Just recently, I had a conversation with a close friend about folks (bloggers, in particular) “staying in their lane”. In the conversation, I was 100% against a specific blogger writing about political events in the United States, and how I was likely to unsubscribe from the writer’s work because of the constant stream of political fodder.

So when I woke up this morning and found Justin Jackson’s thread about “staying in your lane”, my eyes were quickly drawn to his comments.

I am likely to ease up on my attitude about writers staying in their lane. This specific tweet is responsible for a slight change in heart on my part:

First, my audience isn’t one-dimensional.
We all live in a social, economic, and political context. We have feelings, families, histories.
“Business” exists within these contexts. If my ideas about business are divorced from their human context, how helpful are they really?

This is all true and all fair, and I have to give a hat tip both to Justin and my close friend for buffing out the harder parts of my attitude towards this.

What even is “my lane?”

Photography? Well, I shoot photos and like to edit them, but I don’t know every detail about the technicalities.

Finances and Canadian tax law? Sure, I know more about that stuff than most, but I’m not a designated accountant either. (Yet, I hope.)

Sports? I love sports, but I’m not athletic enough to pretend I know which players should improve on which skills.

(Star Wars? Ha!)

As a whole, I need to soften my attitude about this.


I am going to beg and plead and beg some more with writers who insist on leaving their lane only to complain. In almost every facet of life, if you are complaining about something, it’s more likely due to your own misunderstanding of the issue than it is about actual reality. Things are the way they are for a reason (or for 10,000 reasons). Which isn’t to say we can’t foster change. But change has to come incrementally and slowly, bearing in mind all the variables at play.

If you’re going to leave your lane as a blogger or writer, let’s do so with an intent of positivity on occasion as well. Let’s applaud somebody for something we don’t normally talk about, rather than just tear down everyone who doesn’t agree with us.

I think this is the issue audiences have about writers “staying in their lane”. Positivity is infectious, negativity a disease. But we all need to catch a disease or study a disease in order to defeat it, so there’s room for both sides.

Let’s leave our lanes to applaud and complain. That’s all I ask.

The root article for which the above blurb “staying in your lane” came about was the linked post from Jackson titled “The Cure”. It’s a great article. Read it. Let it resonate for a bit.

Jackson’s struggle with depression led him down a difficult path full of financial hardship, and Jackson theorizes more folks could leave places of financial hardship if they had their basic financial needs taken care of. His idea:

Universal basic income? Maybe! We definitely need to be experimenting more.
Here’s an idea for an alternative to UBI. Most of the wealth generated in the past 100 years has come from ownership of stocks. But according to the New York Times, “84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households.” The rich get richer by owning assets. If that’s true, how can we enable more people to benefit from that? Maybe, instead of subsidies and grants, the public should get some ownership. Citizens should get a dividend for the public money that’s invested in AI, automation, pharmaceuticals, robotics, and other technology.

In Canada right now, we are effectively undertaking a giant experiment in the UBI. Canada’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been extended to millions of Canadians with very few strings attached and only a few questions asked. And it has significantly improved the outlook for those who have lost their incomes due to COVID-19.

On the other hand, the CERB (and a few other programs) are ripe for misallocation. I’ve heard of workers who are rejecting their employers request for re-employment because they can be paid the CERB while being at home instead. I’ve heard of workers who are telling their employers to simply state they “tried” to hire the “prospective employee”, but couldn’t due to COVID-19, thereby opening the door for the “prospective employee” to collect emergency benefits instead of working.

I also think we’re so early in the UBI experiment that prices haven’t had a chance to inflate or deflate based on the amount of free money floating around in society. If $2,000 per month is the deemed UBI amount, then everyone else’s wages are going to move up by a percentage as well. This will cause price increases for goods and services across the board and effectively wipe out the gains the UBI is designed to eliminate.

I also want to comment on Jackson’s idea of public ownership of private (publicly traded, in this case) companies. His idea isn’t that far-fetched at all; if the government owned 10% of a publicly traded company and acted as the middleman for floating dividends and capital growth through to society, a significant amount of wealth could be redistributed. Great idea!

I’m curious about two things.

First, would the government be willing to accept losses, and in turn, would society be willing to accept losses? Would society be willing to accept dividend cuts? If most of the wealth generated over the last 100 years has come from ownership of stock, then at least the same amount of losses in the last 100 years have been borne by those who own stock as well. It goes both ways.

Also, the Canada Pension Plan is managed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which partakes in the publicly traded market and grows our CPP investments for retirement. In effect, society as a whole already partakes in the growth of the private market.

Second, I feel this all boils down to education. I graduated high school 10 years ago and wasn’t required to take a single personal finance course. I took the pre-calculus mathematics route (which you were supposed to do if you wanted to get a university education) and learned trigonometry, sin/co sin/tangent, and all that useless junk only a fraction of society needs. I wasn’t required to take a single lesson in how to write a cheque, how to reconcile a bank account, how to calculate even the simplest forms of income tax, or how to calculate growth of a savings account. If you know how to calculate A-squared-plus-B-squared-equals-C-squared formula, you can calculate the time value of money.

Perhaps things have changed for high schoolers, but I doubt it. I am quite often amazed at the basic lessons I have to teach young clients when they come through my office.

If we taught “How to Money” at a young age, you’d see a dramatic improvement in the outcomes of lives when entered into the work force. If we taught where to earn money, how to earn money, and how to invest money, I think you’d see a tilting of the wealth scales.

And, at least right now, I’d wager a UBI wouldn’t be needed.

Don’t give a man a fish. Teach a man to fish. Or however the saying goes.