Peak in­ter­est

The Walrus - - LETTERS -

Raizel Robin’s ex­posé on the preva­lence of debt among mid­dle- class fam­i­lies (“Maxed Out,” June) re­peats the stan­dard nar­ra­tive that Cana­di­ans’ fi­nan­cial trou­bles are due to prof­li­gate spend­ing. While this is some­times the case, the anec­do­tal ev­i­dence in Robin’s piece — which fea­tures three Cana­dian fam­i­lies fac­ing such fi­nan­cial chal­lenges as job loss and the cost of chil­dren’s ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties — shows that such woes are more of­ten caused by hard luck and the high cost of liv­ing.

The sim­ple re­al­ity is that our econ­omy runs on debt. All of us, in­clud­ing those who are debt-free, are de­pen­dent on house­holds, busi­nesses, fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, and gov­ern­ments con­stantly in­creas­ing their debt. So let’s not be too hard on our debtors, who are sim­ply play­ing by the rules. In­stead, let’s take a hard look at our flawed eco­nomic sys­tem. David Gracey

Toronto, ON

Robin’s ex­cel­lent ar­ti­cle shows that many have trou­ble liv­ing on a bud­get. Two sim­ple changes would help peo­ple avoid this debt spiral: all loans, even small pay­day loans, should have achiev­able re­pay­ment sched­ules, and usury laws, which make it a crime to charge more than 60per­cent an­nual in­ter­est, should be en­forced. Ja­son Flem­ing

North York, ON

In­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies need to spend less than the amount of money they take in, not more. Drive your car longer— don’t trade it in for a fancy new one; live in a smaller house than what the bank says you can af­ford; and buy what you need, then pri­or­i­tize your de­sires. You might not get ev­ery­thing you hope for, but peace of mind is worth much more than the new­est iphone, largest tele­vi­sion set, or most ex­trav­a­gant house. Imag­ine what would hap­pen to the Cana­dian econ­omy if ev­ery­one started liv­ing within their means.

Greg Schee­lar

Win­nipeg, MB

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