Consumers continue to lose ground

July 14, 2021   ·   0 Comments


We like to think of ourselves as a compassionate lot.
Sure, we’re giving, caring and even tolerant.
We welcome visitors and newcomers with open arms. We recognize almost every culture, every cause, every plight.
While we can be extremely generous, the gap between rich and poor – the haves and never-will-haves – continues to widen. In trying to please everyone some of the time, we’ve created a catch-22 of sorts.
In many ways, we’re putting salve on irreparable, gaping wounds and our Band-aid solutions are only buying a little more time.
The financial inequity that exists today is a product of decades of greed, speculation, power and sponging. It’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, making up for previous generations when most just scraped by.
We want it all, and we want to give it all to our kids.
But we’re almost like Gumby who’s being stretched too far.
You don’t have to look very far at all to find examples of average working citizens being completely shut out of the game.
Our politicians in recent years have upped the minimum wage in this country, and others are still calling for more paid days of sick leave.
Municipalities offer property tax deferrals for those who are struggling during the pandemic.
The feds are still providing “pandemic relief” in terms of subsidies and payments to the unemployed.
These measure cannot matter unless there’s a reciprocal easing of shoulder crushing cost of living.
Early on during the pandemic, residents were promised a bit of relief on their utility (gas, oil) bills. It evaporated quickly, to the point where our rates are still at an all-time high and utility board members are making record salaries, benefits and bonuses.
While many Ontario homeowners continue to struggle with costs, executives at Ontario Power Corporation and Ontario Hydro were given gold-plated seats in the century club lounge, making record salaries, some in the millions.
Troubled Air Canada gave its top executive bonuses again this year, despite the fact they are near the brink of collapse. They rely on huge government subsidies to continue flying, and yet dish out money to its top brass. The recipients did offer to give it back, after the backlash. Not sure if it happened, though.
Home ownership for the current younger generation is fleeting fast. In another 5 years, it will be an impossible dream in this country.
Has any relief been given in this regard? Have banks eased up on lending practices? Absolutely not.
A new stress test came into play recently that puts an increased burden on new homeowners and even those renewing their mortgages.
This can’t bode well.
It’s common knowledge that during the pandemic many average citizens lost jobs, had their hours curtailed, lost entire businesses and leveraged their home equity.
And yet our esteemed chartered banks once again chalked up record profits.
Scotiabank, for instance, reported second quarter net income of $2.456 billion compared to $1.324 billion in the same period last year. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) was $1.88, up 88% from $1 in the previous year. Return on equity was 14.8%, up from 7.9% in the previous year.
I wonder how many loans the big banks gave out to save struggling business owners during the pandemic. Let’s see how forgiving they are when it comes time to pay them back.
Experts are noting that it will take another year or two before many businesses are back to pre-pandemic levels. Well, folks, in 2023, small businesses and hourly wage earners will be back where they were in 2019. Left behind again, in a system with no regard for working stiffs.
It would seem large corporations that cater to average consumers – banks, utility, big oil, big everything – are slowing suffocating their only source of bread and butter – us. Talking about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
In recent weeks, I was notified I was behind a few bucks in both my Hydro One and Enbridge bills. It didn’t take long for the calls, emails and letters to arrive, demanding immediate payment. Wow, they can’t be that hard up that they need my paltry c-note to stay in business. The absolute nerve, I tell you.
I will stretch out my payments until the very last minute, just because of this bad behaviour.
We’re bombarded by advertisements of 5G networks, and amazing, lightning fast service from all telecom providers. And yet, many areas were without home internet and TV recently. A few phone calls later, listening to musak that hasn’t changed in over a year, and little is resolved. It’s not us, it’s you, seems to be the common response. Tickets are created and sometimes technicians are sent (at their convenience). In the end, same service for skyrocketing rates.
I fear my tiny voice, my meager resistance will be for naught. To borrow from a famous phrase, I doth protest too much, methinks.
If this were any other time in our history, our neighbours would rally, pick up pitchforks and march on “city hall.”
What do we do? Roll over and cower. We are capped and controlled by a very few very large entities.
Is going “off-grid” a real option? Well, perhaps not at the moment, but if things continue the way they are, we may all be living in tents, sending smoke signals!



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