarcity thinking makes us think
we have less than we need . . . and certainly not
enough to go around.
In this phase of That Poverty Project, I haven't been able to shake the feeling of not having enough.  Not just with respect to food, but everything.  During the first two phases, I was definitely in the position of having limited resources and few options.  However, during this phase only my food choices and amounts are limited, nothing else.  Yet, still, I have to constantly remind myself that I can do things like rent a movie, or buy a t-shirt, or get my wife flowers.  I have enough, and yet scarcity thinking has its grip on me.

It really makes me understand my grandparents who had lived through the Great Depression and then for the rest of their lives were in penny pinching mode.  It also makes me wonder if those who find themselves in poverty situations have a tough time breaking free partially because of the way they come to think.  Does scarcity thinking become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Of course, scarcity thinking has been around since the beginning of human history.  It's scarcity thinking that causes us to horde, guard, and develop a "me first" mentality.  It's scarcity thinking that is the foundation of many conflicts between people and nations.  It's scarcity thinking that sets the expectations that a segment of the population being in poverty is natural, and therefore something that we cannot and perhaps should not change.   While scarcity thinking may serve one well when lost in the woods with limited rations, in most other cases it is a destructive force.

There are many who rely on scarcity thinking to make massive profits.  Advertisers are fully aware of how easy it is to leverage scarcity thinking into making a sale.  They tell us what we need in order to be safer, healthier, more beautiful, richer, more respected, and happier.  Because, without this product or that product we are sorry excuses for human beings who will shamefully lag behind all others until we die a horrible, lonely death.  Scarcity thinking sells.

However, scarcity thinking can never be satisfied.  It is a constant gaping bottomless hole into which we throw stuff, only to be wanting more stuff soon after.  While many a commercial enterprise not only survives but thrives on this mentality, it is like a cancer that undermines society and literally leaves billions of people without their basic human rights.  "Oh," we say, "we'd help them if we could, but there's not enough to go around and we certainly don't have enough to be able to help."  Scarcity thinking is quite simply . . . wrong.

The fact is that we live in a world of abundance.  There IS enough for everyone to have their basic human rights met.  There is enough for those who are rich to still be rich and for no one to be in poverty.  It's not a question of whether there is enough to go around, but rather simply a question of priorities.  In fact, in many cases in the developed world, it would actually cost society less to eliminate poverty than it does to service it.  Yes, that's right, those of us lucky enough to live in a land of prosperity would have a little bit more by eliminating poverty.  And, in the developing world, it only takes a small fraction of what the world spends on military, as an example, to ensure that everyone everywhere had food, water, access to medical care, education, and shelter.  Yes, poverty is actually a matter of priorities, not a question of scarcity.

I encourage you to take a look at what you have and be grateful; be skeptical of what you are told you need to have; and to speak out to make it a priority that everyone have their basic human rights met.

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

March 11, 2012

Kudos for Kony 2012

Like it or not . . . the Kony 2012 campaign is a public engagement success, and one which should be celebrated.  As of this moment, the recently released 30-minute video produced by Invisible Children has exceeded 70 million views in order to raise awareness about the atrocities against children and their families committed over the last 20+ years by Joseph Kony and his Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda and neighbouring countries.  The campaign calls upon people to make Kony famous (I'd have chosen "infamous") in order to encourage the powers that be to increase their efforts in finally bringing Kony and his cohorts to justice.

Yes, the campaign should be celebrated.  It's not easy to engage people to the magnitude that Kony 2012 has done.  In fact, it's incredibly difficult.  Unfortunately, the campaign has also attracted a plethora of detractors who take aim at Invisible Children's depiction of Uganda, its financial transparency, and what the group actually funds overseas.  However, I would encourage these critics to take a step back and recognize the primary intent of the video . . . to engage people in setting a new precedent for international justice.  Kony 2012 is intended to get a man topping the international most wanted list onto the public's radar in order to motivate world leaders to get the job done in finding and arresting Joseph Kony.  While it remains to be seen whether Kony will be caught in the near future, there can be no doubting that the campaign has been an absolute success in doing what it set out to do.

