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The 3-second sound bite

When I was young, it was common to see a 30-second highlight of a speech on the news. Not so much now.

The problem for us is you can make a coherent point in 30 seconds. In three seconds you get nothing. 7 words or so. Not enough to supply a reason and alternatives. Three and five second sound bites are the new standard. They are the standard because they work. People are busy and emotional impressions are enough.

So, the 3-second sound bite

Since most media is interested in impressions rather than facts, argument, and options, you will be required to do some work of your own if you want to know what is really happening, you will need more. Not all of it will be difficult. You can find comment outside the media. The internet is marvellous for making such things available. You may want to use more than one search tool. Google is a bit bent.

An example of what should happen

Recently the former premier of Ontario decided the minimum wage was too low. In late 2017, it was $11.60 per hour. The premier decided $15.00 by 2019 would save thousand from poverty and the employers could easily afford it. Beginning in 2018, it became $14.00.

The unasked important question. “What then?”

It should have been asked and the answer would have been quite easy to discover. Employers did not simply absorb the increase. They cut hours, benefits, and in some cases jobs. They are not finished. Many jobs can be automated away. You may have noticed order kiosks at McDonalds. So who was better off. Certainly not the workers and given the decimation of the Liberal party in the recent election, not the politicians either.

The nature of the problem matters. The economic landscape of minimum wage earners. A recent publication from the Fraser Institute is entitled, Increasing the Minimum Wage in Ontario: A Flawed Anti-Poverty Policy. It makes several points, each of which would have been visible to government policy wonks.

  • In 2015, the latest year of available data, 90.8% of workers earning minimum wage in Ontario did not live in low income families.
  • In 2017, the year before Ontario was to increase the minimum wage, 59.2% of all minimum wage earners were under the age of 25 and the vast majority of them (86.3%) lived with a parent or other relative
  • Just 2.1% of Ontario minimum wage earners were single parents with young children.

Their summary:

“In addition to ineffectively targeting the working poor, raising the minimum wage also produces several unintended economic consequences to the detriment of young and inexperienced workers. These include fewer job opportunities, decreases in hours available for work, reductions in non-wage benefits, more automation, and higher consumer prices, which disproportionately hurt the working poor.”

As you can see, the “solution” has created problems, all of which were visible beforehand. It is necessary to ask the question, were these consequences unintended or were they a part of bigger package of “necessary” government services yet to come?

The bonanza for politicians is the solution to no known problem created further problems to address and a bureaucracy to do so.

Who is naive?

It is the people who trust these cynical politicians. The ones taken in by 3-second sound bites. The ones who think politicians are acting in our interest. Minimum wage is a political hoax that even the least skilled should be able to see through. There are dozens, even hundreds more programs that exist to establish the need for more government.

Given their not so exemplary history of success, I am astounded that people still take politicians seriously.

Yesterday I commented that conservatives think liberals are stupid. That was unkind. They are merely trusting and naive. They have a good heart and wish for things to turn out right for everyone. Idealists.


The world has been taken over by cynics who rely on the goodness of the average citizen to endow politicians with power and prestige. Start asking harder questions, and start expecting less from these snollygosters, and the world will be a better place. (I love that word)

I help business owners, professionals, and others understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages to acquire more efficient income and larger, more liquid estates.

In previous careers, I have been a partner in a large, international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you. 705-927-4770

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