Those who complain about corporate greed may be greedy themselves

From the moderately leftist National Post.


But what about that 99%? What responsibility do they bear for the situation the world finds itself in? The answer is: plenty. Greed doesn’t just live on Wall Street: it finds a home on Main Street too. And when people think it’s perfectly OK to take out mortgages they can’t afford, or rack up credit card debt to buy flat screen TVs, clothes and appliances, or draw on their home’s equity to finance cars and vacations, well, as they say, you reap what you sow.

[…]But you only have to crack open the business pages, or watch a reality TV show like Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s “Princesses” (about heavily indebted young women) to start questioning the moral purity of the 99%. Many of these people are the authors of their own misery: they consider credit to be cheap, if not free, money. The result is that even here in Canada, the ratio of household debt to personal income has hit a whopping 150%, up 78% in real terms in the past twenty years.

I have no pity for those heavily indebted people, in part because I was once one of them. My love affair with credit started in university. While the limit on that first card was low – $1500 – it allowed a student with a part-time job to buy things she couldn’t otherwise afford (and mostly didn’t need). After getting married, I kept spending, even cashing in my meagre RRSP to help finance the wedding. Post-divorce, I racked up consumer debt, over $15,000 at its peak, at which point I took a harsh look at myself and said: enough. At the time, I was selling my condo: I took the proceeds, paid off the debt, invested the balance, and vowed to both save and pay monthly bills in full, promises I have kept ever since.

Luckily, I got religion well before the meltdown of 2008. But many people didn’t. And this makes them responsible not only for their own problems, but those of their neighbours.

Sure, it’s easy to blame the Wall Street CEOs for bundling rotten mortgages and contriving arcane debt instruments that weren’t worth the paper they were written on. But someone took out those mortgages. Millions of people, actually, who bought more house than they could afford. Did someone hold a gun to their head? No. They were just as greedy as the 1%, only on a smaller scale.

Governments are also just as guilty. In the U.S., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac granted mortgages to people deemed disadvantaged – minorities, the poor – in the hopes of increasing home ownership. This spurred the private sector to compete and fuelled the infamous subprime mortgage market.

The Canadians have special tax-free savings accounts that encourage them to save money instead of spending it. That’s something that we should do – provide people with tax-free savings accounts. Give people the incentive to save their money instead of spending it.

3 thoughts on “Those who complain about corporate greed may be greedy themselves”

  1. Quite a number of years ago a person in Canada could earn up to 1000 dollars in bank account interest with no tax being payed on that interest. Then, the liberals of PET decided that people weren’t spending enough and the economy was in a slump so they stopped that plan. Of course people started spending rather than saving, which was the intent in the first place. Thank goodness the Harper government has reinstated this policy with the TFSA.


  2. Oooh, thanks for the Canadian content! Canadians suffer from the same leftist thinking that says that someone is evil because he has more money than you can hope to have. Our redeeming quality as a nation is that although we might not understand macro economics as the media presents it, we take the time to do the micro economics and think about our personal financial situation. I think the most important thing that Canadians have right now is a leader that can do math. And one with an economics degree no less! Canadians did not straddle themselves with home loans they couldn’t afford because the government didn’t allow for that level of Tom-foolery and although and our average consumer debt is $25,597, Higgins, VP of TranUnion’s analytics and decisioning said, “Canadians are shifting to a more conservative and restrictive form of financing to manage their debt loads.” According to RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Ontarians are carrying an average of $13,709 which says a lot about the relationship between economic education and finances and Gail Vaz-Oxlade is a part of that! I love Gail, wouldn’t have her over to my house (she’d look at my budget and make me start spending because I’m too cheap -lol), but I love her! She’s written some great books on financing and if you click on any of the books Wintery Knight has listed on this page, that will take you to Amazon where you can type in her name and see which title best suites you, and by clicking through the books on this page you support this blog as well.


    1. There’s more tomorrow. I was going to use the Ezra Levant videos from Occupy Toronto, but I found something even more interesting.

      Harper has TWO economics degrees.

      Thanks for encouraging people to buy books – I have to rotate those books to pick new ones soon!


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