I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't wish the campaign were focused on eradicating world hunger or eliminating poverty rather than taking aim at Joseph Kony.  However, I recognize the positive impact that such a campaign can have on other causes.  The more that people become accustomed to getting involved, having a say in important issues affecting the world, the better.  At the end of the day, I much rather have people mobilize to put heat on Kony and the LRA than not be mobilized at all.

Don't think for even a moment that this campaign is only about raising awareness to catch one bad guy.  It's much, much more than that . . .

  • It's about achieving justice for tens of thousands of kids and their families who were cruelly tormented and had their lives destroyed.  I have worked hands on with former child soldiers in Sierra Leone, West Africa and it meant the world to them to have their tormentor, Foday Sankoh, brought to justice.  Talk to victims of violence or sexual abuse and you will hear how important it is that their tormentor face ramifications for the wrongs bestowed on them and others. 

  • It's about giving notice to those who would partake in such abuses that the world is watching, and the public will no longer stand idly by while injustices are committed.  This engagement translates directly into political will . . . giving leaders a "green light" to apply resources to bring the accused to face the consequences of their actions.

  • It's about creating renewed awareness regarding the plight of child soldiers, and harnessing public energy to better address this terrible practice.  About 12 years ago, I was involved with raising awareness about children affected by war, and the Kony 2012 video reminded me very much of the realities of children that I witnessed first hand.

I'm grateful for the Kony 2012 campaign, despite its warts.  I just hope that it will translate into paving the way for increased involvement by more and more people in addressing a variety of other issues that will better OUR world.


  • If you haven't seen the Kony 2012 video, you can check out by clicking HERE.

  • This is by no means an endorsement to give money to Invisible Children.  I encourage everyone to research organizations they wish to support financially.  There are many organizations around the world doing great work on a variety of issues . . . find the one you would like to support.

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

March 7, 2012

Our Century's Greatest Injustice

The oppression, discrimination, and abuse of women and girls is one of the most serious issues affecting poverty around the world.  Beyond the cruel injustice of such acts, it is such a huge poverty issue because women and girls are one of the greatest, if not the greatest, part of the solution to alleviate poverty.

As pointed out in this TED Talk video by Sheryl WuDunn entitled "Our Century's Greatest Injustice", educating the girl child accomplishes three incredibly important things in the global battle against poverty.  First, since it has been shown that girls with education have fewer babies, it reverses the trend towards overpopulation that plays a big factor in poverty proliferation.  Second, experience has also shown that women make better use of resources for the benefit of the family.  Third, it increases the involvement in women in being part of the solution breaking the poverty cycle.

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO.

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

March 1, 2012

Phase III Begins! (Day One - March 1, 2012)

Having the same food everyday, and less of it than I'm used to.  That's what Phase III of That Poverty Project introduces to me.  For three months I will be only eating the equivalent of rations provided by the World Food Programme to people in refugee camps.

Why?  Because this is the food that people around the world are provided when they need food.  Because this is the food that the almost 1 Billion hungry, malnourished people in the world are dying for.  Literally.

The above rations provide approximately 2100 Kcal of energy per day.  Trying to be as authentic as possible, I've only made only two changes to the actual WFP rations.  First, whereas the World Food Programme provides a vitamin fortified "super cereal" comprised of cornmeal and soya beans which I cannot duplicate, I've simply included the ingredients separately.  Second, I am following the example of my West African friends in Sierra Leone who wouldn't dare eat the above without a little "peppa".  Thus, I will be adding some hot sauce.

I am willing to make this sacrifice as a indication of the depth of my belief that poverty eradication is the single most important, preventable issue facing our world today.  Solve poverty, and you improve the world many times over while ridding the world of a whole whack of other issues along the way.  With every grain of rice and every bit of fibre in the lentils I'm eating, I believe, based upon facts and actual real world examples, that poverty CAN be eliminated.  Collectively, we just need to make it a priority.

