Mar 162017
 

The New Land of Opportunities is Cold, but Friendly

Many Americans want nothing more than to have the equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and sheer sticktoitiveness. 🙂 But research from the Pew Research Center suggests that there is a growing gap between the country’s rich and poor. As the middle class gets squeezed it is becoming harder for people to realize their dreams. Some consumers in the lower class are in so much financial distress, they can’t even afford to pay their electricity bills. Excuse the pun but these could very well be the darkest times of their lives, literally.

But there is a silver lining to all this. According to Scott Gilmore, a columnist for Macleans magazine, Canada is a better place than the United States to find life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by virtually every measure. 🙂 So maybe the American dream hasn’t died. It just moved north.

Canadians are more likely to have college degrees, be employed, own a home, take more vacation days, and even live longer than our neighbours to the south. 🙂 Scott says one contributing factor to a better life in Canada is thanks to our more affordable, public healthcare system. We don’t have people here going bankrupt because of medical bills. We may have to wait longer than Americans to get treatment. But at least Canadians are less likely to take extreme measures to pay for high healthcare expenses.

 

Economic mobility is also higher in Canada. According to Scott, Canadians are twice as likely to move from the poorest quintile of the population to the wealthiest quintile compared to Americans. Similarly, the link between the income of a parent and a child is half as strong in Canada. In other words, individuals have more influence over their future outcomes than the environment they are born into. 🙂 Canadians are also 6 times less likely to be incarcerated.

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Apr 072015
 

I recently read an article called “Perfection Anxiety” from an old copy of Vanity Fair magazine. In it 25 year old Petra Ecclestone, the daughter of Formula One mogul Bernie, and her recently married husband, bought an $85,000,000 mansion in Los Angeles. Wow, and I thought Vancouver real estate was expensive. 😛 Before moving in to their new home they also spent $19,000,000 on their wedding. 😯 To put that into context the average wedding in the United States only costs about $25,000. But of course most weddings don’t serve bottles of $6,000 Chateau Petrus, nor does the bride wear a $130,000 Vera Wang dress.

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If that wasn’t enough excitement for the couple they later bought a 17th century self-portrait by Van Dyck for $20,000,000. 😕

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Apr 232013
 

The Arctic Landscape Silver Coin

Earlier this month I purchased the Canada’s Arctic Landscape 2013 Fine Silver coin. It’s a 1 kilogram (2.2lb) 99.99% silver coin made by the Royal Canadian Mint. It can be bought either on the mint.ca directly, or through one of their third party vendors world wide. Either way, you can expect to pay $2,249.95 CAD.  (^_-) I didn’t have any savings, so I borrowed the money from my line of credit. :0) The coin comes with a custom maple wood box lined with flock, and fits in a black cardboard sleeve to protect the box.

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PRESENTATION

The coin itself, which is inclosed in a transparent plastic case, can be set comfortably inside the linings of the wooden box so they can be displayed together. The craftsmanship on the box is top notch and compliments the coin well.

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DESIGN

The image on the Arctic Landscape coin was designed by Canadian artist W. David Ward. The image represents a highly detailed rendition of the Baffin Island at the mouth of the Northwest Passage. On the obverse side of the coin is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II designed by Susanna Blunt. At 4 inches wide in diameter the coin looks somewhat smaller than a DVD which is 4.7 inches wide. The coin is roughly half an inch thick. Weighing in at exactly 1,000 grams or roughly 32 troy ounces, it’s aboot 32 times the size and weight of the various 1 oz silver coins that are common in circulation.

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VALUE

Based on current commodity pricing 1 kg of silver should cost no more than $1,000. But the price for this coin is $2,250. Why the premium? Unlike bullion, these rare, authentic, un-circulated coins are specially commissioned, proof finished and have a limited mintage. But is all that worth the extra cost over the spot price of silver? I certainly think so. 🙂 Proofs are minted with special dies that have been chemically treated with acid. Furthermore each coin is struck multiple times to force the silver into all the crevices of the die giving the coin more definition and fidelity. 13_04_arcticsilver4 silver coin review

The result is a gorgeous coin that has a very distinct look and feel that can’t be replicated with normal minting practices. For example, when viewed from certain angles the design appears clean, flat, and almost cell shaded like a painting (see image below.) But when viewed from other angles the contrast of the image becomes more dynamic. The water and sky darkens in contrast to the glacier in the foreground, and the surface feels more 3 dimensional. It’s almost like magic. (゜o゜)  (mouse over image below to see the change.) Furthermore, the light reflecting off this coin appears to have a higher range than what most digital displays can output. Pictures like the ones in this post cannot accurately depict its true beauty. The only way to appreciate a proof coin properly is to see it in person. 😉

Only 750 of these Arctic Landscape coins were minted. So today only 1 in roughly 9.3 million people in the world can own this coin. It will become 1 in every 10 million in the future as the population grows making the coin even more rare. From the ingenuity used to craft this coin to the sheer beauty of its design this is truly a work of art.

