Five easy money moves to make this year

Switch to a variable interest rate mortgage. According to a popular study in 2001 – since updated in 2007 – by York University finance Professor Moshe Milevsky, home owners have been better off with a variable interest rate nearly 90 per cent of the time over the past 50 years. Milevsky says that over the long run, home owners incur a cost for mortgage rate stability – called a premium for predictability, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 5. Read full story.

Origin stories: A vividly imagined mythology from Britain’s comics scene
“Imagine the waterworld of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books, as drawn in the style of Persepolis and punched-up by Jeanette Winterson at her earliest and most puckish, and you have some idea of Isabel Greenberg’s debut graphic novel, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth,” wrote York University PhD candidate Sean Rogers in The Globe and Mail Jan. 3. “The latest arrival from Britain’s burgeoning comics scene, the Encyclopedia combines the cockeyed fantasy of that tradition with its minimalist, poster-ready design, and so creates Early Earth, a realm populated with naked giants, jealous gods and warring clans of Iron Age island-dwellers.” Read full story.

The issue is not poor children but family poverty
“The last few weeks have seen much hand wringing about the continuing high levels of child poverty in Canada,” wrote York University Professor Dennis Raphael in the Hamilton Spectator Jan. 4. “Various solutions are offered such as increasing the basic benefits provided to parents of low-income children, improving educational practice, as well as a hodgepodge of measures designed to make living in poverty more palatable. These seem to me to be half-measures all designed to somehow ‘help’ children who find themselves living in poverty. To my mind these proposals are misguided at best and dangerous at worst. The problem of child poverty is primarily a problem of family poverty, which is itself a result of the unequal distribution of income and wealth amongst Canadians.” Read full story.

When good fences can make bad neighbours
The US-Mexico border wall is not 50 feet tall, but it is formidable in places and it does seek to address a perceived need. Driven by a variety of mainly economic factors, the ranks of illegal migrants in the United States have been rising rapidly in recent years, from 3.5 million in 1990 to a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center. Those numbers fell somewhat during the two following years and have more or less levelled off since then. Last year, there were an estimated 11.7 million undocumented residents in the U.S. Proponents of the border wall tend to attribute these most recent shifts to the effects of the barrier, but others say they are wrong. . . . “The problem of economic disparity needs to be solved,” said York University geography Professor Tristan Sturm, in the Toronto Star Jan. 6, who believes emphatically that walls are not the answer. “They are a short-term solution to a long-term problem.” Read full story.

Rob Ford files papers for mayoral re-election
Dennis Pilon, a political science professor at York University, thinks Ford might have a tough road ahead of him. “I think that his coalition of support is going to break apart,” Pilon said in CBC News Jan. 2. “The Rob Ford diehards are going to stick with him – they look pretty strong – but I think that the run of the mill Conservatives, the right of centre voters, some of them are going to decide to vote for maybe even a centrist candidate who they looks a bit more normal, acts a bit more normal than Rob Ford.” Read full story.