Oh, by the way . . . I put on a little bit of weight since the end of the second phase.  I am now 222 lbs, which is 11 lbs lighter than at the very start of the project back in July 2011.  In the coming days and weeks we'll see how the above diet affects my weight.

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

February 22, 2012

Raising a Red Flag

Poverty is one of those high priority, red flag issues.

Poverty is an economic issue.  More than being only about the financial plight of those experiencing poverty, it is a financial issue for everyone.  It costs all of us more to live with poverty in our society than it does to eradicate it.  For example, recently Action to End Poverty in Alberta and Vibrant Communities Calgary issued a report called "Poverty Costs" that determined it currently costs Albertans between $7.1 - $9.5 Billion each year in perpetuation of poverty that could be better spent towards reduction of poverty.  "Poverty Costs" Report

Poverty is a social issue.  As a consequence of poverty, significant portions of the population effectively become second rate citizens due to unequal access with respect participating in society.  This inequality is exacerbated due to the untruths, stigma and myths propagated regarding those living in poverty.  Contrary to popular misconception, most people in poverty are not lazy bums in the street.  They are single parents, seniors, working poor, people with disabilities, and much more.  Except for a good break here or a blessing there, it could be any one of us who finds themselves in dire circumstances.  Turning again to Alberta, Canada's richest province per capita, almost 300,000 people find themselves in poverty (i.e. nearly 10% of the population), including 73,000 children.  And, of course, there are at least as many individuals and families hovering within an all too easy reach of poverty.

Poverty is a justice issue.  Access to food, clean water, and shelter are basic human rights.  In order for each of us to stand a chance of reaching our potential, we should also add education, basic health care, and sanitation to this list.  Of course, this is not new as many of these are specifically enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as codified through a variety of laws.  To have one's basic rights unsatisfied, as is the case for those in poverty, is an injustice of the highest order.

Poverty is a spiritual issue.  Our society is founded upon Judeo-Christian values, a central tenet of which is compassion for those in need.  Of course, all major faiths as well as many schools of thought outside of religious traditions have compassion as a foundational element.  According to these traditions and schools of thought, as members of the human family each of us has some connection, and thereby some responsibility, to the basic well being of others.

Poverty is a moral issue.  Our world has the resources to eradicate poverty.  In the developed world, as described above with respect to Alberta, it often costs less to eliminate poverty than it does to service it.  In the developing world, it has been estimated that everyone could have enough food, health care, clean water and education for an additional cost equivalent to less than 10% of what the world spends annually on military. Katherine Marshall (Senior Fellow at the Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs) has recently described poverty as the "scandal of our times because it can be changed."

We need to make poverty a political issue.  Nothing will change unless our government is responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable.  Whether we like it or not, the fact remains that our elected leaders must be on board in order to bring about the circumstances for poverty elimination.  For all of the above reasons, we need to let our representatives know that poverty is a priority issue.  Poverty is also a non-partisan issue.  Regardless of our respective political leanings, we need to encourage our government to adopt a poverty reduction strategy.  Case studies in other jurisdictions have proven that poverty reduction only happens when a plan is adopted.  Let's raise our voices to eradicate poverty.  It will benefit all of us.

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

February 17, 2012

We Can Be Heroes

What does it take to be a hero?  Super powers?  A cape and cool tights?  A catchy nickname?

None of these.  All it takes to be a hero is to put your compassion into action.  Every time you speak up on behalf of someone who is vulnerable or in need or do something to help someone you join the ranks of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and many others.  You're a hero.

The following video focuses on the need in the Horn of Africa, but really the message is much bigger.  You'll see two distinct sets of responses to the question of what you would do if someone needs you.  The first group . . . a massively underwhelming.  The second group . . . incredibly inspiring.

Check out these links . . .

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

February 7, 2012

We Have A Choice

At one time, the world didn't have the resources and technology to eliminate poverty. Scarcity ruled the day, and people and governments made decisions based upon this mindset.