VERDICT

This beautifully crafted fine silver coin captures the history, heritage, and magnificence of the Arctic landscape. It’s a symbol of Canadian engineering and artistic talent working together to create something truly brilliant. It’s almost like this coin was just mint to be. 😀 The rare mintage (only 750,) and the globally recognized RCM brand make this coin a must have for any collector or enthusiast. I give this coin a perfect 5 out of 5. Delivered as advertised. A+++ product. Great seller. Would buy from again!

Feb 282013
 

I often like to compare lifestyles between different countries. I think where each of us are born has a huge impact on not only our own lives but also how we influence those around us. I recently found this ifitweremyhome.com that compares countries and the average lifestyles of people from all over the world. Coincidentally Canada is currently featured as their country of the week lol. It’s a pretty nifty tool if you want to do some research on another country before you move, or even just go there for a vacation. You can compare Mexico to Australia, United Kingdom to South Korea, etc.. Below lists some of the things it said comparing US and Canada (my comments in italics).

If I lived in the US instead of Canada I would……

Spend 83% more money on health care.
Our government recently announced that health insurance premiums are going up 4% next year. At first I wasn’t too happy about this because over the last 12 years our MSP premiums have almost doubled. However NOW since I realize it’s still relatively cheap I would have no complaints even if they raised it by 10% because that’s still a discount compared to alternatives 🙂
Experience 40% more of a class divide.
I think this is why we’re generally perceived to be more friendly. Even when we get angry we’re nice about it. Unfortunately it also makes for some boring politics sometimes.
13_02_comparison_upsetHave 35% more babies.
Americans have about 138 births per 10,000 people every year. Canadians only have about 103. Not sure exactly why but some people are talking about immigration reform to help grow our population. Why do you think Canadians aren’t having as many children as our southern neighbors?
Have 23% more chance of dying in infancy
The number of deaths of infants under 1 year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the US is 6.14 while in Canada it is 4.99.
Use 21% less electricity
Makes sense. It’s colder up here in the winter. ~Brrrr~
Make 20% more money
Maybe this is why a lot of smart people finish their studies in Canada and then move to the US to find career opportunities.
Die 3 years sooner
Maybe you live longer in colder temperatures 🙂
Consume 6% less oil
Looks like Canadians aren’t as environmentally friendly as we would like to be
Work 72 hours longer each year
That works out to about 6 hours a month.

So ideally if you want to have the best of both places, you should be born in Canada. Spend your working years in the US. And then move back to Canada to retire and live out the rest of your life. But of course life has too many moving parts to put it that simply. It’s hard to say which country really is better to live in. Both Canada and the US have their pros and cons.

Dec 302012
 

We sometimes hear about how Canada’s debt is over $600 billion, and it’s going to hit new highs in the next couple of years, and how it’s so unfair to leave all this massive debt to future generations. But I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I’m sure in the 1980’s when our parents were younger, they were scared to think about having to pay back around $300 billion of national debt. But 3 decades later, they turned out just fine, well most of them anyway. Canada turned out okay 😀 and the debt is STILL there, in fact, the country’s debt has pretty much doubled during that time.

Canadian national debt

Based on CPI data from Stats Can, most things costs twice as much today as they did 25 years ago. You can use calculators like this one to see how much $100 basket of goods in 1980 would cost in 2005, for example. And between 1980 and 2005, the median income of all economic families of two or more people increased 11.1% in 2005 constant dollars. That means most household incomes have beat inflation over time.

So if we’re making twice as much money, and our assets (eg: houses, stocks, etc) are also worth twice as much, and we’re spending twice as much on stuff, then relatively speaking if our debt is now also twice as high ($600 billion), did it really increase from before in real economic terms? The only thing that’s changed is the money supply we have in the system. Every dollar back in the 1980s only has the same effective value as 50 cents today :0) So that’s why our national debt may look bigger, but may not feel bigger.

I don’t see the problem of handing down all this debt to our future children either because they’re just going to do the same to THEIR children. Why not? Every other generation before them has gotten away with it lol :0)  But what’s good about our national debt is that most of it’s owned by Canadians.  Mutual funds, pension funds, and even the CPP is invested in our national debt. For example OMERS, a company that manages and invests people’s retirement money in Ontario, might have bought $1 million of Canadian debt. That would mean they lent the federal government $1 million. So the beneficiaries of this $1 million once the debt is repaid is the hard working municipal employees of Ontario. About 75% of the $600 billion debt is owed back to Canadians this way. So our net debt to people in other countries is only a fraction of the total number.

But if anyone is still concerned about government debt and wants to feel accountable for racking up so much IOUs, luckily there is a way you can pay your fair share of our national debt. There are about 35 million people in Canada, so on average each person’s share of the national debt is about $17,000. That means you can just buy federal debt, such as Canadian Savings Bonds, either through your bank or a trusted broker, and the government of Canada will literally owe you $17,000, or however much you buy. In other words, you will become one of the many beneficiaries of that $600 national debt 😀 By owning what you owe, you essentially don’t owe anything. As far as the national debt is concerned, you will be debt free :0) However I am not certain this logic is sound because you would be paying off debt with more debt, haha. But hey, that’s the kind of world we live in (^v^)