Now we have enough resources and technology to eliminate poverty.  However, we still have poverty . . . lots of it . . . and in some places it's growing.  Why?  Because we're still operating according to a scarcity mindset, and we erroneously resign ourselves to poverty being a fact of life.  That's right . . . what once was correct is now wrong.

We have a choice.  It starts with changing our mindset and recognizing that there is enough for all to have a decent, dignified standard of living.  Once we acknowledge that no one has to be in poverty, we then need to adjust our systems to reflect the new mindset.  To do so effectively, we need a preventative poverty reduction strategy.  A plan.  We can choose to implement strategies to protect people from falling into poverty, and helping people get back on their feet if they do trip up.  It's all a matter of priorities.

The following video was released today in conjunction with a brand spanking new report about poverty in Alberta, Canada's most prosperous province and a place where poverty is increasing due to the growing income inequality.  While the numbers deal specifically with Alberta, the situation being described exists in many places and the message is pertinent to wherever such exists.

(including getting a full copy of the report)

We have enough resources and know-how to eradicate poverty.  The only question remaining is . . . do we care enough?  I think we do, but it's not enough to simply care.  We have to put that compassion into action.  We have to align our priorities with our values.  For any compassionate society there is no greater priority than the well being and dignity of its most vulnerable citizens.

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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

January 30, 2012

Lessons from the Working Poor (January 30, 2012)

I've been doing a little looking in the mirror and reflecting as the second 3-month phase of That Poverty Project comes to a close after tomorrow.  As I experienced a small taste of the "Struggles of the Working Poor" there's certainly been  good share of difficulties (see Living On The Edge . . . Double Standards? . . . Cruel & Unusual Punishment), but right now I want to focus on the positive things that those who "have enough" may benefit from incorporating into their lives.  I believe learning is always a two-way street . . . others may learn from us but we can always learn from others.

Important Disclaimer:
  The following lessons learned can only really be appreciated when one has the choice to implement them or not, and they only really become benefits when able to be adopted in the context of having enough.  Perhaps those in working poor situations can take solace in knowing there are some benefits in their lifestyle, but the fact remains that with these "benefits" comes a whole lot of hardship.  For one in poverty the following items are, at most, a silver lining to a gargantuan black cloud.

Lesson #1
- With less clutter and temptations barraging us daily it's easier to identify the truly important things in life.  Choices, affluence, and an excess of opportunities are wonderful.  However, they also create busy-ness and can fill our lives to the point of being unable to remember what is truly important.  During these last three months, I have missed eating the same meals as my family and, therefore, made every effort to eat at the same time even if we were not eating the same thing.  I've also really appreciated taking walks with my wife more than I ever have before.  Sharing time together is so important, and it really doesn't matter if it is doing something new or fancy.

Lesson #2 - We can live with less . . . it saves money and reduces our impact on the environment.  If we have the means, we can spend a lot of our time . . . well . . . spending.  Buying the latest gadget and "keeping up with the Joneses" can be fun, but at the end of the day it's really not necessary.  Nor is it that fulfilling as you just keep wanting more once the novelty of the latest purchase wears off.  Of course, living with less, i.e. more simply, we not only end up saving money but our reduced consumption also lessens our environmental footprint.  This, in turn, may result in you being better able to help someone else and contributes to everyone having enough.

Lesson #3 - A simplified diet means less bother and less wastage.  Remember the old television shows that reflected days gone by when families had set menus . . . meatloaf on Wednesday, fish on Friday, etc.  There's something to that, but maybe not what you think.  Yes, such gets predictable and is less exciting than a continuously changing menu.  However, I've found that having the same things over and over . . . (i) simplifies shopping and one learns very quickly the exact quantities needed; (ii) I found out exactly how much to cook which resulted in less wastage (a.k.a. NONE); and (iii) it is easier to track what needs to be bought and clutter doesn't accumulate in the pantry.  Very little goes bad or turns into a science experiment in the back of the fridge.

ADDED BONUS - In addition to the above lessons, I personally received a very welcome added bonus.  Over the last several years, I've suffered regularly from a chronic eye condition involving a painful dry skin rash.  During this recent phase of the project, this condition has completely disappeared!  I'd always suspected that the condition was some sort of food allergy, but was never able to successfully isolate the culprits. (Yes, there's more than one.)  Prior to this phase of the project, I knew that Clamato juice caused it to flare up, and I learned at New Year's that certain dry cider does the same.  However, since I have those things rarely, and the rash still acts up regularly, it had to be something else, too.  Knowing all the things I have eaten during the last three months that have not caused a flare-up, I hope to better identify things that affect me as my diet changes in the days ahead.

I am grateful for these lessons.  I hope the situation for all of those who are working poor improves so that they no longer live in dire circumstances, and that they can have the choice to retain positives such as these from their lifestyle.  Of course, such CAN happen . . . we just have to collectively make it a priority to fix our system so that everyone can have enough.

Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 85 - 91 (January 24th – January 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:   $9.19 (leftover) + $6.00 (Jan 24) + $11.00 (Jan 25) + $9.00 (Jan 26) + $7.50 (Jan 27) + $7.00 (Jan 28) + $10.00 (Jan 29) + $9.00 (Jan 30) = $68.69
Funds Spent Today:  $24.85 (Purchases) + $15.94 (Loan Repayment) = $40.79
Remaining Funds:   $27.90

New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Payment Due Today: $0.00
Loan Payment:   $15.94
Outstanding Loan: $15.88 as at Jan 23rd (originally $50.00 Loan on Jan 3, $15.00 principal remaining) @ 3% per month = $15.94 Owing as at Jan 27th - $15.94 loan payment = $0.00 owing as a Jan 27th . . . full re-payment due January 31st (or earlier)

Items Purchased:   $10 Gas, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Potatoes, 6-Pack of Beer  
Free Stuff:   Brunch at Church, Leftovers from a Casserole (Church Brunch), Hot Cider at Meeting, Slice of Pizza from Friend

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $10.00 (i.e. 9.02 litres @ $1.109 per litre . . . 90.2 km @ 10 km/litre) + 3.33 litres (gas remaining) = 12.35 litres (123.5 km)
Driving Today:  60.0 km (i.e. 6.00 litres)
Gas Remaining:  6.35 litres (i.e. 63.5 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 See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

January 26, 2012

I'm S.A.D. . . . And My Oilers Suck (January 26, 2012)

With my apologies to the Edmonton
Oilers, the greatest team of all-time,
but it's how I feel.  Literally.
I'm sad.  My favourite hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers, have really sucked in the last few years.  I think the two conditions may be related.  And, it's not what you think.

Now, when I say I'm sad, I don't mean in the conventional sense but rather sad because of S.A.D.  S.A.D. can make one feel sad, but for different reasons than normal.  It's because of the season.  Not the hockey season, which can make one feel sad if you're an Oilers fan recently, but rather the "season" season.  Winter.  Shortened days.  Less sunlight.  It affects some of us in bad ways.

S.A.D. stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It affects some people in winter when the days get shorter and results in depression like symptoms.  These symptoms include decreased energy, fatigue, tendency to oversleep, difficulty concentrating, avoidance of social situations, and anxiety and despair.  Quoting the Canadian Mental Health Association's website - "It may affect (a S.A.D. sufferer's) personal and professional lives, and seriously limit their potential."  In other words, it prevents sufferers from functioning normally, and it can be debilitating.  The number of people affected by S.A.D. increases the further north you travel in the northern hemisphere (and, presumably, the further south you travel in the southern hemisphere) since it seems to flourish in places where days get substantially shorter during the winter months of the year.  In Canada, studies show that 2% - 3% of the population fall into full blown S.A.D. depression while another 15% of the population suffer a less severe, related form of the condition often called the "winter blues".  For more information about S.A.D. you can click here to check out the CMHA website.

Treatment for S.A.D. is similar to treatment for any other type of depression.  The key is often anti-depressants, talk therapy, and exercise.  (By the way, it really peeves me that exercise can help . . . do you have any idea how difficult it is to do exercise when you're suffering from symptoms that include decreased energy and fatigue?!?  Just saying.)  However, there are a few additional treatments for S.A.D. that have also proven to help.  Light therapy has shown to be quite effective in that during some of the dark hours of the day it simulates daylight.  Related to this, trips to warmer climates where there are more daylight hours have also been successful in bringing relief to symptoms . . . but, unfortunately, the symptoms often recur as soon as the person returns home.  And I learned a new one today . . . eating fish.  Studies have shown a strange anomaly in that the occurrence of S.A.D. in Iceland and Japan is substantially lower than one would anticipate.  While it could be genetics, some believe it is a result of their high fish diet that provides lots of Vitamin D and DHA (docosahexanoic acid), both of which help curb depression.

"So," you ask, "What do the Edmonton Oilers have to do with this?"  Really?  You need to ask?  I thought it would be obvious.  Okay, I'll explain.  My hypothesis is that the roster of the Edmonton Oilers over the last few years has had a disproportionately high number of players that are susceptible to S.A.D.  Think about it.  Edmonton is the northern most team in the National Hockey League, and if they had by some strange quirk a higher than average number of players who suffer from S.A.D. then their performance would be adversely affected by it.  To back this hypothesis up, I have numbers from the last 3 seasons (October 2009 through to January 2012).  In the games played between December 14th and January 31st each of these years, which I find to be the hardest with respect to my S.A.D. each year, the Oilers were 9 (W) - 44 (L) - 7 (OTL) for a total production of 20.8% of the total points possible.  In contrast, for all the other games over these 3 seasons, the Oilers have a record of 61 (W) - 74 (L) - 18 (OTL) . . . a total production of 45.7% of the total points possible.    I recognize that their record at any time of the year is nothing to write home about, but it has been mid-December to the end of January that has been absolutely killing them.  It's S.A.D.

(Yes, I know that the above is a stretch.  And, I know that there are many other reasons the Oilers may suck right now . . . lack of comparative skill, young team, needing a couple of big defencemen, etc. . . . and that given the amount they exercise and travel south they should be less likely to suffer from S.A.D. . . . but please don't burst my bubble.  For some reason it gives me comfort to think the cause of their "suckiness" is physiological.  Oh . . . and the irony also doesn't elude me that I post this blog on the 51st birthday of the greatest Oiler, and the greatest player of all time, Wayne Gretzky.  Happy Birthday Gretz!)

"But Poverty Guy," you say venturing to ask another question despite being shot down with your earlier one, "What does S.A.D. have to do with those in poverty?  S.A.D. can affect anyone of any socio-economic circumstance."  Aaah, yes . . . now there's a good question.  You've redeemed yourself.  S.A.D. absolutely can affect anyone of any background equally (well, unless you're from Iceland or Japan, then it seems you may have dodged a bullet) BUT it doesn't effect them equally.  For those in poverty, they often are not able to access those things that can help.  Anti-depressants are often not accessible due to high cost and no benefit plan.  Talk therapy can be accessed at little or no cost through many mental health agencies, but the stigma associated with mental health keeps two out of every three people seeking the help they need.  Light therapy . . . often not accessible to someone who doesn't have enough money for food . . . or electricity.  Fish . . . ditto.  Trips to the south . . . dream on.  And, I venture to guess that those suffering hard from S.A.D. and don't get treatment may not ultimately be as successful as those who do not suffer from S.A.D., and therefore a higher occurrence amongst the lower income.  I might be wrong in that last point, but in my mind it stands to reason.

So, in summary, I take great solace in knowing that, for me and those like me, the season will pass.  And, in this case, I mean both winter and the hockey season.

IMPORTANT - CMHA (Edmonton) provides these wonderful tips if you know someone suffering from S.A.D.:

Things to Do to Help Someone Suffering from SAD

1. Understand the problem. Recognize that this is a real problem even though the person affected looks normal.

2. Just be there. Don’t feel you have to do anything specific, your presence and company will be experienced as soothing and helpful.

3. Encourage the person with SAD. Remind the person this is a passing phase, that he or she has not always felt this way and will feel better again.

4. Help with simple things. Even doing shopping can feel like a huge chore to the depressed person. Offers to help out will be greatly appreciated.

Things to Avoid
1. Don’t judge and criticize. The person with SAD is already feeling bad about not functioning up to his or her normal standards, and about letting everyone down.

2. Don’t take the person’s withdrawal personally. Do not assume the person is mad at you or uninterested in being friends with you.

3. Don’t assume that it is your responsibility to make the person feel fine. It is not likely to work, and you will probably end up feeling frustrated and irritated at your failure.


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

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO.

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

January 23, 2012

You Said It Best (January 23, 2012)

The absolutely most appreciated correspondence I receive is from those in poverty situations who are offering encouragement and gratitude.  It's humbling and fuels my drive to do more.  It also means I'm on the mark.

Just a few days ago, the following communication landed in my e-mail box.  The situation described is heart wrenching, and I can hear the writer's frustration at the hand she and her family have been dealt.  Further, she is absolutely correct that people land in poverty situations often by no fault of their own. (see Really . . . What Does IT Look Like?)  It happened to them, it could happen to me, and it could happen to you.  The thing is that in this abundant world, we should be making it a priority that it doesn't happen to anyone.

Please give Shandi's letter a read . . . and more importantly please give it some thought and let her message sink in and affect how you see the world.


To That Poverty Project:
I wanted to send you a thank you from my family for what you are doing.

We, unfortunately, have been doing the same thing but not by choice as you are. To have someone bring awareness to the fact that there are people worldwide that are having what would be classified "hard times" is refreshing.

Since August my family and I have been homeless and living on very little, but we are still making it work.  Just to let you know, the whole story is my husband and I were hit by a drunk driver that was under insured. Our local state agency in Idaho, USA said that they were there to help and then placed liens on the insurance money and all of our property. When we were unable to repay what they stated they had paid on our behalf they took all the insurance money, our home and our car to repay them. All of this happened because of the choice one person made that affected our life and we had no choice. Our choices were taken away on that night. Now, because of that choice, my husband is permanently disabled and I have to take care of him so I am not able to work.

One thing that I may have missed is . . . have you addressed the different local so-called “helping” agencies? I know from personal experience that they do need to be put in check. I have tried on many different occasions to get help for my family.  I have been told that the agency would help but would take my child away from me; or that they would help but even though I have no money to clean myself up I have to go look for a job looking like a homeless person because that is what I am. I know it doesn't sound like a big issue but when you look like a homeless person, in all honesty, who is going to hire you? Trust me I have tried and there is not anyone. Now I know that this may sound like a pity party and that I am looking for sympathy but that is not what I am wanting. I just like to have someone take a look at the different circumstances that have caused people to be in the situations that they are in, and not just the fact that they are there.

It seems that you have the attention of many so maybe you can bring awareness to the cause of the different situations for these groups of people. Not everyone is poor, homeless, or living in poverty because they were born there or because they made poor choices. Some people are forcibly put on the street or into poverty because of the choices someone else made that they had no control over. Yes, I feel horrible for those people that are in the situation of not having enough food or shelter and for those living in 3rd world countries that do not have the proper anything for life. Please do not take this to be belittling in any way to what others are going through, but there are those people everywhere that have had other peoples choices cause them to be in these deplorable conditions.

Once again thank you for bringing awareness to the bulk of this matter you work will help many. 


Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 81 - 84 (January 20th – January 23rd)

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:   $15.34 (leftover) + $8.50 (Jan 20) + $6.00 (Jan 21) + $9.00 (Jan 22) + $9.00 (Jan 23) = $47.84
Funds Spent Today:  $28.65 (Purchases) + $10.00 (Loan Repayment) = $38.65
Remaining Funds:   $9.19

New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Payment Due Today: $0.00
Loan Payment:   $10.00
Outstanding Loan: $25.78 as at Jan 19th (originally $50.00 Loan on Jan 3, $25.00 principal remaining) @ 3% per month = $25.88 Owing as at Jan 23rd - $10.00 loan payment = $15.88 owing as a Jan 23rd . . . full re-payment due January 31st (or earlier)

Items Purchased:   $5 Gas, 6 Bananas, 6 Apples, 2 Pork Butt Steaks (Big Sale!), Bunch of Green Onions, 0.15 kg JuJubes, 0.3 kg Peanuts, 5 lb Bag of Potatoes, Dozen Eggs, 4 Noodle Soups  
Free Stuff:   Nil

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $5.00 (i.e. 4.51 litres @ $1.109 per litre . . . 45.1 km @ 10 km/litre) + 2.02 litres (gas remaining) = 6.53 litres (65.3 km)
Driving Today:  32.0 km (i.e. 3.20 litres)
Gas Remaining:  3.33 litres (i.e. 33.3 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 See WHAT YOU CAN DO

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

January 21, 2012

Mrs. Poverty Guy Speaks Out About Utilities

Hey there!  That Poverty Guy has been burning the candle at both ends preparing for a presentation, and since I have something that has been going through my mind, I asked if the Missus could post a blog today.  Please don’t expect the wonderful calibre of wit and wisdom that my Poverty Guy husband brings to this blog.  The words are just begging to come out and I would love to hear what you think about “utilities”. 

Mrs. Poverty Guy has soooo much money that she
can just let the tap run wide open.  NOT!
Just over a week ago, I read in our local newspaper that our water rates are going to increase 8%.  I don’t know about you, but I hate these dreaded additions to my household budget.  Where is that extra money supposed to come from when you are on a fixed income with next to nothing for extras?  Does it magically appear as the need arises?  If you happen to have that ‘money-fairy’ working on your block . . . please, please send her my way.  You see, last fall, my hours at work were reduced because of education cutbacks.  I am making less this year than last.  No extra to cover inflation, new user fees or increases in utilities. 

There's no doubt in my mind that these things affect real people like you and me.  In mere seconds names pour forth of others I know who are also uncomfortably affected by these unavoidable expenditures....colleagues, seniors, single moms, and those dealing with illness or disability.   One of my co-workers already has two extra jobs just trying to make ends meet.   With admiration, I remember the ‘omigosh, I wish I had that kind of energy’ senior who has been recognized by the mayor for her ongoing volunteer efforts.   These aren’t people planning their annual trip to Mexico, that’s for sure.  And they certainly aren’t deadbeats – you know, the ones people usually picture when they don’t want to admit that there are good, decent citizens who live in poverty.  The only way to accommodate an 8% increase is to go with less.  (. . . assuming that stealing your neighbour’s water is not an attractive option.)

Admittedly, I might be missing something.  Perhaps there's an automatic yearly increase given to those on a fixed income or who are below the poverty line.  You know, something that will cover that 8% hike in our water rates?  Now, guessing that this doesn’t exist . . . why shouldn’t it?  What a fantastic idea! Fill out a form and, voila, the offensive affront to your budget is someone else’s responsibility.  That Poverty Guy just recently posted about an  EI program that perhaps could be suspended freeing up millions of dollars.  Let’s have the government cover the costs or provide an exemption.   Simple.    I cannot imagine how there is any fairness in asking me, or a single mom, or a senior, to have to pinch our water usage when there are CEO’s who have already made my yearly salary 5 times over by January 21st.   It makes me laugh even imagining such an executive having to entertain the thought of reducing their personal water consumption in order to make ends meet. 

I am serious about a program to assist in these circumstances.  Why shouldn’t it be a reality?  What do you think?

The Missus